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  • a day trip to harrisville, new hampshire

    My last week in Seattle went by in a flash. The whirlwind of emotions is difficult to describe, but in some moments, it just hit me. In others, it really didn't feel like I was leaving at all. I expect that'll continue to happen for a little while.

    I left Seattle on Sunday, and I've been in New Hampshire this week visiting some family I won't see for awhile. They live about an hour away from Harrisville, home of Harrisville Designs - known to many knitters as the mill where Brooklyn Tweed's yarns are spun. Wool yarn has been spun in Harrisville since 1794, so this small town has a long and rich history and I felt like I couldn't miss another chance to head over and check it out. It was a bit of an impromptu trip, but my mother, my aunt and I enjoyed our short visit to the Harrisville Designs retail store (a beautiful space) as well as our lunch at the general store across the road. I spent quite a lot of time looking around the store; it's always wonderful to see the Brooklyn Tweed yarns in person, but I really enjoyed getting a chance to see and handle Harrisville Designs' own line of yarns, and they carried a small selection of other yarns as well (from the likes of Rowan, Shibui, and SweetGeorgia, to name a few). It was also a real pleasure to chat with the ladies working in the store (hello, Annmarie and Paula!). I'd love to go back someday and tour the mill buildings.

    a rainbow of Shetland wool on cones

    HD's own Watershed, a beautiful worsted weight

    The store sold much more than just yarn and fiber, and I was pretty smitten with these Maine-made blankets (I think they're these cotton throws from Brahms Mount, but if anyone knows otherwise please let me know!)

    Cheers to my mom for this photo of me at the store entrance!

    Even though it was a very warm summer's day, it was a beautiful one. The rain clouds rolled in as we were leaving town, which was actually pretty delightful. It's easy to fall in love with New England.

    For more Harrisville: Anna from Tolt recently visited Harrisville and you can find the blog post from her visit here; and check out the most recent episode of the New Hampshire Knits podcast (episode 25) for an interview with Nick Colony, whose family owns the business.

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    I'm off to New York today and I fly to Norway on Saturday, so the next post here will most likely be from Tromsø!

  • FO: simple gathered skirt

    The drought continues, and its friend Terrible Heat Wave has come to hang out as well. We've been hovering around 85F / 30C lately, and I can't deny that it has me daydreaming of autumn already. Fortunately, the weather cooled down a bit and we actually had cloud cover for an entire day today, so I was able to head outside and get some photos of a recent FO. 

    In the midst of a bunch of deadline knitting work, I've also been craving a simple sewing project - something to restore some of my confidence after the last few sewing experiences I've had. At this stage, I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that while I like my sewn FOs, generally, I don't necessarily enjoy the process of sewing a garment. What this means right now is that keeping it as simple as possible is the best way for me to go.

    SO. What's one of the simplest sewing projects there is? A gathered skirt. Done right, it can involve very little cutting out of pieces, you only have a few seams to deal with, and the end result can be super flattering. I happen to love high waisted skirts, which is part of why I've been focusing on cropped sweaters lately. While I really like the Chardon skirt (blogged here) I finished a few months ago, I wanted something even simpler to sew. I also wanted something a little longer (thinking ahead to autumn). Starting with the super basic gathered skirt, I opted to add a few details I felt comfortable executing, like pockets at the side seams and a hidden side zip (I don't love the look of an elastic waistband). A few hours later (four or five, probably), and I had a new skirt! (I realize it's a little wrinkled in these photos, but it's been folded, not hanging, as I've started pre-packing my clothes for Norway.)

    The plaid suiting really called out to me when I went to find fabric for this project. I love the neutral tones with that turquoise highlight running throughout. I've been gravitating toward plaids, lately. I think it's a big combination of many things: my growing love for Rowan and in particular this book from Marie Wallin, watching a lot of Outlander a few months ago, and Kate's recent post about Scottesque (and the midi kilt she paired with Buchanan). Between the neutral plaid and the gathered skirt, this thing almost counts as Outlander cosplay, hilariously. The theme song popped in my head when I tried it on to see where I wanted to hem it.

    I used three rectangles (front, back, and waistband) and traced the pocket pieces from the pattern for the Chardon skirt, and that was it. Simple and satisfying. I didn't trim away any of the skirt fabric, which is why the gathering is so dramatic (no Outlander pun intended). I'm very pleased with how the pockets turned out and I think I actually did a pretty decent job of horizontally matching the plaid at the side seams.

