Thursday, December 11, 2014

All about that Cloche (Oregon City Arch Cloche)

This is the story of my design, The Oregon City Arch Cloche.

Almost two years ago, I was asked to design (as I had done before) a couple pieces for two of the Rose City Yarn Crawl participating shops. These two shops were on either side of one of the bridge that was celebrating it's 100th anniversary that year. Wynona Studios was on the Oregon City side (Eastside and does not exist anymore except in cherished memory) and Wool N Wares on the Willamette Falls (West) side, also considered West Linn.

First of all, something that you may not know, Rose City is one of many nicknames for Portland, Oregon. Ah, you say, now I get it, ROSE CITY Yarn Crawl... One of the other nicknames is Bridgetown. The Oregon City Bridge is not in Portland, or even the same county, but it's still included in the list of bridges in the area.

When it was originally built, to celebrate it's completion, a young man walked across from one side and his bride walked to meet him in the middle and there they were married. How fun, huh?

So these two shops thought it might be cool to celebrate the anniversary of bridge by remembering the wedding with projects that commemorate that time period and fashion. Also, I wanted the two items to kind of go together. JJ at Wynona Studios gave me a fingering weight yarn and we decided to make fingerless mitts, lacey with nupps for a bridal, Edwardian-period feel. We named them Blushing Bride Fingerless Mitts. They are created with a braided wrist band (a three-fold braid is symbolic of marriage and, for me, girlhood) the mitt picked up and knit from one edge, finished with a picot edge, with an optional lace cuff picked up from the other edge.

The Cloche that this post is about, uses that same braided band so that they can go together, but it's knit of worsted weight yarn and continues to be very not-at-all like the mitts.

The word "CLOCHE" by definition (French meaning Bell) is a close-fitting BELL-SHAPED ladies hat. I did not create it to be felted, but I would like to see someone knit one over-sized to felted. Hopefully the stitch textures wouldn't be completely lost, by over-felting.   I began this again with a HAT BAND of the braid I mentioned, a little smaller than head size, hoping to help it stay on the head. To achieve the bell-shaped crown, stitches picked up (again similar to the mitts) the decreases start slow and pick up speed to the end. The brim, I thought should flare but only just a bit, so the stitches are picked up with only a few increases in number. and worked for just a short time till the brim and then for the neat finished edge, bound off with an i-chord. That final touch seems to me to make it also look tailored, but that may be my own pride.

Now, why am I telling you this story?  This little hat has been the most popular pattern in my designs sold on Ravelry. I love the texture, the shape, in my opinion it looks best in purple, but the one that appears in the pattern for the Yarn Crawl was done in a nice medium blue Cascade 220, still nice.

Some have not had an easy time of it, it's not an easy knit pattern, the pick-up and knit is intimidating for some as are cables. Many have not done the brim, have just created it as a beanie. Which is nice, too. I like the texture, but some have mistaken it for crochet and passed it by for that reason. I've discovered, as much as that would make me feel wonderful, I can't make everyone happy. I still love this little hat.

SO, because I love it so much and want to see more people knit it up with THEIR favorite worsted weight and PLEASE post it in Ravelry so I can see it and go back and admire yours over and over again, BECAUSE I WILL! I am offering it at half off through the end of 2014. Please click the link for the Oregon City Arch Cloche above, use code Blog2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

STITCHES East 2014 ~ Hartford, Connecticut

I was fortunate to be asked back to assist the XRX team at Stitches East, which held in Hartford, Connecticut.

The weather there for the most part was decent. This was the view outside the hotel window.
Cake the Elephant is somewhat of a celebrity.
He has his own Facebook page! I enjoyed
coffee with him a couple of mornings at
the registration desk.

Benjamin Levisay, CEO of XRX
publications, which hosts the
Stitches Events, is also host of
the Fiber Hooligan Podcast. He
allows me to assist with a group in
Ravelry, a page in Facebook
and Twitter. Also the final portion
of each podcast called.
  State of the Hooligan.
Here Cake gives us tips for
upcoming episodes!
This was actually taken at Stitches Midwest in Chicago.
I felt that I got to spend a little bit more time with
the dashing Franklin Habit at Stitches East (short of
sitting alongside and knitting with him, as is my dream)
so I'm including him here. He presented his 'Weldon's
Practical Magic' to the Hartford audience, which I felt
was thoroughly enjoyed by all. 

