Dream Big (Plus Giveaway)

So just to recap, way back in March I introduced you to the amazing Dreaming of Shetland project in support of Deb Robson’s work.  Then, in August, the first installment of the book came out and I talked a bit more about the project itself.  Now, I’m happy to say, the installment with my project in it is out!

shetland cover

I can’t tell you how delighted I am by this book.  It is a beautiful example of the fiber community coming together to support one of our own.  You know how you have that sneaking suspicion that knitters really are pretty much the nicest group of folks you’ll ever meet?  Yeah…projects like this are proof of that.  Everyone working on it (and wow are there a lot of folks who worked on this) volunteered their time and expertise to support Deb in doing her important work, and that work will make the fiber world a better place.  There are dozens of beautiful patterns, several charming essays, plus a heaping helping of good karma.  Every time I think about it I get a big goofy grin on my face.

So to help spread the love, I’ve got a copy of the book to give away to one of you.  If you think it should be you, just leave a comment either telling me which of the projects would find its way onto your needles first or (for extra credit) telling me your favorite story of knitters being awesome.  I’ll leave comments open till the end of the day Thursday, and announce a winner on Friday (oh, and be sure to use a real email address so I can notify you if you win…I won’t use them for anything other than notifying the winner, cross my heart.)

Dream a Little Dream

As some of you may recall, earlier this year The Boy and I headed out to our local picturesque abandoned greenhouse (every well equipped town has one).  We were hunting for photoshoot locations, and we snapped a few pics of some lovely pink mitts while we were there.  I let you know they were for a project, and I promised I’d come back and tell you all about it when it went live.

Well it’s out now, and I couldn’t be more delighted!  May I introduce Dreaming of Shetland: A Dream-Funder Project for Deborah Robson.

I first met Deb when I took her ‘how to publish knitting patterns’ class way back at the very first Sock Summit.  I got to know her better at this year’s Visionary Authors retreat (that’s her on the right in the front row).  While we were there, she talked about how hard it can be to do the sort of research she’s doing, especially without the shelter and support (read funding and access) of an academic institution.

Two of the folks at the retreat, Donna Druchunas and Anne Berk had a brilliant and hugely generous idea.  They offered to put together a collection of projects from a whole host of different designers into an ebook, the proceeds of which would go to support Deb in the important work she’s doing.  Watching this come together was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.  I knew knitters were a generous bunch, but this has just blown me away.  Deb has written a bit about the process over here.

And as marvelous as the idea was, now that I’ve seen the end result, I can say it’s even cooler than I expected (and I had awfully high expectations to start with).  This is a hell of  a book.  It includes dozens of patterns from some of the biggest names in the industry, just look at the list of designers and all the beautiful projects.  Whatever you like to knit (beads, lace, cables, colorwork), there’s sure to be something here to delight you.

The ebook will be released in seven sections.  The first of them is available now, and the others will be arriving over the next few months (and don’t worry, the copy in your ravelry library will update as the new sections come out, it’s all very automated and easy).  Do yourself a favor and add it to your library now.  I’m sure you’ll be as thrilled with it as I am!

(Images from the book and used with permission.)

Swatch…Bare Naked

I’ve been a fan of Anne’s work for just about as long as I’ve been knitting. She has an aesthetic and style that really stands out, and it’s always easy to spot one of her designs! So when I heard she’d turned her talent to making yarns, I was excited to try them. I had great fun swatching four of the yarns up (click any of the pictures for bigger versions).

Anne’s new yarns, and my new book, seemed to offer a perfect opportunity for me to talk a bit about a subject of interest to most knitters, yarn substitutions! I’ve started over on Anne’s blog with a bit of discussion about yarn substitution in general. I’ll continue here with a few examples of what to do if the yarn you want to use requires you to do a bit of pattern tweaking to work out right.

So let’s say you’ve fallen desperately in love with a yarn (it happens) and also with a pattern (yup, that happens too), but you just can’t quite get the yarn and the pattern to play nicely together as written. What can you do? The answer, my friends, is math. Now bear with me, this is very easy math, and I’m going to make it easier by giving examples.

Let’s start with the Smerinthus ocellatus Socks.

In the book, this is knit with Achilles by Barking Dog Yarns (bottom). Here, I swatched with Anne’s Stone Soup Fingering (top).

The pattern calls for a gauge of 8 stitches per inch, but at that gauge, the Stone Soup Fingering doesn’t give a dense enough fabric to make sturdy socks. Socks really need to be tightly knit to hold up and feel comfortable. If I were making socks with this yarn, I’d likely want a gauge of closer to 9.5 stitches per inch. So what does that mean for the sizing?

