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inspiration Monday: Sandbank

I’ve long wanted to start a series that captures the possibilities of an inspiring design in a Blue Moon yarn. After all, a truly successful project is the marriage of a great design with the proper yarn; and helping customers choose yarns for projects was one of my favorite parts of working in a yarn store. I picked up a lot over the years from customers’ experiences and around the teaching table; seeing customers come in a few weeks or months later wearing their gorgeous FO’s was one of the best perks of the job.

So let’s grab some inspiration from patterns that are out there on Ravelry and in the knitiverse and help each other make beautiful things!

Following the advice of “start where you are,” I’ll dive in with a piece that grabbed me just this morning (I’m particularly vulnerable during my first cup of coffee): “Sandbank,” by my fellow German Lea-Viktoria. Here’s a wide, deep, mildly-crescent-shaped swath of stockinette that’s just crying out for a great colorway. It’s an ingenious center-out construction which lets you knit it entirely in the round and make the most of the yardage you have in a laceweight to light-fingering weight yarn.

image @ Lea-Viktoria

image @ Lea-Viktoria

This piece has a supple rhythm to it which is so beguiling; at first glance, it could be a big rectangle, but it’s curved at the ends. It could be a Faroese-shawl shape, because it has shaping that helps it stay on the shoulders, but it’s not overly huge. Lea-Viktoria says you can wear it like a cardigan or like a big scarf, which would make it super-versatile for wear over a sleeveless summer dress. Or bundle it up around your neck under your winter coat and then let it cover you at your desk in the office before the heating kicks in.

image @ Lea-Viktoria

image @ Lea-Viktoria

 

 

 

 

So let’s talk yarn … what should we knit our Sandbanks out of?

The yarn she used for her sample is a laceweight, with 1722 yards in a 300g skein, and the project is knitted at a gauge of 26 sts = 4″/10cm in stockinette, after blocking. These two bits of information will be vital for us looking to substitute a different yarn.

One of the first impulses customers would have in the shop was to look at the knitted gauge (26=4″) and try to find a yarn with that gauge listed on the ball band. In this instance, that would send you off in search of heavy-fingering to light-sport-weight yarns – the problem being that the resulting piece wouldn’t have any of the lightweight airiness you can see in Lea-Viktoria’s sample photos. See how sheer and flowy it is? If you chose a yarn that was thicker, you’d get heavier, denser fabric – even if you got gauge, your fabric would be different, and the piece perhaps not as wearable.

So the trick is to look at the original yarn used and find a yarn that has similar vital statistics: in this case, laceweight is a good clue… but even among the laceweights, there’s so much variety. You’ve got cobweb-weight, which has a bazillion yards per gram, all the way up to heavier laceweights that could almost be substantial enough for socks. How do you choose?

I like to key in to the number of yards per gram when substituting yarns. Here, her original yarn was 1722 yards per 300g; divide 1722 by 300 and you get a yard/gram ratio of 5.74. Let’s keep that in mind as we prowl the Blue Moon site to consider which batch of yumminess to order for our Sandbank.

The two yarns I’m considering for mine are Silky Laci and La Luna Lace, both scrumptious silk-and-wool blends in the right gauge range (laceweight). How do they stack up?

silky_laci_sk

Silky Laci is 80% extra fine merino and 20% silk, with a slightly wooly surface texture that’s great at allowing the stitches to grab each other a bit and hold gauge very well when knitted a bit open. Fans of Shetland lace shawls would adore this stuff – it has a very regular spin, and the addition of silk makes it just that little bit special for your heirloom lace pieces. Here, we’re not focused on lace, but even in stockinette the fabric would have a hand that would make it both special but sturdy enough to wear every day. Silky Laci sports a hefty 900 yards per 90g skein, so its yard/g ratio is a whopping 10. Very different from the pattern gauge – if you knitted up a Sandbank in Silky Laci, it would weigh only half as much as the original (around 150g). For those of us knitting in warmer climes, this could make it a wearable piece for at least 2 seasons a year; but you’d want to swatch to make sure you liked the fabric knitted at that gauge. (I’m about to do just that.)

la_luna_lace

La Luna Lace is 85% 19.5 micron Merino (in other words, oooooooh) and 15% mulberry silk. Super-soft and silky, with little bitty pearls of twist, this is a dreamboat of a yarn. It has 480 yards per 99g skein, so its yard/g ratio is 4.84 – fewer yards per gram than the pattern’s sample, but still within range for a laceweight, and much closer to the pattern sample’s thickness. La Luna Lace will probably be my first choice for my own Sandbank, if only to showcase the gloriousness of this yarn in a piece so strikingly simple.

Which brings us to the question of color – once you’ve chosen a yarn, how do you choose a color(way), especially from the hundreds of eye-catching candidates at Blue Moon? I’m going to put my designer’s hat on let you in on a little lesson from design school: the relationship of complex to simple. In other words, if you’ve got a design where there are lots of things going on in terms of pattern or texture, you’re best served to keep the colorway(s) simple. Or vice-versa: in a relatively uncomplicated piece like Sandbank, you have more leeway to play with complexities of color. (Swaths of stockinette, especially where the stitch counts change as things increase, are a great platform for multicolors, and won’t muddy the design the way texture + tons of color can.)