Jane Slicer-Smith, author of
Swing Swagger Drape,
published by XRX, traveled
to Harford from Australia.
Steve Malcolm, host of the It
Takes Balls to Knit blog,
traveled to Hartford from
Vancouver, BC. He must
be on his knees here, he's so
much taller than me!
Robin drove in from
Schenectady, NY, is a
faithful listener of
Fiber Hooligans and
Yarn Thing with Marly Bird.
She is the FIRST person to
recognize me, I believe, that
I didn't have to identify myself
to and include a bunch of tactless
name dropping.
Anne Berk, is an awesome
teacher and recently published
author, from our old neighborhood
near Portland, OR. She has
developed a method of
intarsia knitting her husband
which is the name of her book!
This is Brooke Nico, who designed the cardigan I'm wearing. If I ever owned a garment that
was 'lucky' it would be this one. I was wearing it the first time I met Benjamin Levisay and
he recognized it as her design from the (then) recent Knitters K100 magazine. She also has
a new book, featuring her genius lace designs. called Lovely Knitted Lace.
There was an opportunity to meet some of the
authors that XRX has published as soon as the
market opened. Here is Elise Duvekot,
Myra Wood and Betsy Hershberg.
At the other end of the same table is Laura
Bryant and Gwen Bortner.

Marly Bird has allowed me to pester her beyond all reason for over a year
 and has let me monitor her Ravelry Group, Facebook Page and Twitter,
 plus her Newsletter. She says I'm helping but sometimes I gotta wonder....
Pure coincidence that she caught me wearing the new Derby from
Buffalo Wool Co (one of the sponsors of her podcast,
Yarn Thing with Marly Bird) and she was wearing a great hat as well!
I LOVE YARN DAY took place on Friday while Stitches East was happening. This picture of the Convention Center Staff
was published in the local paper.
The Convention staff were so involved in the
fun of Stitches, that this sweetheart wore her
own crochet work to greet folks on the last day
of Stitches East 2014. 
Part of all the fun at each Stitches Event is seeing what
Lily Chin's costume is at the Student Banquet and Fashion
Show. At Stitches East 2014, she came as Marie Antoinette.
Complete with guillotine and mortal neck wounds. The
majority of her gown was machine knit, as there was probably
no way to complete this entire ensemble by hand in the
two months since Stitches Midwest in Chicago.

I went with a shopping list for this event. I had to check my bag
so I left lots of room by bringing completed gifts to giveaway,
then filling it with such goodies as Erin Lane Bags, these two are
special editions. The one on the left is a Kristin Omdahl fabric
introduced at Stitches East 2014 and the right is a Marly Bird
bag, created as a collectible for this event. The skein is Kristin's
Bamboo So Fine in the PURPLE that I had to have more of!
I think this is the majority of the accumlation I brought home. The hat from Buffalo Wool Co, mentioned before, and a skein of yarn to make another hat of my own pattern. Books, bags, my skirt from Darn Good yarn and it's yummy bag, probably a new project bag, and the Namaste BYOB I've craved since hearing them on the Fiber Hooligan podcast.

The last day I was there in Hartford included several hours with nothing better to do than be an obnoxious tourist. Some of the ladies I spend a lot of time working alongside came up with a wonderful plan to see the Mark Twain House, not far away from the hotel. So, two pictures I like best from that:
First, we had to pose with Lego Samuel Clemmons.
I did say 'obnoxious tourist, did I not?

This view of the Samuel Clemmons' home is this, with the atrium. (No one is allowed to photograph in side the house.) The veranda that the family was photographed on many times there on the right. From that location the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe is seen although of a bit of a distance, close enough to borrow a cup of sugar but far enough that the children could be children and not disturb the neighbors. There wasn't really time to see Harriet's home, but we did visit the Interpretive Center, where you could purchase souvenir knitting needles or quilting tools. Imagine that! 
I hope you enjoyed this post of my first excursion to Stitches East and Hartford, Connecticut. There was a quote of Mark Twain's that I saw that seemed absolutely true to me at the moment I saw it while I was there, and I think it will be the perfect conclusion to my little picture story.

'Travel is fatal to prejudice.'

Seeing another area and wondering how people function, live, work, enjoy life is always an eye-opening experience as well as hearing different accents in the way people speak. However, in a fun event like Stitches, where everyone is as giddy as you are about the inspiration they are seeing and learning about, we're not so different after all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Not the sweater I hoped to share

I have to apologize right up front, this is not the post about a sweater that I'd hoped to share.

I don't know why I'm apologizing, though, because it's really not my fault.

There is a pattern that says ONE SKEIN will complete a sweater from size XS to 3XL. I had hoped to share this as an ECONOMICAL garment project.

NOTES: Usually, a knitter that is having to pinch the pennies tries to find projects that don't take many skeins or have low mileage (or meter-age outside the US) lengths of yarn to create. Often a knitter will have to skip garments in order to work with finer yarns.

Big girls like me tend to knit gifts for others.

