A Store Closing .... Always Such A Sad Day!

Saturday morning I made my last trip to my most cherished and loved local yarn shop, Jessica Knits.  

After seven years, Tammy (owner) has decided to close the doors of her beautiful shop.  This was a very sad day for me and it was all I could do not to cry.  Like many of the stores patrons, I decided to take advantage of the closing discounts.  There wasn't much left in way of yarn, which I knew that would be the case,  but more than anything I wanted to say goodbye and to thank Tammy personally for her store.

I will miss not only this store, but Tammy and her friendly staff.  Tammy always greeted me by name and was quick to let me know about the new yarns that had just arrived that she new I would absolutely love.  She was always right and I always walked out with a large bag of yarn for at least two projects.

Tammy was quite pleased to see that I found the last of the Classic Elite Mohawk (60% Merino, 30% Romney, 10% Nylon blend).  I purchased all eight skeins in the color Driftwood, which will be more than enough for a pullover sweater or a cabled cardigan. 

I also purchased the last remaining two skeins of Classic Elite Mohawk in the color Oatmeal that I might use for a scarf and hat, or I might take Tammy's suggestion and use it   as colored yoke design with the Driftwood color.

And I even purchased one more skein of Elemental Effects Civility Sport Weight in the color Clove.

Small business owners close their stores for various reasons.  Some close due to health, some close due to retirement and others close due burnout.  It's hard being a small business owner, as it's a never ending job that many do not get a break from.

Next time you're visiting your local shop, tell the owner thank you for all that they do and for having beautiful items in inventory.  And please remember to support your local small businesses.  

Until next time ~ be creative!

Finished Projects - Two in One Day!

I had the joy of having Monday off and decided it would be the perfect time to finish a few languishing projects I had laying around.

I'm so proud to say that I finally finished Mr. Boo, a design by Kathy Schmitz, and can't believe it took me a year to do so!!!

This truly was a fun and delightful project.  I opted to make a small mini quilt to hang on my pantry door, so I used squares from Count Your Blessings (designed by Kathy Schmitz)  5" charm pack.  For the back I used a piece of black Kona cotton and batting in between for a bit of a quilted look.

On my Husqvarna I have a stitch setting that looks like a Fly Stitch, so I edged the embroidered part of the quilt with this stitch design.

I really love how the stitch design looks !

I sewed three tabs across the top, which makes it a snap to place a dowel through for hanging.  I also sewed on six buttons for a bit of decoration.

I also finished Boo To You , a quick and easy two hour project.  I traced the design onto a piece of light pumpkin batik fabric and used one thread of DMC black for the embroidery.  I really loved the idea Kathy mentioned in a blog post about using colored pencils for just a hint of color in her piece that she was working on and I decided that I would try doing this as well.  So I added just a touch of color to my Boo to You.

I really felt good to finally finish something!

Until next time ~ be creative!

Drawing Time ... It's the Birds!

Recently I have taken out my colored pencils, along with my art journal and micron pens, to work on a Cardinal.   I used a photo I found on Pinterest as my inspiration for this drawing, which was hand drawn using a 2B pencil.

I started by using my Sakura Micron Pen .01 and .005 pens to give depth and life to the eye and the black feathers around the eye and beak.

Using my Faber-Castell Polychromo pencils, I added color to the beak and then started to lightly layer the red feathers.

I am learning how to layer colors and mix with ink.  I'm still working on this piece but I'm having loads of fun and learning quite a lot.

One little drawing I finished up earlier this week using my .005 and .01 Micron Pens is this little bird, all puffed up due to the chilly air.  This was another piece for #inktober #inktober2018 .

I plan to continue learning more about the use of colored pencils, as well as water color pencils and mixing in a bit of ink.  I like the use of ink as it adds a little more "definition" to my drawings.

Until next time ~ be creative!

New Cast On ... A Cozy Sweater

The weather has been so lovely here in Phoenix, so much so that I had an urge to cast on another sweater!  

Courtesy of Berroco Inc
On my needles is Kipsap by the Berroco Design Team (free pattern).  For this project I'm using my stash of Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky in the colorway Griege (a light oatmeal beige) and a US size 10 1/2 circular needle (Lykke Needles in Driftwood).  I haven't quite decided about the front neckband yet.  While I like the "whimsical" look, I prefer a more polished and neat looking neckband.  So I may do a garter stitch or rolled neckband.

