Favorite Things 2017

Its been an investing year of trying new things. There have been a few things that  were purchased in the name of “science” that quickly became raves.  Here are a list of the items over the last year that have become frequently used and loved items in my home. She may be ideas for gifts to be given but others are pure inspiration for items to enhance one’s own  fiber adventures.

Pink Hazel Buckets

Pink Hazel’s Bucket: I cannot say enough about this bag. I like many have been using some of the common or highly favored project bags out there but think this is the best one I have seen so far. I  have two  and I already want more of them. What makes them so great? Well, they are self standing and well renforced so that with a bit of wear they don’t (at least not yet) get floppy. They colored fabric front has a place where you can put the tools on the outside. I found this handy as yarn won’t get caught on the tools if they are on the inside of the bag, it also makes them easier to see on the outside. The bag also has a separator in the middle which while at first I found odd, I now think of awesome. there are countless times that  yarn I have carried with my project gets tangled on the needles. The separation allows for one to keep the yarn you want to use separate and tangle free from one;s project.

Pink Hazel does have online updates and she does stock her product through some LYSs.

 

Making Magazine: I have subscribed to this for the last three years and while the knitting patterns eventually are for sale on Raverly after the issue is published, the articles and other  craft projects are really excellent. There are so many that I want to make.

Subscriptions are available directly through them or  paper copies of the published issues will be stocked in select LYSs.

 

Bookshelf: My bookshelf in the living room runnth over and this year I bit the bullet and bought a vertical shelf  form ” Design Within  Reach  when they were having their semiannual sale. Not only did it free up so much space in the living room but it gave me a easier and new way to organize my knitting, crochet and spinning library.

 

Lumio  and Mini Lumio (Not shown): So I actually had a mini one last year but it broke. Full confession these are not cheap, but I waited for a sale. I have found that both MOMA and Design Within Reach have sales on their websites that can have 20% off in addition to free shipping. What I love about these is that they are so portable and so bright. If you are sitting on the couch you don’t need to have a flat surface or area to plug it in. It is easy to decide how much  want to open the light source, they are USB rechargeable, and they are compact and look like books when they are not in use.

Di Gilpin’s yarn

Di Gilpin’s Lalland: I raved about this yarn when I returned from Scotland. There is not much more I can say. A soft versatile yarn that can do cables, lace, and colorwork. I find the yarn reasonable priced and it comes in balls and not in skeins.

I bought from Di Gilpin directly and she has a website.

 

Viola Yarns:  There have been countless times that I have commented on Emily Foden’s yarn. She is not only a genius with color but also with her bases. I very much appreciate her commitment to keeping her business model to one she feels comfortable with and her hands on approach to her customers. She has gotten more attention in recent years and her yarn can be difficult to obtain but it is worth it and when you can get some you treasure what you get.

Emily’s yarn was previously available on Etsy but has recently moved to her website,

 

Woollenflower pouches (Not shown): These tweed pouches are wonderfully made and if knitting notion bags could be considered an “heirloom” I would put these in that category. Made from tweed that might come from scraps or from older tweed garments these little pouches are strong and sturdy. I have removed most of my enamel pins I have had on my Field bags by Fringe and moved these to my Woollenflower notions pouch.

She sells direct and through some on-line retailers.

 

Rethinking goals

The new year is just around the corner, as a knitter I think of time a little differently, not the concept of time but rather the year. Fall, is the beginning of  what I like to call the “Knitter’s year”. In my mind this runs September to August, because well, it is the start of “sweater weather” season.

I got sidetracked this year and have lapsed on planning for my annual goals so I have decided to fall back to using the calendar year for 2018 ( yeah its not really thinking outside of the box). I have been thinking about goals, and all that keeps going through my head is ” I know what I should do”…. I have a real challenge with this because it’s not very “joyful”, and am procrastinating the planning of my annual projects because I don’t want to make  it the year the year of ” I should”, to me that is a guaranteed way to lose ones ” knitting mojo” I mean I don’t think I have a stockpile of “knitting mojo” but I don’t want to jeopardize what is there.   So here is what I have come up with:

  • Iilya by Michele Wang
  • Lerwick by Marie Wallin
  • A bunch of hats
  • Donner by Blue Bee Studio
  • Make and effort to push through my holiday project
  • A few rows on the granny stripe blanket

To be honest that is a crap load of knitting, I am going to take adopt the approach of a tortoise this year and just “plot along” slow and steady. I mean keeping the “mojo” going should be the number one priority, so I am just going to wait and see how things turn out in September, hopefully I will actually have at least one sweater to wear to a fiber festival.