    I still need to find closure for the waistband to sit above the zipper - perhaps a heavy duty hook and eye? But that can wait for now. I've paired it with my Chuck in these photos, and I think it's a really lovely combo. I'm looking forward to pairing it with some of my blues as well to pick up on that blue in the plaid. I've logged the skirt on Kollabora and you can check out that page here.

  • around the net

    I'm super excited about a couple of things popping up on the Internet today. Firstly, the pattern for the next Fringe Hatalong has been posted, and it's a worsted weight version of Gudrun Johnston's Hermaness! The original pattern is written for fingering weight, and calls for Brooklyn Tweed Loft; this new version is worsted and calls for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. I think they're both pretty dreamy, which is great, because you can knit either version for the hatalong. Hop on over to the Fringe blog to download the free PDF (and I should note that only the worsted weight version is available for free; the fingering weight version is part of Gudrun's gorgeous book The Shetland Trader Book Two or you can purchase it individually on Ravelry).

    photo by Karen Templer

    I think this hat is so lovely with its simple Shetland lace, but I'm not sure I'll be able to knit one during the hatalong with the amount of deadline knitting on my plate at the moment (not to mention I have a second L'Arbre Hat I need to finish). I can't wait to watch everyone else's hats taking shape, though! One of my favorite things about the Fringe Hatalong series is that it aims to help knitters develop their skills in small and manageable increments: the first hat was just a knit/purl pattern, the second hat featured knits, purls, and that fun stranded technique that created the motif in L'Arbre, and now we have a hat with a very simple lace repeat. It's the perfect introduction to reading a lace chart, if you've never been a chart reader: the repeat is simple and short, and the only technique we're adding to our repertoire is yarnover increases (since all of the hats have featured decreasing already). There's a guide to knitting from a chart in the Hatalong blog post over at Fringe, as well as several other great tips if you're new to lace or charts.

    If you join in, remember to use the hashtag #fringehatalong when sharing!

    The other thing I'm super excited about today is the launch of Twig & Horn, a new sister company from Quince & Co. I'm kind of a Quince & Co. / Pam Allen devotee at this point, so I was eagerly awaiting today's launch after the announcement earlier this week. Twig & Horn is a needlearts accessories company - in other words, a sister company producing tools for knitters, crocheters, and other fiber artists. Just look at this beautiful homepage:

    twigandhorn.com

    There are three products available at this point: the beautiful wool soap pictured on the home page above (unscented as well as three scented options), a handy gauge ruler, and a simple and beautiful wool project tote, pictured below (available in four colors, though both the blue and green appear to be sold out already). I wish I needed one of those totes right now, but I really don't - if you do, make sure to grab one quickly! I doubt this batch will last much longer.

    images via twigandhorn.com

    I can't wait to see what else Twig & Horn brings us. To stay up to date on their news, you can sign up for their mailing list at the website, or follow them on Twitter or Instagram.

  • summer days

    The longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere is right around the corner (Sunday the 21st, this year).

    The days have been hot lately, too. The entire west coast is in a drought - not just California, which you've probably heard about in the news, but up here in Washington, too. The cherries are early this year. Everything's early. I can't remember the last time it really rained. Just endless sunshine and 70-80 degree days.

    It might sound nice to some, but it can make a Seattleite grumpy. I'm yearning for cloudy days and and some actual, proper rain. Still, I'm doing my best to savor the good parts. Mary Jane is in town, so she and I and Cirilia headed out to the Ballard Locks this week with some treats to do a little outdoor knitting. We hovered in the shade, but it was certainly beautiful. We enjoyed watching the bird life - so many blue herons! - and eating the homemade cookies Cirilia had brought along. 

    I've been enjoying the lingering light as the days have grown longer, too. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that when I get to Tromsø, the days will still be quite long and there will be no real darkness my first few weeks there. The days will rapidly grow shorter, though, so I'm enjoying the long daylight as long as I can, whether I'm here in Seattle or in Tromsø.

    I hope whatever your summer is like so far, you're enjoying it! 

  • new hat patterns!

    Okay, neither of these is technically brand new anymore, but they are both newly available as individual patterns through my Ravelry store.

    You might recognize Fjordland, shown at right, which was first published in issue 7 of Pom Pom Quarterly (Winter 2013). I've been meaning to release it as an individual pattern ever since the rights reverted, and my new camera gave me the little push I needed. Fjordland is worked in fingering weight yarn - the pattern calls for Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, and I can tell you it's the perfect pattern for using up leftovers (partial sock yarn skeins, anyone?). The sample was actually knit with leftovers from my Amiina and Vasa samples! Check out the Ravelry page for more details and photos and to purchase it.

