I’ve often confessed that I rely on several marvelous sample knitters to help me produce all the pieces you see in my books. There is just no way I could knit everything myself and still put out books at the rate I like to publish them. But every now and then, a piece tickles my fancy so much I just have to knit it myself. This is one of those (if you’ve been following along at home for some time, you may remember it making a brief appearance earlier this year). I love it (I have a well-documented weakness for orange), and I am having the hardest time leaving it safely in the Book Samples box instead of wearing it everywhere.
I suspect a significant part of its charm comes from the delightful Briar Rose yarn with which it is made. It’s a lovely, 100% wool yarn, worsted-weight, with a generous 550 yards per skein. And of course it comes in all of Briar Rose’s beautiful colors. But my favorite thing about it is that one of its four plies is crafted in such a way that it takes the dye more strongly than the others, giving it a delightful barber pole effect. I have absolutely no idea how it’s done (I suspect magic may be involved), but I love the extra depth it gives to the knitted fabric.
One of you can experience that, or any of the other Briar Rose magic, for yourself. Briar Rose has a $50 gift certificate for one of you, good for anything in their online shop. That’s a delightful prospect if ever there was one, and I know whoever wins it is going to be in for a treat. For a chance to win, just leave a comment telling me one thing that would find its way into your cart if you won (I’m personally eyeing the Wistful…that would be an awful lot of fun to play with).
Comments left between now and the end of the day (eastern time) Thursday, November 27th, 2014 will be entered to win. I’ll pick a winner, contact them to get their addresses, and arrange to get the goodies to them. When you leave a comment, be sure to use a real email address so I can contact you if you’ve won (I won’t do anything with those email addresses besides notify the winner). If I do get in touch with you, I need to hear back from you within 72 hours or I will pick a new winner and contact them.
Having successfully sent of every single one of the preordered books (more than a week ahead of the deadline, thank you very much!), and given the unseasonably awesome weather, a little trip to the Great Lakes Fiber Show seemed to be in order this weekend. This has become something of a tradition. We went in 2012, 2010 (no blog entry, shameful I tell you, shameful), and 2009. Once again, I exercised uncharacteristic restraint. I swear I’m getting pickier about yarn by the day. I’m able to resist most yarn, no matter how tempting. It’s only the really good stuff that still catches me its snares.
Luckily, Chris of Briar Rose can be relied upon to provide said really good stuff. That’s her Glory Days (the blue one) and Fourth of July (the orange one). They’re likely destined to become socks for The Boy (Glory Days) and me (Fourth of July) when next the sock bug bites. I also had the delightful experience of chatting with Anne Hanson (of Knitspot fame) and Chris about collaborating on some exciting new projects. The details are too fuzzy to share just yet, but I predict great things! And speaking of Knitspot, come back tomorrow for a joint post that Anne and I have worked up (with lots of fun with her lovely new yarns).
I’ll preface this by saying I’m a bad blogger. A very very bad blogger. I took no Rhinebeck pictures. Not one. If you are looking for sheep-y yarn-y pics, go check out someone more diligent. I my defense I can only say it was my first Rhinebeck and I was in a daze of wool fumes. I’ll have to settle for a written report (plus a stash enhancement pic).
We were rolling Rhinebeck in with a larger vacation, so we spent Thursday implementing a masterful car packing plan and delivering the Kitten Overlords to The Boy’s parents (saints I tell you, saints…that’s a lot of kitten to take on). We climbed into the car bright and early Friday morning. My role in this family is to fall promptly asleep when put in the car for more than an hour. I feel a bit guilty about this (somehow I think I should be entertaining The Boy with my scintillating conversation), but I assuage my guilt with a good audio book and the knowledge that if I’m asleep, I’m not asking to take a pit stop every half hour. He assures me this is a fair trade off. We stopped at the Bandwagon Brewpub in Ithaca for lunch with a dear friend (and she brought me books…books that will be vital to the project after KCC…because she is awesome and knows my brain better than I do), then rolled on to Poughkeepsie.
The next morning, the scale of this enterprise began to become clear as I realized that our hotel (the hotel 30 minutes from the fairgrounds) was crawling with knitters. The place was just dripping with sweaters.
