Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yuletide Greetings

The knitting needles and dye pots are still going non-stop on this end. I found the perfect holiday cards, and I'm trying to do my part to spread good wool to the people in my life. Now back to knitting, I have a few more things to make by Friday! Happy solstice everyone!



Hat: The Conversationalist
Socks: Wintersmith Socks

Monday, December 14, 2015

Rhinebeck, Long Overdue

Back in October, I traveled to Rhinebeck to spend a wonderful couple of days with a group of lovely friends. I of course took my camera with me, but immediately after the trip, my SD card corrupted itself. Two months later, I managed to rescue these photos.

Rhinebeck is so much more than yarn and fiber - well, it is a lot of yarn and fiber, but for me, it's an opportunity to escape the frantic daily pace and reconnect with people I really care about but rarely get to see. We get to stay together, knit, reconnect, and generally be merry. I came home with only a handful of goodies, but lots of happy memories.









Monday, December 7, 2015

Pattern: Teeny Tiny Mitts Ornament


I had to whip up a little gift for a handmade swap and came up with this adorable little ornament.

Gather up your sock yarn scraps!


  • US1 or US2 double-pointed needles (gauge is not important)
  • Scraps of sock weight yarn (shown here: Toil & Trouble Classic in Persephone)
  • Darning needle

  • K: Knit
  • P: Purl
  • PM: Place marker
  • SM: Slip marker

Leaving a long tail (we will use it at the end), cast on 18 stitches, distributing 6 stitches onto three needles, and join in the round.

Rounds 1-5: *K1, P1, repeat from * to end
Round 6: K all
Round 7: K8, PM, M1R, K2, M1L, PM, K to end (increased 2 stitches)
Round 8: K all
Round 9: K to M, SM, M1R, K to M, M1L, SM, K to end (increased 2 stitches)
Round 10: K all
Round 11: K to M. Remove marker and slip next 6 stitches onto scrap yarn. Cast on 2 stitches to close the thumb, K to end.
Round 12-21: K all
Round 22: SSK, K5, K2tog, SSK, K5, K2tog (decreased 4 stitches)
Round 23: SSK, K3, K2tog, SSK, K3, K2tog (decreased 4 stitches)
Round 24: SSK, K1, K2tog, SSK, K1, K2tog (decreased 4 stitches)
Cut your working yarn leaving a tail. Using a darning needle, weave the yarn through the live stitches and pull tight. Pull the yarn to the inside of the mitten and secure. 

Place live stitches onto needles. 
Round 1: Pick up and knit 2 stitches at the base of the thumb, then knit to the end of the round.
Round 2-4: K all
Round 5: *K2tog, repeat from * to end
Cut your working yarn leaving a tail. Using a darning needle, weave the yarn through the live stitches and pull tight. Pull the yarn to the inside of the mitten and secure. 

Weave in all ends except for the cast on tail. Fold the tail in half and secure it, so you can use it to hang your ornament.Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Down to the Last Inch


Phew, Baby Sophisticate all done! I used Cascade 128 from stash and the yardage ended up much tighter than expected. Also, I just validated all my yarn scrap hoarding impulses. I finished the sweater with 3 inches left of the white, and had to go fishing in my bin of random scraps to find enough odds and ends for the sleeves. This is definitely a one of a kind sweater! As much as playing yarn chicken can be stressful, working with constraints can really push us to come up with something completely unexpected.

Now to sew on the buttons and package it up!

Sophisticate3 Sophisticate2

Monday, November 23, 2015

Stash Diving

There's a very proud dad and a new 16 day old baby around here, so I did a little stash diving and need to quickly knit up a baby sweater with some creative striping. Time to whip up a little Baby Sophisticate! After that, maybe I'll have some time to play with these new beads. The bead store here in Salem is closing for good this week after a very sudden announcement, so I had to pay them a last visit. It's always sad to lose another small, creative business. I have no idea what I am going to do with acid green fish beads, but they just couldn't be left behind.

The last batches of limited edition Halloween yarn are going out this week, phew! Thank you everyone for the truly amazing response!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Dying of the Light

By mid-November, it feels like the daylight shrinks exponentially and the night starts to take over. All of a sudden, there's a permanent chill in the air, and the darkness seems seep into every nook and cranny.




Monday, November 9, 2015

Stolen Moments

I've come to realize I am pretty terrible at taking care of myself. I am great at working hard and meeting deadlines - but I tend to pack my schedule so full I forget to factor in time for meals. I love my work, so I frequently forget that I should actually give myself time to do things that are not work-related. I am constantly working on a knitting project and have dye pots running almost all my waking hours. Last week, a couple of friends invited me to go out to lunch with them today. My stomach flipped a bit as I thought about my endless to-do lists, but I decided a break would probably be good. I packed the car with orders ready to go to the post office, so I could at least do that on the way back. After lunch, I dutifully went to the post office, driving past the bookstore. Few things tug on my heartstrings like bookstores, so I couldn't resist the temptation. After the post office, I ran back to the bookstore and allowed myself an hour.