    The other hat, shown at left, is called Cliff Park. This pattern was originally designed for LYS A Grand Yarn's Indie Club, and since A Grand Yarn was - up until last winter - located in Spokane, Washington, the hat was named after nearby public park Cliff Park. I love the combination of stripes and colorwork, and I especially love the yarn. Cliff Park calls for Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool Worsted, a delightfully springy worsted spun yarn made from merino top. If you've only ever worked with superwash merino, get ready to have your mind blown. Merino is SO delightful when it hasn't been superwash treated, and Shepherd's Wool is incredibly soft and bouncy. It's also availabe in a huge palette of colors, so there are endless potential color combinations. Find Cliff Park on Ravelry here to see more photos and purchase the pattern.

    --

    Between all the hats I've released this year, plus the Fringe Hatalong, 2015 is feeling like the Year of the Hat. And speaking of the Fringe Hatalong, Karen's put up the preview for hat #3 - the big reveal is happening next Thursday, June 18th, and I can't wait!

  • some recent FOs

    I haven't shared any knit FOs for a little while, so while I'm working away on projects for fall that I can't show you just yet, I thought I'd share a few! (I'm using the term "recent" a bit loosely, here, since these stretch back to March, but let's just roll with it).

    First up: my very own finished Hearth Slippers

    These are the slippers I designed for Tolt last year. I knit the three sample pairs photographed for the pattern, but those went to Tolt and I was left without a pair of my own. I cast on for my own pair during the joint Hearth Slipper KAL run by Tolt and Fancy Tiger, but it took me awhile to finish them up since I was traveling in December and working on other projects at the beginning of the year. I finally finished these in March, though, and they've been worn SO much since then! They've only been set aside in the last few weeks, as the weather's warmed up here in Seattle. I knit the size Large, so that I could wear them over thick tights - I think I'll be grateful for that once I get to Tromsø - so over my bare feet they're a little slouchier, which I also like. I took these photos this morning, so this is what they look like after a few months of pretty regular wear. Not bad, right? That Fancy Tiger Heirloom Romney is sturdy stuff. I used Dark Natural for my Color A, Hubbard for my Color B, and Natural for my Color C. I absolutely love the moody, wintry feel of this color combination. My Ravelry project page can be found here.

    I shared my yarn choice for the second Fringe Hatalong pattern, but I never shared my finished hat! I ended up putting a pom pom on top (hardly a surprise) and I hope the finished hat will see a lot of use once I get to Tromsø - knit up in Quince & Co. Osprey in the Glacier colorway, it's incredibly warm and cozy and it just hugs my head. The Osprey's almost a little heavy for this pattern, and I'd love to try it knit up in Lark, which might suit it even better. This is a super quick knit and I love how easy it is to memorize the four-round repeat. The pattern is the L'Arbre Hat from Cirilia's beautiful Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads, but the hat (and matching mitts) are available for free in PDF format for the hatalong, thanks to the generosity of Cirilia and her publisher. Be sure to check the errata before you cast on. You can find the Raverly project page for my L'Arbre Hat here.

    And keep an eye out on the Fringe blog for info about hatalong pattern #3! I think it might be time for another reveal sometime in the coming weeks, and I know I can't wait to see what it is.

    Next up: OH, how do I love these socks? Let me count the ways . . . If you're on Instagram, you've surely seen this incredible self-patterning sock yarn pop up in your feed in the past few months. I don't usually go for self-striping or self-patterning yarns, but even *I* fell for this one. It's the new line designed by Arne & Carlos for Regia, and it's fantastic. Traditional Norwegian colorwork motifs provided the inspiration for the patterning, and the palettes for the six different colorways were drawn from different Edvard Munch paintings. Last summer when I was in Norway I had a chance to visit Åsgårdstrand, which was where Munch spent his summers for much of his life. His summer cabin there has been turned into a museum, and it was a really fantastic and idyllic place to visit that gave me a new appreciation for Munch, whose style isn't really what I usually go for. Needless to say, I love this sock yarn. I'm all about it. And I'm super grateful several of my local stores are carrying it (and it's going like hot cakes, from what I can tell!). This colorway is far and above my favorite: Summer Night (color number 3657). The best part is that these are the simplest stockinette socks, and simple socks are my favorite to actually wear. I worked them toe-up with an afterthough heel and did a picot bind-off. The contrasting yarn used for the heel and picot edge is Soft Like Kittens Noodle Sock in Cloud Watching. The Raverly project page can be found here.