I’d heard traffic could be tricky, so we headed out early and got there about half an hour before the gates opened. We found a decent parking spot (and didn’t get stuck in the mud), so perhaps it was a good plan. We’d printed our tickets at home, so we got in the short line (the other line stretched back an alarmingly long way). The line is actually where I started to freak out just a bit. I don’t particularly like crowds. Not really at all. But soon enough, the gates opened and the huddle of knitters dispersed.
I’d scouted the vendor list ahead of time and knew where the 3 or 4 booths I really wanted to hit were, but my general plan was to just sort of meander. We headed to one end of the fair grounds and worked our way back. I’m not really sure there’s much I can say that hasn’t been said better by others. It boils down to ‘yarn pretty,’ ‘sheep cute (and smelly),’ ‘knitters nice,’ ‘food tasty,’ ‘lines long.’
In short order, the grounds got busier, the sun got brighter, and the day got hotter. The combination of hot, crowded, and noisy makes me want to sit in the corner and rock softly back and forth. I remained stoic (or, rather, I whinged shamelessly to The Boy and tried to devise elaborate schemes whereby I could be the only knitter in a booth at any given time while telling myself to brass up and get over it). There were one or two booths I just couldn’t manage to get into as they were packed too tightly for me to stomach the idea, but I eventually found my way into most of them.
Despite the huge selection (or maybe because of it), I was remarkably restrained in my purchases. I got exactly three things of yarn (I almost bought the spinning wheel I’ve been lusting after for a year, but somehow managed to resist). Namely, these three.
The first is Briar Rose Fourth of July in a lovely mottled blue. This is destined to become some marvelous socks for The Boy (and the sizable leftovers will become something for me, I’m just not sure what yet). He loves Briar Rose colors (he picked this one out) and can easily spot their booth from across a crowded fairground.
Yarn number two is Space Cadet Organza 8-ply in Spice Trade. This needs no explanation. Just look at the picture and you’ll see at once why I snatched it up. You would have too (in fact, two other people stopped me in the booth and asked where that color was hiding). Stephanie and I chatted a bit, and I think you’ll be seeing more of her yarn around here in the future!
My final selection is something I can’t actually provide a link for. It’s some lovely super skinny pencil roving (does that even make sense? is it still pencil roving if it’s that skinny?) in an unabashedly cheerful rainbow. This was at a booth that sold jewelry, tucked over on the side, and the jewelry maker’s website makes no mention of any yarn or fiber stuff. But, if you look around on etsy, you can find similar things. I don’t intend to spin it, just to knit with it exactly like it is. My first inclination is giant cowl, but I want this one to sit and percolate a bit before I play with it just to be sure it’s the right project. I have a feeling I’ll love it.
After that, I was getting a bit too warm, and the crowds were a bit too thick, so we fled (I fled, The Boy said things like ‘are you sure you got enough yarn, that’s not a very big bag…’). Which seems a good place to leave this for the moment. More ramblings (and somehow more yarn) to come later.
I now have further proof that yarn people are unbearably awesome. The marvelous Chris Roosien swung by yesterday and saw you guys talking about her lovely Briar Rose yarn. She noticed that some of you hadn’t (yet) fallen prey to the wonders of her offerings. So now, in addition to having sent me a skein of Wistful to give away, she’s also going to give everyone a discount. That should help tempt a few of you newbies to give it a try (and perhaps convince a few of you who already know all about it to get yourselves a little indulgence).
From now through August 20, 2012, you can get 10% off your Briar Rose order if you use the code “Hunter” at checkout (she picked the code, this isn’t me having an ego trip or anything)!
And continuing with the goodies theme, I just got myself a bit of a toy. It’s a tiny bit indulgent, but I got myself a new small camera. I have a very nice big camera. It’s marvelous for doing the photoshoots for patterns. I love it to pieces. It is, however, not small. Nor is it light. Nor does it fit in your pocket. It just barely fits in a purse, and it’s really not the sort of camera that wants to be tossed into a purse anyways. It would much prefer to be nestled into its fancy case with its extra lenses and other accessories.
I wanted something to be a more casual camera…a camera I can toss in my purse and snap pictures for the blog when we go to a concert or a fiber show or a yarn store. So…um…I bought one. It’s all charged up and ready, and I find myself paralyzed with indecision. What should the first picture I take with it be? It feels somehow like the first one will set the tone for what I do with the thing…I want to start with something awesome. Somebody tell me what to shoot first.
