Thursday, September 30, 2010

And the winner is....

We have a winner for the Brave New Knits Contest! Holli Yeoh will be receiving the signed copy of Brave New Knits along with Shepherd Sock yarn so she can knit The Orchid Thief Shawl. Keep an eye out for an email from me Holli!

I got started on my own Orchid Thief on Sunday. The TNNA board meeting on Monday and Tuesday gave me more knitting time than I can usually find, so I'm way farther along than I would have been under normal circumstances. I'm doing this one in Shepherd Sport in Baltic Sea and I'm about half way thru the third repeat of chart 3.

I had a little trouble with the transition from chart 2 to chart 3, but once I figured it out I was quickly sailing right along with my usual amount of tinking due to missed yo's and the like. I can pretty reliably count on missing something at some point every ten rows or so. At least I'm getting skilled enough to be able to easily find and correct my little mishaps.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Deep Fall Knitty

Lorna's Laces has two projects in Deep Fall Knitty. The first is the Carnaby Skirt by Nikol Lohr. It's shown here in Chagrin. It's made from our Shepherd Worsted and takes anywhere between two and four skeins depending on size.

There are a couple of design details I really like here. First is the use of stockinette to create pleats without adding bulk. I'd hate to speak for anyone but myself or anything, but I try and avoid adding too much bulk around my derriere.

The other happy detail is the line of buttons down the right side. The contrasting color works just right here.

This is one of those designs that is sweet, but not too sweet. There's actually something a little sassy/schoolgirl going on, if you know what I mean. (Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.)

Next up is the Eleanor Cowl by Audrey Knight.

It's made from a single skein of our Shepherd Sport. It's shown here in Pewter. As you all know, I'm all about small lace projects these days. And it sits up nice and high around your neck. Somehow that seems cozy to me. These early days of fall are making me all about cozy.

Did I mention it's a one skein project? And only 200 yards to boot. There's nothing like a one skein project for making quick work of those holiday gift lists. Mom? Check. SIL? Check. Gift for myself? Check.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Honor Projects

We've been shipping lots of Honor these days and I thought you might like some ideas for projects so we've put together a list. It's by no means exhaustive, but we tried to include lots of possibilities. There are one skein projects and multi skein projects. Accessories, sweaters, shawls, stuff for kids. Knit projects, crochet projects. Some of the patterns are free, others you need to purchase. Some our Lorna's Laces' designs, others come from people we like alot.

I think you'll find something here that works for you.

1 Skein – 275 yards

Xeriscape Shawl - Mary Heather Cogar –

Princess Mitts – Jennifer Hagan – “The Knitter’s Book of Yarn” – Free Ravelry download

Rose Red Hat – Ysolda Teague – Ravelry download

Little Arrowhead Shawl – Pam Allen – Free Interweave Knits download

Lyerka Scarf – Kenny Chua – Lorna’s Laces

Ouroboros Cowl – Amanda M. Allen – Lorna’s Laces

Tusculum Cowl - Robyn Chachula - Crochet by Faye

2 Skeins – 276-550 yards

Whirligig Shrug – Stefanie Japel – Interweave Knits – All sizes

Tswirl Tank - Aoibhe Glynn – Free Ravelry download – All sizes

3 skeins – 551-825 yards

Cloud Chaser – Amy Swenson - indiKnits

Sahar Wrap – Franklin Habit – Franklin’s Panopticon

Attabi Wrap – Laura Chau – Cosmicpluto Knits!

Terra Firma - Amy O'Neill Houck – Ravelry download

Faro Easy – Wendy Johnson –

Gabriella Tank – Ann Weaver – Lorna’s Laces – Sizes XS-XL

4 skeins 826-1100 yards

Tweed Baby Blanket – Jared Flood – Ravelry download

Sarabeth - Elisabeth Plauert – Verena Knitting download

Favorites 1101 yards or more

Carissa – Annie Modesitt – Lorna’s Laces

Yoshimi - Jenn Jarvis –

2911 Neckdown Boatneck Pullover – Diane Scoucy – Knitting Pure & Simple

Coraline – Ysolda Teague –

Flared Sleeve Pullover – Melissa Leapman – Lorna’s Laces

Riding to Avalon – Connie Chang Chinchio – Interweave Knits download

Habanero – Stefanie Japel – Vogue Knitting Online download

Angel Bunny Cowl Pullover - Robyn Chachula – Sensual Crochet

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brave New Knits and a Contest

When I got my copy of Julie Turjoman: Brave New Knits, I was instantly enchanted by it on a couple of different levels. Certainly, there was the immediate reaction to the beauty. Jared Flood's photography is stunning, as always.

After that initial flip through, I took a little more time to look at the projects and realized that there several things in it that I wanted to knit. Actually, it was more than that. What I realized was that all of the patterns were wonderful, that there weren't any duds. Like many knitters, I feel like a book has to have at least two designs in it that I think I'm going to knit before I'll buy it. This one had that and more!

