March 30, 2015

Spring Break in Progress

You do Spring Break YOUR way; I'll do it MINE.

March 19, 2015

Defarge Does Shakespeare IS HERE!

The baby has FINALLY been born.  Defarge Does Shakespeare is OUT (and proud)!

A thousand thanks to ALL who made this possible:  tech editor(s); Caro, the amazing photographer;  the stunt knitters;  the models;  Elizabeth;  and, MOST OF ALL, Madame Editrix (Heather) and Madame Publisher (Shannon), aka Boss Lady.

As always, the book is full to bursting with patterns and essays and is available both in both PDF ($16.95) and paperback ($29.95) formats.  Purchase of a print copy includes a complimentary PDF version.

Here are my babies:

Mother's Comfort
Three skeins Malabrigo Yarns Arroyo
photo c. Caro Sheridan

Simple Comfort (Girly Version)
1 skein Knit Picks Stroll Tonal (100 g)
+ 1 skein Knit Picks Stroll Solids (50 g)
photo c. Caro Sheridan

Simple Comfort (Striped Version)
1 skein Knit Picks Stroll Tonal (100 g)
+ 1 skein Knit Picks Stroll Solids (50 g)
photo c. Caro Sheridan

2 skeins Cascade 220 Fingering
photo c. Caro Sheridan

1 skein Cascade 220 Fingering
+ 50 g self-patterning sock yarn
photo c. Caro Sheridan

GO BUY YOUR COPY (copies?) NOW!*

* Yes, I'm just a wee bit excited.  Pardon my enthusiasm.

March 7, 2015

Stash Enhancement eXcursion (AKA Stitches West Haul)

So, this year I went into Stitches West with two purchases planned:

  1. SOMETHING from Jennie the Potter.
  2. A doffer pin, most likely from Clemes and Clemes,
A third possibility was ANOTHER shawl pin from Romi.

Thursday, I resisted the temptation to storm Jennie's booth (shared with Jill Draper Makes Stuff) during set-up and went a bit later.  Due to my (very minimal) self-restraint, I missed out on the uber-cool dinosaur mugs (Subway Knits got the last one!), but I did score a small gift that shall remain unpictured here, plus one of her "California Bear" mugs, special for this show.

Slow Morning
Action shot!

I did, indeed, get a doffer pin AND a cleaning brush, and I am QUITE proud that I only poked myself with the pin three times, LOL.

As I should have expected, however, my "no yarn this year from Stitches" resolve ended up falling by the wayside.  I guess I was just overcome by the yarn fumes (yeah, yeah, that's the ticket!).

After many years of drooling over the A Verb For Keeping Warm booth, I fell down and bought some gorgeous madder-dyed (I'm a sucker for madder!) Annapurna in a color they call Bandana.

Annapurna Bandana (Madder-Dyed)
80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon
385 yards, sport weight

The Yarnover Truck had, among many wonderful things, an exclusive Indigodragonfly "Downton Abbey" colorway called...wait for it..."It's All Fun And Games Until Someone Sleeps With Someone Below Their Station".  After following each other on Instagram for a while (and having received a lovely skein of her now-retired colorway "Release the Kraken:  Plumber's Butt" from "my Singapore son" Wilfred), it was great to meet Kim in person.  I visited the truck and the yarn several times while managing to resist, but when I saw that the yarn came in a fingering weight, I was done for.

Fun and Games Up Close
80% Merino, 20% Nylon
390 yards, fingering weight

Thanks to my pal Laura (AKA The Joy of Cooking Fairy), I discovered Fresh From the Cauldron.  Oh. My. Gourds.  ALL THE GRADIENTS!  As you may have noticed, I'm a sucker for gorgeous yarns with clever names.  I asked if she had any colors inspired by Lady Macbeth or The Three Witches*, but the one(s) with names I liked didn't happen to be colorways I loved, so I that was a bummer.  I DID, however, succumb to her Superwash Graduated in the "Exsanguinate" colorway.

Fresh From The Cauldron - Exsanguinate Graduated
100% Superwash Merino
400 yards, light fingering weight

I also managed to do some long-distance enabling and picked up two skeins in the "Gemma" graduated for Doctor Gemma, who was suffering through a family vacation in Fiji at the time.  Go figure.

After a couple of days of indecision, on Saturday I took advantage of my vendor status and, at roughly 9:57am, I snagged at "yarn on a stick" gradient set "puppy" of YOTH Little Brother in yellows.  When I walked by the booth at 10:11am, the gradient display was EMPTY.

YOTH on a Stick
80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon
870 yards total, fingering weight

In the spirit of friendship, I enabled Miss Kalendar into a gradient set of YOTH Big Sister in a different color range.  Aren't I SUCH a good friend, LOL?!

I came thiiiiis close to buying a small Erin Lane bag for Thing Two's upcoming birthday.  She loved the fabric, but admitted she wouldn't actually use it, so I refrained.  I did, however, help Jen find the pattern-keeper she was looking for, so I was still able to throw some business their way, even though it wasn't MY money.

