American Wool Series

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gifts for Knitters: Quality Goods

As a new knitter I often purchased the least expensive notions and tools. Don't get me wrong, inexpensive is great and not all inexpensive tools are cheap or cheaply made, but over the years I've slowly upgraded my toolkit to include lovely and useful tools that will last me for years to come. 

Stitch Markers

I love the removable stitch markers from Fringe Supply Co. They look very similar to coil-less safety pins but have a circular end to fit around the needle much a like a traditional fixed stitch marker. HiyaHiya also makes these markers in shiny brass or nickel so you can choose your poison, er, finish. $3.50 - $6.

If you are partial to closed stitch markers with a little bling then I can recommend Velvet Hippo on Etsy. Torii makes lovely color-coordinated sets of markers that slip easily between needles and provide just the right amount of sparkle to your knitting project without getting caught or snagged on your stitches. $3 - $15.

Project Bags

I have a partiality to zippered project bags so when I received my Anne of Green Gables kit from Little Skein I was thrilled! The shawl-sized bags are roomy, sturdy, and have interfaced sides so you can knit directly out of them like a yarn bowl (very handy for knit night). Anne's stitching is impeccable and her fabric choices are spot on (she also has luxurious knitting kits in her shop). 
$28 and up.

Chubby Cloud has an amazing array of project bags and miscellany offered up in her Etsy shop. You can find everything from knot bags to zippered pouches to kindle and iPhone cozies in fabrics funky to adorable. I picked up her new design at KnitFit! at the beginning of the month and it has been in constant rotation ever since. $15 and up.

My knitting group consists of several Tom Bihn devotees and while I haven't tried them myself I trust the opinion (obsession?) of my knitting friends. The Yarn Stuff Sack is the bag I'm most familiar with but Tom Bihn carries a large selection of bags that are easily adaptable for knitting purposes. Tom Bihn's fabric choices and styles are very unisex so if you're gifting to a knitter of the male persuasion this might be just the thing. $9 and up.

Scissors and Snips

My favorite scissors are Gingher 4" lightweight embroidery scissors. You can find them at most local yarn stores and they're small enough to fit in most notion pouches. I like the non-metal grip and the very sharp blades. $13 and up. 

Fringe Supply Co. has a lovely variety of scissors to choose from if you want to get a little more fancy with your snipping. Personally, I think the Italian Bow Scissors are quite nice. $8 and up.


Let's not forget our local yarn stores! Shop small and shop local this Holiday season to support your local economy. Small business owners depend on support from their communities to stay in business and you can help them out by shopping locally this season.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Knitting Fail: Wee Wildflower Cardigan

Sometimes projects just don't work out. See this sweater? It's Wee Wildflower by Alana Dakos which is an adorable cardigan for little girls. My little girl picked it out from my Ravelry queue and said she wanted it in pink (the picture reads red but it's actually a berry pink). We went yarn shopping and she picked out the yarn she wanted which also happened to be the entirely wrong gauge. C'est la vie with kids so I purchased said Cascade 220 Superwash, knit up a big swatch, and did the maths to compensate for the difference in gauge. All set, right? WRONG. The sweater is skin tight and too short! There could be a multitude of things wrong here: 

1) The math is wrong - I double-checked my numbers and they all work out.
2) My gauge lied - I measured the sweater gauge against my swatch gauge and all is well.
3) My kid grew while I was knitting the dang sweater - entirely possible! 

