september bits

September second marked one month in Tromsø for me. It also seems to be a seasonal milestone: in the past week there’s been a noticeable change in the weather, almost like someone’s flipped a switch. The air outside feels fresh and brisk. A few of the eager birches are starting to turn golden yellow, and the colors on the mountainsides have (just barely) started shifting from green to bronze. I turned on the heat in my apartment for the first time this week. As someone who grew up in North Carolina, where it always felt like it took aaages for fall to come around (especially since people started talking about it in August), I have to admit I’m enjoying the early shift. I’m already looking forward to snow appearing on the mountains nearby, and I’m very curious to see when the first snow in the city will be this year. We shall see!

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In an attempt to bottle up some of the remaining arctic summer, I made red currant jelly this week. I got the idea from Unlikely Pairing and then loosely followed the instructions on this blog. Highly recommended. Otherwise I’ve still been working on settling into the new apartment (we finally got some of the art up on the walls) and focusing on school. I’ve been scoping out study spots and I’m pretty sure I’ve found my favorite on campus.

For those who are curious about what it is I’m doing in school, I wanted to point you toward this bit on BBC Radio 4 (streamable online through the end of the month). It’s an episode of Fry’s English Delight – and I love Stephen Fry – called English Plus One, all about bilingualism. The area I’m planning to focus on for my thesis is bilingual language acquisition in children, which is one of the topics that comes up. It’s a half hour segment and interesting stuff for anyone who’s interested in language.

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Finally, I’ve actually been able to start knitting again regularly! Some days it’s a few minutes and others it could be an hour or two, but it’s been so nice to be able to unwind with knitting again. The change in weather has certainly helped encourage me to pick it up this week.

And speaking of knitting, some pieces of knitting news:

– Karen has highlighted some of the creative mods knitters have made to Laurus over on the Fringe blog. You know I love mods, so I loved this post!

– If you’ve ever wanted to knit yourself a Sundottir but you’ve been putting it off for whatever reason, you might want to join in on Fern Fiber’s Sundottir KAL! Cast-on date is September 23rd and you can get the pattern for 10% off if you’re joining in. Fern Fiber is a natural dye company run by Maria and Nikki (who you’ve probably heard before if you listen to the Woolful podcast – they’re frequent Man on the Street contributors) and they’ll also offering a limited number of yarn kits in the colors of your choice for the KAL. You can read up on the KAL details in their Ravelry group and check out the listing for the naturally dyed yarn kits on Etsy.  Fern Fiber hail from North Carolina (my home state!) and I’m so excited they’ve put this KAL together. It makes me wish I had time to take part (or that I needed another Sundottir).

– Have you heard that Kate Davies has developed a yarn? I’m ecstatic about this news! It’s called Buchaille and you can read all about it on her blog in a series of posts – everything from how they sourced the fiber (all Scottish), where is was scoured and prepped for spinning (with a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility), what kinds of colors will be included in the line, and more. There will, of course, be a collection of patterns to accompany the release of the yarn.

fringe hatalong

I was hoping to get this post up last week, but it’s been so busy with the semester start I’m only just getting it up!

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know I love the Fringe Hatalong series Karen is running this year, so when she got in touch with me to design pattern #4, I was thrilled! Let me introduce you to Laurus:

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Laurus is a free pattern available as a PDF download from the Fringe website right here. Most of the pertinent info is included in the Fringe blog post, including some info about swatching, knitting from a colorwork chart, and our featured charity for this pattern, Hats and More for War-Torn Syria. I don’t want to overlap too much with Karen’s post, but I did want to share some more about this pattern and how we arrived at it.

The recommended yarn is Quince & Co. Lark, one of my very favorites. I love the Quince & Co. concept, since their wools (and their new cotton yarn, Willet) are all grown and produced domestically in the United States, with an emphasis on sustainable practices. Lark is a worsted weight 100% wool yarn available in 55 different colors (at current count). I chose Lark for the pattern not just because I love it (though I do), but also because I find the built in “compare” tool on the Quince website particularly useful when choosing yarns for a colorwork project. On any of the yarn pages on the Quince site if you click “compare colors” underneath the large photo at left, you’re able to view up to five colorways side by side. Genius!

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One of the things I strive to do as a designer and a teacher is to emphasize the creative possibilities of modifications and the differences our creative decisions can make for our finished object. Since many folks knitting this hat for the hatalong may be doing colorwork for the first time (or have limited experience with colorwork), I suggested to Karen that we work up the hat in two different versions – but both versions would use the same two colorways, and simply swap the main color and contrasting color. I think this completely changes the feel of the hat, even though both samples use the same two colors.