As I browsed the shelves, I remembered how infrequently I do this, and how much I love it. I love going to bookstores with no shopping list, so I can wander the stacks and pick out things that catch my eye. I then find a quiet corner, sit with my pile of books, and spend some time with each book as I decide which ones I'll be bringing home. It's also one of the few places where I get to read (outside of my own home) where people don't take it as an invitation for a conversation. Not that I don't enjoy talking to people, but this introvert really loves her reading time.


By the time I left the bookstore with a bag of new goodies for my overflowing shelves, I caught myself smiling. My phone buzzed, with a list of "14 Two-Sentence Horror Stories Guaranteed to Terrify Introverts." Number 5 said, "She bought a strange book from an old bookstore. When she opened it up to read it strangers came up to her thinking it was a conversation starter." I chuckled to myself and hugged my books. Now back to those dye pots, the yarn isn't going to dye itself! As for those socks, finishing and publishing that pattern is definitely on the to-do list.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Colors

I'm back from Rhinebeck and recovered from a nasty cold, just in time to share this year's limited edition Halloween colors! I did have Rhinebeck photos, but currently trying to rescue them from a corrupted SD card (grrrr). Hopefully I'll be able to share them soon!

This year, I have three colorways for Halloween, available on my website through November 15th! I wanted to approach the Halloween colors in a non-traditional way, to get away from the expected combinations. The results are: Seance, Rusty Coffin Nail, and Wednesday Addam's Thigh Highs! (EDITED: Due to the overwhelming response, I may be taking these down sooner that November 15th, so make sure to grab yours!)





Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A New Kit & Catching Up

The last three weeks have been a complete whirlwind. I teamed up with Meghan, the lovely fellow Salem knitter behind New England Knitting, to bring you the Micalet Hat Kit. Read about the inspiration behind this design on her blog, and grab a kit on my website!


I had two trunk shows, one at Mind's Eye Yarns, and one down on Cape Cod at Sage Yarn, where I also taught Portuguese Knitting. Now I am getting a little bit of a breather before the next big, and currently secret, project. I did also celebrate my birthday in the midst of the chaos of constant dyeing. After admiring Oh, Albatross' beautiful handsewn creatures for months, I treated myself to a gorgeous little fox.




I also received some lovely gifts from the enablers in my life: great books on spinning from Nate, and handspun silk from Boston Knitter. I am still looking for the perfect shawl pattern so I can show off this pretty yarn!



Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Review & New Yarn: The Stars My Destination

The Stars My Destination is not a recent read, but rather an old favorite book. When Nate and I were first dating, we exchanged books. The Stars My Destination was the first book he ever gave me. I was hesitant to read it because it's a Sci Fi book - and even though I'm a big fan of the fantasy genre, I don't enjoy Sci Fi all that much. So I put on my best "I can be a cool girlfriend" face and dug in. I came out of it surprised and entranced. The story is definitely set in a Sci Fi universe, but the story is very much character driven, and explores themes of identity, morality, and revenge. So even if you're a reluctant Sci Fi reader, I recommend this book highly!


So where does the yarn come in? One of the protagonists in the story is Olivia Presteign. She is visually impaired - she can't see what is considered the visible light spectrum, but can see in the infrared spectrum. This colorway, named Olivia P., is how I imagined her world, with explosions of warm reds and oranges. There are a couple of ready to ship skeins up for grabs!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Review: A House in the Sky

I knew nothing about this book before I spotted it in a book store and the cover caught my eye. A House in the Sky is a memoir by Amanda Lindhout. In this memoir, Amanda recounts the 460 days she spent in captivity and the circumstances leading to her capture. She loved traveling the world, and would spend months saving money, and then months traveling. She found occasional work as an amateur photo journalist. During one of her trips, she was kidnapped by a group of religious extremists, along with Nigel Brennan.


This is not an easy book to read. As a woman kept in captivity by terrorists, she endures horrible torture and tragedy. Her story speaks of the resiliency of people in extreme situations, but it also makes one think about the circumstances that lead people to such violent action. Amanda's capture happens in Somalia, then considered the "most dangerous country on earth." Despite everything her captors put her through, in the end Amanda speaks of them with a certain amount of sympathy and understanding. Ultimately, this book is a harsh reminder of how varied life is around the world, and the degrees of suffering some people experience. It is brutal and graphic, but very educational. Nigel Brennan and his sister wrote their own account of his captivity in The Price of Life, which I haven't read.

