American Wool Series

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 30

What do you know, I wrote most of this post over the weekend so I could just add in the winner for last week's giveaway and I totally forgot to post it. Sorry!

The winner of the skein of Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Splish Splash is pinkknittergal! Who said,"What a lovely colorway. I would make Song of the Sea on Ravelry. It's perfect." I agree, it is perfect for that pattern! I've contacted you via Ravelry to get your mailing address!

So, what's the giveaway this week? The answer is that I don't know yet. I'm volunteering at Knit Fit! fiber festival in my neighborhood of Seattle this weekend and I'll be picking up several scrumptious prizes from the marketplace. That means some lucky reader will win a little goodie basket put together by me from vendors at the market with some other little trinkets thrown in for good measure.

To counteract an entire week of waiting I've decided to do a double giveaway! Hooray! Last week I knit a pair of Leethal's Rumours mitts from her Remixed ebook. Can I say how awesome they are? I had one teeny tiny ball of cashmere and was able to get a pair of mitts out of it - less than 126 yards of sport weight yarn made into a lovely, soft, warm pair of mitts for this winter.

I'll gift some lucky reader with a copy of Leethal's new booklet, Adventure Knitting, which is kind of like a choose your own adventure knitting pattern. One of the amazing things about Leethal's patterns is that they work with just about any yarn so you can definitely stash dive for this one and use up some of those long-lingering balls of yarn.

To enter, please comment below telling me what kind of knitting adventure you'd like to go on. You can choose something from the book or tell me where you'd like to go in a real life knitting adventure! Please make sure you leave a way for me to contact you if you win - Ravelry id or email address work great. Good luck!

P.S. I'll also be attending game knitting night at Knit Fit! hosted by Leethal herself, come say hi if you're going to be there! We're watching Singles this year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Music Monday

I've been trying to think of music favorites thematically but my choices are a bit of a smorgasbord since I've been doing all kinds of listening lately. Enjoy!

Hedwig and the Angry Inch "Tear Me Down".

"Quick" from the Magnetic Fields' album Love at the Bottom of the Sea

"Flashlight" by Parliament

"Rebel Girl" by Bikini Kill

"Girlfriend in a Coma" by the Smiths

I did warn you that it was a wide variety of music, but I'd say that it's also very representative of my music collection - eclectic!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Days 26 & 27

You may have noticed that I'm lumping days together lately and all I can say is that I'm really tired and still recovering from my cold and my visitors and my birthday. My good friend, Monica, put together a birthday party for me last night at a local coffee shop/bar and I may have imbibed a bit too much of my favorite pumpkin beer (it was worth it). I also got a slew of gifts from my lovely friends who also happen to be knitters. I've known most of my knitting group since I started attending in late 2006 or early 2007 and I've become fast friends with them. We watched Labyrinth, which is my favorite childhood movie, and marveled at David Bowie and his, um, codpiece. If you've seen Labyrinth you'll know exactly what I mean.

I got presents!

Last week I received a tube of fancy shmancy lipstick from Jessica which I've been using practically every day (it's this one). 

 Jeanne made me some delicious apple cider caramels which I shared last night but am now hiding from my family so I can eat them all up myself. 

Monica gave me a skein of yarn all the way from Rhinebeck and a pair of Jennie the Potter earrings.

Hannah's present was an Italian silk scarf with an awesome red and white abstract print.

Abra made me a most delicious vanilla birthday cake with star sprinkles. She's my favorite cake baker because she gave me all the leftovers and I had some with my coffee this morning (way too early in the morning, I might add). 

Amanda promised me a future brunch date and she always takes me to yummy places.

Sharon gifted me (and the rest of the party) with some contraband Canadian Girl Guide cookies.

And Jodi presented me with a little pumpkin and a craft book for zombie felties. I made my way down to the local Joann's this morning and picked up craft felt and sequins and beads galore to make some of the projects. 