* Golly, with Cooperative Press releasing Defarge Does Shakespeare ANY minute, I can't IMAGINE why I would have characters from Macbeth on my mind.  Gee.....

That's all she wrote for actual yarn PURCHASES from Stitches.  There were, however, some other yarn acquisitions for some upcoming collaborations.  Stay tuned for news.

March 2, 2015

Stitches Overview

Stitches West was a bit different for me this year:

  1. I'm ridiculously behind on podcast-listening, so I was completely out of the loop on meet-ups, podcaster throw-down, meet-and-greets.
  2. Because I was out of the loop, I wasn't lunching with "the cool kids".
  3. Doctor Gemma, Abby, and Miss Kalendar were all unable to make it this year (which contributed to #2).
  4. Marly and I weren't able to coordinate our schedules to have lunch together or even get our annual picture.
  5. Vendors I had looked forward to seeing/talking with didn't participate this year.
  6. I didn't buy a shawl pin from Romi this year (shocking, I know).
  7. I *DID*, however, get to spend a lot of time with KnottyLa and Desiree, got to enable both The Joy of Cooking Fairy (aka "Auntie Laura") and my friend Jennifer into spending money, shared a hug or two and a laugh with Subway Knits, and got spend bits of time with Yarn Yenta that were not full of "OMg, I need a shoulder to cry on" moments and feelings like last year.
  8. I *DID* walk away with some fabulous yarn and my brain burbling with design ideas (Must. Knit. Faster.)
I was supposed to have Thing Two with me during the day on Saturday and overnight at the hotel, but she ended up needing to be in the City that night.  Thing One wanted to come down instead, but she also ended up with places to be, and Andrew really didn't want to spend his Saturday pretending to be an Uber driver (can ya blame him?), so I ended up solo in my big room at the Hilton on Saturday.

Like 2013 and 2014, I went this year to work - selling/signing books in a corner of the Bijou Basin Ranch booth on behalf of Cooperative Press and spending time schmoozing.

Sat 8 - Erica at Table
Yes, I was teasing folks with samples from
Defarge Does Shakespeare, which

I also got to hug my Defarge Does Shakespeare test knitters Karen and Renee.  Renee was advertising the book by WEARING her test-knit sample.

Fri 5 - Karin Wilmoth
Me with Karin
Fri 3 - Renee Wearing Simple Comfort
Rev. Renee

The belle of the ball this year was definitely YOTH (Yarn on the House), with their gorgeous solids and their gradient sets, which many referred to as "yarn on a stick".  EVERY morning, they ran out of the gradient sets in roughly 15 minutes.  I understand that Saturday night, they were up ALL night, putting together an abundance of sets (yes, they were completely overwhelmed by the hoopla over their product).

Sat 1 - YOTH
The gradient display was full at 10am, but empty
by 10:11am.  As a vendor, I snuck in my purchases
around 9:57am.
Fri 4 - YOTH

Two new-to-me yarn companies were Fresh From the Cauldron and Pepperberry Knits.

Sun 2 - Fresh From the Cauldron
Truly, 2015 seems to be
The Year of The Gradient.
Sun 4 - Pinkberry

OK, three more words:  JENNIE THE POTTER.

Sat 7 - Jennie The Potter
Picture taken on Saturday, when the pickings
were slim of Jennie's wares.  Folks familiar with her work
from other shows were THRILLED to have her at
Stitches West for the first time.

And we can't forget perennial faves Neighborhood Fiber Co., Dizzy Blonde Studios (can't find my picture!), and the brilliant (really - she's a MATH professor) Faina Goberstein.

Sun 3 - Neighborhood Fiber Company
Karida of Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Sat 6 - Faina

Of course Benjamin and Matthew were there, too (though I think Benjamin is avoiding me since THAT picture I posted in 2013, lol).

Sat 3 - Benjamin Being a Stiff
Benjamin was a bit of a stiff this year.

Sat 2 - Still Knitting For Sex
Chocolate is preferred.

Up Next:  Stitches Stash Enhancement

February 6, 2015

12 in 15 - 2015 Knit From Stash Sock KAL

Inspired by my pal, the prolific (in EVERY way - six kids!) Yarn Yenta (Heatherly Walker), burdened by the embarrassment of riches that is my stash, and spurred on by last year's Operation Sock Drawer successes, I decided to join in the 2015 Knit From Stash Sock KAL*.

Here's the simplest version of how it works:

Choose 12 skeins (or batches of skeins) of sock yarn from your stash, each enough to knit a pair of socks.

Get 12 opaque bags, such as paper lunch bags.  Put the yarn in the bags and seal them up.

Mix up the bags so that you can't remember which yarn is in which bag.  Label each bag, either January - December or 1 - 12.

Each month, open the appropriate bag and knit some socks!

12in15 Month 2 Yarn
Yarn:  Cascade Yarns Heritage
Color:  Blood Orange

I chose not to buy any new patterns, though Heatherly has a club where you could subscribe to get a pattern each month.