Then there was the "will I actually read it test". I think sometimes pattern books get a quick glance and then they go to the bookshelf to be pulled down when you're ready to use them. Brave New Knits was different. I took it home and read it. All of it. It was wonderful to see how the the online lives of old friends like Stef Japel (Waves Pullover shown here in Mirth) and Wendy Bernard (Textured Tam in Pond Blue) had unfolded. It was even more fun to meet new friends like Ruth P. of Wooly Wormhead and Teresa Gregorio of CanaryKnits.

It all made me a little curious about the author and how the book unfolded. So I decided to ask. Here's a little peek behind the curtain.

Tell me a little about yourself, what's your background?

I grew up in a suburb of New York City as the oldest daughter of an artist mother who painted beautifully and could draw like an angel. I quickly realized that I needed to distinguish myself from the artistic media in which Mom had already cornered the market. As a young adult I spent my leisure time crouching over a potter’s wheel with my hands sunk into mounds of wet clay, making useful stuff such as teapots, plates, and bowls. For many years I embraced quilting; a couple of my original designs won ribbons at state and national shows. I worked for many years as an interior designer, and that training definitely informs my knitting designs today – my passion for color, form, and texture always guide my choices.

What was your first knitting project?

Needing a new hobby to keep my hands busy, I started knitting soon after I finished college. My first project was a simple Stockinette vest, made out of the first hand-dyed yarn I had ever seen. This was back in the 1980s, when the yarn choices were mighty slim compared to what we have at our disposal today. That yarn contained all the colors of a tropical sunset – so gorgeous that I almost wanted to eat it rather than knit with it! I can still summon the sense memory of that amazing fiber sliding through my fingers as I labored over the vest. Don’t think I ever actually wore it, but it’s still around my house somewhere.

What project have you learned the most from?

Early in my knitting life, I made everything in pieces. Then I made my first Icelandic sweater. That project got me to try knitting in the round for the first time. I did my first ever colorwork on the yoke. And I used waste yarn to hold the live stitches for the sleeves, which I picked up later and worked from the yoke down to the cuff. That was a LOT of new information in a single project!

What is your "go to" knit? What do you knit over and over?

My favorite knitting project is a sweater, but since they take a substantial time commitment I usually have a smaller project going at the same time. I’ve made several lace shawls, and around the holidays I tend to make lots of hats as gifts. Generally, I like to try new things so I don’t have a true “go-to” knit.

Can you tell me a little about the genesis of this book? How did you come up with the concept?

A few years ago, knowing how much time I spent reading knitting blogs and cruising around Ravelry, it hit me that there had to be thousands of others with the same curiosity about the designer-bloggers whose work I admired. But in addition to the time I spend on social media and on the internet’s vast resources for knitters, I have a shelf full of well-loved knitting books. It occurred to me that there could be a place for a volume that brought the talents of designer-bloggers to the reading public in book form. Pairing each designer’s profile with a special pattern created a tangible extension of his or her personality.

How did you pick the people you included in the book? There are really big names here as well as some rising stars.

While I wanted to bring attention to the rising stars whose work merits a wider audience, my editor impressed upon me that it’s those big names that sell books. The celebrity designers in Brave New Knits were incredibly gracious with their time and generous with their talent, and it was my goal to make sure their interviews contributed new information to their fans. Since the book’s release, many knitters have told me how excited they were to be introduced to some new designers with whose work they had previously been unfamiliar.

Tell me about your interview process. The bios were fascinating.

I’m a curious person, and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to interview such a talented group of designers. I traveled as much as my budget would allow, to meet designers in person. Most of those I couldn’t get to (such as Mari Muinonen in Finland and Ysolda Teague in Scotland) were able to talk to me via Skype – another example of how our knitters’ community relies on the internet. Using a digital voice recorder, I taped each interview to ensure that I would have accurate quotes, and to help keep each individual designer’s personality fresh in my mind. I wrote a first draft of each profile as quickly as possible after the actual interview, but then spent countless hours reshaping and polishing it into final form.

What kind of direction did you provide for them in terms of their projects? Who picked what type of project ie sweater, accessorry? Yarn type? Color story?

Because this is such a personality-driven book, I especially wanted to be sure that each project was a reflection of its designer’s identity. Certain designers are known for making a specific kind of project, and I wanted them to be free to indulge that passion; for instance, Anne Hanson is known for her gorgeous lace, and Chrissy Gardiner has published a book of toe-up sock designs. I wanted the book to include a good mix of garments and accessories, but I’m well aware of the huge time commitment required to design a sweater. I really appreciated that several designers were willing to take on those large-scale projects. Several designers suggested yarns they felt would be appropriate for their projects, and others were happy to take my suggestions.

