My First KAL

Well, I did it.  I decided to participate in my first ever knit along.  It is the Fringe and Friends Improvised Top-Down Sweater KAL.

The KAL is courtesy of Karen Templer.  She is the author of the wonderful blog, Fringe Association.  She also has a shop, Fringe Supply Co, that has all kings of goodies for knitters.  If you have never read her blog or checked out her online store, you are in for a treat.

The Rules:  It has to be a top-down sweater and you cannot use a pattern. 

Why this KAL?  I have always wanted to learn to customize a pattern to fit my own shape.  Secretly,  I have always wanted to try my hand at designing a knitted garment.

Another big reason is the laid back approach.  As Karen put it, “To knit along, simply knit along.”  In the past, I have always been concerned with completing my project on time.

The Yarn: I choose Cestari 100% Fine Merino Wool in the Willow colorway.  It is worsted weight and Kettle dyed.  All I can say is that I absolutely love it.  I will apologize in advance  because my photo does not do the gorgeous green justice.

I have to thank Kate, from Wild Haven Fiber Company.  Her lovely shop is where I first saw this yarn.  There wasn’t a sweater quantity worth of yarn.  She ordered what I needed and most importantly, provided encouragement. 

My Sweater:  I decided to keep the pattern simple and do a raglan pullover in stockinette.  There is something to be said for keeping it simple.  I want to be able to focus on the process.

Progress:  I have read the “Top Down Tutorial ” and many of the related posts.  I can already say I am learning so much!

I have knit up two swatches.  One on size 8 circular needles and one on size 7 needles.  They have been blocked and I am anxiously waiting for them to dry.

Then it will be time for some math to determine how many stitches to cast on.

I really want to thank Karen Templer for all of her hard work, time and energy in putting this KAL together.  A BIG thank you to Jen Beeman,
 Jess Schriebstein and Brandi Harper!  They are the panel for the KAL. The best part is that none of these ladies has ever knit an improvised top-down sweater before.  How cool is that?

I know I have said this many times, but I am so grateful to be a part of this wonderful community of creative makers.

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New Skills

It has been a while since I have posted.  I am happy to report that I have actually been making things.

I have also been immersing myself in learning.  There are so many things that interest me and it is great that we can get a lot of information on the Internet.  However, nothing is better than taking a class.  You meet such interesting and talented people.

Today, I had the pleasure of taking a class at Wild Haven Fiber Company.  The class was Natural Dyeing taught by Sarah Eichhorn.

Before I go any further, I do have to say that I am beyond happy that Kate opened her shop. She stocks beautiful yarn that I have not seen at any other LYS.  Her classes are interesting.  There are knitting classes and there are all sorts of fiber related classes.  Kate has created a shop that is warm and welcoming just like she is.

Today, Sarah Eichhorn taught us the basics of natural dyeing.  She provided a wealth of information and most importantly, inspiration to experiment on our own.  (You have to check out Sarah’s site.  She is super talented!  Link is above.)

We learned about mordants.  (They are used to enhance the dye and make it colorfast.)  Sarah explained the technique and then we went to work dyeing samples on cotton, wool and silk.

Each swatch had a piece of cotton with no mordant, cotton with an alum and cream of tartar mordant, cotton with a tannin mordant, silk with an alum mordant, roving with an alum and cream of tartar mordant and yarn with no mordant.

My swatches were still wet when I took my photos but here are the results.  I promise I will post photos when they are dry.

This is dyed using Longwood i.e. tree bark.  It yielded these amazing purple gray tones.  Mine looks a bit tie-dyed because when I wrung it out, I tossed it into the dye pot all balled up.  Learned a good lesson.

This swatch was dyed using, of all things, Queen Anne’s Lace.  Who knew it could produce such a lovely, yellow tone?  Now, I have a good use for this invasive species.

This lovely orange, peachy tone is from Madder Root.

This delicate pinky tone is from avocado pits!  So not only are they a delicious treat they also make pretty dye.

The best part of the class was getting to meet all of the lovely ladies.  Everyone was so interesting and talented. 

A big ‘Thank You’ to Sarah and to Kate for a fantastic class!  I can’t wait to see what colors my swatches will become when they are dry.

Stash Enhancements

While I have been busy with outdoor projects and catching up on other things in my practice, I have also been plotting and planning my new projects.

I am so excited with what has been arriving in the mail.  First up are the yarns I purchased from Dyeabolical Yarns.

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Sid Fishious colorway on Sturdy Sock
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There Goes Bill colorway on Targhee Sock

These are destined to be new socks.  I love both colorways.  There Goes Bill just happens to be Green and Gold.  I will be sporting these at the next Packer game I attend at Lambeau Field.

Then there was a surprise stash enhancement.  I won a skein of this beautiful, soft skein of Vice.  This yarn is merino, cashmere and silk in a buttery yellow.  I have the yarn fairy and Hunter Hammersen to thank for this.

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Carnal - Heavy Fingering

Hunter Hammersen is a very talented designer.   I have decided to use this yarn to knit one of Hunter’s patterns.  I have her book, “The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet, Volume I,” and several single patterns.  Her patterns are so lovely; it is really hard to choose.