Well then, what's a knitter to do? Frog the whole thing and start over, of course. Little A still wants the sweater so I've frogged the whole thing and will cast on this Thanksgiving weekend to see if I can't plow through the bulk of the body during my four days off work. It has been a really long time since I've had anything come so wonkily off the needles so I'll take it in stride and eat my knitterly humble pie as I cast on....again.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gifts for Knitters: Pom Pom Quarterly

 If you are a knitter you probably have a list of things you'd love to try: yarn, needles, patterns, notions, techniques, and the list goes on (and on and on). Of course, I have a list too and I thought I'd share it with you this Holiday season. Some of the items will be practical, some will be beautiful, some will be inspirational but it just so happens that Pom Pom Quarterly hits all of those marks with style.
Last year I asked Mr. B for a subscription to Pom Pom Quarterly and I'm so glad I did. Pom Pom is a British publication that comes out four times per year and includes patterns, articles, recipes, and an interesting array of information both educational and entertaining. The photography is beautiful and the articles and patterns are both well curated and interesting and might include crochet mittens, huge wraps or shawls, recipes for whiskey tiramisu (putting that on the to-make list this Holiday season), and articles about natural dyeing, just to list a few. Subscriptions are 30£ or about $47 for four issues and they now include a code for a digital download. I loved receiving my issues in the mail so much that I asked for a subscription renewal this year for Christmas, I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

FO: Ella Funt

 Aren't tiny sweaters wonderful? And tiny sweaters with tiny elephants are maybe the best kind of tiny sweater. After a lengthy period of time where no one in my world was having a baby now there seems to be a spate of them, isn't that the way?

 All of the expected babies are boys so I had to do a little digging into Ravelry and my knitting library to find something appropriately adorable yet masculine for the little guys.
I think this is perfect.

Pattern: Ella Funt by Pamela Wynne
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in various colors
Needles: US #4 (3.5 mm) Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeable
Mods: I knit the ribbing and button bands in a contrasting color rather than the main color of the sweater. I had an odd amount of the gray yarn in my stash which I knew would not be enough to knit the pattern as written (turns out it wasn't enough for my mod either. I had to run out and buy another skein, oops!). I also didn't think that the gray/beige color of the yarn would be great up close to a baby's face so I wanted to use a brighter color for the ribbing. It turns out that I really like this modification and will use it on the next one (coming soon). One thing about baby cashmerino is that it does show every little inconsistency so there are some bits of knitting that aren't quite smooth even after blocking. I'll sacrifice perfectly consistent fabric on the altar of machine washability, though. 

Do you have a favorite pattern for baby boys? Patterns for baby girls are everywhere but I've found it difficult to find cute things for little guys.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

FO: Trillian

 Sometimes I feel way ahead of the curve. For instance, last month I decided to cast on a Christmas gift to knit during my commute time.
 I'm not a huge fan of knitting garter stitch but it's so easy to knit that I decided it would be the perfect project for my early morning and afternoon bus times. Several weeks later I have a finished object for my gift box that I barely noticed I was knitting. Normally, I would complain about the endless garter stitch but at 5:30am I didn't really have the energy to contribute to bemoaning garter stitch, I just picked it up and knit.
Pattern: Trillian by Martina Behm
Yarn: Tosh Merino Light in Robin Red Breast
Needles: US #2 1/2 (3.0 mm) Addi Turbo
Mods: None. I just knit knit knit and have about 6 yards of yarn left. I'm going to use it to tie up the package before I send it off to the recipient. 

Do you knit gifts for the holidays? Do you have a plan or do you just dive in?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Rolling Thunder Gloves

 I started with something of a problem. Variegated yarn. Some people love it and some people hate it and I tend to be somewhat ambivalent about the stuff. It's difficult to find the right pattern for whatever it is your variegated yarn is doing. I think I found the perfect pattern for this particular yarn, which is Leading Men Fiber Arts Show Stealer in the Anne's Story color. I ordered the yarn from Little Skein in the Big Wool as a companion to my Anne of Green Gables kit (more on that soon). As you can see, it has beads.
 I've already finished the first glove...
and my project has a home in my new Chubby Cloud project bag that I purchased at KnitFit! this last weekend. 

