Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ode to Skye Wrap

Every once in awhile, I open an email and someone has sent me a photo of a design that takes my breath away. And by every once in awhile, I mean once every year or so. Call me jaded, but it takes quite a bit to knock my knickers off.

Monday, one of those designs arrived. It's Ode to Skye by Chris Bylsma.  Gorgeous, don't you think?


I talked to her on the phone about it and she told me that the genesis of the design was a class she's teaching on an upcoming cruise to the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland and Norway. The class is all about cables and the idea is that her students will be able to design their own Aran sweater by the end of the cruise. Genius! 

We laughed a little about this not being the kind of cruise where you pack a bikini and knitting and you're good to go. Given the itinerary, they'll be seeing sun and rain, warm and cold. She thought having a collar on this wrap would make it a little more versatile too. Just pull it up around your chin and snuggle in. 



The shawl is named in honor of the Isle of Skye in the Scottish highlands, there's a stop there on the cruise where they'll visit a yarn shop. Show of hands, who is jealous? 

It's knit from our Haymarket in 56ns Fjord. For those of you not going on the cruise, you can find the pattern here. And to make it more interesting, I'll send yarn for a lucky winner to make one. Tell me in the comments what color you'd make yours in by Monday at 12PM CDT and we'll do a random number pick.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet Volume III

Do you guys know Hunter Hammersen and her series of Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet books? The third one came out just today and I think it's pretty spectacular.






I particularly like the concept behind the books. Here's what the author says about it.

Curiosity cabinets were collections of wonderful objects brought together to inspire, delight, and inform. I loved the idea of assembling a knitter’s curiosity cabinet—one full of fancy edgings and captivating stitch patterns and fabulous shapes instead of shells and fossils and seeds. These books are the result.

Pretty cool, don't you think? The most recent volume is inspired by vintage marine illustrations.

The muse for the patterns that use Lorna's Laces is the Pelagia noctiluca. It's a glow in the dark jellyfish for goodness sake. Cool, yes?


OK, if I'm really honest, jellyfish give me the creeps. I worry about getting stung by one every time I go swimming in the ocean. My husband worries about sharks. We're a pair, aren't we?

Anyway, I digress. I'm pretty sure you didn't stop by to listen to me talk about my weird phobias. Trust me, the list is long and diverse. Ask me how I feel about bridges sometime.

There are two projects that use our yarn. The first is a hat made from Honor. I totally see the jellyfish shape in the lace work.


The other project is a sock knit from Shepherd Sock. It's show here in Satsuma.


All in all, the book looks like a winner. There are 18 projects in yarns from 9 different companies, mostly small places like us. And she sizes everything. The socks come in three sizes and the hat in four. We aren't one size fits all and too often small projects like this don't take that into consideration. 




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Universe Creates Balance

Yesterday I posted on FB about a cease and desist letter we'd received from a big manufacturer. My post was less about complaining about the letter than it was about our pride in being noticed by them. I can't say that the letter didn't cause me a certain amount of consternation, but I made a conscious decision to look at the bright side.

Today we received a very different kind of letter. One that makes me dance with joy. It's a touching story from someone who grew up not far from here but lives across the world. From someone who took the time from her day to tell me how Lorna's Laces had touched her. Where are the tissues?


Hello, I just wanted to say that I got a happy little shock as I was browsing your colours on your site.

Let me explain - I live in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I was born here, in 1972. In 1974 my parents, little brother and I all moved to Toronto, then in 1975 we moved again, to Illinois. First we lived in Downers Grove, then we moved to The Glens in Naperville.

I had a pretty idyllic childhood in the mid-seventies. Our neighbourhood was friendly, astonishingly so by Australian standards. My parents joined all kinds of clubs and associations. I started school at Prairie Elementary then went to Scott School when it opened in 1978.

Living in Naperville was such a happy time. Us kids could run around the neighbourhood with other kids and other mothers would ring my Mum and say "I just saw Sarah and Stuart with Mike and Heather going over to Stephanie's house." We would of course have just cut through that caller's backyard, there being very few fences and none of us being inclined to stick to the footpaths.

I remember picnic dinners at Centennial Beach, trips to the Field Museum, a Worlds Fair at Navy Pier, visiting the Brookfield Zoo. I remember catching fireflies on summer nights. I remember block parties (a concept unknown in conservative Melbourne, where people hide behind high garden walls and only talk to their neighbours if there's a dispute).

In 1980 we had to return to Melbourne, and my brother and I had to learn to be Australians. It was hard, but we managed. Eventually we lost our mid-western drawls. We made new friends and discovered new things to explore in our conservative eastern suburbs Melbourne home. There were parks, the local pool, it wasn't too bad.

As an adult, I've had cause to be thankful that I got to experience life as a small American before returning to my own country. I've also decided, on balance, that Mum and Dad made the right decision to bring us home. But I've always missed Naperville, and anything that reminds me of it can be sure to give me a bittersweet pang for a life that was over decades ago.

Knitting is a relatively new hobby for me. Ravelry has been a terrible distraction as well as a great inspiration. I came across Kate Gilbert's Clapotis and fell in love. I found an Australian supplier of Lorna's Laces (although they're in Queensland, thousands of kilometres away!) and they can order Lion & Lamb Multi for me.

So I went to your site to explore the colourways. I saw these names. "DuPage". "Naperville"! So then I realised you were in Chicago. And I spent a little while reminiscing about Naperville winters, when it snowed. It's autumn here now. We have lots of imported deciduous trees in Melbourne, so we do see autumn colour, but it just isn't the same as being a small girl in the woods, being buried in massive piles of dry crackling leaves by my Dad.