There were so many wonderful people on this project...How did you manage to coordinate all those schedules and deadlines?!

I’m fairly organized and have a healthy respect for deadlines, but I understand that not everyone works that way. I created spreadsheets to keep track of the interviews and the book’s projects. I sent out gentle reminders when necessary, but for the most part the designers exceeded my expectations. They are professionals, after all, and many are accustomed to the submission process for knitting magazines – even the newer designers who have other day jobs understand the importance of meeting their commitments. But I hate to bug people, so I was thrilled when many of the designers sent me their completed projects early!

So, I promised you a contest didn't I? Well, Julie was nice enough to send along a signed copy of the book. In addition, the lucky winner will receive Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn so they can make Ysolda's Orchid Thief Shawlette*. I picked this project because it's the one going on needles next for me. I'm just dithering about color now.

To enter the contest, make a comment. I'll leave the contest open through Monday, September 27 and pick a winner using a number generator on the 28th. Thanks for playin'.

*Errata for this pattern can be found here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fuzzy Wuzzy

It seems like textured yarns are steadily making their way back into our lives. Some of them are glittery, some of them are bumpy, others have eyelashes. The one that holds a place near and dear to my heart is mohair. I've tried to figure out exactly what it is about mohair that makes me swoon. At the end of the day, I think it is because I like fuzzy things. (Rimshot)

Or maybe it's because goats are just so darn cute!

Mohair has been out of the fashion limelight for awhile, but I've been thinking lately that it might be time for it to cycle back into our hearts again. I wish I could say that I have a bunch of data to back that up, but it's more of a gut feeling. This feeling could certainly be wrong, but I have to wonder if there might be something going on since we're starting to see it around more lately.

Vogue Knitting and Mohair South Africa are sponsoring a contest, The Magic of Mohair. The prizes, including a trip to South Africa, are pretty spectacular!

There are a three of our yarns that would work beautifully for this contest.

First is Heaven. Heaven is a lace weight kid mohair. It's put up in big 7 ounce, 975 yard skeins. It would be nice if you have a light weight design in mind. You could do a whole project with a single skein.

Next is Glory. It's our worsted weight mohair. It comes in 2 oz, 120 yard skeins.

Last is Grace. Grace is a loop boucle. Like Glory, it's put up in 120 yard, 2 oz skeins.

I'm pretty excited by this contest. Sure, the prizes are grand, but what I'm intrigued about is seeing where designers are going to go. The design world has changed since the last time we all had mohair on our needles and I can't wait to find out where fresh eyes and new blood is going to take things.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Big Sky Country

Today is the first day back in the studio after a nice long weekend in Montana. Michael and I flew out early Thursday morning and landed in Billings just after noon. I think it must have been opening weekend for some kind of bow hunting season because I saw three or four bow cases come off the baggage carousel. There was a huge demand for SUV's at the rental car counter too. And a preponderance of men. Not that women don't hunt but......

Anyway, we made a beeline for Wild Purls, checked in with Julia and the gang and then made our way over to Red Lodge for the night. Red Lodge is one of those cute towns that has a main street that's about the length of a football field filled with darling shops and great restaurants. We found a hotel room and dinner and settled in for the evening. (The hotel had a German Shepherd named Shackleton that greeted us, but had gone home for the night by the time we got back to the lobby with the camera to take his picture.)

I've lived in Chicago for over fifteen years and in the Midwest for virtually my entire life so the west and cowboys always surprise me a little bit. The shops in Red Lodge had lots of things made from antlers and more plaid than I generally go for. And I'm not quite sure that I'd have opted for this hood ornament.....

At a bare minimum I would have knit the hat myself, but that's just me.

We left Red Lodge on Friday around midday and made our way back to Billings to meet up with Linda Shelhamer for a private tour of the Yellowstone Art Museum. Linda is the president of the Board of Trustees so we were able to get a peek behind the curtain. There was a great exhibit by John Buck but my favorite part of the visit was the yarn bombing that greeted us at the front door.

Next, we headed to a knit-in at the historic Moss Mansion. We all brought a knitted item as a donation for the YWCA's Gateway House, a safe haven for battered women. It was a great time. After a guided tour of the house, we sat down in the conservatory for some wine, knitting and talk. At different points in the evening, I'd guess twenty people joined us so it was a huge success for the Y's program.

After a good night's sleep, we headed back over to Wild Purls for the weekend's main event, a dye workshop. What a hoot! I couldn't have asked for a better group for my class.

We started out talking a little about yarn and dye and such.

There was a little detour into color theory and the like. I work more intuitively and less from things like color wheels, but I don't think it's a bad idea for folks to have a basic understanding of how color works.

Then it was on to the good stuff.

There was at least one color that I might have stolen the recipe for if that wouldn't have been wrong. And when it comes to yarn, the karmic backlash that goes along with stealing is just too big a risk.