 

 

Thankful

No joke it has been a really tough year, I cannot overstate that enough. The highs were really high and the lows were really low.  To be honest I am kind of in the middle of a low right now, but I need to hit the “pause” button because even when things have gotten crazy I realize how lucky and thankful I am for the things in my life.   There have been some years where I kind of go through the motions during Thanksgiving but  feel thankful more than ever this year. I see people in similar situations and  while things look bleak and exhasuating, I realize that there are some people who are not dealing with my same situation and would trade places in a heartbeat.

When I think about that and the fact that there are being slow improvements it makes me hopeful.  Through it all there has been knitting, spinning, photography and getting to express myself on this blog. Somedays it is enough and others its not but getting to have them in my life is a blessing. Life is a journey and if your reading this thanks for letting me share a little bit of my journey with you.

Tis the Season.. of ENABLING

Di Gilpin’s yarn

The holidays are nearly here. It has been windy of late and perfect for mulled cider, fiber crafts, scented candles, and having a fire in the fireplace.  We are also entering “guilty pleasure” season. I am going to out myself because one of my guilty pleasures are the holiday movies on the Hallmark channel. I am a little embarrassed about sharing this but maybe it is because I just celebrated another birthday I am feeling more comfortable in my own skin.

I grew up in the age of after school specials when everything could be solved quickly and with some cheesy jokes. This channel checks all of the boxes for me. It has bee a tough year for many and it is very comforting to just enjoy something where everything turns out okay.

So in the spirit of the getting ready for the holidays I thought I would share a couple of my latest finds ( I’m not sure how you can beat the holiday movies on the Hallmark channel but here it goes):

Yarn by Di Gilpin. I found this during my trip to Scotland and it was not at all what I was expecting but not only is it nice, its pre balled and I think reasonable priced for international yarn (I think a ball cost about 8 Pounds) Initially I questioned 100% Scottish lambswool becasue I know that the softness and feel can vary, but this stuff is amazingly soft and it is spun in a mill that spins cashmere. I really think this yarn can do anything and everything.

Wool Punch Rugs. I bought a kit  from  Rose Pearlman who has taught at Purl Soho and well it is so much fun. It is a good way to “zen” out. I don’t know when I will have time to actually go full throttle on, or if I am doing it correctly  but I found it to be a lot of fun  and very creative.

Embroidery and Crewel kits from Alicia Paulson. I have admired her stuff for a long time and when I saw that she was stocking the materials for her Crewel Sampler I jumped on it.

ALJ, Jubilee Collection by Isager. I got to see this at a recent retreat and this has to be one of the most beautiful and informative knitting magaizine/books I have seen in awhile. It details the patterns of Ase Lund Jensen the woman who previously owned Isager.  I have already enabled one of my friends in the midwest to buy a copy and she loves it too.

Okay… last and not least handspun yarn, whether I am spinning with it or knitting with it I just love it. A friend told me a couple years ago that there was nothing like knitting with handspun yarn and she was right. It just feels so good.

Recently finished handspun

 

 

 

 

 

I should have had this thought awhile ago…

 

My daughter holding the stash that would be used to make her sweater

Maybe it is all of the fingering weight projects I knit for my trip to Shetland but I have been neglecting the heavier weight yarns in my stash. It was kind of kismet when I had some vacation time and had to pull some project together.

As I was rummaged through the stash I came across some heavier weight yarns and just like that I am one sleeve short of completing a kids sweater. I picked out some Aran weight yarn from Orangeflower that I have been wanting to try out and I love it.  I also cast on a cowl and just like that 5 skeins of stash will make its way out of the stash bins.  It feels so good ( I mean soooo good!!!).  I am not knitting faster but the cubic space these larger weight yarns had taken up have freed up a teensy tiny bit of one of my stash bins, but I am really enjoying the instant gratification that comes with something that is Aran weight or heavier. I think I might need a month  just to focus on knitting  heavier weight handknits (This doesn’t;t really have any chance of becoming a reality because the Holidays are just around the corner).

I also managed to do some destashing at a weekend getaway recently and that felt really good as well.  While I did pick up a few random special skeins of new yarns  and I won 8 skeins of Woolfolk’s Luft, overall I think it was a reduction to my stash…

Oh wait I forgot about the box of yarn that cam for Marie Wallin’s club. Oppps!