I hope I haven't bored you to tears with my rambling reminiscing. I'll go back to perusing your colourways and try to decide between "Watercolor" and "Baltic Sea" for my Clapotis, then I can get my order to Yay for Yarn in Queensland :-)

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

FO (Finally)

I've finally got a FO for the year! I decided to do Jimmy Beans Wool Downton Abbey KAL.  If you've been keeping track of my Year of Making activities, you've been seeing quite a bit of it in small pieces over the past couple of months.




It's been a good project for me. I did the beginner rather than the advanced version because that was what I needed in my life. I was able to sit down and knit a row or two most days. Some days it was just a few stitches, but that's OK.

I hadn't done a Mystery KAL before and I decided that I like them. Or at least I liked this one. I'm pretty sure I switched the order of a clue or two along the way but it didn't matter. I still ended up with a beautiful, warm shawl(ette). Since you can't see what you are making is supposed to look like along the way, I'm not sure I'd be good with one where a little variance would affect the finished product in a meaningful way. There's just a little too much Type A personality running through these veins for that.

This is a seriously long shawl. Mine is about 9 feet from wing to wing. You can see that better in this shot from the Rav page.


 And a close up.

All in all, I give this project a big thumbs up. There's enough going on to keep it interesting while still providing good TV knitting. And you end up with a scarf/shawl thing that's long enough to give a ton of styling options.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Masham Worsted

In light of Clara Parkes glowing review yesterday, I thought y'all might like a little more eye candy today. We have a new yarn, Masham Worsted. It's a blend of 70% British Wool and 30% Masham Wool. What's a Masham you ask?


That is a Masham. If you look up "ram" in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure this is the picture you'll find. Could he be any more handsome? The entry might also look something like this.



Anyway, I fell in love with this yarn the minute I saw it. I should probably back up a little. As a yarn company owner, mill reps come to visit me and try and sell me yarn. One day, this rep and I got to talking about what other kinds of wools we might work with. Merino is lovely and all, but there's a big world of other breeds out there. I'd purchased our BFL, Haymarket, from him last year and I wanted to explore the idea a little further.

He told me about Mashem and I was intrigued. One of the things that intrigued me the most was when he told me that different wools behave differently in the dyepots. Looky what it does.



Pretty cool, right? Here's another.




He made a few samples and sent them over. We fiddled and played and decided on a nice heavy worsted weight. This yarn is about 170 yards per 100gr hank.

It's shipping out to yarn stores now. Bristol Ivy's Wainright is magnificent.


So is Amy Herzog's Harrogate.


This yarn is lovely. Just lovely.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Memory Lane

The other day, I sent an email to my childhood next door neighbors, Ann and Ashley. I hadn't seen or talked to them in ages but I needed to get them information about my mom's burial. As I was typing I looked over at my keys. They were sitting right next to the keyboard on my desk.



I smiled. Ann and Ashley gave me that key ring on my 16th birthday and I've been using it ever since. I can't believe I've never lost it. 

Sure hope that's not a big jinx. 


Monday, February 24, 2014

Leverage

Boy have I been remiss!  It's been over a month since I visited with you here on the blog. It's not that I haven't been thinking of you, I think of you every single day. But then so many days went by and I was afraid to write. You might be mad. A girl isn't going to go out on a date unless you call by Wednesday and so many Wednesdays have come and gone I thought you'd never speak to me again.

But then I figured I might have something you'd want. Something that you'd be so happy to see that you wouldn't mind if I hadn't called. Something like tickets to the hottest concert in town. Or that dinner reservation that no one can ever score. Leverage so to speak. What is this leverage you ask? Let's start with new colors!

We did eight new colors this season and they are shipping out the door every single day. We named this season's colors after Chicago suburbs or nearby towns. Would you like to go on a tour with me?

The first is Buffalo Grove. It's just a little northeast of the city. This nearly-solid color is reminiscent of good butter. The fancy kind you buy for those special recipes when it's really going to matter. Like the cookies I made for you today.



Next up is DuPage. DuPage is the county just to the west of Cook County. Chicago is in Cook County. It's a tonal multi based on shades of periwinkle. Soft and pretty.


Then we come to Galena, a town on the western edge of Illinois, right on the Mississippi River. It has one of those downtown districts that picture postcards are made of.The color is a dusty rose tonal multi.


Let's visit Glen Ellyn now. It's a village in DuPage county. It reminds me very much of the town I grew up in. The color is fresh and springy. For sure a neutral baby color.



Let's head over to Naperville. It's always making Money magazine's list of top 10 best places to live in the U.S. But they don't brag about it. That's just the kind of folks they are. It's a nice denim-y blue tonal multi that would go with just about anything.


Are you up for a drive to Northbrook? There's a great mall there. We could do some shopping and then maybe head to a movie? This is a classic Lorna's Laces multi color with cool blue and soft brown and a killer hit of acid. Yum!


Maybe we should head south for a bit. How does Shorewood sound? It's just far enough from the city to feel like you're getting away, but close enough to get downtown easily if you'd like. The cool blues and greys of this color are soothing.


The last stop on our tour today is St. Charles. This is another of those darling towns with main drag full of wonderful shops and restaurants and a river walk to stroll on after dinner. Lovely. The color is fun with verve and pop!


So, do you forgive me? Can I write to you again? Maybe I could even hold your hand?