Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Huh, what's a xeriscape?

That's what I said to myself when Mary-Heather from Ravelry told us the name of the little scarf/shawlette that she designed using a single skein of our newest yarn, Honor. So, I jumped over to dictionary.com and checked it out. It turns out that a xeriscape is the environmental design of residential and park land using various methods for minimizing the need for water use.

Aha! That makes perfect sense when you consider that Mary-Heather lives in the high desert of Albuquerque, NM. As she mentions in her blog, her daily walks through the rock gardens in her neighborhood inspired the scalloped edges of this design.

One of the great things about this pattern is that it looks great in our nearly solid colors like the Patina you see above as well as multi-colors, like the Turtle Rodeo below. That's because not only is M-H cute as the dickens, but she's clever too. The shaping that creates that edging makes the colors sing together.

We got a chance to see the model at market in June, and have been waiting impatiently for the test knitting and tech editing to finish up. We're delighted to see it out in the world for everyone. The pattern is up on Ravelry now.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Evolution of a Color

Way back towards the first of the year, I started a conversation with Alice Yu of Knit Nation fame about her sock club, Knit Love Club.

The original idea was to have a color that was a Viking Blue - a sort of ocean-esque soft blue - the softness you get with Swedish light. She was leaning towards one of our nearly solids because the pattern she had in mind involved Viking cables. I dyed a few things up and sent them along.

In addition to the blues we'd discussed, I also did one that leaned a little more towards green. There was something in one of the inspiration photos she'd sent that made me want to include a choice that leaned a little more towards green. I don't know what in particular it was. But that's not really unusual. Quite a bit of my color creation revolves around things I can't articulate.

Alice got busy swatching and realized things weren't quite right. The colors were pretty and what she had asked for, but she wanted something with just a little more pizazz. She'd been doing a bunch of colorwork at the time and the nearly solid seemed a little lifeless and flat.

I revisited some of the pictures she'd sent and read over our email conversations again. There was a mention of turquoise and duck eggs that I'd overlooked. So, back to the dyepots for me with visions of Vikings and oceans and duck eggs. The next set of samples were variegated and bolder.

I'm always a little nervous when I send a customer color samples. There's a piece of me that worries that I'll disappoint. Color is such a personal thing. Everyone sees something a little different in their mind's eye when they say "I want a deep, rich blue" or "Just like the red at sunset". And there is so much emotion tied in with color too. It's hard sometimes to create emotion with dye.

I turns out I didn't need to be worried. One of the colors I sent hit the nail on the head. We decided to call it Bleen and Grue. Alice created the 2luvcrew sock in honor of the Knit Nation volunteer crew.

So, there's a little peek into how this particular colorway was created. They all come to life differently. This is certainly not how they all evolve, but I wouldn't say it is atypical either. Most of the time it's a collaboration where pictures and conversation and a vision collide with yarn and color ensues.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Good Day/Bad Day

Today is one of those very best kinds of days and very worst kinds of days all rolled into one.

The very best parts:

1) My brother is coming for the weekend.

2) Stitches Midwest opens.

3) Carl and Eileen from Bijou Basin Ranch stopped by the studio.

The very worst parts:

1) The house needs to be clean and I think he expects sheets on the bed.

2) Stitches Midwest is here and I need to be in two places at once.

3) There is no bad here. Carl and Eileen are all good parts. (Did you know they have an Irish Wolfhound named Bear? Not a Great Dane, but still.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mary Jane's Afternoon Excursion

Last weekend, Mary Jane got a little stir crazy. After a long hot summer in the city, the crisp fall weather got her itching for some fresh country air. Even though it was a little cool, she knew if she put her Sugar Maple Shawl over her favorite corduroy jacket, she could still put the top down on her vintage MG convertible and skedaddle out of town. Forty minutes and one speeding ticket later, she found herself wandering in the lush woods just outside a little town famous for its sheep and wool festival.

(The preview of Interweave Crochet's Fall issue went live today! Sharon Ballsmith used our Shepherd Sock in #610 Zombie BBQ to create the Sugar Maple Shawl.

This colorway has been an absolute runaway hit. It was originally designed for Sock Summit last year and it was so popular that we decided to make it part of our regular line up. This shawl certainly shows it off beautifully.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Surprise

My sister came through town a couple of weeks ago. She and her husband were catching a train here and then heading west to visit my nephew and his family out in San Diego. I'm not quite sure why, but the prospect of a train trip always seems desperately romantic to me.

Like any good grandmother, she spent a fair amount of time reading books with her grandkids. One of them was Sylvia van Ommen: The Surprise. (You should really take the time to click on that link and peek at some of the other illustrations.) It's a fabulous picture book about a sheep and the dyeing and spinning of wool and the making of a sweater for a friend. She was captivated by the book and sent me a copy. I am captivated too.

