Monday, December 27, 2010

Orchid Thief Encore

I rarely make the same project twice. Unless of course it's a pair of socks or something like requires that you knit two. I subscribe to the "so many projects, so little time" school of thought.

I also rarely knit Christmas presents. This is a Christmas present and the second Orchid Thief that I've made in as many months.

So, what's going on?

Because I had some trouble with the transition from chart three to chart four, I had some sort of visceral need to conquer it. It is now conquered and I feel better. Silly? Of course. But that doesn't change the fact that I needed to dominate a knitting pattern. Maybe I should be embarrassed by the victory dance, but I'm not.

As far as the Christmas thing goes, it was a gift for my sister. The one that lives near my mom and does way more than her fair share of the heavy lifting when it comes to mom's care. She deserved more than a gift card for her new Kindle. I wanted to give her something that came from my heart and hands. She's a knitter too, so she gets it.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Circa 1967

My sister just finished up an afghan for a co-worker who is getting married and moving to China. It's from Columbia-Minerva book 765 circa 1967. She bought the book new and has made several different things from it over the years. I'm surprised she still has it. It's survived eight or nine moves, veterinary school, four kids and countless dogs, cats and birds.

The pattern is called Reverie and she made it in our Shepherd Worsted in 0ns Natural. It took 8 skeins.

Lucky bride!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Now We're Talking Socks!

Vogue Knitting's Winter issue will hit the news stands on January 4th. They sent over a couple pictures of a pair of socks using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock that will be featured in it.

Lisa Whiting designed them, they take one skein of 36ns Chocolate and 2 skeins of 16ns Charcoal plus random bits to do the embroidery. Or maybe you'd want to use embroidery floss. I'm not sure what would work best.

Wow. Just. Wow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On The First Day of Birthday.....

My husband's birthday is December 25th. Yep, I'm married to a Christmas baby. He's pretty much become resigned to the fact that he kind of gets cheated. He says it doesn't matter but I think deep down the 8 year old boy in him is still a little crabby about it.

I do my best to mark the day as his, to make it special somehow for him. Once I threw him a surprise half-past-birthday party on June 25th. That was about the easiest surprise to pull off ever! The hardest part of the whole thing was twisting his arm to get him out of the house to the fund raiser I told him we were committed to attending. He wanted to bag the whole evening and stay home.

We decided early in our marriage that Christmas would be for us and not about making some preconceived required pilgrimage to visit one family or the other. We certainly celebrate Christmas with family, but not every year. We've spent Christmas in Paris and London. We've gone to the beach. Wherever we are, I make sure that his birthday doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

One of my favorite birthday celebrations is what I like to call "The 12 Days of Birthday". Starting on December 14th, he gets to open one gift every day for twelve days. And just like an eight year old, as soon as he wakes up, he rushes to pick a present to unwrap. It's very cute.

Let the games begin!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aspenglow Jacket

The Winter issue of Interweave Crochet hits today. This is Hannah Cuviello's Aspenglow Jakcet. She designed it using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in 710 Robot Overlord and 8ns Harvest. It looks nice and cozy dontcha think?

I did a double take when this photo hit my desk. My initial reaction was that there was some mistake, this is knit, not crocheted. Then I took a closer look. Color me impressed.

There is some seriously cute crochet work out in the world these days.I'm seeing lots of inspiration to become bi-craftual.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Don't Let Your Wine Go Naked

All of the sudden our holiday season has gotten even more busy. A week ago, we had one party to go to. Now we have five!

I decided to dress the wine we'll be bringing as hostess gifts.

I saw something like them in the Sundance Catalog and decided I could whip up a few for my friends. I used Shepherd Sport for both of these.

Here's a quick rundown of what I did. Calling this a pattern would be too strong but you should be able to get the idea.

For the scarf, I cast on 10 stitches on size three needles. I did the first couple of rows in garter stitch. Then I switched to stockinette and worked for about 17 inches. I finished with a couple of rows in garter again before I bound off. I also worked the first and last stitch of each row in garter stitch in order to keep it from rolling too much.

For the hats, I cast on 30 stitches on size 3 DPN's. I divided them on three needles and joined for working in the round. For the one on the right, I worked in stockinette for about an inch. Then K2TOG on the first stitch of every needle until three stitches remain. Pull the working yarn through those stitches.

