Tag Archives: yarn

June Phat Fiber Sampler – Tron

I’m pleased this month to unveil my new villain-themed stitchmarkers – Tron, part of my superhero series, now available at Exchanging Fire!

Tron

Tron is an abstract take on the eponymous 1982 movie, using awesome geometric-shaped acrylic beads that represent the computer generated realm of Tron. Four cool blue stitch markers represent the virtual game Kevin has been trapped in, while the large bright red bead represents the evil Master Control Program, out to take over the real world. Just like last month’s superhero stitch markers, these too look very “grown-up” but can still feed your inner geekery!

Here I am in featured halfway through the Phat Fiber video for this month (at minute 6:15)!

Don’t forget, if you purchase anything in my store from June 15 – July 15 you are eligible for the Phat Fiber Superbox Giveaway! To win this month’s Phat Incentive, which includes the contents of the June Video (aka The Superbox) AND A $150 Gift Certificate to one of the participating shops, you need to join the Phat Fiber group and the post what you’ve purchased in the Incentive thread.

Sign up now to be entered into the giveaway!

Ravelry lunch date at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival

I always enjoy talking to people in real life situations. As much as I love reading and writing and conversing with others online, nothing compares with the subtle hand and facial gestures we all subconsciously make and implicitly understand. That being said, I got to meet up with some fellow Ravelers this weekend at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival. So, HiMyNameIsPurple, me (LadyDanio), samie1914, scf1270 and junebug2285 met up in the hotel lobby where this pretty picture below was taken. We had a quick lunch date in the middle of a busy Saturday and it was wonderful getting to know everyone in real life.

Sam (pictured in the pink top) and I (with the ginormous Mini Mania Scarf) met up first. Unbeknownst to me, she had just sent me a Rav message, and I was in the middle of reading a text from Lindsay (pictured in the purple and grey scarf), so we had a hilarious who’s-on-first conversation at the beginning! Once we figured out who we each were, everyone else arrived. We headed off to the hotel bar, which was serving a buffet.

Sam and Heather (in the blue) had just come out of the festival, so they showed off all of their goodies, which included some dynamite SpaceCadet Creations yarns and a handturned wooden nostepinne for ball winding. Lunch was tons of fun as we got to know each other. We discovered that most of us knew the same people from similar knit groups in the area and I think I have been roped into joining them for an evening! 😉

Since Sam and Heather had already shopped and were heading out, they were so kind as to sneak their $15 handtags to Lindsay and I so that we could slip into the festival for a few minutes without having to pay. Lindsay had been there the day before, but hadn’t been able to stay because her toddler is going through the terrible twos, and so she kindly gave me a grand tour so I didn’t waste time (yes, I had the booths I wanted to see mapped out). I think we were only there for 20 minutes, but I definitely plopped down a bunch of money on yarns!

Of course I stopped by SpaceCadet to see the dyer, Stephanie, who’s a friend of mine, and stumbled into friend and fellow designer Sara Bench, aka CelticQueen, who was the Knitty Surprise design feature for their winter issue. Her pattern Love Actually (is all around) is an absolutely adorable heart-patterned cowl.

Then I headed over to Highland Alpaca, whose yarns I love so much that I began their Ravelry database listings several years ago and try to update them whenever I see them at a new show. I was running out of time but I hit Blue Heron Yarns to tell the dyer about my favorite yarn of hers, Blue Heron Silk Merino, which I have in two different colorways. I wear the Hayworth Shawlette that is made out of that ALL THE TIME. It’s my go-to scarf for both indoors and stylish wearing in light winter weather. The dyer confessed that she loves that yarn to death as well, so much so that she keeps a private stock for her own dyeing purposes! But she let it slip that if you contact her personally she’ll do a custom order for you. If you’ve been looking for some high-end silk merino sportweight that is really fab, you should get in touch with her and ask. She also sometimes dyes it on a whim, and there were some skeins she had in kits, so you may be able to get your hands on it that way.

We had wrapped up the day by 1:30 p.m. and were heading out. I think I could have sat and talked for another hour with everyone but we’d just run out of time! It was great seeing everyone and great meeting in real life. Next time I’ll be out and about will be the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this May. Maybe you’ll see me there!

Making the Yarn Harlot’s holiday gift list makes my Christmas wishes come true

Wow! Author and knitter Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, otherwise known as The Yarn Harlot, just featured my stitch markers on her blog! The stitch markers talked about were my Secret of the Chromastone markers, which have color changing capabilities when you hold them – just like mood rings from the ’70s. They were listed as part of the Yarn Harlot’s Gifts for Knittters 2012 list, and I’m tickled pink by the shout out.