I had a skein of Juniper Moon Farms Findley Dappled, in a purple colorway, of course, that I bought from a local shop when Susan Gibbs of JMF was visiting. It is a laceweight yarn of half SILK and half MERINO. Hours I spent pondering what to do with this one skein... Silk means it would have great drape and shine, merino means great stitch definition. I COULD have done yet another lace shawl. Here's the dilemma: How many purple shawls does one gal need? So, I kept looking. And looking... until I stumbled upon a pattern created FOR this yarn.

It's not often I get to knit a pattern with the yarn a pattern was intended for. In fact, I can't remember that happening to me before. Ever.

Reading through the directions, I have the needles, the gauge is do-able, I'm going to change a few things, per my usual, and what's this? ONE SKEIN IS ALL IT WILL TAKE? What the what?? For everybody?

Really. I am a bit incredulous. In fact, I now feel a DUTY to test that fact. So, I run off to another yarn store that the website says should have that pattern. The printed pattern says it too! At the next knit night, I cast on. I chose to knit the LARGEST size, even though it is not MY SIZE, because, well, you really should make the largest size you have the yarn for, right?

I hear you nodding at me, so I'll continue.

I made changes, as I said.

  • The pattern is not top-down, like I prefer, but that's OK, I will knit the front and back at the same time on circular needles like many people knit, in the round. In fact, I knit the sleeves seamlessly as well. The only finishing I needed to do was the 'armpit' seams.
  • I changed the texture also. The way it was written, in a lace eyelet pattern, a 16-stitch repeat with a space between alternating flowers of two stitches, but the repeats don't have any space between, so I move the alternate eyelet flower over one stitch. Now, there is one-stitch space between vertically throughout. 
  • I also changed the eyelets themselves. It was intended to be a seven-eyelet flower, but the sleeves are picked up from the sweater and knit to the elbow, which make the eyelet flowers on the sleeves upside down to the body of the sweater. I took out the seventh eyelet. Except that the two and three stitches knit together can tell another knitter which direction the piece was knitted, they are now identical throughout.
Now at about the point that I reach the 'armpit' in the body, from bottom-to-top, my husband had a heart attack and was a week in the hospital. I tried to knit, but it seemed to me that the majority of my stitches had to be 'tinked' or unknitted (a nice way of saying taken out - in fact, TINK is KNIT backwards). Sitting in the waiting room of the hospital I wasn't making any real progress. Then I got a good look at my skein.


Earlier than I could have imagined I have proved that ONE SKEIN will NOT complete this pattern.

Due to the rescue of local knit night gals, I was able to continue plodding through.  The skein actually ran out about 3.5 inches above the division for the armholes, in the back (done first then the fronts, two: right and left).

I had hoped when I cast-on that I would be wearing this silk and merino t-shirt at Stitches Midwest, (see my last post). I could not have foreseen the chaos in my life that nearly stopped me from working on it. I didn't stop. By the time I got it to Stitches Midwest, the back was done, left the stitches on the large circular needle and continued working first the left front (on the plane, during slow periods in the market place or registration booth where I spent my days of which there really are not many slow periods, and then during Franklin Habit's presentation of Weldon's Practical Magic. It's mostly mindless knitting at this point so I can watch and listen without really needing to look at my work.)

By Sunday of the event, I'm on the right front. Rick Mondragon gave a demonstration in my booth of Knitting Backwards or Reverse Knitting. This means when working back and forth (instead of in the round has I had been earlier in the sweater), rather than turn your work to work back to the right-hand side to start your next row, you simply work the stitches from left to right. I thought I'd been doing this for years, began when working short-row heels of socks (it just made sense to work those 30 and ever decreasing stitches back and forth rather than knit, turn and purl, turn and knit again) and with entrelac knitting, instead of flipping the entire work around every ten stitches, to knit and knit in reverse direction! However, Rick showed me a more effective way of completing each stitch that speeds up my work.

At home again, sewed both shoulder seams in Kitchener technique so there is no visible shoulder seam, and did the neckline edge to match the cast-on-hem. Have done the left sleeve, picking up from the left shoulder selvage and continuing to work in the modified pattern of eyelet, then at the row beginning the decreases, knitting in the round, so there's no seam in the sleeve either. When I finish the right sleeve, all the finishing that will be left is to sew the selvage of sleeve to the bind off underarm on the body of the sweater.

Can't wait to block it. I'm anxious to see the effect of the silk drape, to block out all the crinkled texture of being wadded up and carted around all over the country, to the hospital and home again, to every knit night for months.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

STITCHES Midwest 2014 ~ Schaumburg, Illinois

This will be a picture essay of my adventure for those of you not on my friendslist in Facebook and have seen it all already. If you are, you will find this all old news.