For the one on the left, work three rows in K1P1 rib. Switch to stockinette until the work measures about an inch. Decrease as with the first hat. When there are three stitches remaining, work 3-stitch i-cord for about 2 inches. Bind off and make a little knot in the i-cord.

It only took this very slow knitter a couple of hours to make a set. And you could get a few of them out of a single skein of yarn. And this is a much cuter outfit for the wine than a regular gift bag.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Knit Simple Winter

My Winter Knit Simple just arrived! I get mine a little's not due to hit the newsstand until December 14th.

The stuff for kids in this issue was really cute. There was a bunch of great striped designs for child's sizes 2-8 or 10 along with accessories too. With the exception of one garment that had a bow at the neckline, all of them could go for a boy or girl depending on your choice of color.

Then there was a section they called Back to School. These are going to work for your 'tweens through teenagers. These were all modeled on girls, but I think that many of the designs would work for the boys in your life too. That's certainly true of this cute hat/scarf combo by Faith Hale. It's knit from our Shepherd Worsted and shown here in 104 Uptown and 16ns Charcoal. But if you grabbed a more gender neutral color, your little boy could rock this look.

I know we've all got tunnel vision right now with holiday knitting lined up as far as the eye can see, but we'll all need something to work on come January too!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I mentioned the other day that my gauge on the Favorite Sweater (on the first try) called for size 2's. Which means I was going to need a pair of 1's for the ribbing. I had 2's, 3's and 4's but the only 1's I had were DPNs and I was at 35,000 feet somewhere above the Pacific Ocean.

I looked over and saw my husband had his sketchpad out and a kneaded eraser in his hand. The light bulb went on. I made two balls with the eraser and stuck one on the end of each needle. Voila! I had created a pair of single pointed size 1's. I was pretty darn pleased with myself, even if I did end up having to rip out the knitting later.

I think knitters are a resourceful bunch. We create makeshift stitch markers and figure out ways to get around needing a measuring tape.

What's your favorite trick?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Favorite Sweater

I started working on Ann Bell's Favorite Sweater from Modern Knits Vintage Style while I was on vacation. The starting didn't go as smoothly as I would have hoped. I'd chosen Honor for the project. It was exactly the same gauge as the pattern called for and I figured it would be a no brainer.

It was a long flight and I thought I'd be able to get a significant start on it while were in the air. I dutifully knit a gauge swatch and even though the little voice in my head told me that US 2's seemed awfully small, I went ahead and cast on. I got through two inches of ribbing on size 1's and the little voice got louder. It was so tight, it was hard to knit. I not a huge fan of ribbing and I told myself that it was just the ribbing that was the issue and that as soon as I got past it, everything would all be OK. Two inches past the ribbing, I got my tape measure out and sure enough, I was knitting far too tightly. I took a deep breath, frogged the whole thing and started over.

I sometimes feel a sense of relief when something like that happens because I figure once I get past the hump, it will be smooth sailing. Not this time. I was about half way through the second try at the ribbing and it was much easier going. The gauge looked right and the knitting felt good. Not too tight like it had before. But something was still amiss. The little voice told me that the sweater looked too small. I checked the number of stitches and I had the correct count. Again, I thought that once I got past the ribbing everything would work itself out and told the little voice to be quiet. As it turns out, I had the correct stitch count for the wrong size. Rip. I had completely wasted 12 hours of perfectly good airplane time and all I had to show for it was a kinky ball of yarn and two empty knitting needles.

But the third time is a charm. The back is finished to the armhole decreases and I am seriously loving this sweater.

At 7 sts/inch this isn't going to be a quick knit, but I don't mind. It's an easy pattern to follow and the yarn is perfect. I've even checked the sizing against one of my go-to sweaters and it looks like it's on track.

I have this little dream that I might finish it in time for market in January, but I'm not going to get my knickers all bunched up if I don't. This is about enjoying the process.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Pledge

Mary Schmich published this in the Chicago Tribune today. I am going to do my best to follow her lead.

Thanksgiving is the most peaceful of holidays, and therefore I pledge that I will not initiate, nor will I be dragged into, a discussion of Sarah Palin. Should the conversation turn to aforementioned person, I will promptly switch it to a topic on which we can all agree, such as Charlie Sheen.