Due to my violent love affair with knitting I sometimes forget about the joy I feel when I'm crafting other things like teeny zombie cats.

I guess that's really two days of favorite things - a party with some of my favorite people and some non-knitting crafting just for fun. 

Do you have other crafts besides knitting that you indulge in?

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Days 24 & 25

I've slacked on writing the last couple of days since I was nursing a head cold but I seem to be doing much better now and am mostly recovered. The last week or so has been really chilly in Seattle and it's making me appreciate my wool blankets. I only have two but they've been so cozy this last week I think I need more of them!

 My Old Shell Shetland Shawl is serving two purposes - if my arms are cold I fold it diagonally and wrap it around my shoulders and if my legs are cold I use it as a lap blanket. Although it's very light, it's also very warm and has found a permanent home on the back of my sofa.
Little A's Mitered Crosses blanket came out of storage and is now gracing her big girl bed and keeping her nice and toasty during bedtime. She also has a tendency to bring it into the living room for snuggle time on the sofa - something we both enjoy. 

Blankets aren't my favorite thing to knit but I have to admit that they are much warmer and nicer than commercial blankets, even those fancy throw blankets that have to be dry cleaned. Do you have a favorite blanket pattern?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 23

I love to read. In fact, I don't really feel like myself if I have fewer than two or three books in progress at any given moment. While I was in school I did a lot of reading for classes that I didn't necessarily enjoy, though I did learn quite a bit about genres, topics, and time periods outside of my comfort zone. I'm a fairly active member of goodreads (you can find me as Erin Birnel) and love browsing books the way I do patterns or yarn on Ravelry. Without further ado, some of my favorite books:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I discovered this book as a middle schooler and became obsessed with Gothic literature and the Bronte sisters.

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. This book falls firmly in the self-consciously post-modern genre but I LOVE it. Depending on how sympathetic you are to the characters this can be a horror story or a love story - either way it's creepy.

Anything by Shirley Jackson. I'm currently reading her autobiography, Life Among the Savages, and it makes me laugh out loud. I find her writing style very engaging and she tackles slightly freaky subject matter in a lot of her novels and short stories, which I totally dig.

Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the Anne series. This series has been a constant in my reading life from middle school to today. As I've grown older there are different aspects of the story that speak to me and change my perspective of Anne and her life on P.E. Island.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is a classic and the movie version is pretty awesome as well.

John Steinbeck and Daphne DuMaurier. I'll read pretty much any book written by either of these authors - they both have points of view and styles of writing that I enjoy and value even if the subject matter isn't something that appeals to me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 22

Phew! I just wrapped up a whirlwind of a visit with my bestie, my mom, and my sister. I'm back to work and trying desperately to keep my cold in check - Little A is on round 3 of school colds and everyone at work is trying their best to spread the, ur, love - I'm surprised I've held out so long. 

But let's talk about the good stuff! The giveaway from last week was 2 skeins of Fibre Company Acadia in the Kelp colorway. Random number generator says the winner is Carrie B.! Congratulations! Carrie, I don't have an email address for you so please contact me ( with your mailing address so I can send out your yarn. Yay!

This week's giveaway is a special one. I've lauded the yarn of Wendee of Hazel Knits for years now and it's still my absolute favorite. The Fiber Gallery hosted a Hazel Knits trunk show over my birthday weekend and I hand picked a special skein to give away to one of you lucky folks! 

The color is Splish Splash on Wendee's Artisan Sock base - 90% superwash merino/10% nylon and 400 yards to 120 grams. 

To enter, comment on this post saying what pattern you would knit if you win the giveaway. I'll randomly draw a winner next Tuesday and ship your yarn. Please remember to leave a way for me to get in touch with you in case you win (email or Ravelry name work great). Good luck!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Music Monday

Some random songs from my punk rock days in no particular order. 