Because I love you all, and because yarn people are the very nicest people imaginable, I’ve got some goodies to give away over the next few weeks to mark the launch of Rabble Rousers. (I seriously love my job, not only do I get to play with all this pretty yarn, I get to give it away and make others happy too!)
I’m starting with Wistful by Briar Rose. This is the yarn I used to make Clamor, and holy wow is it yummy stuff. It’s an alpaca, merino, silk blend. The alpaca gives it just a hint of a halo (nothing overly dramatic, just a little bit) and the silk gives it a lovely depth and shimmer. Then of course you’ve got Chris’s magnificent color sense, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to be smitten. You can always pick out the Briar Rose booth at any fiber event, the colors just glow, they’ll call to you from all the way across the room.
And I’ve got some to give away! Best of all, Wistful comes in lovely giant skeins. There’s something like 500 yards in there. More than enough to make at least two of these hats. So to spread the love to as many of you as possible, I’m going to split this skein up between two winners.
All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment telling me about your experience with Briar Rose. Tell me what you’ve knit with it, or where you’ve seen it, or even tell me you’ve only just now discovered it! Leave a comment on this post some time between now and Friday night (be sure you use a real email address so I can find you if you win, no one but me will see them, and I won’t do anything with them except use them to contact the winners). I’ll announce the winners next week.
I feel a tiny bit bad that it’s been so long since I’ve put out a pattern. The last one was Chamfer in what, February? Now to be fair, the e version of The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet did go live in March, so it’s not like you’ve not got something to keep your needles busy. But still, I’m used to putting out an individual pattern every month or so, and the longer time frame is making me a bit twitchy. But never fear, it’s all in the service of a bigger project!
After seeing how much fun Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet was, I decided to experiment with taking some of the things I’d usually do as individual patterns and combining them into a mini book. That’s what all the things you’ve seen around here since March or so will be used for. I think it will work well, but it does mean that the once a month timeline sort of falls by the wayside. Now I know waiting’s no fun, and I also know I find waiting easier if I know what’s going on in the background while I’m waiting. So I thought I’d let you know where things stood.
The photo shoot is this Sunday. As of this morning, all the projects for the mini book are done and blocked. I’ve even got proof! The only thing left to do is sew buttons one one piece (anyone taking bets on whether that will happen Sunday morning).
Down at the bottom there are the Ruction cowl and mitts in Malabrigo Arroyo. They’re reversible, and I’m totally smitten with them. Next up the stack is the Clamor hat in Briar Rose Wistful. It’s scrunchy and slouchy and looks unreasonably adorable on everyone. Peeking out from the middle is the Tumult cowl in Handmaiden Silk Twist. I think it might be my secret favorite, and I want the photoshoot over with so I can wear it. Next up are the Fracas hat and cuffs in Schaefer Yarn Company Nichole. My secret plan is to send them home with Lauren as a thank you for her help modeling. And on the top there are the Uproar cuffs in Plucky Knitter MCN Primo. These are knitting crack and you should never ever start making them as you won’t want to stop. You’ve been warned.
All the patterns are done, and testing is wrapping up. The pattern text is over with the tech editor, and I’m finalizing the other, non-pattern, text this week. The plan is to have the files to the printer in early June. That means the e version will likely be available in late July, and the paper version available a week or two later.
Alright, I feel better now. It’s still not quite as good as having a pattern ready to go for you. But hopefully it works to show that I’m not just lazing on the patio sipping lemonade!
The hat is done…washed, blocked, and otherwise prepped. It is totally and completely adorable. That is, it is totally and completely adorable when I have it on my head. It looks rather goofy and lumpy when on Alphonse the handy hat form. For you see, Alphonse is about the size of a normal person’s head. My giant dome is a good 2 and a half inches bigger (blame the hair…or maybe I drank too much milk as a kid). All of which means that a hat that fits me doesn’t quite fit Alphonse.
Some time I’ll try and get a pic of it on me, but for now we’ll have to make do with Alphonse’s limited services. Here it is from the front, side, and back. The wee curl on the brim sits just above my eye, and the back has just the right amount of slouch. Totally fetching…when on the right size of head.
Having fortified ourselves with pancakes (to do otherwise would be bordering on irresponsibility), we headed out to the Black Swamp Spinner’s Guild Market Day. This year, they started charging a tiny (one dollar) entrance fee. Given what goes into organizing something like this, I think that’s totally reasonable, and we were happy to pay it. After we handed over our entrance fee, they had us write our names on little raffle tickets and dropped them into a bin. My natural inclination in such cases is to write something ridiculous like Isabella Imogen Perseverance Paddington, but this time I actually wrote my real name. The formalities accomplished, we headed on into the market.