The Secret of the Chromastone

“It’s that time of the year…when we drive ourselves mad…”

Face it – though the elections have just ended and Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, for knitters (and crocheters) everywhere, the faint sound of jingle bells can already be heard on the horizon. So it’s time for a refresher course on one of my favorite subjects – Selfish Knitting: A Study in Yarnworthiness.

Now you might think this is is a topsy-turvy concept when we are approaching a holiday season where everyone is celebrating the gift of love and sharing and all that jazz, but the concept of Selfish Knitting is not, really, after all, about being selfish. For me, being a Selfish Knitter is about doing what I love to do, and valuing my self worth. One year, I was entirely happy to knit 45 garter stitch scarves and then donate them all to the local Food Shelter as part of my church’s mitten and scarf tree. Now, this may not float everyone’s boat, and some might think I’m crazy, but for me that year, it was great, mindless entertainment. Would I do it again? Probably not. But who knows – if the spirit moved me I might do something fun like that again.

The key to Selfish Knitting is this: Selfish Knitting is about making something with love and joy in your heart, not bitterness and regret. Will you be happy to make a shawl that your grandmother will treasure in her twilight years? Will you be unhappy if you make a scarf and hat set for your benighted cousin who last year gave the lap blanket you knit her to the dog? (True story.) These are the important questions we must ask ourselves here.

So before you go all creative on me and buy a crapton of yarn that you simply MUST KNIT AS GIFTS or feel the GUILT OF OVERSTASHING, or decide you HAVE TO KNIT SOMETHING STUPENDOUS AND DIFFICULT because you OWE HER/HIM/THEM/IT SOMETHING GOOD, it’s time to determine Who Is Yarnworthy.

Knitwear designer Franklin Habit has graciously turned some of the basic Yarnworthy questions of yore into a lovely visual aid (just like those teenage magazine questionnaires we pored over in middle school!), so instead of a boring list of questions I’ll just let you all peruse the glory of the flowchart. And take notes. And find yourself a knitting needle to whack yourself with if you start straying.

To get started, just substitute “Christmas/Hanukkah/Yule/Whatever-mas” for “Birthday” in the chart below:
Let’s all try to spread a little love instead of a lotta heartache this winter – be a Selfish Knitter with me! (And yes, we have a group.)

 

Dyeing Arts in Motion

Courtesy Alberto Seveso

Just saw this amazing Fluid Dynamics piece and I had to share it. Italian photographer Alberto Seveso has taken close-up photographs of colorful dyes in the instant that they hit the water, creating these gorgeous life-forms that look like fabric or art sculptures. He’s able to get these amazing images because he takes his pictures underwater! These high-speed macrophotographs are really gorgeous to look at, in part because they are so difficult to see in real life – there and gone again in an instant.

There’s something almost not-quite-real about the way these images look, and what’s impressive is that this is such a simple device (dropping some ink in water and watching what happens). Maybe it’s because this holds the same thrall that clouds do to humans – you want to reach out and touch these inks, even though you know that once you do it ruins the effect.

So many knitters, crocheters and indie yarnies deal with dyes all of the time, whether for their business or simply to finish a project (think the Shipwreck Shawl). So it’s amazing to see how the very act of the dye hitting the water can be an art form all of its own.  This image here is part of his newest series, duo Colori. His first underwater ink series was Disastro Ecologico in 2010, and that was considered gorgeous then! Here is his current online gallery.

Phat Fiber’s Shearlock and Sonata stop by for a visit

Hey all, Phat Fiber’s Shearlock and Sonata have been hanging out here at the Exchanging Fire headquarters and they wanted to show everyone how much fun they have been having! They arrived the same day as my brand new extra large Stanwood Needlecraft umbrella swift did, and after I installed it (over the kitchen sink, gotta love those space-saving tricks) they took a ride on it while I wound 11 balls of yarn!

My new swift is a killer.

After we wound the yarn, we went to take photos in the afternoon sunlight and visited with my cat, Mittens, who, it should be known, hates having his photo taken. Shearlock found the cat very frightening and refused to get too close. Sonata was annoyed that he kept huddling up against her and keeping her from stomping the cat. I told her that while she might be in charge of Shearlock, he was not a herd, and the cat was not a fox out to eat him so she should keep her hooves safely tucked away. She wasn’t pleased by my decree (I think she’s a little bloodthirsty!). Read more about guard alpaca here.

That face says, "I am bored with you."

The photoshoot went very well, though Shearlock was rather surprised that “behind-the-curtains” in this situation was literally behind the curtains! I told him they were sheers, not curtains. Sonata just sniffed that behind-the-curtains was much messier then she had expected. I told her that utter neatness was the sign of a disturbed mind. 😉

The pair of them did beg for one favor from me, however. They insisted on getting to hang out with this yarn that they had been hearing about, Wool-meece. After Sonata heard Shearlock pronounce it she got a little nervous. Said she wanted no part of it if there were mice involved, so it took a little convincing, but in the end they both got themselves photographed with some Wollmeise. Sonata thought it smelled heavenly, though Shearlock said it wasn’t wooly enough for his taste.