Fugazi "Waiting Room"

Sham 69 "If The Kids Are United"

X "Los Angeles"
The Ramones "Do You Wanna Dance"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 16 through 20

One of my favorite things is...vacation! I'm taking some time off to spend with my best friend and family who are all visiting Seattle for my birthday. I'll be back on Monday for some musicy goodness! Have a great week!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 15

Sorry for the late post! I have family coming into town for the week and they start arriving tomorrow so I've been utterly swamped with housework and tidying since I came home from work - not to mention things like, you know, cooking and eating dinner. Phew!

Random number generator tells me that the winner is Andi! Congratulations, Andi! Andi has a wonderful blog and if you haven't read it, you totally should.

This week's giveaway is a new favorite yarn of mine, Acadia. I recently cast on the Quaking Aspen Shawl in some Fibre Company Acadia and I immediately fell in love. I've knit with other Fibre Company yarns in the past but Acadia really takes my breath away - the colors are rich and complex and those slubby little bits of silk just get me. I'm so in love with it that I'm drawing out the knitting process so I can knit with it even longer.

I have two skeins of Fibre Company Acadia in the Kelp color (slightly acid green) to give away to a lucky reader. To enter, all you have to do is comment below and tell me what Fibre Company yarns you've knit with or if you've never knit with any of them. Please remember to leave a way for me to contact you in case random number generator decides that you're the winner. I'll draw a name next Tuesday and post the winner! Good luck!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Music Monday

I'm an Elvis Presley fan. I think I may have mentioned it on Music Monday before but I'll say it again - I love Elvis. His rock n' roll is good but my favorite album consists of rhythm and blues and some slightly country-ish tunes. The album, Sunshine, is a picture disk that has Elvis wearing two different cable knit sweaters (swoon).

A Month of Favorites: Day 13

I actually forgot to post yesterday because I was doing one of my favorite things - hanging out with friends. Jessica had a donut brunch at her place and then I went to the Fiber Gallery to talk with my good friend, Hannah. I spent the rest of the afternoon with my family and doing random housework to get ready for the influx of out of town visitors I'll have this week for my birthday. Yay!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 12

 These are some of the knitting magazines and booklets that I inherited from my grandmother. My sister has the other part of the collection. Until I was in middle school my grandmother knit sweaters for both me and my sister for Christmas every year. Some of these pamphlets still have my grandmother's notes with details about sizes and yarn amounts and I love looking through them.
 I dig her hairstyle and Thinker pose.
 That monkey wants to know where the little boy's pants have gone to.
The Christmas before my grandmother passed away I knit her a pair of thick, soft anklet socks and she sent me back a note saying how much she loved them and that she was impressed with my knitting - in her decades of knitting she had never knit a single pair of socks! Maybe this sock pamphlet scared her off of them?

Were the men or women in your family crafters? Did you inherit any of their collection?

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 11

I love doing colorwork in knitting. Watching pictures and patterns emerge out of something so easy as stockinette stitch is magical every time. As you can tell, I don't have a preference for contemporary or traditional patterns but when the mood strikes I hit up my Ravelry queue and dig through my prodigious stash of fingering weight wool. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 10

I have a fondness for weird television shows. I'm pretty sure the catalyst for my love of the weird was Dark Shadows - I watched the entire series on vhs when I was in middle school. I'm slowly rewatching this on Netflix since they added it to their watch instant lineup before the Tim Burton movie came out.

The Prisoner is also a favorite of mine. The Simpson's version is pretty amazing, too.
Twin Peaks! I was super stoked to go to North Bend, WA and eat at the diner where Cooper gets his pie and coffee (it's a place called Tweety's) and it's really quite terrible.

Other shows that I really like with the same weird bent to them are X-Files, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits (original 1963 series), and the Twilight Zone (original 1959 series).