2. I pledge that if I am traveling this Thanksgiving I will stay as cool as Chicago's weather, even if the weather messes up my travel plans. If I am in an airport, I will be pleasant to airport personnel. They'd like to be on holiday too, remember? I will not use the phrase "Don't touch my junk," and frankly wish I had never heard it.

3. I will not eat too much, though I make this pledge with the understanding that "too much" has an expansive definition on Thanksgiving.

4. I pledge that if I am dining with my (choose up to 4: siblings/children/parents/ex) I will not revert to my worst role-defined behaviors. When I do, which I will, I hope that they will not revert to theirs, which they will. I pledge not to blame them if they don't blame me.

5. I pledge — let me take a few cleansing breaths first — I pledge that I will not resurrect insults and arguments from previous Thanksgivings, even as a joke.

6. I pledge that I will not make a big deal of my dietary preferences. Nor will I make fun of anyone else's. No one should be tortured into eating food they don't like at Thanksgiving, but neither should diners insult their dinner mates or the cook.

7. I pledge to praise the cook. If I am the cook, I pledge that I will not pout if the praise for my hard work is insufficient; I also pledge that I will sit down and enjoy the meal while somebody else replenishes the mashed potatoes.

8. If I am watching football on TV, I will do so at a volume that doesn't deafen others. Maybe. If I loathe Thanksgiving football at any volume, I will use this day to Google the visa requirements for residency in France.

9. I really hope I will not spend the day checking my BlackBerry or iPhone, or otherwise engaging in self-abusive technological addictions.

10. I pledge I will not drink too much. Sobriety will make all of the above easier.

11. I pledge that after eating and drinking too much, I will not whine about how bad I feel. The only thing more annoying than people who whine after their self-indulgence is the overindulgers who piously announced beforehand that they would behave.

12. I pledge not to spend one minute of Thanksgiving thinking about shopping on Black Friday. Day of peace, remember?

13. If I did not help cook, then I pledge to help clean up. Or at least offer.

14. Here is the pledge that will enable all my other pledges to come true: I will get some exercise before I eat.

15. I pledge to take a few moments to reflect on the bounty in my life and to acknowledge how much I have to say thank you for, even if I and my Thanksgiving aren't quite perfect.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Year of Being Fifty

Yesterday was my birthday.

Up until the last few weeks, the prospect of turning 50 bothered me. Alot. I don't know why. After all, my life is pretty darn good. I am healthy. I have wonderful friends. I work with pretty string every day. I've made a nice home. I worship the man I am married to. (I think he likes me OK too.)

So, why the angst? It took me a long time to put my finger on it and an even longer time to own up to it. I was afraid of being the stereotypical middle aged woman who knits. And I don't even have a cat.

There were two incidents that helped turn me around. First was my visit to Wild Purls in Montana. Julia, the owner, turned fifty over the summer and she was embracing it. She went to a reunion, she organized a girlfriends weekend, she called friends and offered them the "opportunity" to buy her lunch. After all, this is her Year of Being Fifty. I think that has a nice ring to it.

The other thing that happened was a conversation with my dear friend, Frank. He had stopped by the studio to visit during the Ravenswood Art Walk. I mentioned that I was less than thrilled with this birthday and told him my misgivings about the yarn lady thing. He looked around, cocked his head and started laughing uproariously. Then he said "You are a yarn lady. What does your age have to do with it? No one is going to love you any less."

So here I am. Fifty. Would you like to buy me lunch?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Purple Mustangs, a Book and a Contest

A new book is hitting the shelves today, The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn. Lorna Miser, the founder of Lorna's Laces, is the author. Who better to guide you through how best to knit with these wonderful yarns?

A copy of the book arrived last week and I immediately stopped what I was doing to take a look. Yowsa! The book explores variegated yarn like it's nobody's business. Early on, she shows how different kinds of multi-colored yarns behave and why. Then she walks you through how to work with them to get the results you want. You become the master of your knitting destiny. Pretty cool, yes?

Even better, Lorna Miser and Lorna's Laces got together to create a new colorway for our Color Commentary Series to coincide with the book's release. It's called Lorna's Purple Mustang to pay homage to her vintage '65 Mustang and favorite color. She was even nice enough to design a shawl using the color.