This yarn is going to be a future Mini Mania Scarf!

After dinner I typically wind yarn and make stitchmarkers, and both Shearlock and Sonata were thrilled to explore my stacks of beading supplies and piles of yarn ready to be miniskeined. Sonata loved how old frozen sushi trays have been repurposed for holding different selections of beads paired and waiting to become stitchmarkers. Shearlock just enjoyed bouncing in the piles of yarn. We watched some Jon Stewart, too.

"There is no sushi here! I am deceived!"

Mmm, Jon Stewart makes life more funny.

To be fair, it wasn’t all play for Shearlock and Sonata. They helped me on a super-secret quest to make up a set of the most perfect honey-toned miniskein colors for my Mini Mania sets. Sonata’s knowledge of color-matching was impressive (I imagine that’s from all of the great dyers she has visited) and Shearlock even helped sort the yarn! I’m very excited about those brand new Honeycomb sets. I couldn’t have done it without their help!

"Sonata, you could be helping, you know, instead of just sitting there like a lump." "I'm guarding the yarn, Shearlock!"

Shearlock and Sonata had so much fun taking photos with me that they insisted on getting their own professional portrait done as well. Shearlock especially wanted to show off his new bell that I made for him out of one of my beads. And both of them were tickled pink with the results:

Sonata and Shearlock, Partners in Yarn and Fiber

I will say that we did forget to take photos at church on Sunday – I took them so they could help out with Operation Christmas Child, but we forgot the camera in all of the excitement! They were thrilled to help dedicate the 107 boxes that we are sending all over the world this winter, though. and they were happy to have such a nice visit here at Exchanging Fire. They are winging their way back to the PhatFiberLady, whom they say that they have been missing. I think they need a cuddle.

Check me out in The Knitter!

I was stalking The Knitter, a UK knitting magazine, religiously this summer. The editor, Juliet Bernard, had asked if she could feature my pattern, the Mini Mania Scarf, in one of her stashbusting blog posts. I was thrilled, of course, and started watching like mad for it. Well wouldn’t you know it, right after I gave up the hunt she posted about my pattern! It was last month, but her stashbusting tips for all of the fabulous ways you can use up yarn are totally still relevant. Plus, hey look, there I am!

But there’s more! The Knitter (hard copy side) contacted me again because they are doing a larger spread about stashbusting in their next issue, and wanted to know if they could reprint my pattern photo there as well! I think that if the pattern is being featured (or, as the case may be, a teeny picture in the corner) it should be the most current issue, issue 36, which went on sale Sept. 5 in the UK. If any of my European readers have found it, I’d love to have a scan of the page or a copy of the magazine. Either way, keep your eyes peeled for me, please!

UPDATE: I wrote to one of the editors who initially contacted me to ask where my picture was featured, and she was so kind as to give me a digital copy of the page that my scarf was on. Yey! They had originally told me that the reason they were interested in featuring my scarf was because a reader wrote them a letter talking about it. So they actually wrote about my scarf in a response to the reader, whose letter they published in a section of the magazine called “In the Loop”. Very exciting!

In other news, I’ve joined Craftsy and I’m loving it – it’s a great complementary site to Ravelry because it offers me a chance to share my non-knitting related stuff (ok, that’s like, one sewing project, but still) and it offers great online classes and stuff like that. What fun!

In Which The Cat Sits, but Not on a Hat

So I’ve been winding yarn like a mad woman all week for The Beekeeper’s Quilt (why no, I’m not obsessed, why do you ask?) and I have a mildly amusing story to relate.

Last night my big boy cat, who is rather a grumpy old man, was kvetching at me because he wanted to be fed or to go to bed or both. Now, I was sitting in front of the TV, which was starting to run a repeat of Stephen Colbert, and I really did need to go to sleep. But I was almost finished winding this skein of yarn for the night and cutting it up into little miniskeins for my hexipuffs so I kept saying, “Just one more minute” to myself.

So I would wind yarn, put most of it immediately a plastic ziploc bag for mini mania purposes, and then put the rest in my white basket (which you have previously seen) for my own personal hexipuffing mania. Mittens, the aforementioned cat, had been happily sleeping on the edge of the plastic bag for a few hours (yeah, all that yarn and all he wants is a plastic bag, I know) before the caterwauling began. I firmly ignored him and continued winding…and then he got quiet. I should have known.

I finished winding the final skeinlet around my knees, sat up in the chair, leaned forward to look for the cat and then glanced down to see…THIS.