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I also have this from Cream City Yarn.

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Tosh Merino Light in Iris colorway

These will be Diluvian.  A sock pattern from Hunter Hammersen.

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I chose the Iris colorway in honor of one of my favorite musicians, Prince.  My little homage to “Purple Rain.”

Last, but certainly not least, are my two skeins fromThe Lemonade Shop.  This skein will be a pair of socks.

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Goldfish colorway in Mighty Sock

This skein is going to be a shawl.

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Bad Day colorway in Mighty Sock

I have had such fabulous mail this month!  We are so lucky to have such talented dyers and designers in the knitting world.  I can’t wait to start all of my new projects!

Quick Knits

Sometimes, you just need a quick knit to make you feel accomplished.   I love all of my current WIPs but I feel like there has been no progress because I have no finished objects to show for it.

I started knitting the hat when the morning news started.

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Now the news is over and the hat is already off the needles and ready for seaming.

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After seaming, I will give it a little character 😉.  You will have to wait for an update to see what I mean.

The yarn is from Wool and the Gang and it is so soft and squishy.   It is from their Crazy Sexy Wool collection, which is 100% Peruvian wool.  The colorway is Fireball Orange.  An easy choice, since orange is my favorite color. 

Being from the land of cheese, Wisconsin, I, of course,  think it is the color of cheddar cheese.  What can I say?  I am a Cheesehead through and through.

Now, it is off to work with the satisfaction that I will have a finished object under my belt shortly.

Fiber Mail

Mail, mail and more mail.  This arrived over the weekend.

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The arrival this time is fiber for a quick knitting project.  It is a hat I have wanted to make for myself.  It is a little something to break up the winter doldrums and inject a little humor into the long Wisconsin winter.

Since I spend a lot of winter outdoors snowshoeing, hiking and cross country skiing, I am always in need of warm gear.  How can you beat wool…especially,  when it is orange?

Here’s a sneak peek at the wool.

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All of the mail this week has me so excited for the end of tax season.

Well, enough dreaming about future projects and all the beautiful fiber that awaits me.

Have a great week, everyone!

More Mail

More amazing things have arrived in the mail.  All a part of my post tax season planning.  This shipment is courtesy of Tolt Yarn and Wool.

Serendipity is a wonderful thing.  I learned about this wonderful place from following Karen Templer’s blog, Fringe Association.  It was a blog post about her Anna Vest KAL that led me to “Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool” by Anna Dianich.  A book that gives a glimpse into the world of wool.

The book is beautifully photographed and it features stories about where the wool we, makers, use comes from.  You get to learn about the process of yarn becoming wool.  More importantly,  you get to meet makers…just like all of us, who are passionate about what they do.  There are knitting patterns in each section featuring yarn that has come from the farmers, spinners, dyers and designers profiled in the book.

When I opened my package, this is what I found.

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Everything was packaged so nicely.  There was a little sample of the yarn and a lovely thank you note.

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Here are two patterns that I can’t wait to start.

The first is Karen Templer’s, Anna Vest.  I never thought I would want to knit a vest for myself.  Then I saw some knitters FO photos of this vest and now, I must make one!

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The second is Dianna Walla’s, Aspen Socks.  I am going to make the leg warmers.  The stitch pattern is beautiful and the neutral color is gorgeous!  Living in Wisconsin,  these will come in handy.  Plus, this pattern will give me more experience working with charts.

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I am looking forward to the end of tax season so I can let my creative juices flow.

One more thing before I go:

I have to say that buying from small, independent retailers/artisans/makers is a real pleasure.  You get first-rate service from people who are passionate about their products and what they do.  It shows in all of the little touches, like how your purchases are packaged or that they take the time to write you a thank you note.

Also, you are supporting a small, local business and you are buying American made products.

Have a great weekend!

It’s Me Again

Well, just when I think I am going to have more time to knit year-end rolls around and now, it it tax season.  Two more weeks of working away before I can start on some new kitting projects.

All of the work life busy has gotten me on a kick to get organized since last fall.  My “kick” has literally had me go through every room, closet, and cabinet.  This has also spilled over to my projects.  This led me to purchase some new tools.

Behold, yesterday’s mail!

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First, thing I saw when I opened my box was this lovely bag with all of my treasures tucked, neatly, inside.

I have been following the Karen Templer’s blog,  Fringe Association , for quite some time.  Her company, Fringe Supply Co, has beautiful products for makers.  This is what was inside.

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A new tote bag so I can have multiple projects available at all times. A requirement for any knitter! I upgraded my tools, too.  I purchased Removable Stitch Markers and Bonsai Scissors.

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Also, inside was a Field Bag.

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Since I first laid eyes on it, I knew I wanted one.  It has pockets inside and three grommets to feed multiple balls of yarn.  It is perfect for traveling.  It easily can hold multiple small projects or one big one.  The color I chose is toffee.  It reminds me of the Carhartt work clothes my love wears when working on his beautiful property.

It is simply…perfect.

There is more mail on the way and I can’t wait for it to arrive.  Who knew mail could make you so happy?