Not five minutes later, someone called out The Boy’s name. Turns out he’d won one of the raffle prizes. We went over to check out the prize table. Alas, none of the prizes were things that appealed to The Boy. He graciously ceded his prize rights to me. I grabbed a lovely length of Briar Rose spinning fiber (3.5 oz of polworth) in shades of pink and green. Pleased with our good fortune, we went back to our shopping.
First up, I found a new-to-me company called Happy Fuzzy Yarn. They had a skein of a wool/tencel blend that accidentally leapt into my arms. I don’t usually like tencel blends (too shiny for my tastes), but the colors on this one were too good to resist. It’s all greens and grays and blues and looks like tiny mossy things growing on rocks by water. Not, perhaps, the most appealing description, but they’re just the sort of colors that grab my attention.
Next, I completed a small quest. I don’t usually go to markets with goals in mind (it’s more fun to just browse), but this time I wanted to be sure to try and find some more pencil roving. I got my first round of pencil roving here last year, and hadn’t seen anything quite like it anywhere since. The first one turned into the best hat ever (warm, very lightweight, totally styling, adorned by a tassel, what else could you ask for), and I wanted more. The same booth was there this year, so I got some. Two rounds this time, one a medium gray and one a light gray. Now it’s only fair to say that I have no idea what I’ll do with them. It’s not the sort of thing you’ll find a lot of patterns for, and there’s probably a limit to how many awesome hats I actually need. But I’m smitten with it and now have it on hand should the muse strike.
While I was tucking the pencil roving in my bag, someone called out my name. Turns out I’d won a raffle prize too. I went up to the table and handed over my ticket and said that perhaps they should draw another number. It didn’t seem fair to win twice. They said they had lots and lots and lots of unclaimed tickets, and that they were really hoping to find homes for all the prizes, so it would actually be better if I took one off their hands. I protested a few more times, but eventually gave in. I picked up a lovely ball of spinning fiber from Midwest Fiber Company. It’s an alpaca blend (super soft), and while it is blue, it’s an interesting blue that should look lovely spun up.
I bought one more thing (well, I bought dozens and dozens and dozens of one particular thing), but it will have to remain a secret for the moment. I’ll just say that I didn’t have any idea such a thing existed, but as soon as I saw it I knew it was the perfect solution to an ongoing problem I was pondering. Remind me some time in June and I’ll explain. But this has grown long, so I will leave you with a picture of the loot (ooooooh, shiny) minus the mystery item and then come back tomorrow with the rest of the day.
On Saturday we swung by the Black Swamp Spinners Guild Market Day. I only heard about it because of the marvelous Knitter’s Review. (If you’re not on the mailing list, you should be. It’s not spammy, and every single issue is delightful.)
It was a small event, but there were lots of lovely goodies to be had. Most of the vendors were selling fiber, and I have sworn off buying any more fiber until I break down and buy the spinning wheel I want. I did manage to find one or two things that were destined to come home with me.
At the bottom there is a little skein of lovely gray llama. It’s from a small family farm near The Boy’s parents. It’s undyed and destined to become Lauren’s gray hat (seriously, that hat has had so many false starts it’s a bit ridiculous, but I think this is it). In the meantime, I must keep it away from kittens, for it seems to fill them with a burning need to spend some deeply personal time with it. I’ll do my best to protect the yarn’s chastity.
In the middle is Briar Rose’s wistful (an alpaca/merino/silk mix). I haven’t the slightest idea what this will become, but it was too fetching to leave there. It had to come home with me. There are 500 yards, so I feel I should come up with something big enough to be worthy of all that yardage.
And in the back is a wheel of pencil roving. Alas, it has no tag and the vendor didn’t give me a receipt, so I can’t tell you where it came from. It doesn’t count as spinning fiber, as I’m going to knit with it as is. This is my first time playing with pencil roving, and I’ve already learned several things (like Do.Not. try and wind it into a center pull ball, and be terribly careful when casting on). I think it will be the fluffiest, loftiest, warmest hat ever to grace my gigantic head. I know exactly what I want to do with it. Now all I have to do is swatch to get an idea of gauge and see if the master plan is even remotely feasible.