That being said, this is a BIG piece, so bear in mind the visual impact it can make walking down the street! While you can play with some of the more active multicolor wave colorways (the ones that bring in four or five hues, or incorporate most of the color wheel), you might get more wear out of the more tonal or two- to three-color multis.

Me, I’m toying with either ‘Hush’:hush_sk

 or ‘Murky Chi’: 
murky_chi_sk

Both would play beautifully in my mostly-grey wardrobe, and the wash of grey-to-color around the stockinette body of the piece would be enchanting, dont’cha think?

What colors would you choose? I’m off to ponder over my next cup of coffee.

Feeling inspired by a design, but don’t know what yarn to use? Pop your ideas in the comments and hopefully I can chat about them in upcoming Inspiration Mondays!

summertime, and the knitting is bulky

Fresh strawberries in the Farmer’s Market can mean only one thing – we are indeed in full summer mode (even here in the overcast Pacific NW). Are you taking advantage of the longer, warmer evenings outside and knitting al fresco?IMG_0831

This week, I get extra points for matching my knitting to my produce! Amélie is a delightful shot of ripe red on the greys I love so much. And are those some super-deep greens in there as well? I’m enchanted.

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But wait – what’s that yarn? No summer laceweights over here; I’ve gone bulky. Targhee Bulky, to be precise. It might seem a strange choice for the warmer season, but bear with me. There’s a logic here.

You see, last year (as indeed, many years before), I got slammed by November and December. Like so many of you generous creative souls, I get sucked into the romantic and extravagant notion of handmade holiday gifts… completely forgetting how busy that season is to begin with, and that I only have two hands. *And* that my brother’s birthday falls inconveniently within the one-month window before Christmas, so there are those socks to finish…

It never fails. Seems like every year I get sucked into the vortex of make-make-MAKE!!, which would be lovely if it weren’t condensed into too-few weeks at the end of the calendar.

Of course, wiser souls than I have devised a solution: “Christmas in July” should save us from this trauma, if we would only be wise enough to actually start.

So here I am, knitting with bulky yarn at the peak of the year. Which is quite fun, really, when you think about it – no-one in my family needs a bulky-weight sweater, since we live up and down the West Coast. So this single skein of Targhee Bulky, with its 462 yards, is enough to make a whole raft of accessories. Thanks to Joji Locatelli’s timely Instagram post, I’ve whipped up a Man Hat for my stepdaughter when she walks the dogs this winter. (That’s the top of it, below – tidy, isn’t it?) I’ll have enough left to make a Boyfriend Watch Cap for my sister-in-law, and if I play my cards right and can get gauge, a pair of Ferryboat Mitts to go with! (And if the Targhee Bulky is a bit too thick to get gauge for the Mitts, I can always get a skein of Targhee Worsted to match!)

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I love hats and fingerless mitts as presents … they’re tasty little nuggets of knitting that you can take with you to the park or the beach, and just before you have time to get bored and reach for your fat summer novel instead, BOOM! – they’re done. Wrap them up and pop a gift card on ’em and you’ll even spare yourself that step come December!

Take a page out of my mom’s book and label one cupboard ‘The Gift Shoppe’ – pop all your pre-wrapped gifts in there and put a padlock on it if you’ve got wee ones in the house (or those who are easily tempted to peek). It’s such a nice feeling that you’re on your way to the holidays already.

It also means that we’re not putting the squeeze on Tina and her team, asking them to dye faster come October and November. My failure to plan shouldn’t mean more pressure for them, after all.… Let’s give everyone a breather and start planning that generous knitting today, shall we?

Do you have favorite, go-to patterns for gift knitting? If so, please mention them in the comments – I’m always looking for new, fun things to knit. Maybe we can collect a big list of our favorites and I can post the whole she-bang come July!

If you get your gift ideas all set and order your yarns now, Tina and the Barn Gals can have your yarn to you in a few short weeks and you’ll be whipping up presents in July faster than you can whip cream to go on those berries.

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on the needles and dreaming

June — whaa? already?!

There’s that bit of anticipation in the air — even for those of us without school-age kids at home (mine’s turning THIRTY this weekend!), you can feel the vibe. Something’s about to pop.

Vay-CAY!

Whether you’re packing up the old jalopy and headed out on the road soon, or you wish you were and you’re catching the end-of-school-year buzz, it’s always good to have a delicious little project to work on or look forward to. Little portable, one-skein nibbles that you can take with you, even if it’s just out on the back porch with a refreshing beverage.

I’ve got two on the radar that are making my needles twitch — and when Tina was up visiting me for her colossally-sunny birthday weekend, I could resist no more and had to Cast.On.Now: a Pinking Shears Scarf with a delicious single skein of Socks that Rock™ in “Autumn’s Up.”
IMG_0759The pattern is written for a laceweight or light fingering weight, so if you wanted to work it as written, you could delve into some yummy Featherlight (ooh – the sheen of that single ply in this simple pattern? Divine!).