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I wanted to illustrate that color placement within a project makes a huge difference – and that’s something you may not be able to visualize when looking at two skeins of yarn side by side. Swatching is a great way to work out what two colors might look like for your chosen pattern, but colored pencils and graph paper can also be a useful visualization tool.

We released the pattern last Thursday, but several speedy knitters have already worked up their hats! I’ve seen a version that omits the stripes and I’ve also seen a version that takes the Laurus chart and uses it on a Moon Sprites hat instead – both clever and creative, two things I enjoy the most when browsing FOs! I love watching the projects progress, and you can share (or just browse) Fringe hatalong projects everywhere with the tag #fringehatalong.

I encourage you to give this hat a try even if you’ve never done colorwork – this pattern’s a great starting point with only 7 rounds of colorwork and it’s a simpler and more repetitive motif than it appears to be at first glance. I’ll be on hand to answer any questions I see popping up as well. I can’t wait to see your hats!

All photos by Kathy Cadigan.

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).

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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:

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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.

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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.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

the fringe hat-along

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Back in February, Karen of Fringe launched the Fringe Hatalong series, and I really enjoyed following everyone’s progress with the first pattern she picked, the Audrey hat from Tolt. I didn’t join in on that round, knowing that there would be more coming in the series, but I’m excited to say that I’m very much looking forward to hat number two.

The pattern won’t be revealed until Thursday the 16th, but there’s some preliminary information posted over on Fringe, particularly regarding yarn selection. Hat number two is a pattern with an all-over textured stitch pattern, and it calls for a heavy worsted/aran weight yarn. I’ve been doing some stash diving, trying to see if I have anything appropriate, but I’ve also been down in Portland for the weekend and I couldn’t resist popping into a new-to-me yarn store, Twisted, so… in the end, I picked up a beautiful skein of Quince & Co. Osprey in Glacier, pictured above. So much for knitting from the stash. Oops! Perhaps I’ll have to knit more than one hat so I can actually knit through some stash yarn as well.

I can’t wait for the pattern reveal on Thursday, and to see how this Osprey knits up! Will you be joining in on this round of the hatalong?

tolt & fringe: an anniversary, a party

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This time last week, Tolt Yarn and Wool was busy preparing for it’s one-year anniversary weekend! Since I was in Portland on Saturday, I couldn’t be at the actual party, but I did make it out for Thursday night’s stitch circle, which featured a Q&A with Fringe Association‘s Karen Templer (who was in town shooting the Fringe holiday catalog with Kathy Cadigan, but more on that in a moment). Since Tolt is in Carnation, and depending on traffic, anywhere from a 45- to 90-minute drive from my neighborhood in Seattle, I don’t make it over very often. This meant it was my first time at the Thursday evening stitch circle, but from what I gather, we were a much larger group than normal! Karen fielded questions and talked about her business for near on an hour and a half (she’s a champ!), while we all merrily knit and stitched as we listened. Kathy grabbed a great photo, seen above. Gudrun was also in town for the weekend, doing a book signing on Saturday for the shiny new Shetland Trader Book 2 (which is gorgeous), giving a talk, and teaching a class on Shetland lace.

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Kathy also grabbed a photo of the shop on Saturday (above), during the proper anniversary celebration, and it looks like it was a madhouse. Congratulations on one year, Tolt! Anna has done such an amazing job with her store, creating not just a beautiful and inspiring space, but also a community around it. I’m so incredibly grateful to be a part of it. And I also can’t wait to get my hands on some of Tolt’s new Snoqualmie Valley Yarn – you can read about it on the Tolt blog here.

Going back to Fringe for a minute, I mentioned that Karen was in town to shoot the Fringe holiday catalog with Kathy. It went up today, and man, it is gorgeous. I’m particularly obsessed with the old fiber mill spindles (and I may have already ordered a few; hoping to spice up the yarn storage situation at Paper Tiger HQ) but everything is beautiful and the brand new Fringe Supply Project Bag looks like a dream. You can view the clickable catalog below, or (in case the embedded version isn’t showing up) view it on the Issuu website here.