 

 

 

Shop Update: October 22, 2017 10AM PST

A collage of the yarns that will be offered

Well… Here goes nothing. I am having a shop update this weekend at my Etsy shop. There will be a smattering of different weighted yarns such as:

  • Sport
  • DK
  • Worsted
  • Bulky

I have been making a greater effort to spin up more fiber of the same colorway. I though that this would help people be able to have more options when knitting with handspun.  I am appreciative of any interest in the shop, even if it is to just window shop.

All the best,

 

Steph

Yarn Making 101

One of the amazing things I did on my trip was visit Jaimeson in Sandness. I have never seen yarn being made…. I mean aside from hand spinning, I have bought a lot in indie dyed yarns in the past and while I have a great appreciation for their dying talents I have never considered thinking about how the wool from a sheep makes to the skein in a stash.

Family owned and operated, Jamieson  is in its 5th generation of operating. It does everything well there is one outsourced operation but you get the general idea.  It was pretty amazing to see the processes from Fleece, processing of the fleece, dying, blending, and spinning the yarn, I have new appreciation on how lengthy the process is. Here are a couple of pictures that document a few steps of the process:

Local wool arrived to be processed at Jaimesons
Dyed wool that needs to be prepped for blending
Wool getting put on cones
Yards and Yards of wool on the cone
Machine knit jumpers aka sweaters waiting to get finished


Inspiration was everywhere

There was a fair amount of internal debate on how to capture or share some of my thoughts and experiences on the trip. It was  so much fun and I will never forget all of the memories and places I visited, but there was so much going on it is difficult to document, so I am just going to wing it and do the best that I can.

 

Edinburgh Yarn Shops:

Ginger Twist:

This quaint yarn shop is focused on indy yarn but not in the traditional sense. The owner  hand dyes her own yarn and has a smattering of other yarns. As an American I found the shop very small, but it was jam packed with yarn in every little square inch of the store.

One of the things I immediacy noticed was that the blend of the yarn are very different from back home. I picked up some souvenir “hand dyed” which has some Masham  fiber. I also bought some Gotland lace that is single farm sourced from Chopped Ginger, as well as a little knitting bag which colorways were exclusive to this shop.

 

Some of the shops wool dyed in Orkney

Be Inspired:

Hands down my favorite shop. I can’t say enough about the owner I could stay and chat with her for hours. I got to see a handful of yarns that I haven’t seen in real life and that was informative. This shop specializes in Indie dying and I saw  Uschitia, Hedgehog, Wollemise, but also some others including their own yarn  Shillidisair ( the owners are now retired) and Orkney Angora( I went pretty nuts but… mainly because I am really limited to light airy fibers due to my sensitivity to alpaca and mohair) this was a total science related purchase, but I am very excited about it,

Kathy’s Closet:

My friend and I went here  on the tour and we hear Karie Westerman and Lucy Hague speak. this shop focuses on British Wools and  while I did pick up some handspun and a new book by Baah Ram Ewe (that I had not seen before) I held off a bit on buying a lot  since we had not yet made it to Shetland.

Hearing and seeing Karie and Lucy’s stuff was amazing. My mind is still blown at Lucy’s beautiful samples and even the most sophisticated knitter’s on the trip were scratching their head on how the samples and designs were knit. I have no words, but a few pictures:

 

 

Counting Down…

I have been frantically trying to get ready for my trip, reality is setting in that I have less time to get a heap of things done. I have finally hit vacation mode on my knitting and have come to terms with that I won’t have time to cast on anymore items and have time to finish them before the trip. I made a couple deviations from my original plan to knit patterns from Scottish designers but I have to say that that I am pretty pleased with what I finished and am bringing:

  1. Ships and Seaside by Tiny Owl Knits
  2. Tortise and Hare Gauntlets by Kate Davies
  3. Braken Mitts by Helen Gray
  4. The Good Years Hat by Donna Smith
  5. Fidra by Gudrun Johnston
  6. Saudade (This was made a couple of years ago, but I really want to take it and get some better photographs)

I cast on Tales from the Isle of Purebeck by Annie Rowden  and if I make a  decent progress on that WIP  I will cast on Jujika by Olga Buraya Kefelian .I have given much thought to what to bring. Its a hard decision to bring themed projects or to go with something that you have REALLY wanted to knit and actually have time to knit because you don’t have work, family, and housework in the way.

So while I am in the midst of getting the family settled (DH has a trip and DD  gets ready to start school). I am debating packing decisions… I am a chronically overpack on trips, so this one is a challenge because I am going on a tour and am limited on how much I can bring.. Well and aside form the obvious… I need to leave room for yarn.

I have no idea what the month of September has in store but I am so excited to meet other knitters, travel to far away places and go exploring with one of my good friends.