    Last we have an FO I'm especially excited about. I fell in love with Chuck when Andi Satterlund released it in the fall of 2012, and I've wanted to knit myself one ever since. I love the simple but elegant cables and I love the cropped length. I've also been trying to make an effort to knit more sweaters that I can wear with my high-waisted dresses and skirts, so I decided it was finally time to give it a go. I picked up five skeins of Quince & Co. Lark in Kittywake at Tolt back in March, and after knitting so many fingering-weight sweaters, a worsted-weight sweater on size 8 needles felt impossibly quick (although this project did do some hibernating for a few months). I worked a tubular bind off for all of the ribbing, but otherwise made no modifications. Andi's a wonderfully clear pattern-writer, so even though this type of construction isn't my favorite to knit, I'm already looking forward to casting on for another Andi project (perhaps an Agatha?). The Ravelry project page is here.

    --

    Next, I'm trying to see if I can sneak in under the extension deadline for Shannon's Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL (which ends tomorrow) with my Dubro. I've almost finished the body (one or two stripes left) and then all I'll have left is the sleeves, so it might actually be doable! What's on your needles at the moment?

  • photographic milestones

    I got a new camera!!

    My very first camera was a 35mm SLR: a Nikon FG-20. It was a hand-me-down from my mom and I loved it. I used to walk around my yard and my neighborhood as a teenager, snapping photos of anything and everything (but rarely people). I remained a faithful Nikon photographer when I bought my first serious digital camera, a Nikon D70 that I bought second-hand in 2007. It wasn't my first digital camera, but it was my first serious digital camera. I bought it a few months ahead of a semester abroad in France - I remember wanting to have a good camera to document my first extended trip in Europe. That D70 remained my faithful companion for the next seven years, coming with me on a cross-country move as well as trips on four different continents. I basically used it all the time. But at some point last year, that started to change. I got an iPod Touch before going to Norway for the summer, and even though my D70 came along, I used the iPod almost exclusively. Last fall I replaced the iPod with an iPhone. The cameras have come quite far in smartphones, as we all know, and for everyday snaps you really can't beat the ease and portability they provide.

    As I started using my phone more and more to take photos, I think my old D70 really started showing its age. My relationship with it had changed, too. I didn't want to bring it along to document much of anything, and it really only came out to shoot pattern photos or knitting projects. In the last few months, it's finally given up. I can no longer shoot with it. Whatever's wrong with it is probably fixable, but I decided that I'd rather look at buying a new camera than pay money to have a rather old one fixed, especially since digital photo technology has moved forward by huge leaps and bounds since that camera was released. And there's something to be said for investing in a camera that moves me to take pictures again, that's inspiring just to have in my hands. So I started looking around.

    What I landed on is the camera pictured above: the Fujifilm X-T1. I went for the "graphite silver edition" because the silver top is reminiscent of the Nikon FG-20 that was my very first camera (nostalgia totally sells; smooth move, Fuji!). The purchase of this camera marks a rather momentous occasion for me: it's the first time I've bought a proper pro camera totally brand new. There's a lot about it that's very different than my Nikon - the biggest thing being that the Fuji is mirrorless - but I love the photos it takes and I love how it feels in my hands, and that stuff matters to me just as much as the technical specs (if not more). 

    I took a long walk today to spend some time getting a feel for it. Walking around with this camera in my hands, I almost felt like that teenager walking around with her first camera again. It's been a long time since I've felt that sort of giddy excitement about a new creative tool. Most of the photos I took today are just snapshots, really, but I thought I'd share a few here on the blog. I hope to be sharing a lot more photos on the blog again, especially once I get to Norway in August.

    I also wanted to say thanks to the friends who sat and talked cameras with me as I worked my way up to this decision, particularly Kathy and Rachel. Your enthusiasm and encouragement means so much, and I'm grateful for it.

  • FO: hemlock tee

    I've been enjoying following Me Made May again this year, but with how busy it's been in my house - prepping for an international move, then a parental visit - trying to actively take part really hasn't been practical. There definitely haven't been many opportunities to actually create new items of clothing. I decided to set aside an afternoon while my parents were here, though, to sit down and sew something I've been meaning to sew for months: the Hemlock Tee. It's a free pattern from Grainline Studio, designed for knits. Ever since Me Made May rekindled my desire to sew last year, I've wanted to tackle knits.