It’s a joy to have friends who make such beautiful things happen. And one last thing! I’ve cast on for the Hearth Slipper KAL, jointly run by Tolt and Fancy Tiger. I’m trying out some new colors and I’m really enjoying the wintry feel (think ice caves / glaciers / snow at night). Check out all the photos tagged with #hearthslipperKAL right here.

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a knitter’s gift guide

‘Tis the season for gift guides, and if you’re anything like me at this time of year, you’ll find yourself realizing you’ve only checked a few people off your list and you have a whole bunch more to go. I thought I’d put together a few of my favorite things that would be perfect for gifts – whether you’re a knitter giving gifts to someone else, a non-knitter shopping for a knitter, or a knitter shopping/knitting for another knitter! I’ve tried to cover all the bases.

Last-minute knits

No matter how busy you are, you definitely have time to knock out at least one of these in the next few weeks.

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1. Toatie Hottie by Kate Davies, available as a kit (including hot water bottle!) here. (£15.99)

2. Brig, a hat and scarf set, by Veronik Avery for Brooklyn Tweed. I’m pretty in love with the simple seaman’s cap that’s a part of this set. Definitely a quick knit! ($6.50)

3. Earl Grey Mitts by Bristol Ivy. Quick, simple, beautiful, unisex. How can you beat that? ($2)

4. Whichaway Mitts by Karen Templer, a free pattern. These genius little colorblocked mitts can be worn in either direction.

5. The Tolt Mitts & Hat, by Andrea Rangel. Designed for the opening of Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington, either the hat or the mitts would be a perfect last-minute knit and a great introduction to colorwork. ($8)

6. The appropriately-named Jul Hat, by Jenny Gordy ($6.50). ‘Jul’ sounds like ‘yule’ and it means Christmas in Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. I love Jenny Gordy’s simple knits and her styling is always impeccable.

Project bags

I tend to work on a lot of projects at the same time, so I’m of the opinion that you can never have too many project bags. My all-time favorite is my bag from The Fibre Company, but any of these would do well!

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1. Bento bags from Fringe Supply Co. ($16-$18)

2. ‘A Daily Dose of Fiber’ designed by Vera Brosgol and available from Ravelry. They also stock this bag with the spelling ‘Fibre’ which you can find here. ($15) Update: it appears they only have the latter bags in stock (spelled ‘fibre’).

3. Bags by The Fibre Company. Available in several places online, including here & here, or you can find a stockist near you here. (~$12)

Magazines

Subscriptions are available for a few of my favorites:

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1. Pom Pom Quarterly, filled with beautiful knit and (often) crochet patterns, with a focus on creative life in general. Wonderful recipes in the back of every issue. A subscription gets you four issues and is £37.

2. Knitscene is perfect for any knitter, featuring a range of patterns in different styles, but none too complicated. Any knitter could confidently tackle a Knitscene pattern. I love these guys. A subscription gets you four issues and is $24.

3. Extra Curricular isn’t strictly a knitting magazine and you actually aren’t likely to find any knitting patterns in this one at all, but they do always have some DIY project or another you can try out. This NZ-based magazine is one of my absolute favorites, and they’re focused on creative folk of all sorts. A subscription gets you three issues and is $42 (NZ).

Project Notebooks

I might be a notebook hoarder, but like project bags, I really don’t think you can ever have too many.

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Moleskine. Call me boring, but I have no interest in any of the busy new editions Moleskine keeps coming out with – I’m a devotee of the simplest, plainest, most elegant notebooks they carry. You can’t beat a classic. Available here from the Moleskine website, where you can choose your size, paper type (plain/lined/graph), cover weight, and color, among other things. ($9.95-$20.95)

In contrast to Moleskine, I love the special ‘Colors’ editions by Field Notes. Their most recent edition is pretty beautiful: Cold Horizon. These come in three-packs and they’re pocket-sized. Good for almost anything. ($9.95 for a 3-pack)

Knitter’s Graph Paper Journal from Fringe Supply Co. How many times have I wished I had one of these on me? If you do any charting yourself, or you know someone who does, this is a perfect gift. The grid is laid out like a knitting chart, so the columns are wider than the rows are tall. Perfect for visualizing a colorwork design or working out the kinks of a new cable. ($12)

Notecards

Looking for the perfect card to go along with your package? Here are a few of my favorites:

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1. Set of 5 sweater notecards by Brooklyn Tweed ($25)

2. ‘Bummer’ notecard by Knerd ($5)

3. Notions notecards from Ravelry ($6)

Are you knitting any gifts this holiday season?