The Cat, Guarding His Nest

Sigh. He looks like he’s roosting and getting ready for his yarn eggs to hatch. But I really think he just wanted to get my attention, and decided that  sitting in my yarn would do it. Considering that ALL WEEK he has ignored piles of yarn and this basket in favor of the plastic bag. What a jerk! After I pulled out the camera he grew miffed and trundled off (he hates the camera; he’s very Amish like that). Anyways, luckily it was just my own skeinlets, and those are all going to be part of my hexipuff blanket so I don’t mind if a bit of cat hair finds its way in, but he just cracked me up last night. How absurd.

My Basket. My Yarn. My Hexipuffs. Mine!

In other news, I am now happily ensconced in the KAL for the Beekeeper’s Quilt in both the tiny owl knits group and my own chitterychattery swappery swappers group, plus a hexipuff-themed miniskein swap on Ravelry. I keep listening to Stephanie’s music on Youtube and…well, I want to say knitting, but really, I’ve been working and then winding yarn in my spare time. But I’m getting to the knitting soon! I swear! I already have one hexipuff done! (Whew, the guilt.)

As for the WestKnits KAL? After all of that work locating yarn for it? Um, well, that isn’t going so well. I sense that I will not be finishing it by Aug. 31. Oops!

June 2011 Stash Peek!

Yarn glorious yarn! It’s the end of June and it’s time for another stash peek! It’s been a while so I bet you are all dying to see what I have accumulated lately. Well, let me tell you, I’ve got some real pretties I’m sifting through here.  It’s almost hard to pick! Let’s start with the last to arrive first.

As you may know, I went on a little business trip this month and had a blast. I met loads of yarnies and designers, picked up some fun button swag, and squished a good many yarns in inappropriate manners. The best thing, though, far above all, was that I got a green skein of cashmere yarn!!! (Ahem, sorry about the excessive exclamation points. I really love that yarn.) The yarn in question is Mountain Colors Jeannette in Green Apple, and it is truly divine. The DK weight yarn is a blend of cashmere and cultivated silk, and it’s so freaking soft I have no clue how those women over at Mountain Colors dyed it without felting it! Seriously, this stuff is decadent, and I’m so pleased to own some.

The coolest thing about this yarn is how they came up with the name. If you check out the Mountain Colors website, a bunch of their stuff is given nice but sorta basic names like “Weaver’s Wool” and “4/8s Wool.” You get the idea. But this yarn they decided to name after someone specific – a very important woman, in fact. From their Ravelry page:

“We named this yarn after a very important woman in Montana’s state history, Jeannette Rankin. She was the first woman in the country elected to US Congress in 1916, 4 years before women in our nation were given the right to vote. She was very active in the Suffrage Movement and working for women’s rights. She was a peace activist and was the only member of congress to vote again WWI. When we saw how lovely and graceful this cashmere silk was we immediately thought of Jeannette.”

I just think that is so neat. I love having yarn named after someone who made a difference – it just makes it all the more special to me.

Mountain Colors Jeannette in Green Apple

Now, I apologize for repeating myself here, because I know I showed you new Manos yarn I’d gotten last month too, but come on! It’s Manos. And I fell down and found some yarn that is just OMGMUSTHAVE so I actually bought it and paid full price (cue gasps of shock). The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Maxima.

Don’t be fooled by the colorway name here, because this is identical to Wildflowers in Wool Clasica. The only difference is that this is just a merino worsted weight, not an exotic handspun like Wool Clasica is. But when I say “just”, I don’t mean “just”, not really. Because this yarn is GORGEOUS. It’s super soft and squishy and divine with a whopping 218 yards AND it comes in all of your favorite Manos colors! What’s not to love?

Manos del Uruguay Maxima in Meltaway Mint

The third and last yarn to talk to you about this month is sort of exciting for me. I got my first GothSocks! I’m not huge into the stripey black-color-black dyeing craze that is going on right now (nothing personal, just don’t care for big fat stripes), so I’ve never bothered to stalk Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs before. However, earlier this month she had a sneak update that I just happened to be online during, and, intrigued, I fell into her site. And I was hooked. I got myself a wonderfully named Snow White referenced colorway in her Asphodel base called Poisoned Apple. YUM.

Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs Gothling Asphodel in Poisoned Apple

Then the yarn I’ve been dying to acquire, her Absinthe colorway, came up in a destash in the Oleander base, so I got both in the mail at the same time! I’m really thrilled – both are technically Gothlings, which simply means that they are not her stripeys, but I’m totally cool and happy with that. And I love them to pieces. Check it!

Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs Gothling Oleander in Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Ok, that’s all, folks, so thanks for playing in my stash with me this month!