This is a very easy pattern, very well written and one that I would say is perfect for that beginner knitter wanting to try a garment.  While this is a seamed piece, the construction is simple and it will be a snap to sew up.

I am almost finished with the back, with only three inches to go before I do the shaping of the neck,  and I am on my third skein of yarn.  I am enjoying this yarn, even if it looks like it has a bit of "veggie matter" in the  yarn.  It's very soft and rustic and I'm hoping it has a nice drape to it once blocked and worn.

I'm still working on the following projects ...

  • Night's Watch in Squishy
  • Cozy Autum Socks
  • Favorite Scarf Ever in Handspun

I did have an idea regarding the front neckband and even bounced it off my hubby. 

I love the look of my Handspun scarf I'm working on (#3 on the list above) and thought it might be really awesome to use it for the neck band.  The colors go well together, it's earthy like the Hemp Tweed and it would give interest to the cardigan.

As mentioned in an early post, I have been thinking about incorporating my handspun with commercial yarns.  I personally think it would give more interest to the knitted garment and would be a nice touch of using my very own yarn creation.

Until next time ~ be creative ! 

Fun Halloween Stitching Projects

My creative life not only includes spinning, knitting and drawing, but a bit of stitching and sewing.  I'm not really great at the sewing part, but I like to have fun with it.  Yesterday I realized I haven't finished to projects, one that requires sewing and one that requires stitching.

Last year I completed a fun Halloween embroidery piece designed by a favorite artist of mine, Kathy Schmitz.  This pattern is called Mr. Boo and is part of her Sweet Stitches Collection (now on sale).  I love how it turned out and all that needs to be done is to sew the pieces together and add a little bit of quilting to it.

I want to incorporate a second pattern of her's called Boo, which is a sweet little fabric banner that really doesn't require too much completion.  This will be a fun and quick stitching piece and will go nicely with Mr. Boo (above).

Courtesy of Kathy Schmitz Designs
While I'm at it, I need to also make Boo To You.  This is so cute and so simple, and I even have the fabric and thread for it.  Now to find the time!

Courtesy of Kathy Schmitz

If you enjoy fun embroidery projects and you're not familiar with Kathy Schmitz, check out her website.  I truly love how she incorporates embroidery with quilting.

Until next time ~ be creative!

Why I Knit With Handspun

A few months ago I purchased Jillian Moreno's book Yarnitecture but really hadn't started reading it until a few days ago.  I have to say I love her book and I'm finding so many wonderful ideas and tips.

Jillian said something in the first chapter of her book that really hit home with me ....

"I've thought long and hard about why I love knitting with handspun, and I came up with five reasons: choice, control, craft, creativity, and connection" ~ Jillian Moreno, Yarnitecture.

I feel much the same way about knitting with handspun but as mentioned in an earlier post, it's also that feeling of "wow, I created this yarn" type of feeling.  For me knitting with my own handspun is a tactile feeling. The movement of the fiber in my hands as I knit is satisfying and it's that knowing that I created this one of a kind unique yarn and that there is no other yarn out there like mine.  It's not perfect, it's often nubby or uneven, but handspun is like that.  

I have two baskets of handspun that I love but really haven't done anything with the finished skeins and I need too.  The basket on the left holds larger completed skeins that I plan to incorporate into sweaters, scarves, etc. and the basket on the right holds completed skeins for my intentional spinning and my breed studies.

I also have three prized skeins of handspun yarn that I'm very proud of as it's the most yardage I've ever achieved in my spinning.  One is the Hummingbird  colorway from Hello Yarn, 415 yards of two-ply fingering weight yarn that will be turned into a shawl or scarf.  I love the colors!!!   

My second skein is the colorway Zarzamora by Malabrigo (Nube).  This fiber was very challenging to spin as it was extremely compact.  But the end result was 404 yards of two-ply fingering weight perfect for a small shawlette or even a cowl.  

Debbie,( a.k.a. Doodler01 on Instagram) challenged spinners to spin for socks.  I've never spun for socks but I decided to try it and oh my, I loved this challenge.  I learned how to properly chain ply (Navajo Ply) and spin with Targhee.  The end result was two skeins of handspun in the colorway Shadows Parted by Hello Yarn for a total of 353 yards.

While all three of my skeins are not perfect by any means I'm thrilled with each one.  The most satisfying part of creating my own handspun is the pure joy of seeing the finished skein turn into it's own beautiful mix of colors and to see how it knits up.  The handspun sock yarn will be super cozy, the handspun Zarzamora, while slightly nubby, will make a great scarf or cowl and the handspun Hummingbird echos the colors of the Southwest and will look great knitted up in a textured pattern.