Betsy, the delivery truck that Ron and Teresa
 of Buffalo Wool Company drove from Texas,
was ON THE FLOOR! This was the second
STITCHES Event that she was in the Market,
the first at South in April. You can visit the
website at 
Kristin Omdahl has put her drawing talent to fabric and
Erin Lane Bags will be putting her art to their bags! Pre-orders
are now being accepted at and you
can find Kristin Omdahl's designs and wonderful new yarn
Bamboo So Fine

This is the beginning of my pictures featuring the view
of where I spent the most of my time. From my post, it was
easy to see that the Verdant Gryphon was a very popular vendor.

One person who I had not had an opportunity
to meet before now is Anna Zillborg. I have a
copy of her wonderful book, Magnificient
Mittens and Socks
 and this sweater was
very beautiful as well, but not as precious to
me as getting a picture of her ready smile.
I had met Rick Mondragon at STITCHES West but not to
spend much time with. I had an opportunity to spend
enough time with him at STITCHES Midwest to better
a particularly favorite knitting skill.
More on that with a later picture.
In front of the Market, was a brand new sign,
promoting the Fiber Hooligan Podcast. You know,
the one I'm on the end of? You can hear it at iTunes:

There were two racks display samples:
This one shows off the pieces in the next
issue of Knitters Magazine (the Fall 2014)
This piece up front is designed by
Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, I was so
proud of myself to recognize it right off.
On the other side of our booth, the rack shows
pieces featured in the two most recent books.
The end closest to us are from Myra Wood's
book, Knit in New Directions which was
presented at STITCHES West, last spring.
On the far end, the pieces from the upcoming
book, Weave Knit Wear by Judith Shangold.
Both are published by XRX and available through
their website:
Elaine Rowley is another who I had not met
before this event. She is often introduced as
the "R" in XRX, one of it's three founders.
When I asked her if I could take a 'selfie'
with her, rather than tell me no, as I'm sure
she would have preferred, she made me
laugh so hard I messed up my shot.
I still love it though, so I'm sharing it.

At about this point I was hoping to add a picture of myself with Franklin Habit. This was the first time I met him, but my phone had died and I was saving my opportunity for a picture. However, Benjamin Levisay invited me up to meet him and asked for a picture to be taken, which I have not found posted yet.  I plan to update this when it is... 

Marly Bird, on the other hand is a PRO at taking selfies.
I am her social media helper. She was teaching at this
event, but she is super busy with a podcast of TWO
episodes a week and designing. JUST TRY and keep up
with her at her website.

Part of the events for me was the Podcaster meet-up. I made
an effort to listen to all the programs that said they would be
there, but Paula of the Knitting Pipeline was the only one I
had ever heard before I saw her statement that she would be
there. Find her program: 

I had a little bit of a panic when I considered
trying to get all of this home. I ended up
checking a bag and carrying all of this of
this on the plane. My current work-in-progress
is at the top of this shot....
This is the same work in progress. I received
some very helpful advice from Rick Mondragon
about knitting backwards, left to right rather
than right to left. Saves having to flip a large
project around every few stitches!
Marly and I again, this time at her Pajama Party which takes
on Friday nights after the Fashion Show and Banquet.
Makes for a long day, so I was a bit.... erm.... evil?

This is most of what I came home with. From Top Right: From Namaste, Inc. ( I purchased the Oh, Snap! bags to benefit Halos of Hope ( and Kelly gave me the shirt (really worked out well because I ended up wearing it when my plane was delayed getting home), a skein of Heaven from Buffalo Wool Co (, a iron-on transfer of rhinestones that says 'Knit Happens' (looking up the link...), from Veronica Van of Dream in Color, a Herdy coffee mug and key rings. ( NOTE: I meant to come home with a kit for the Chelsea's Cowl which is made with Dream in Color Jilly, but was waiting on something else that never happened, so will be ordering online or picking it up at Stitches East. Fiesta yarns ( I purchased the yarn and pattern for a sweater that I have been admiring forever, Heavensent Cardigan. Book Artful Colors Mindful Knits by Laura Bryant, published by XRX (this was badly damaged, I rescued it. Not as nice as the one in the library, but I can write notes in it!)  There is the Marly Bird project bag from Erin Lane Bags ( and a Franklin Habit print (sold through Miss Babs in the center of the picture. Most of what's across the bottom of the image had actually been given to Marly as part of her teacher bag and she regifted what she couldn't use to me. Includes needles and notions, Cascade Yarns Longwood and Schaefer (?) yarns Extra Merino Premium.

This event was put together by the hardworking folks at XRX publishing who create The Knitting Universe Magazine. Their website about their events, magazines, books and the Fiber Hooligan podcast is:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 7

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 7 features Maggie Sefton, Knit One, Kill Two, published in 2005 by Berkely Books, division of the Penguin Group. This was the first in a series of twelve, the last (so far...) being just published in June. 