Luckily, it’s easy to tweak the sizing of this sock! Let’s start with the numbers. As written, you cast on 56 [64, 72, 80] stitches, and that fits a foot of 7.5 [8.5, 9.5, 10.5] inches at 8 stitches per inch. If you’re shifting to 9.5 stitches per inch, you need to divide the stitch count by the gauge, then multiply by 1.1 to account for a bit of negative ease. So let’s do one example:

stitch count / new gauge * 1.1 = new size

72 stitches / 9.5 stitches per inch * 1.1 = 8.3 inches

If you go through the same calculation for other sizes, you’ll find that using the pattern exactly as written, but at a gauge of 9.5 stitches per inch, the sock will fit a foot of 6.5 [7.4, 8.3, 9.2] inches. And if you want a slightly bigger sock, you’ll see that the stitch pattern is 8 stitches wide, and it would be pretty simple to cast on 88 (or even 96!) stitches and make the sock bigger. You’ll have to do a little bit of tweaking when it comes to the heel and toe, but the patterns shows the method, and it would be pretty easy if you were used to sock math (not the thing to do for your first sock ever, but not really all that hard either).

So you can absolutely use a slightly thinner yarn, as long as you’re willing to cast on a few more stitches!

Let’s look at a similar example with the Delias eucharis Hat.

In the book, this is knit with Primo Worsted by The Plucky Knitter (bottom).  Here, I swatched with Anne’s Romney DK (top).


The pattern calls for a gauge of 12 stitches over 2 inches in the ribbing at the hat’s brim. At that gauge, the Romney DK was a bit more open than I want for the hat. It’s lovely, but not quite dense enough to be as warm or provide the structure the hat was meant to have. I like it better at 14 stitches per inch for this pattern.

Once again, it’s really easy to adjust the pattern to fit your needs. It’s the same calculation as for the sock. The hat pattern as written calls for a cast on of 108 [120, 132, 144] stitches, and that fits a head of 19 [21, 23, 25] inches at a gauge of 12 stitches per 2 inches. If you’re shifting to 14 stitches per 2 inches, you’ll divide the stitch count by the gauge (14 stitches per 2 inches is 7 stitches per inch), then multiply by 1.1 to give a bit of negative ease. One more example:

stitch count / new gauge * 1.1 = new size

132 stitches / 7 stitches per inch * 1.1 = 20.8 inches

If you go through the same calculation for other sizes, you’ll find that using the pattern exactly as written, but at a gauge of 14 stitches per 2 inches, the hat will fit a head of 17 [18.9, 20.8, 22.7] inches. Just as with the sock, it’s easy to make even bigger sizes if you need to (I have a big head, I understand that sometimes it’s what you need). Just cast on 156 stitches and follow the directions as written. The only thing that will change is the number of stitches left at the end of your final round of decreases, and that’s not going to cause any problems.

So if you’ve got a yarn you love and a pattern you’ve just got to make, don’t let a slightly thinner or thicker yarn throw you off. Just do a bit of math (and it’s easy math, I promise) and there’s a very good chance you can have the piece you’re dreaming of!

What Else?

You guys all know the book is going up for preorders on Tuesday.  And I’m sure you can imagine how calm and cool and collected that has me feeling.  Yup, super relaxed, that’s me.  Not at all dervish like or engaged in any sort of frantic scramble to make sure things are organized just so for that.  Nope, not at all.  But just so you don’t think I’ve been lolling about, monogramming cupcakes and alphabetizing my spice drawer while I wait for the big day, I thought I’d come tell you about a whole different project.

Many of you know the delightful Heather Ordover, the mastermind behind Craftlit and its sister podcast, Just The Books.  But Heather isn’t content with just bringing you hours and hours of podcasty goodness.  Oh no, overachiever that she is, she’s also responsible for a host of marvelous books of her own.  It started back in 2011 with What Would Madame Defarge Knit? (to which I had the pleasure of contributing my Cthulhu Waits socks).  And now she’s doing it again.  The sequel, What (Else) Would Madame Defarge Knit? is just about to come out.  Once again, I’ve was lucky enough to contribute to the book (this time with an adorable hat and cuff set that I’m just itching to have out in the world).  If you want to be in on all the festivities, you should sign up for the book’s mailing list.  You’ll get the occasional newsletter, some lovely free patterns, and of course an announcement the moment the book goes live.  I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be marvelous!

Book Yarn, Part XIV

Last, but definitely not least, this is the lovely Nate Sock Yarn by Briar Rose Fibers in the color 110 (such a romantic name).  It’s a slightly rustic fiber with just a tiny bit of variation in thickness from one spot to the next.

I’ve worked with Briar Rose before.  I first heard about it on Brenda Dayne’s marvelous Cast On podcast.  I sought it out at last year’s Great Lakes Fiber Festival.  I bought three and immediately turned one into Propitiate for The Boy.  I just cast on with the second a few days ago for an (as of yet) secret project.  It’s lovely to work with, and just gets better with washing.

So that more or less sums up the book yarns (there may be a tiny last minute addition, but this stuff will all be there for sure).  Now that all that’s taken care of, I’m free to let you all know the theme of the book.  And I shall.  Very soon.  Just not today.