The bottom line, I knit with handspun for many reasons but the main reason is "I created this yarn myself".

Do you knit with handspun ?  If so, why do you enjoy knitting with it ?

Until next time ~ be creative!

Wednesday WIPs ... Nothing Really Happening

I have to be perfect honest in saying that I haven't made much progress on my knitting over the last week or so.  I've been suffering a bit of tennis elbow which is turn has slowed down my knitting.  I shared with a friend last week that I think my biggest issue is from holding my knitting to tightly.  So I'm trying to relax a bit while knitting to see if that will help me not to develop tennis elbow as often.

Now on to the knitting ......

I am currently working on my handspun Favorite Scarf Ever.  I am almost finished with my first skein of handspun and I have to say I'm loving how my scarf is looking.  I am finding that I will have a bit of "marling" in a place or too, but I don't mind as it looks good being there.

I am also working on my Night's Watch in Anzula Squishy.  I haven't made a tremendous amount of progress on this shawl but hope to on Friday as it will me my take along project for hospital knitting (hubby is having a test done).  I love both the yarn and the pattern and hope to have this project off the needles by the end of the month.

My Cozy Autumn Socks are on hold at the moment but I plan to start working on them again this weekend.  It would be nice to have a finished pair of socks for this month, after all it is "Socktober".

I really love the look of the yarn and I think it is a perfect match for Olivia's pattern.

As far as other knitting, I have sent two more items to the frog pond and I know a few of you are probably shaking your head at me.  I decided the Irish Coffee sweater just wasn't for me and the Mirkwood Scarf in Jacob wasn't working out quite as I hoped.  I love the pattern but the yarn wasn't a good choice.  I think my problem in projects lately is due to indecisiveness.  I need to focus more on what I really want to knit and not what I think should be knitted.  I know that might not make sense to a few of you, but seriously that's how my mind works at times.  The yarn for both frogged projects will be used, I'm just not quite sure for what yet.

Until next time ~ be creative!

Oh My Wheel ~ A Gorgeous Panda Mix

This past weekend I couldn't resist prepping my squishy soft treasured stash of October House Fiber Arts panda mix in the color Apres.  The colors are so scrumptious with a mix of copper, cream, purple and blue.  I am not sure if Robin (owner of October House) is still dying fiber or not, but I hope she does again in the future as the colors and quality of this particular braid is amazing.

For this particular spin, I divided the long braid of fiber into for equal strips.  Each strip then was divided into six equal parts and lightly drafted.  I ended up with 24 little fiber buns ready to spin.

I started spinning my little buns on Sunday and I'm really loving how it is spinning up and how the colors are blending together.

I have no idea what my finished handspun will be turned into but I'm thinking it would make a lovely scarf or cowl.  I am truly enjoying the process of this particular spin and finding it to be quite mediative and soothing.

Until next time ~ be creative!

Knitting With Handspun

Like so many other spinners out there, I have loads of handspun in my stash.  For some reason I don't always knit with it though and I have yet to figure out my reluctance.  So I decided it was time to start using up my handspun stash, even if it means mixing it with other yarns for project.  The perfect example of doing just that is the King of Confidence Cardigan by Weaverknits, which uses commercial yarn and handspun.

Earlier this week I cased on My Favorite Scarf Ever by Lisa Bruce using two skeins of worsted weight handspun (that I've had in my stash for almost four years) and a US size 5 . I lost my original tag, but the colorway name is Stone Quarry and it is a squishy soft BFL that I experimented with fractal spinning when taking a Craftsy Class by Felicia Lo and reading about it from a post by Alexandra Tinsley on Knittyspin.  I love how fractal spinning turns out but wasn't quite sure how this particular handspun would look.

The photo above does not do the colors any justice as it was taken indoors but I have knitted enough of my scarf to share what it looks like.  I'm so thrilled with the stripping too, this means my fractal spinning experiment worked.  The colors are soft creams, browns and a slight purple brown.  So far it's knitting up beautifully and I can't wait to see it all finished!

I have actually knitted quite a few things with my handspun over the last few years and these projects can be found on my Finished Handspun Projects page here on my blog.  There's something extra special about knitting with your own handspun.  It's that feeling of "wow, I created this yarn" type of feeling.   I think I need to start spinning more and using my handspun more. 