    When I was in high school I did a lot of sewing, but I was never a technical sewer - I was very DIY make-it-up-as-I-go-along about it all. I think I wrote about this last year, but it's been so interesting to return to sewing after reaching such a professional level with my knitting. My knitting skills are pretty polished at this point and I know so much about technique, fit, and designing - so to come back to sewing means realizing I know next to nothing about the technical aspects of sewing garments. I was pretty sloppy in high school and I really didn't care, but now I want my hand sewn garments to reflect the level of polish I've come to expect from my knits. It's challenging, to feel like you're going back to being a beginner at something (and for that reason, it's probably a very good exercise for me, too).

    In any case, when I bought this grey and white striped fabric (from Drygoods Design in Seattle - I *think* it's this one), I had originally slated it to become a Linden. I even bought the pattern with it. But as it sat on the shelf, waiting for me to have time to make it, and as I looked into ribbing and trying to find a good ribbing to match the fabric, I started to think that perhaps I should start simpler. I'd still love to make a Linden, but the one-size oversized free Hemlock Tee felt like it might be less ambitious. (For those of you who sew regularly, the Linden might not seem that ambitious, but I really need baby steps here. I'm sloooow at sewing and it takes way more attention to complete simple tasks than it should because I so rarely do it.)

    This super simple tee still took me the better part of an entire afternoon. There are plenty of reasons for that - I used my regular machine with a walking foot put on, and I had to figure out how to install the walking foot before I could even test it out. I also started off using a triple stretch stitch (recommended for knits if you're not using a serger) but that was causing some serious issues with the shuttle in my machine and I broke a few needles before I exasperatedly gave up on that and switched to a normal straight stitch (since it's an oversized tee, I think it'll do okay). 

    I felt unsure about the length of the sleeves, so I didn't actually hem/finish the sleeve cuffs - since it's a fine gauge knit, the fabric won't really fray or do anything terrible, and I've just rolled up the sleeves for now so they're closer to elbow length. I also shortened the overall length of the tee, cutting off several inches of fabric before hemming it. I think it suits me better than the longer length did.

    While I wouldn't say I enjoyed the process of actually sewing it (I think it will take a lot more sewing practice before I can really enjoy sewing a garment) I'm fairly happy with the end result, even though I can spot all the flaws. At a glance, most people won't notice those, and this tee's definitely my style and is very at home in my wardrobe. I think it'll transition super well from a summer piece to a winter piece - it's very layerable, and I can already picture it with a huge scarf around my neck. 

    So this will very likely be my one make for the month of Me Made May. I'm still grateful for the excuse to think a little bit harder about what I'm putting on in the morning and where it came from, and I'm definitely grateful for the month of inspiration that comes with so many people sharing their handmade wardrobes day after day. I'll be doing a lot of culling of clothes before we fly to Tromsø, trying to pare down and really only bring essentials or things I really love, and this month has made it easier to think about what I want to keep and what I'd like to let go of.

    Are any of you participating in Me Made May this year?

  • woolful podcast

    I'm SO excited to be the guest on this week's episode of the Woolful podcast! If you've never listened to the podcast before, it's absolutely wonderful (and you've got 22 back episodes before mine to listen to). The podcast is the creation of Ashley Yousling, who currently splits her time between a tech job in San Francisco and a beautiful ranch in Idaho. I can't say thank you enough to Ashley for having me on, because I love her podcast and what she brings to our fiber community in producing it. And huge thanks to Tolt Yarn and Wool for sponsoring this episode! 

    I've received so many wonderful comments and messages since the podcast went up and I'm a bit overwhelmed by the love, so thank you all! I was quite excited to see some of you mentioning that I'd piqued your interest in Norwegian sheep breeds, and you'll be happy to know that Norwegian-specific wool is something I'm hoping to explore more and write about here after I move to Tromsø this summer. I can't wait to share what I learn.

    Those of you who regularly follow the podcast know that with each episode comes a giveaway - and this week we're giving away a copy of Moon Sprites along with the Létt Lopi to knit it! Many of the comments on the podcast episode mentioned a desire to work on colorwork, and Moon Sprites is a great pattern for that whether you've done a lot of colorwork or not - with just seven rounds of simple colorwork, it's totally appropriate for a colorwork beginner! To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment on the episode's blog post.

    Be sure to visit the Woolful website and listen to those back episodes if you haven't before! And be sure to check out Ashley's shop, Woolful Mercantile, while you're there.