Have you read A house in the Sky? I haven't had a chance to discuss it with anyone else yet, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, September 7, 2015

New Pattern: Bodleian Mitts

It might still be 90 degrees outside, but there's a sneaking chill in the early morning. Before we know it, the weather will be perfect for wearing all those hand-knits. As a friend of mine likes to say, "Winter is coming, knit faster."


My newest pattern is a simple set of fingerless mitts, a perfect one skein project for a skein of variegated sock yarn. As a nod to the All Souls Trilogy, which I really enjoyed, this pattern is named after the Bodleian Library. After all, they are perfect for curling up with a good book and warm drink. The Bodleian Mitts pattern is available on Ravelry, and the sample mitts are knit in Toil & Trouble Classic in Fairy Queen Jubilee.


With the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl less than two weeks away, I am busily working on some new goodies. Here is a sneak peek of some gradient cakes. They can be knitted from the inside and outside for matching socks, or knit continuously for fraternal socks.


And the rattan dyeing experiment continues. I can't wait for this weekend's basket weaving class!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A new canvas

Just like that, September is here! September always comes with a rush of activity. In less than two weeks, Harriet Goodall, an amazing Australian basket weaver will be here in Salem, teaching at Circle of Stitches. To help prep for her class, I am trying my hand at dyeing rattan, or vine cane. My first try was this soft sea green color. It's very different from dyeing wool!


The week after Harriet's class is the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl! I'll be hosting a trunk show at Mind's Eye Yarns in Cambridge on Saturday, September 19th. I am busily dyeing some favorites and working on new colorways, so I hope you'll come visit!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children

Much like my last book review, this book series is also supernatural, but with a completely different flavor. Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children is more of a young adult novel, but still enjoyable. The author, Ransom Riggs, was inspired by a collection of vintage photos, which are printed throughout the book.

Jacob, the protagonist, is a 16 year old boy struggling with the death of his grandfather. As a child, his grandfather used to show him old photos of strange children he claimed were from his past. In the present, a mysterious letter leads him to travel to Europe, where he meets the children from the photos. These "Peculiar" children, who have supernatural abilities, live in hiding on a remote Welsh island. Danger forces the children out of hiding, and Jacob sets off with them in an effort to restore them to safety.

Only two books in the trilogy are available so far: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Hollow City. The first book ends with a pretty big cliff hanger, and the second one ended with an unexpected twist. Library of Souls should be out this fall, and I'll be ordering it. Have you read these books? What did you think?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fiber Revival

This past Saturday was Fiber Revival, a small fiber gathering held at a beautiful farm in Newbury, MA. There's only a handful of vendors, but knitters and spinners bring their chairs and their projects, and spend the day working on their projects outdoors.





There was a beautiful rooster who kept walking up to the crowds and demanding attention. I finally met JessaLu in person, after many years of Instagram stalking, and came home with a Doctor Who toile project bag. In a moment of extreme poor judgment, I bought a Merlin Tree Hitchhiker spinning wheel. This is a terrible idea because I learned to spin precisely 8 minutes before buying it. I blame the wool fumes for clouding my judgment. I chatted with Dave and Kathy, owners of Merlin Tree, who are absolutely lovely, and clearly very slick salespeople. Goal for the rest of this year: get much, much better at spinning. For now, I'll keep torturing some poor merino fiber that deserves much more adept hands.




Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: The All Souls Trilogy

I first encountered these books when I saw someone reading the first of the series on the commuter train a couple of years ago. I was intrigued by the title, A Discovery of Witches. But in this age of Twilight (which I am open about having a serious distaste for), I find myself almost embarrassed by my love of supernatural stories. I grew up immersed in supernatural stories and folklore. At age 11, a friend and I bought tickets for some age-appropriate movie, and then snuck in to watch Interview with the Vampire (sorry mom. Well, not really). My love of vampire and werewolf lore was something I enjoyed immensely, but with the development of some sparkly reinterpretations of said lore, it's become a bit of a delicate topic. All this to say: I love stories about witches, vampires, and werewolves - but I am hesitant to announce it openly because of how they've developed in the media in the last few years. And now, after the lengthy precursor, on to the actual books.


The All Souls Trilogy includes A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life. The protagonist is Diana Bishop, fictitious descendant of factual Bridget Bishop, who was executed during the Salem Witch Trials. Diana is a present-day historian, and the books follow her as she comes to terms with being a witch and solves the mystery of an old manuscript. The author's interpretation of supernatural lore is very interesting, as she brings a scientific approach to it. The books also take an interesting path into historical fiction and introduces some great characters along the way.

Each of the books is quite long, but I ended the trilogy wishing there was more. I definitely recommend these books. There's much more I could say about the story, but I won't to avoid spoilers. If you've read it, leave a comment, I would love to know your thoughts.