At the end of the day, everyone went home with a freshly dyed (and somewhat damp) skein of yarn they had dyed themselves. I have to say that for a bunch of rookies, they did a pretty good job.

This weekend away came at a time when I desperately needed a little time away. And even though it was a work trip, somehow I arrived home feeling like I'd been on vacation. My theory is that it was because I was treated like royalty the entire time. Thanks to everyone who made it that way!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Pile of Possibilities

I am heading out to Billings, Montana first thing tomorrow morning. I get to teach a class at Wild Purls. Could this shop be any cuter?

Oh, did I mention that the people there are fabulous too? Julia contacted me a couple of months ago and asked me to come visit and teach a class. Who wouldn't want to spend time in Big Sky Country in September? Please, that was a total no brainer.

We're going to do a few things and I hope everyone likes my scheme. First we're going to do a dye workshop. Makes sense, right? After all, I know my way around the dye pots. I'm going to talk some about dyeing and color, do a little demo and let folks get their hands dirty and play along with me. (OK, I'll bring gloves so they won't really get dirty. I am mean, but not that mean.) Everyone will go home with a one-of-a-kind hank of yarn they dyed themselves.

Then, we're going to get the needles out. We'll look at yarns and samples and swatches. We'll play with texture and color and different yarns. There is a whole world of good when you mix all those things up. Part of the joy of creating is taking them all into consideration in your projects.

The one other thing we're going to do is pick a custom colorway for Wild Purls Sockapalooza. I've created a bunch of possibilities for them and we're going pick the one that Lorna's Laces will make exclusively for the event.

We're only making a very limited number of skeins and Cat Bordhi will be there when you pick them up. I have to admit that I'm not sure which part is cooler...the custom yarn or meeting Cat.

Now, back to getting all of the things done that I've been putting off all week. There are handouts to print and yarn to pack. And don't forget the full-tilt panic mode trip to the Gap that invariably occurs every time I go out of town. That will happen about 15 minutes before the store closes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Computer programmer by day and knitwear designer extraordinaire by night, Amy Swenson created this beauty for's fall surprise.

There were a few fits and starts with this design. Someone (ahem) might not have sent enough yarn in the beginning. You would think that that someone (ahem) would be able to do the math well enough to figure out that when a designer asks for 1200 yards of yarn that 8 skeins at 145 yards each is not enough.

You might also think that someone (ahem) would have tossed a couple of extra skeins in the box, just in case. Especially the second time.

To her credit, Amy was gracious and never even once suggested that someone (ahem) was full of stupid.

Brunello is one of two designs for's fall surprise. It was designed by Amy and knit from Lorna’s Laces Green Line DK in 2ns Manzanita. Brunello will make a great transitional garment. The short sleeves will be just perfect for a sunny fall day. With the addition of long sleeved t-shirt underneath it would take you right through the winter. Even one in Toronto or Chicago.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Calomel Gloves

Even though she was wearing three shirts, Marlene couldn't seem to shake the cold from her early morning walk. Belinda stepped up and have her a big hug, hoping to get Marlene's blood moving and warm her up a bit.

(Interweave's Weekend 2010 online preview is up!

Calomel Gloves are designed by Victoria Myers. The photographer is Kathryn Martin. They are knit in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. The blue pair is a combination of 92 River and 21ns Powder Blue. The brownish pair is is knit in Intrigue and Solitude.

I like the look of these, especially the brown ones. I'm guessing that's because my current winter coat is dark, chocolate brown and they'd work nicely with it.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bored yet?

I am a little but surprised with myself. I am still going steady with the small shawls. Under normal circumstances, my attention span is far too short to knit such similar projects over and over and there would have been a tragic break up months ago, but for some reason, I cannot get enough of these. Hmmm, what's the definition of an addiction again?

I guess part of it is that they are infinitely useful. Having a little something around your neck really does warm things up so they can almost substitute for a jacket in the early fall. When winter comes in earnest, they are a great layering piece either as a scarf for the winter coat or just as an accessory to wear all day long.

Who am I trying to kid? They are just stinkin' fun to knit! The lace provides a little intrigue, the edging is always a bit different, and after you have a few under your belt, they are a nice comfortable knit. Most of the time I can watch TV without a disaster.

This time around I decided to do Jolene Mosley's AeRang. I was attracted to the straight lines of the lace. So much lace is curvy and floral, these angles made me happy.

My AeRang is knit from one hank of the new 100 gram put up of our Shepherd Sock yarn in 56ns Fjord with plenty to spare. Blocked it's 45" x 19".

I'm prepping for a class later this month at Wild Purls in Billings, Montana so much of my knitting for the next couple of weeks is going to be dedicated to swatches for that, but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to squeeze in a Xeriscape. Or at least get it on the needles.