The Lace Rim Shawl shawl calls for three skeins of our Shepherd Sport and is available for free download at Lorna's website

Best part? We are having a giveaway! Leave a comment here and using a random number generator we will select a winner wto receive enough Lorna's Purple Mustang to make the shawl. We'll close the contest at midnight on November 19.

Who's in?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Orchid Thief

I finished my Orchid Thief over the weekend. The pattern calls for 440 yards of a fingering weight yarn but I decided I wanted to bump things up a little and went with our Shepherd Sport. I've been knitting lots of small shawls and socks lately and thought it might be fun to work with a slightly heavier yarn for a change. There were three skeins of our Baltic Sea colorway that jumped right up and said "pick me, pick me!"

The first three charts went really quickly. (There was some errata but it had been identified and posted.) I had some trouble with the transition from the third to fourth chart, but found help on Ravelry and was buzzing right along in no time. I'm still not sure why I got hung up. I usually prefer charts to written instructions but something about that row just didn't click with me. I guess that's why we often see patterns written both ways.

The unblocked shawl was about 41 x 19.

I didn't block it terribly hard and ended up with a finished product that was about 60 x 30. It could have been quite a little bigger if I'd have pushed it. I kind of like the curviness of it this way.

I ended up using about 1/2 of the third ball of about 500 yards or so. I'm really liking the squishiness I got with the Shepherd Sport. It's an entirely different end product than I would have gotten had I used Shepherd Sock.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How About a Trade?

I went to SOFA over the weekend. SOFA stands for Sculptural Objects and Functional Art. In layman's terms, it's a big fancy pants art fair where most everything is three dimensional. That means you won't find much in the way of paintings and photographs. You will find lots of textiles, glass, ceramics, bronze and wood. I have nothing against painting but I tend to prefer the other things. Makes sense given that I work in yarn.

Most of the art there is way beyond my reach. There was a great bronze of a rabbit skeining yarn into a ball for a mere $15K. I saw several things with price tags that rivaled my mortgage. I'm not complaining, it's always inspiring to see so much great art. But, I don't have any illusions that I was actually shopping. This was more like going to a museum with price tags.

While I was there I got an idea for an art piece. This crazy idea would require lots of buttons. Unfortunately, my button tin doesn't have very many buttons in it.

My first thought was to start scouring local vintage stores and second hand shops for buttons. And I know I can find plenty on ebay. But it occurred to me that it might be more interesting to see what happened if I just simply asked for them. Community and all.

So, I would like to propose a trade. If you have any buttons you are willing to part with I will send you a Lorna's Laces button.

We have about 85 of them. If you are one of the first 85 people that send buttons, I will send you a button in return.

The address is:

4229 N Honore St
Chicago, IL 60613

Monday, November 1, 2010

Modern Knits Vintage Style

Lately, more books have been coming our way. It used to be that publishers sent us books as a matter of course. Usually because we'd provided yarn for one of the models. Then there was something of a dry spell. We were still sending yarn, but we weren't getting the books. I don't know what changed, but I am thrilled to receiving the sample copies again!

A really wonderful book, Modern Knits Vintage Style, arrived the other day. The concept was pretty darn interesting. The editor, Kari Cornell, asked some of today's finest designers to give new life to classic, vintage patterns using modern yarns and current sensibility. Boy, did they deliver!

There are sweater, skirts, hats, shawls, belts, gloves. You could dress yourself head to toe using patterns from this book.

Franklin created the Jacqueline Bouvier Stole. He was inspired by the veil and dress she wore on her wedding day. It uses a single skein of our Helen's Lace. It's quite elegant in Natural, but would be equally beautiful in any of our colorways.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Steph and Rachel Come to Town

Yesterday was pretty freakin' fantastic.

There was pizza.

And beer.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee took some pictures.

That Rachel H dyed some yarn.

A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vogue Knitting Holiday 2010

I just got a preview of a sweater that's going to be in Vogue's Holiday issue. It won't be on newsstands until November 9th, but their website has some great stuff.