Book Yarn, Part XIII

This lovely temptation is Classic Merino Superwash Sport by Knitting Notions in the color Dark Rose.  My camera decided to lie the day I took this picture. The yarn is actually a bit darker and, well, rosier, in person – more pink and less red.

Knitting Notions shows at several of the fiber events in my area, and I’ve been lucky enough to see all of Catherine’s yarns in person.  Her booth is unmistakable and irresistible.  She does a really beautiful job of displaying all her yarn to its best advantage.  If you’re going to any of her upcoming events, you should be sure to stop by.

I already had a small stash of her yarn when I started the book (this one was among them), and knew I wanted to use it if I could.  Catherine was marvelous, as expected, and even indulged my fit of shameful indecisiveness.  I know you’ll love this, it’s worth seeking out!

Book Yarn, Part XII

These are wicked good fun.  Let me explain.  I believe I may have mentioned my feelings about colorwork.  I just don’t do it.  I don’t get it.  I don’t (generally) like it.  I don’t know how to do it well.  It eludes me.

But I do occasionally go ‘ooooooh, pretty colors…I want pretty colors’ (admit it, most knitters are swayed by pretty colors).  So this seems like the perfect compromise.

These are part of the gradiance collection by The Unique Sheep.  The gradiance collection is sets of different yarns in colors that shade subtly (or not so subtly) into one another.  They come in groups of 4 or 6 colors and are available in all of The Unique Sheep’s base yarns.  There are examples of lovely socks and shawls over on the page for them.  It seems like the perfect way to get some of the fun of different colors while not actually having to master the technical challenges of the more traditional approach.

I got myself a set back at Sock Summit (I obviously need to stop buying yarn and start using the yarn I already have) and knew right away I wanted to use it for the book.  Two more yarns to go, and then I’ll finally tell you what the book is all about!

Book Yarn, Part XI

This is the marvelous Dream in Color Smooshy in the color Chinatown Apple.  I love this yarn.  It is a perfect example of truth in advertising.  It is absolutely totally 100% smooshy. That is exactly the right word for it.  It feels marvelous and knits up beautifully.

Now somehow, I’ve yet to make my own pair of socks out of any of the Dream in Color yarns.  A quick perusal of my stash reveals at least half a dozen skeins (including one duplicate color that I apparently loved enough to buy twice).  I will have to do something to remedy this.  I just wound up Cloud Jungle and I think it will be my next sock.

Book Yarn, Part X

This is Serenity 20 by Zen Yarn Garden in the color Cherry Garcia.  And unlike last time, there are no lies here.  Zen is exactly the right word to describe this yarn.  It’s a lovely merino, cashmere, nylon blend, and it’s just about irresistible.

Zen Yarn Garden is another new company for me.  I noticed that an awful lot of the socks I was clicking on on other people’s sites were made with their stuff, and I had to check them out.  I’m glad I did.  Their blends are lovely, they have a beautiful color sense (reds…lots and lots of reds), and their customer service is phenomenal.  This is another one I’ll be returning to when the (massive, never-ending, ever-growing) book project is done.

Book Yarn, Part IX

This picture is a blatant lie.  It shows the lovely Shibui Knits yarn in Sock in the color Honey.  That part that’s all well and good.  The lie part is the color.  In a fickle moment, I ended up switching from the Honey you see here to the equally lovely Sand.  Alas, I shamefully neglected to take a picture of the yarn in Sand before sending it off to get knit.  I’m really hoping that this is the biggest organizational snafu I encounter in doing this book.  The chances are small, but a girl can dream.

I first found Shibui Knits last year in Maine. I just went and looked for the picture I took of all the yarn I bought on that trip.  I was sure I’d posted it, but I couldn’t find it on the website.  Since it’s my site, and I totally use it help keep track of when and where I bought what, I’m posting it now.  You can see my inagural skeins of Shibui Sock just there on the right, one up from the bottom.  They were the first.  They were not the last.  It’s excellent stuff, and it comes in a whole host of marvelously wearable/reasonable/grown up colors.  I love purple and pink and sparkle glitter fluff as much as the next girl, but blue and gray and brown fit a whole lot better in my wardrobe.  Shibui makes those colors and they make them well.

On a side note, do you see all that yarn? That’s a fair bit of yarn.  That picture was taken in the hotel room the night before we flew home from Maine (note the extra ugly hotel upholstery fabric visible in the upper left corner if you doubt me).  That was the trip where I managed to cram all that yarn, plus 12 bottles of adult beverages, plus all the unimportant stuff we had brought with us like clothes and shoes and books into two wee suitcases.  The sort of suitcases that would have been carry on bags until about five years ago.  Not one thing broke.  Everything fit just perfectly.  When I said I was good at packing, I meant it.  The resentment over the honey incident is apparently still with me.