Do you have any weird tv shows that you like to watch? Yes, Toddlers and Tiaras does count. I've only seen one episode and it scared the bejesus out of me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 9

I hail from Northern California wine country. I've worked in pear sheds packing pears and in the office of a cooperage for a large winery. My home town of Ukiah, also the county seat, is nestled in a valley 2 hours North of San Francisco and about an hour and a half from the Pacific. When I was putting myself through school (the first time) I used to take my rare days off of work and school and head to the coast for a day of studying and napping on the beach. My favorite place to go was Mendocino.

garden #3
Mendocino is an artist colony that features lots of small shops and galleries with small places to eat tucked inside historic buildings.

The town is beautifully landscaped and sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 

 This is where I chose to spend my free time before I moved to Seattle. To the right is a small beach where a river meets the ocean and I'd lay down there for hours basking in the slightly chilly Northern California coastal breeze and get my reading done for class. When I finished up I'd head back into town for a bite to eat before driving back to Ukiah or go up to Fort Bragg where I could eat at any number of micro-brewery restaurants. 

If Mendocino looks slightly familiar to you it may be because it has been featured in several movies: East of Eden with James Dean (it's supposed to be old-timey Monterey), The Majestic with Jim Carrey, Forever Young with Mel Gibson, and Dying Young with Julia Roberts.

A Month of Favorites: Day 8

Last week I kicked off my month of favorite things with a giveaway. Random number generator tells me that the winner is  RC who said, "Cute markers! I usually use a mixture of the plastic locking type and the plastic circles. Boring but I hate snagging markers. Would love to try these out!" . Congratulations! I'll be in touch to get your mailing address and send off your Velvet Hippo stitch markers. Yay!

I decided that Tuesdays are giveaway days and, lucky you, there happen to be five Tuesdays in October. This week's giveaway is for patterns from my favorite designer, Amy Christoffers. My two favorite sweaters are Amy's designs - the Acer Cardigan and the Bailey Cardigan. And while I have a tendency to think of Amy as a capital S sweater designer she does publish a lot of accessories, too.

What do you have to do to enter? Tell me in the comments below which of Amy's designs you've knit in the past or what design (or designs) you're dying to cast on. The winner will receive two of Amy's patterns. Patterns need to be giftable via Ravelry but don't worry about that, Ravelry tells me that there are still 50 patterns to choose from! You have until I post next Tuesday to enter to win. Good luck!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Music Monday

I'm a big fan of old school Soul music - Aretha, Otis, Etta, Wilson, you get the idea. A large portion of my record collection consists of this genre of music and I'm always on the lookout for more. It's a feel good kind of music and even when it's sad it's still good.

My version of this song is from the album, Aretha Now which is totally kick ass.

"Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding. My favorite Otis song (this may have to do with seeing Duckie do a lip sync to this song in Pretty in Pink at a tender age). 

Etta James singing "Something's Got a Hold On Me". 

"Land of 1000 Dances" by Wilson Pickett. Do you know all of the dances he mentions? I spent a long internet session trying to find videos of them 'cause that's the kind of geek I am. 

A Month of Favorites: Day 6

I love Indian food - the spices, the smells, the complexity of flavors, the amazing variety of dishes. My very favorite dish is Malai Kofta which is dumplings made from mashed vegetables and paneer and then simmered in a thick tomato sauce. Serve it with some fresh naan, basmati rice, and an Indian beer and that is my idea of perfection in a meal.

My favorite Indian place in Seattle is Masala located in the Northgate neighborhood. I've never had a bad meal there and the menu is excellent. They're also certified Kosher so they have the menu divided between different meats, poultry, seafood, or vegetarian options with each option divided by items that have dairy or do not have dairy. Did I mention that they also have an amazing dessert selection? They do! Besides the often seen rice pudding and mango ice cream they have my favorite Indian dessert, rasmalai

Do you have a favorite type of food?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 5

Fall always feels like the perfect time to sort through all of my stuff and get it organized. I do it sporadically throughout the year but there's something about Fall that kicks my neat-freakiness into high gear. I've spent the greater part of the morning in Little A's room sifting through the amazing amount of stuff she has in there and then decided to tackle the armoire where my hand-knit accessories are stored. It's rather amazing.