I particularly like the site's VK 360 feature where the camera pans all the way around the garment so you can see how it really looks and fits. You don't have to wonder if the photo was styled with a bunch of clothespins down the back to make it look nice. They put the model in plain black so you aren't distracted by props and can focus on the garment rather than the cute hat or great belt.Don't get me wrong, I love the styled look the magazine has to offer because it provides fantastic ideas for accessories, but having both the pared down and ramped up versions makes it easier to make good decisions about project selection.

Mari Lynn Patrick designed this beauty from our Shepherd Worsted in 24ns Navy and 38 Mixed Berries. You can't tell from this picture, but there's a really nice button detail that closes the neck in the back. The VK 360 shows it nicely.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Every once in awhile a big box of samples comes in the mail from a mill. Yesterday was one of those days. This time around there were things from Italy and Argentina. Last week, we got a bunch of stuff from Great Britain.

Most of the yarn was wool or a wool blend. Some of the fibers in the blends were a little different than I usually see. One had fox. Another had nettle. There was also the usual suspects like angora, mohair, alpaca and silk. There were even a few that I had to look up, like lino and cabrito. (I'm still not 100% sure what cabrito is...maybe goat?)

Sometimes the samples we get are dyed, like the ones you see here, other times they are not. Even though color is what we do every day, we all have to consciously remember not to let the color sway our opinion of the fiber. Even though we are "trained professionals", it's not always easy.

It feels almost like Christmas when the samples arrive. Except for the fact that decisions are required. Do you like this yarn? No? Then how about that one? One of the crew likes yarn that's not quite so soft. Someone else insisted that only soft will do. What about the one with a little sparkle? Is two ply the thing? What about this six ply? Silk? Cashmere? What if we took this and made it a bulky rather than a worsted? The choices are endless.

Sometimes the conversations become, ahem, spirited. Ummm, now that I think about it, it's exactly like Christmas what with those spirited conversations. After all, we ARE almost like family around here.

We took that big pile of yarn and whittled away at it until there were about a half dozen that we decided were interesting. Next step is getting more significant samples to do some testing. Then the real hard part comes...trying to figure out what you will want to knit with this time next year.

It would be so much easier if my crystal ball were not all full of wool.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gifts Issues

A couple of things went live today over at Interweave Press. Both their Crochet Accessories and Holiday Gifts are up for your reading and stitching pleasure.

Check out Tara's Tunisian Scarf in Crochet Accessories. Ellen Gormley designed this great one-skein project using Lorna's Laces Pearl in the Baltic Sea colorway. Pearl is a luxury fiber and this would make a stunning gift for somebody special. I like this yarn more and more all the time.

Then there are two projects using Lorna's Laces yarns in Interweave Holiday. The first is this slouchy hat designed by Katya Frankel.

It's called the Soft Ribbed Hat and it's made from our Angel. Angel is a 70% angora/30% wool blend and is shown here in the 56ns Fjord colorway.

Last up is the Anouschka Scarf by Mel Clark. It's made from our Helen's Lace in 55ns Butterscotch. Butterscotch is a nice, warm yellow that's going to be flattering on a wide range of skin tones.

Helen's Lace is 50% wool/50% silk and comes in big 1250 yard hanks. I'm thinking you'd have enough left over here to make a second project. I always love a twofer.

I want to send out a big thank you to all the designers here that made out yarns sing. And to Interweave for sharing them with you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Colorway Names

Here's a recent exchange on the Lorna's Laceaholics group on Ravelry.

amigtov: I was scrolling through the color swatches online while yarn shopping, and I was startled to see that a lot of the colorway names for Lorna’s Laces yarns are locations in El Dorado County, CA. It was so bizarre because I lived there since I was a child, for more than 20 years. My parents still live there. I kind of squealed while reading off the colors to my husband (he just rolled his eyes, lol). Does someone at Lorna’s come from that area?

amallen: Spot on! Lorna’s Laces was originally located in that area! In 2003 Lorna’s moved to Chicago and we started naming colors after Chicago locations.

keeperofbear: there’s a place in Chicago named Zombie Bar B Que?

amallen: Yep! It is right next to the Turtle Rodeo but if you reach the Unicorn Parade you have gone to far!

keeperofbear: geez! i better turn around! I’m all the way down by Robot Overlord!

amallen: careful he bites!!

keeperofbear: got it. staying in the car and locking the doors. :-)

amallen: good plan!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Civic Duty

Look what came in the mail yesterday.