There is nothing like knitting with handspun yarn, no more unique yarn to knit with than handspun. It feels livelier than millspun yarn, behaves differently. ~ Jillian Moreno, Knitting With Handspun: Knittyspin 2011 

Do you use your handspun for knitting, crocheting or weaving projects ?

Friday FO .... Spooky Handspun

I really had fun learning out to create rolags for the #spookyspin15 / #witchstockings15 spin along on Instagram.

It all started with Halloween inspired colors curated by Sherrill of the 1764 Shepherdess to entice spinners to create their unique one of a kind "spooky" handspun colorway. Some spinners created striped handspun for socks, some have created beautiful batts and others rolags.  I have been amazed at the colors that are spinning up, what a wonderful and inspiring adventure!

If you are curious to see gorgeous creations, check out these hashtags on Instagram #spookyspin15 and #witchstockings15 .  You can also check out the thread in the #spin15aday Ravelry group here to see inspiration not shared on Instagram.

I ended up with 125 yards of worsted chain plied handspun, which should be just enough for the Noro One Skein Hat pattern by Fiory Loughead.

It's amazing that this....

Ended up as this .... due to missing photos this is a fill in showing the colors in the hat I made.

100% Corridale Wool Dyed in Green, Purple, Orange and Black.

While I didn't quite achieve the yardage I had hoped for, I still love how my handspun turned out and can't wait to cast on my hat!!!

Until next time ~ be creative!

Wednesday WIPs ... Much the same!

My Handspun Caldonia Shawl
“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 

― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

First I am admitting I have too many projects on my needles right now but what's a knitter to do when there are so many wonderful yarns and patterns to be knitted ???  When the temperatures start to cool down here in Phoenix I want to knit as much as I can so I am able to wear my "wooly" goodness before the summer heat kicks back in.  So I tend to go a little cast on crazy from October until February/March.
This fall I'm really trying to use stash yarn for my projects and so far that has been working.  

This week on my needles ...

Night's Watch in Squishy - color is called Dark Matter.  I'm loving both the pattern and the yarn.  The yarn is truly "squishy" and the colors are perfect for October and Halloween.  Lara's pattern ( Night's Watch ) is wonderful and so super easy to follow.  For knitters wanting to branch out into lace and shawl knitting, this pattern is perfect to start with as it's not complicated.  I'm finding this project to be quite soothing to my soul.

Cozy Autumn Socks in Alpa B Yarn BFF B - color is called Pendleton Round Up.  I casted on my Autumn Socks last Friday with US size 1 DPNs but found the pattern repeat was not conducive to DPNs.  So after one full chart round, I switched to two 16" circular needles.  This was a better choice and one I should have started with at the beginning.  I have made one modification, I have casted on 64 stitches in place of 60 stitches, which means I have one extra purl stitch at the beginning and ending of the lace repeat.  Olivia's Autumn Socks pattern is very well written and super easy to follow.  

Still on my needles ....

I'm trying hard to restrain myself from casting on Cusp  but I want to finish my Irish Coffee before tackling another sweater or similar project.  I love Mirkwood, I'm just not quite sure the Jacob is the right yarn for the design.  I will continue knitting it up and see how it progresses before making a complete decision to continue or frog and use a different yarn.

For some reason October seems to say "sweater weather" to most of us, so out of curiosity, do you cast on a lot sweater projects when the weather starts to cool off ?

Until next time ~ be creative!

Oh Spooky ... Part 3 and Other Fibery Goodness

In earlier posts I shared my #spookyspin15 progress and I'm excited to say that the spinning is finished and the plying is next!

Recap photo with finished yarn

Original colors

The one thing I have learned about blending yarn is that it tones down colors and rather mutes them.  I really like how the original colors now look tweedy.  Since I had so much fun creating my own #spookyspin15 blend, I have started blending my autumn colors and finding this to be a bit more challenging because I'm not quite sure how I want to blend the fibers.  

These three rolags (shown below) are the first I've blended.  I started by striping the colors (brown, dijon, juniper, tangerine, parchment and gold) on my blending board, which should come out slightly striped when I start spinning.

I really must say I like how these rolags turned out and think I will repeat the process. I'm still learning how to properly use my blending board and have been referring to various youTube videos for help.  

One "how-to" video I really have found useful is by Ashford Wheel and Looms.  I've been using my board on a table but I like how Kate uses the blending board on her lap, which I plan to try for a bit more control when using my flicker.

Until next time ~ be creative!

Hello October

I don’t know about you all but I am so ready for fall !

Until next time - be creative!