From Goodreads: 
Kelly Flynn, a corporate accountant from Washington DC, who has relocated to Ft. Connor, Colorado, and is learning to knit at the House of Lambspun:

I can be found on Goodreads or Facebook, as Tammy Burke, or on Ravelry as wearingpurple, Twitter as wearingpurple1

Tammy's Disclaimer: I have not received any of these books as promotional materials from the authors or their publishers. I've obtained them on my own, by purchase or borrowing from the local library. The order in which they appear is not to be understood as a rating, but simply as an opportunity to share positive things about knitting. Please enjoy with me. Thank you!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 6

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 6 features Kate Jacobs, Friday Night Knitting Club, published in 2007 by the Penguin Group. This was the first in a series of three.

I can be found on Goodreads or Facebook, as Tammy Burke, or on Ravelry as wearingpurple, Twitter as wearingpurple1

From Goodreads: 
A charming and moving novel about female friendship and the experiences that knit us together-even when we least expect it. 

Tammy's Disclaimer: I have not received any of these books as promotional materials from the authors or their publishers. I've obtained them on my own, by purchase or borrowing from the local library. The order in which they appear is not to be understood as a rating, but simply as an opportunity to share positive things about knitting. Please enjoy with me. Thank you!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 5

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 5 features The Seven Series by Heather Ordover, the first book GROUNDED, self-published 2013 by Crafting a Life books.

I can be found on Goodreads or Facebook, as Tammy Burke, or on Ravelry as wearingpurple, Twitter as wearingpurple1

From Goodreads: (There isn't a series description yet, as this is the first book in the series and it was recently published. This is the book's explanation instead.)  

Hannah Rose was able to convince herself that she was a normal teenager, even though she usually knew exactly what was about to happen next. Until one day when she set her jerk of an ex-boyfriend on fire-from 15 feet away-propelling herself into a world of weirdness. 
Rosie is sent to live with her aunt in Brooklyn. There, Rosie discovers a family legacy of strange abilities and dangerous talents. Her training tests her gifts-and her patience-but over the summer she does begin to learn to control her unique skills and meets a boy with equally dangerous strengths. Together, they find a sort of peace that neither has ever experienced, and it looks like it will last-until disaster breaks them apart in a way neither saw coming.
Tammy's Disclaimer: I have not received any of these books as promotional materials from the authors or their publishers. I've obtained them on my own, by purchase or borrowing from the local library. The order in which they appear is not to be understood as a rating, but simply as an opportunity to share positive things about knitting. Please enjoy with me. Thank you!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 4

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 4 in a series about Knit Lit, this time a Mystery from Sally Goldenbaum, Death by Cashmere, A Seaside Knitters Mystery. Published in 2008 by Obsidian.

I can be found on Goodreads or Facebook, as Tammy Burke, or on Ravelry as wearingpurple, Twitter as wearingpurple1

From Goodreads:

The Seaside Knitters are 4 amateur sleuths (Nell, Izzy, Cass, and Birdie) who share a passion for knitting.

Tammy's Disclaimer: I have not received any of these books as promotional materials from the authors or their publishers. I've obtained them on my own, by purchase or borrowing from the local library. The order in which they appear is not to be understood as a rating, but simply as an opportunity to share positive things about knitting. Please enjoy with me. Thank you!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 3

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 3

I'm doing a short series of posts in video, to share some knitting literature. Click on one of these links to be redirected.

This episode, I will feature the Blossom Street Series from Debbie Macomber.

I can be found on Goodreads or Facebook, as Tammy Burke, or on Ravelry as wearingpurple, Twitter as wearingpurple1
From Goodreads:
Welcome to A Good Yarn,that fictional little shop on Blossom Street in Seattle, where knitters go for yarn, supplies and patterns, and where they form lasting friendships in Lydia Hoffman's knitting classes. Other businesses have sprung up there, including the French CafĂ©, Susannah’s Garden and Blossom Street Books.

Tammy's Disclaimer: I have not received any of these books as promotional materials from the authors or their publishers. I've obtained them on my own, by purchase or borrowing from the local library. The order in which they appear is not to be understood as a rating, but simply as an opportunity to share positive things about knitting. Please enjoy with me. Thank you!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 2

This episode features the series from Gil McNeil, the first book called The Beach Street Knittig Society and Yarn Club, published in 2009 in the US, but originally appeared in the UK as Divas Don't Knit in 2007

(Not letting me post the video here, I believe it won't let me post because it's 2 minutes longer than the 25 minute limit it YouTube will allow for embeding elsewhere.)

You can find more information about this and other books at

Tammy's Disclaimer: I have not received any of these books as promotional materials from the authors or their publishers. I've obtained them on my own, by purchase or borrowing from the local library. The order in which they appear is not to be understood as a rating, but simply as an opportunity to share positive things about knitting. Please enjoy with me. Thank you!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Just Knitting, Video Blog Post, KNITLIT, Part 1

I'm doing a short series of posts in video, to share some knitting literature. Click on one of these links to be redirected. 