Jury duty gets me kind of twisted. The first time I was called, I got seated as a juror on a murder trial. Not some fraud case or a burglary. I drew murder.

The responsibility of making a decision about the outcome of another person's life was almost more than I could fathom. Even though I was sharing that decision with eleven strangers, it weighed very heavily on me. I didn't sleep well for awhile after.

Although it was almost fifteen years ago, there were many things about the experience that still stand out in my memory. Like the fact that start to finish, the entire trial only took three days. Monday morning I was sitting in the bullpen with a hundred other potential jurors and by the close of the day on Wednesday we had convicted a man. Three days. It doesn't seem like enough time to me for a crime of that magnitude.

Another odd thing was that, as jurors, we were escorted to and from a special courthouse cafeteria as a group. We weren't allowed to go out into the world and have lunch. We weren't sequestered or anything but we weren't really free either. I remember looking out the window after lunch and seeing the defendant walking back from a little restaurant across the street. Intellectually I understood that he had not been convicted yet and had every right to go out to lunch, but somehow it seemed strange that he could go and I couldn't. I realize that it sounds petty, but my inner teenager stomped her foot a bit.

Throughout the trial, the defendant looked like a nice person. He was young and good looking. When he testified, he spoke well. He looked like someone that I could have been friends with. But when the verdict was read, his face completely transformed. His rage was palpable and all of the sudden I could see the man who'd bludgeoned an ice cream man to death. That still haunts me.

Maybe the hardest thing of all for me was listening to the evidence and slowly coming to realization that I was sitting in a room with someone who killed another human being. It was very scary.

But even though that experience was pretty disturbing, I actually don't mind jury duty. I'm fascinated by the process and honestly believe in our system. That in order for that system to work, all of us have to be willing to step out of our day to day lives and take our turn sitting in the jury box.

OK, the civics lesson is over. Will return to yarn and pretty next week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Knit Simple Holiday

Dang, pretty stuff just keeps coming across my desk. Knit Simple hits new stands today and I'm in love with these two bags!

They're both designed by Mary Reigstad and require two skeins of our Shepherd Bulky yarn. The bag on the right is in 11ns Bold Red and knit in garter stitch.

The one on the left is Zombie BBQ and is simple stockinette. (You gotta love anything in Zombie BBQ.)I love the way the colors kind of zig zag down the bag. You can see it even better in the close up on their site.

I think if you forced me to make a choice, I'm going for the one of the left because I like bags with flaps.* I'm kinda klutzy and unless things are sealed up tight I have a tendency to lose them.

*Edited: Oops, just heard from the editor of Knit Simple. That's not a flap, it's a scarf. But, adding a flap would be a super easy modification. You'd just have to pick up stitches along the edge in another color and you'd be set. You could even get fancy and add a cable.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's October

Yep, there's a nip in the air and the leaves are starting to turn. That means it must be Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For the last few years, we've dyed a colorway called Flamingo Stripe to benefit breast cancer charities. We always donate 20% of our proceeds from this yarn. Susan B Koman, Walk for a Cure and American Cancer Society have all received gifts from us. So have some smaller groups recommended by knitters like Breast Cancer Angels.

We'll continue to do it as long as we keep selling the yarn. We've been shipping lots of it out to your LYS and we have plenty here if they need more. We want to keep all our breasts happy and healthy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Just Bag It!

We've had a couple of things we've been working on for quite awhile come to fruition at the same time. Both of them involved Jimmy Bean's Wool.

First is this innovative new shipping bag.

Jimmy came to me last spring with this crazy idea. (Jimmy is always full of the crazy ideas.) She wanted to know what I thought about using shipping bags to distribute patterns. I thought it was genius. We both hated the fact that the bags almost always headed straight to the dumpster once they were opened. We wanted to make them useful. And provide our customers with a nice little "thank you".

The graphic designer who did the art suggested we make them friendly for a three-hole punch so you can keep them in a binder, all neat and tidy. This sock is just one in a series of patterns that will come with your shipments.

The bags just arrived and they are busy shipping orders in them.

I'll tell you about the other project later. It's pretty cool and involves alpaca.

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.