It was originally in Dutch but has been translated to a bunch of different languages so the copy I have actually says "the surprise" rather than "de verrassing" on the cover. Not that it would really matter since the pictures tell the story without the need for words.

It's been a long time since I've been so taken by a book. Do you think there's any shame in having a children's book front and center on my coffee table?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Theresa's New Socks

Theresa loved her new socks so much that she jumped up on the trunk to get a better view. Under no circumstances does she want you to think that she was avoiding a mouse. Not in her bucolic little farmhouse. Not a chance.

(The Vogue Knitting Fall 2010 Preview is up! Barb Brown designed these Lace Stockings using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in 14ns Denim. The pattern calls for 3 skeins of yarn, but since we changed our put up, you really only need two.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Crew

Today seemed like a good day to introduce you to the crew.

On the far left is Beth G. Beth is our newbie. She just started a couple of weeks ago and is a ton of fun. She came to us from a big coffee house. I think she likes it better here.

Next is Caitlin. While we all knit, she is exceptional. It's not just her skill set either, she has a great eye for color and shape and pattern. We take advantage of her fine art training all the time. She's been taking a few classes this summer to gear up to go back to school to be a teacher.

Merrilee is peeking out from behind Caitlin. She's our newlywed. She's kind of quiet, but don't let it fool you. There's a wicked wry sense of humor hiding in there.

The brunette in the hip glasses is Anna. She's been with us for a few months and used to work for a chocolate company. Yarn or chocolate? That would have been a tough call. I'm glad she picked yarn. It does make me wonder if she'll hit the trifecta and end up at a winery or brewery at some point.

Next up is Amanda. She's been with us ever since Lorna's Laces moved from California to Chicago. The poor thing has put up with me for all those years. She's got a bunch of things going on in her world these days. Moving for one. Planning a wedding for another.

I'm on the far right. I'm the luckiest person in the world. I get to work with all these folks. And work in yarn. It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Stitch Collection

A new stitch dictionary by Debbie O'Neill arrived recently. It's called, simply, The Stitch Collection. There are many very good stitch dictionaries out there, but the more I look through this one, the more I like it.

It's a boxed set with each of five volumes showcasing a different type of stitch. Knit and Purl, Rib, Lace, Cables and Specialty. Within each volume, it is organized from smallest to largest stitch repeat. That's a handy feature if you're trying to decide which pattern best suits your project. It would make sense that you'd want a smaller-scale repeat for a baby sweater than for an afghan.

I like the fact that's it each volume is small. The size is going to make it portable. You'll be able to easily toss the volume that you want to work with in your bag and go.

Another thing I like about this book is how Debbie classified each stitch by level of difficulty. That makes perfect sense. Patterns are rated this way, why shouldn't stitch patterns be too? If you think about it, unless a garment has an unusual construction or something else that's a little atypical going on, isn't the stitch pattern going to be one of the key indicators of difficulty?

She also classifies each stitch by level of drape. Once again, I think this is a nice feature. Of course, you'll want to make a swatch to make sure that you're getting the results you want, but having some idea of what to expect ahead of time is going to make things easier and might save you a little time in the long run.

As often as not, I'm the kind of person that takes advantage of all the wonderful patterns out in the world. I'm more about making beautiful yarn than making beautiful patterns. But, every once in awhile I get a hankering to go off the grid and explore on my own. Especially when it comes to something fairly simple like taking the basic shape of a design I like and fits me well and adding a little interest with texture. This book provides lots of choices.

For someone with more pattern writing skills than I have or who aspires to be a designer, this book would be a great reference tool. And a source of inspiration. Even I started to think about where some of these stitches might take me.

I should probably also tell you that Lorna's Laces provided the yarn for all the swatches in the book. Other than a free copy, we did not receive any compensation for this blog post.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Meredith and Jonny

Meredith looked deep into Jonathon's eyes and saw the truth she'd been avoiding for months. He didn't love her the way she loved him.

They'd met during the long days of summer and those first few weeks were magic. They frolicked at the beach, took long hikes in the woods, got drenched in a sudden thunderstorm after an afternoon antiquing in the next town over. It seemed like they were meant for each other.

But as time wore on, those perfect days became fewer and farther between. The ease they'd once shared seemed strained. He wasn't as quick to laugh at her jokes or reach out to hold her hand when they walked down the street. Things weren't bad, the just weren't quite right anymore.

So, she took a deep breath, pulled her scarf more tightly around her neck, gave him a kiss on the cheek and whispered "goodbye".

Anthera; beret, cowl and wristlet set designed by Janel Laidman and published in Twist Collective's Fall issue. Knit from Lorna's Laces Angel in 56ns Fjord. Story courtesy of the bad romantic comedies I watched over the weekend.