So far, I'm just using my go-to toe-up pattern as a jumping-off point and farting around from there.  I did, however, just buy myself THE sock book that will help me figure the perfect toe and heel for every occasion:

I got a late start, due to the aforementioned messed-up Last Socks of 2014, but I finished the January socks on February 1st, so I'm back on track.

2015 First Socks FO
2015 First Socks
Yarn:  Dizzy Blonde Studios Lambie Toes
Color:  Special Hell
For:  ME!

2015 Socks #2 Toesies
February Socks in Progress

Wanna play along?  Tag your photos on Instagram, Ravelry projects, etc. as #knitfromstash and/or #12in15.  Of course, #operationsockdrawer still applies.

Have fun!

* For the non-knitters, KAL = knitalong

February 5, 2015

2014 Operation Sock Drawer Roundup

Though I had knit a few pairs of socks before, I'd count 2014 as the year I became A Sock Knitter, thanks in large part to The Knitmore Girls' Operation Sock Drawer.

I began 2014 with exactly TWO pairs of handknit socks in my drawer:

Purple Socks of Pain, 2
Pattern:  Anne's Magic Stripes
Finished:  January 7, 2011

Pattern:  Vidia Socks
Finished:  July 11, 2013
In January of 2014, spurred on by Operation Sock Drawer, I set out to find a sock pattern that I loved, something easy enough not to need my undivided attention for every stitch, but with enough to it to maintain my interest from first stitch to last.  I figured that finding such a pattern (or two) would be the key to my becoming A Sock Knitter instead of just a knitter who has made socks.  I knew my "go-to" pattern would be for knitting two-at-a-time to prevent "Second Sock Syndrome", but I was open to both toe-up and top-down methods.

Behold my progress:
2014 First Socks
Pattern:  Summer Clog Socks
Finished:  January 11, 2014
Second Socks FO
Pattern:  Super Simple Short Sock
Finished:  January 18, 2014
Finished Lifestyle Socks
Pattern:  Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks, No Swatch Needed
Finished:  February 28, 2014
Pattern:  Super Simple Short Sock
Finished:  March 10, 2014
Springtime Socks
Pattern:  Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks, No Swatch Needed
Finished:  March 24, 2014
Pattern:  Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks, No Swatch Needed
Finished:  April 12, 2014
(Birthday Gift for My Sister)
Rusty Stripes FO
Pattern:  Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks, No Swatch Needed
Finished:  May 17, 2014
Red Socks
Pattern:  Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks, No Swatch Needed
Finished:  July 14, 2014
Bobbi's Socks
Pattern:  Skimmer Socks
Finished:  October 30, 2014
(Much-Belated Birthday Gift For my BFF, Bobbi)
Pattern:  Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks - No Swatch Needed
Finished:  January 9, 2015
I was SO upset with how I messed these up that I
didn't even bother to take a picture of the FO.

Not counting baby booties knit from sock yarn, I knit 10 pairs of socks in 2014 (OK, that last pair was finished in 2015, but I'm still counting them for 2014).

SO, my "go-to" default pattern has become Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks - No Swatch Needed, a free Ravelry download by Charisa Martin Cairn.  I've used a couple of different heel methods, but I'm not ready yet to declare a "go-to" toe technique.  I *DO* know that I prefer most often to knit them in a 3x1 (k3,p1) rib.  Sometimes, I get a little bored and throw in some eyelets or something funky, but they're pretty much just 3x1 rib from as soon as the toe increases are done to the bind-off.

When I want to knit shorter socks, I've taken to just knitting the Lifestyle socks but stopping sooner.   The Super Simple Short Sock was enjoyable to knit, fit well (if I knit a few more rounds than specified in the pattern), and I like the feel of the heel, but I hate kitchener stitch with the fire of a thousand suns.

February 4, 2015

Share the Love in February


Love Cooperative Press?  Wanna win stuff?  Here's your chance!

For the first two weeks in February, CP authors and friends will be posting a lot of places with the hashtag #shareCPlove, and we have a new tumblr devoted to keeping track of it all! As readers, you can win in multiple ways. The first is to post something about your favorite CP book on social media and then enter it here between 1 February and Valentine's Day (14 February). The second is simply to join our mailing list, here.
  • One GRAND prize reader winner will be selected from the entries at 
  • One first prize winner, chosen randomly from all subscribers of the CP mailing list,
  •  gets $100 cash.
  • Three runners up from the mailing list get $50 in CP store credit.
GO FOR IT, gang!  I mean, really, all ya gotta do is post on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. (which you're already doing) about the Cooperative Press pretties that make you drool.  How easy is that?!

December 24, 2014


Well, 2014 has been a decidedly mixed bag.  Goodness only knows where I'll go with the blog in 2015, but for now, I say a hearty "Thank You" to the twelve people still reading it.  With all the ups and downs, I am grateful to be ending the year with family and friends.  Life may be a roller coaster, but I am glad to be on the ride with so many great folks, and the highs definitely make up for the lows.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me, Hubby, Thing One, Thing Two, and The Ferocious Beast!