The pattern is Rolling Thunder Gloves by Sivia Harding and it's available as a free Ravelry download. Sivia based the pattern on her Rolling Thunder Socks (found at and you'll need the chart and instructions for the beaded bits from the socks to knit the gloves. I'm using clear copper-lined beads that I had on hand and the effect is a little like rain drops on Fall foliage. The combination of purls, knits, beads, and garter rib is perfect for this autumnal yarn.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Music Monday

"Sweet Child O' Mine" (Guns N' Roses cover) by Post Modern Jukebox. I'm going to see these guys on Sunday with Mr. B. Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Things for a Tuesday

Photo courtesy of Misi Photo

I'm having a case of the Mondays... on Tuesday. I'm firmly convinced that Tuesday is the worst day of the week; no re-entry from the weekend, not a hump day, not even close to Friday - it's just there, being a Tuesday. Blech.

I thought I'd counteract the ickiness by sharing some happy things, like this pattern. It's the Graceful Pullover by Maria Yarley and it's a ballet-inspired fingering weight sweater guaranteed to make the little girl in your life pirouette. It's a $6.99 download via Ravelry and 100% of the proceeds go to a friend of the designer who recently lost her husband and has four children to raise.You get an adorable pattern and get to help someone in need, how great is that?

I've also started thinking about Christmas knitting (you realize it's next month, right?) and I'm happy that I started last month and have two projects done and another on the needles. Of course, that's not to say that I won't be furiously knitting up until the last minute trying to eke out every last minute and yard. 
Here's a sneak peak since I'll have an entire FO post about this project later in the week. I'm tempted to keep it for myself!

Finally, Colette just released a stunner of a pattern called the Dahlia dress. It looks like a wardrobe staple and I'm contemplating joining the sewalong but not before I bust out a top with this fabric:
I purchased this fabric from Spoonflower for Miss Crayola Creepy's Cat Lady Sewing Challenge. I'm planning on a Sorbetto top from Colette which I should be able to sew in an afternoon. Should. I have until the 9th to get it together and we'll just not think about the fact that Knit Fit! is this weekend and I'll be away from my sewing machine. 

Well, that pick me up worked for me and I hope it worked for you, too!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Final Giveaway Winner

Can you believe it's already November? I'm having a hard time with it myself. 
I drew for the final Fall Favorites Giveaway and came up with Seattle Knitter Guy! Congratulations!
He said, "Oh, wow! I'm about halfway through a sweater knitted with a 50/50 merino/alpaca blend in a lichen (green-gray) colorway. This Owl Tweet would make a perfect, non-matchy-matchy cabled stocking cap or small cowl! Maybe even fingerless mitts. Hmmm..."

I like how you think! Non-matchy-matchy, and the sweater you described? Sounds awesome and cozy for our wet Seattle weather. I'll PM you via Ravelry to get your mailing info, thanks for playing along! Did I also mention that when I brought this yarn home Mr. B tried to claim it for a sweater for himself? True story.

A great big thank you to everyone who commented during October and entered to win the giveaways. It's really great to get pattern and project ideas from you!

One more announcement! I'm attending Knit Fit! at the Ballard Community Center in Seattle (my 'hood, yo) this coming weekend, November 8th and 9th. I'm volunteering at the registration table Friday evening for the opening speaker and Saturday and Sunday mornings to early afternoons. Come by and say hello! I'll also be at game knitting with Leethal on Saturday night which is a hoot and a half. The market is FREE and although it's small it's good. This year Tin Can Knits will have a booth as well as Wendee of Hazel Knits and many other local and wonderful vendors. See you there!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

FO: Witchypoo Socks

 A little over a week ago I realized that Halloween was right around the corner. I also realized that I had the perfect self-striping yarn to whip up some quick socks to wear in celebration. Helllooooo Witchypoo Socks!
Pattern: 54 stitch vanilla sock using the OMG Heel by Megan Williams
Yarn: Quaere Fibre Sport Weight Self Striping in Witches Britches
Needle: US #2 1/2 ( 3mm) Addi Turbo
Mods: I  made these up as I went but I knew I wanted to give that OMG heel a try. Since I knit these with sport weight yarn I used the directions for the smallest size sock heel and that worked out beautifully. These socks definitely fit me better than any short row heel or afterthought heel that I've tried so I'd like to give it another go with fingering weight yarn. These are nice and cozy and eye-searingly bright - perfect for Halloween!