It took me a while to figure out how to make the post appear here, if it doesn't work for you, I'm hoping the other links will.

I can be found on Goodreads, find me as Tammy Burke there. This is a wonderful website for books. In fact, Find the the Cypress Hollow series at this link on that website.

Tammy's Disclaimer: I have not received any of these books as promotional materials from the authors or their publishers. I've obtained them on my own, by purchase or borrowing from the local library. The order in which they appear is not to be understood as a rating, but simply as an opportunity to share positive things about knitting. Please enjoy with me. Thank you!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NEW Books!

Looking around trying to find something to chat with you about... HEY! I have new books to share!

First, I received Myra Wood's Brand New Book Knit in New Directions: A Journey into Creativity when I was at Stitches West in February. I guess you could say I've been fermenting on it. That's true because the more I look at it, the more I love it.

I think some of the most beloved quilts are those that are not constrained in pattern but are set free with color and stitches and fabric textures. I've heard them referred to as Crazy Quilts. I'm not so sure I care for that name, I wish it was something like Intuitive Art Quilts or something.

That's what Myra's book is encouraging us to do: Use your imagination, use the magic of your yarn, it's colors, the fabrics your hands and needles can create and create something that's sure to capture everyone's eye! Photographed by Alexis Xenakis, published by XRX publications, 168 pages, softcover, it's a beautiful and most inspirational book!

Here's the link to purchase it through Amazon:

If you're on Ravelry, check out the individual Patterns:

I've also received a book as a prize through the Yarn Thing podcast with Marly Bird ( pretty much by accident. I was listening online with my computer and I lost sound. While I was rebooting, I dialed in so I wouldn't miss anything of her interview with Brooke Nico and my number was chosen from the queue. I had knitted one of Brooke's designs before, I appreciated how well thought out and evenly balanced it that pattern was, so I was very excited to hear she had a new book coming out: Lovely Knitted Lace: A Geometric Approach to Gorgeous Wearables. She uses FOUR shapes to create different projects ranging from accessories to garments, and gives you ideas for creating your own unique piece. Published by, a division of Sterling Publishing, soft cover, 128 pages I think it encourages people to think of knitting lace in their own way as well.

Here's the link to purchase it through Amazon:

And the link to the patterns listed in Ravelry:

I have signed copies of both book now in my library and I love them. I would recommend both to knitters ready to work beyond their own preconceived boundaries! Happy Knitting....

PS. I will be adding pictures of my copies at some point in the next couple of days!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Summer Knitting

Ooops! That month NEARLY got away from me.

I've been thinking about the upcoming summer months. I wonder sometimes if it's an addiction on my part, to not be part of the crafting crowd that puts off knitting in that time of year. What really concerns me is Local Yarn Stores (LYS) failing in Summer...

I realize I've been knitting for a long time, but there are things I would try to do in certain seasons. Afghans are awesome in winter! In fact, I've spent more winters plugging through an afghan while couch-bound with pneumonia or some other winter illness than I care to count. In Summer, I try to focus on smaller things like socks and hats. I understand that people are busier but don't you still find that when you are stuck waiting for a while EVEN IN SUMMER you wish you had your knitting?

I may not have enough of a background in operating a retail store, so I don't want to offend someone. I am very concerned about shops that fail in Summer, because that seems to be when a failing shop gives up. There's a lot of concern in the industry about shops failing because the shops blame the availability to purchase materials cheaper online, and the time of year doesn't figure into that problem.

As a customer or a supporter of LYS (that's where I want to focus this post) how can I make a difference for my favorite shops?
  • Are you on the Newsletter List? Do you follow them in Ravelry or Facebook? or whatever internet hangout you and that shop are in?
  • Do you share those with your other knitting (or other fiber crafty) friends?
  • Do you stop by the shop on a regular basis? or attend one of the weekly gatherings like Knit Night or Sit and Spin?
  • Do you ask if there's anything you can do to help and be OF SUPPORT?
I can understand shopping online for a large quantity of yarn, let's say a sweater's worth. A lot of shops only have shelf space for a skein or two of certain colors, NOT EVERYTHING every yarn company offers.  Have you asked if the shop can order for you a large quantity? Sometimes they can offer you a discount (don't expect wholesale, they need to make a profit, too!) because some yarn companies will discount a certain amount for so many skeins. This may help your shop get their foot in the door with some companies that wouldn't necessarily listen to your LYS, so don't hesitate to ask!

Being broke and living paycheck-to-paycheck can make you feel like you can't purchase something every time you stop in to your shop, and maybe your LYS owner knows you well enough after a certain time to be understanding about this. However, she may need help with creating shop samples and that would give you a great opportunity to knit with something you've not tried before!