 Apparently one of my favorite things is to have enough hand knit accessories to swathe a small army.
I have to admit that this isn't all of it. I've got a fabric cube in my bedroom closet that has the "fancy stuff" aka the stuff that is slightly fussy/fragile/delicate to wear. The wicker basket in this picture has my mitts and some cowls in it and there's another one in the armoire with hats and more cowls. Eep. A small portion of the items shown are gifts or from swaps so I didn't knit all of these items but I did knit the vast majority of them. Maybe it's time to let my family pick through it, huh? I know I won't stop knitting accessories any time soon.

I'm curious, how many hand knit accessories to you keep on hand for yourself or your family?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Month of Favorites: Day 4

 Hand knit socks!
Seattle is very temperate so I get to wear my handknit socks practically all year long. When I first learned to knit I didn't understand the appeal of knitting socks but I'm a convert! Wool socks keep my feet nice and toasty and there is such a huge variety in patterns that I can find one to knit that matches any of my knitting moods.
1. vanilla socks 2. Traveler's Socks 3. Vanilla socks 4. Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern 5. Cadence Socks 6. Chinese Bellflower Socks 7. Tea Time 8. Angee 9. Tobias

Do you have a favorite sock pattern?

A Month of Favorite Things: Day 3

 Trader Joe's is pretty much the place to get inexpensive seasonal treats that are super tasty. I'm a sucker for practically anything pumpkin flavored once Fall hits and Trader Joe's does a pumpkin-loving girl good.
This isn't the whole haul from this week, I also have pumpkin ravioli in the fridge. I wasn't always a pumpkin lover, as a kid they were only to be used for jack o' lanterns or pie, but as an adult I absolutely love them. Pumpkins work equally well as sweet or savory additions to dishes and there's something so comforting about having them baking in the oven or spicing up my coffee. I'll be indulging in the pumpkin bounty of Fall until I make myself utterly sick of it (that actually never happens). Pumpkin is really easy to cook with but these items are my favorite grab and go items to have in my pantry or to take to work for lunch. 

Do you have a favorite Fall food or treat?

A Month of Favorite Things: Day 2

If you've listened to my podcast or read my blog for a while you might know that I absolutely love horror movies. In middle school I would stay up late to catch old black and white movies on PBS, many of which were horror films and mysteries.

The Innocents from 1961 is a film adaptation of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Creepy as heck!

Cape Fear from 1962 featuring Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck.
Rebecca from 1940, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The book may have one of the best opening lines ever, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again".
The Haunting from1963 based on the Shirley Jackson novel, The Haunting of Hill House.

Do you have a favorite scary movie? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Month of Favorite Things

It's October and we're officially ensconced in the Autumnal season. I absolutely love Fall and I always look forward to pulling on my wool sweaters, the changing of the leaves, and all of the yummy comfort foods that abound. It just so happens that my birthday is in October - maybe that's the real reason I love this time of year so much!

For the month of October I'll be sharing some of my favorite things on this here blog, including a couple of giveaways. In fact, I'm going to kick off October faves with a giveaway.

I stumbled across Velvet Hippo via Andi's blog this year and went straight to her shop to purchase a set of stitch markers. In the past I've always gone for those plastic locking markers you can purchase at your LYS but these are so pretty that I just can't resist. My current set of VH markers are in constant rotation and I can attest to the fact that they're snag free and slip easily from one needle to the next. Most of Velvet Hippo's markers are customizable to fit up to size 7, 9, or 11 (US) needles.
To win the above stitch markers, leave a comment below with your email address or Ravelry name (I need a way to get your address!) telling me what type of stitch markers you usually use when you knit. You have until Tuesday, October 8th to enter to win!