It's always a good thing to just say to your LYS owner that you like the shop for (whatever) reason, and give them an opportunity to show they appreciate you, too!

While you're there this week, check her sales baskets for some sock yarn so that you have something to do this summer! ~ Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stitches South Friends

I'm so glad you're there, I hope you enjoy.

It's a sad a lonely place online when the event is being set up or during the event. Out here is the sound of crickets, while in there are squeals of delight when finding a new or old friend, or the yarn you've always wanted, or to understand a new technique that seemed beyond known skill.

If I could have a wish, from far away, I would ask for a box filled with:

  • The wonderful colors that dazzle my eyes,
  • The texture on my fingertips that makes me want to dive in head first,
  • The recognition of my craft that comes from nowhere else,
  • The hugs given freely and in abundance,
  • The desire to knit this and all of that,
  • but the largest share I crave is the feeling of being understood, sometimes before you know the name of the person who understands, 
  • That comes with speaking the same language.
Have a wonderful adventure, my friends. Tell me you wish I was there...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Knitting Group Etiquette

Knit Groups (or spinning, or crochet ...) were probably founded and based on the history of quilting circles or other gatherings by neighbors to accomplish a large project. Imagine wool producing communities with gatherings for processing their product, from cleaning and carding to spinning. Local yarns stores use a group gathering period as a way of getting to know their customers better and to encourage those having issues. It's an easy thing to have those that have taken classes in your shop included in a group gathering for further positive reinforcement. 

Recently, I felt a personal need to do a little research on Knit Group Etiquette. I have now been a part of several different groups and attended a couple of knitting guild gatherings for which I was grateful it was acceptable to bring your knitting. (The only reason for so many is because I try to attend around a constantly changing work schedule, and have had a couple of moves.)  There are a few thoughts I've found in my recent search that I wish I knew for my own benefit.

The principles of a Local Yarn Store Knit Group generally are thought to be:

  • Everyone is welcome to attend with the purpose of sharing your projects and conversation is mostly limited to this topic without profanity so as not to offend other attendees or otherwise listening ears.
  • Food is brought when the shop owner says (as food odors may permeate the fiber in stock) and shared throughout the group.
  • Purchasing materials from each other while in the shop is thought to be the worst offense, UNLESS invited. Think 'Trunk Show'.
  • In some shops, only projects made of materials purchased within THAT shop are appreciated. I've personally not seen this in an established shop but this was something mentioned in Ravelry, so I'm including it here.
Of course, simple rules apply too. The one I have the hardest time with is not interrupting other people when they are speaking. It's gotten really bad the last couple of years, I think because I'm in a new area. I get so excited to be around people I care about because I don't know anybody else, that when they are talking, if it reminds me of something I've experienced or know about, without thinking I start sharing before they've finished. Without thinking. I have to learn to think first. Like I used to tell my daughter when she was small, if your mouth is engaged, your ears aren't working. I need to remember that before I open my mouth.
Joining a new group is something I've found in my research that causes the most consternation. Generally, I just show up to a group I've found. Guess what? WRONG. One young lady did this and spoke about her experience in Ravelry as absolutely awful. Those that were there stared at her and said nothing, which unfortunately she took offense to, rather than understand they hadn't a clue that she was wanting to attend or if they were being held up. It's best if you contact someone and let them know you would like to attend so they can expect you and look forward to meeting you. Anticipation can be magic. Once you're a regular, you shouldn't have to alert the group of your attendance.

There are groups that are organized or follow a program. For example: At some groups, everyone is to sit quietly, while you go around the circle and introduce yourself. I remember once a group that I had met with regularly had someone show up once who obviously came from one of these organized groups. This group wasn't like that. She forced the group to to the formal thing, and shushed someone who was talking in a corner. That's when I had to get up to leave, because it would have broke my heart to have her shush me and it was only a matter of time. Knowing if there's a format and what it is when you arrive is probably a smart idea.

Cliques are not a happy thing to have happen in your group either. It's always best to sit next to someone different every week. In fact, I recommend it, because you may be meeting a new friend, or at least learning something new about your craft.

Gossip should go without saying but it's a pretty easy snare to fall into. It means talking about people who are not there. Usually negatively. It's so easy to start asking about someone you care to see at knit night, and have someone immediately start bashing that missing person. Repeating personal information you may have been trusted with is especially nasty. Just don't. If you miss someone because you really care about them, call them or message them. Go to them and be caring, it's best when you don't fake it.

It is by our actions that we show who we really are. If we are a knit group that hopes for new attendees and we want to share what is wonderful about fiber (knitting, crochet, spinning...) we show we care by our manners. Are we warm and inviting? Do we speak to new people with smiles on our faces? or a judgmental frown? Do you know how your knit group organizer feels about the day that knit group rolls around? Is it with dread? Does she need a drink to get through it? 

Oh, I hope not. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

All the way from VA, it's Susan Gibbs!

I wish I could tell you how long I've been following Susan Gibbs of Juniper Moon Fiber Farm.  

Susan has such an awesome story. At one point she was a network news producer in New York City. It seems like I read somewhere that it was a morning show... I'm quoting from her website, so I won't presume to elaborate, but clearly she was unhappy. She says she walked away from that in search of 'a more authentic life' and told people that. Reading the book Storey's guide to Raising Sheep inspired her to become a shepherdess. I'm like you, I wonder if there wasn't more to it than that, like 'ranching is in her family or something'. America is a big place, lots of people have done lots of things, so it's totally plausible. It's also totally plausible that a book was all it took.

I actually started following her farm when she was operating as Martha's Vineyard Farm... she moved from there to Virginia in 2009. I can imagine life is quieter there compared with Martha's Vineyard, trying to raise animals that need pastoral scenes in a tourist destination can not have been easy. The farm had a couple of unique pieces that I appreciated: 1.) Lambcam lets you view life on the farm from your desk.  The first year I listened to a lot of chickens strolling the pen... people who get to see a new lamb being born in the pasture are named Aunties and Uncles. I often have the lambcam on in the background on my computer and when the afternoon gets long, her dog will walk past the camera, BARK and wakes me up! 2.) Yarn Shares. You can actually buy an affordable share of the yarn crop each year, in either the form of YARN or the spinners share of FIBER. This is about as close to owning your own sheep without the having-to-shovel-sheep-poop part. It's funny that every yarn-crafter gets to that point where they wished they owned an animal that they could harvest their own wool, but the process of the care of the animal, sheering, cleaning, carding, spinning and dying the fiber are the unconsidered parts of 'adopting the puppy' that gets pushed aside in THAT dream ~ all done away with in this plan.

So, as you can see (I hope I've conveyed it) I have admired Susan and Juniper Moon Farm.  

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll remember my post about going to the Seattle Mariner's Stitch & Pitch and getting to meet Nicky Epstein. I don't think I realized at that time, how truly wonderful that experience was. I sought her out after she threw out the first pitch, and she was just waiting at a table in her assigned spot and THERE WAS NO ONE between her and I, so she could see me with my copy of her book from afar and how excited I was to get to see her. I was literally doing a little fan-girl dance and she did one, too. 

Susan threw out the first pitch at this last years game. I was there and tried to get up to the booth where Susan was greeting everyone but so was everyone else. They sold a lot of tickets to knitters and crocheters, so I have to assume all 3,000 of them were there to see her, too.

A couple of weeks ago, I started seeing posts from Susan on Facebook that she had a 'tour of the West' coming up. I watched those posts to see how close to me she would be, was it possible I could day-trip to wherever she would be? She posted a map of her route, and low and behold she was coming to MY NEIGHBORHOOD. I immediately researched all the shops in my area to see where she would be stopping for a trunk show (this is when a yarn vendor, author or designer brings their wares to show the patrons of a local yarn shop) and could not find anyone with this opportunity listed in their calendars or upcoming events. It wasn't until Susan or one of her helpful helpers posted the actual shops (I think it was in the Ravelry group for the farm) she would be stopping at, with their addresses and times that I figured out she would be at a local shop after I closed the office and made a mad dash downtown.
Susan Gibbs on the Right. I'm holding a skein
of Findley Dappled that came home with me
(it seemed to call me by name),
as well as another skein I hope to design a
brimmed summer hat with.

Naturally, I was in the office longer than most days. Naturally, I didn't give myself time to eat anything before I left the house like I should have, knowing my diabetes would try to get the best of me. Naturally, I lost my adventure buddy on the way there simply because I don't know this area still after being here 2 and half years. So, of course and NATURALLY, I looked awful. Don't look at the lady on the left very closely, if you don't wish to give yourself indigestion. But know this from my heart: When I walked up to her and put my hand out and said, Hi, Susan, my name is.... She screeched and recognized me over the sound of my own beating heart, and made my day. 

We have made plans to see each other again later this year...

I should, by now, have the thought of mind to put together a little something and come back to you with an interview or something. After all this time, admiring the work of someone for long periods of time and KNOWING they don't know us as well as we think we know them, it continues to blow my mind when someone says 'I see your posts on Facebook all the time and you keep me informed about everything knitting.' It was the same at Stitches West in Santa Clara a couple of weeks ago. Maybe someday I will get over my own smallness and have something wonderful to share with you. I'm not there yet. I will continue to stretch my self so that you have something wonderful to read about all things Happy Knitting when you stop by my posts. I just want to post at this time, I got to meet her, it was wonderful, and we will be doing it again.

Thank you.