With Socks that Rock, I upped the needle size to a US7/4.5mm. Fun thing about this pattern is, you start at the point and work your way toward the middle – so your beginning can be like your swatch! And after a few inches or so, you’ve got enough fabric to gauge whether or not you like that needle size – and it’s not too too painful to rip out. (Pro tip: don’t rip out your first attempt – save it for comparison. Take the other end of the ball and start with the next needle size you want to try; work for a few inches and then compare the two. Bonus: it’s not as painful to rip out the one you don’t like when you’ve got the new and better one started already!) (Or maybe I’m just good at rationalizing?)

If you have two skeins of the same colorway, lucky you! You can make a lovely large Pinking Shears Scarf. If you’ve got just the one skein, be sure to WEIGH your skein on a kitchen/gram scale before you start and note down the full skein weight, because you’ll want to stop when you’ve used up a little less than half your skein. This scarf differs from Hitchhiker in that you knit two identical pieces and graft it in the center for a triangular shape that’s skinny at both ends and thick in the middle.

Once you’ve knitted a few inches on this thing, it’s super-intuitive — and the Churchmouse design team have left notes in the pattern about how to use a stitch marker to help you remember which row you’re on, which is helpful when the sun goes over the yardarm and the adult beverages come out!

 

But maybe ‘vacation’ for you means some free space and free brain time and you want a project you can really dive into, with a little chart perhaps? Like a big, fat novel with lots of characters to get to know, lace or charted knitting gives your brain a little world to explore, and the hours can just zoom by as you’re in that ‘flow’ state.

My favorite new pattern this week on Ravelry for just such an occasion would be Martina Behm’s Green Light Shawl:

Image ©Martina Behm

Image ©Martina Behm

As she says on the Ravelry pattern page, Green Light is “a nice project to start at home and take on vacation: Work on the mindless and relaxing garter stitch part while still at home and working, and save the slightly more complicated lace part for when you have arrived at your destination, are relaxed and have lots of time to knit the lace border in your deck chair.” Boy, has she tapped into the Zeitgeist of early summer or what?

I am literally chomping at the bit to get one of these on the needles in Silky Laci. When I was working on Let the Light In last spring, Silky Laci was new and I only got to swatch it — the luster and sheen that the silk adds to the merino is really out of this world. It’s begging to be shown off in something as elegantly simple as Green Light. And I just happen to have a skein in “Golly” that would be dead-elegant over my coat come Fall! (Which is probably when I’d have it finished to wear, given the major case of cast-on-itis I’ve got right now.) At an astounding 900 yards per skein, Silky Laci is a no-brainer for this shawl — wind it up, pop some needles in a cute project bag, and you’re set for some great knitting, wherever your final vacation destination may take you.

Now if anyone needs me, I’ll be out on the back deck with one of those refreshing beverages…

Happy Summer, y’all!

A few good things….

Hey there,

It feels like a long time since I posted. I don’t think it actually has been it just feels that way. Life has been full and busy and a little crazy and when that is the case time seems to flow quite rapidly.

I have a lot to I want to talk about so I am going to jump right in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The barn is just humming along with all kinds of color joy. We are busy dyeing all of your beautiful color combo’s for the Buffy KAL. We’ve already shipped out some of the early bird orders and will be shipping more out tomorrow and Monday.  If you would like to join our slayer of a KAL there is still time. The 15% coupon code  ( which you get when you purchase the pattern) doesn’t expire until this weekend on the 22nd which gives us plenty of time to get you your yarn for Shannon’s May cast-on date.

I can’t tell  you how thrilled I am that you all love my Buffy colorways as much as I do. I love that some of you are ordering the whole set. I would too. I might be keep the set I used for the photos in a nice safe place where I can see them. I did the same thing with the Ravens. Actually I still have the original set of Ravens.

Anyway Shannon and her lovely husband Stefan took some seriously fun photos. I so wish I could have been in on that photo shoot!

So much fun and what a stunning and sassy shawl! Just perfect for a little late night slaying. Slay Me KAL pattern page.

If you need color choosing help you can look at what we have put together here on this post. Also you can email me at info@bluemoonfiberarts.com                                                    I am always happy to help with color choices.

Speaking of color. I’ve been getting a whole bunch of requests for color help for Andrea Mowry’s  lovely Fade knit series, So Faded and Find your Fade.  So I am going to put together a few color schemes so look for those next week.

Okay so I know I promised a Dye Class/Camp Schedule quite awhile ago. I am in the process. I just have some family stuff I need to work around so I have been trying to firm that up before posting dates.

We will be having our yearly Dye Days and Barn Sale in early August this year.

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In early July ( 6-9)  I will be on Bainbridge Island at the magical Islandwood with Lorilee Beltman teaching eco printing!!! I know. Pretty exciting.

You can read about all of fun and details  Knitting on a Lark retreat info here.

Here is my class description.

Color Magic

Join me as we explore the magical alchemy that is color on fiber with plants. In this three-hour class we are going to be experimenting with Eco Printing, otherwise know as “botanical contact printing”.
Petals, berries, seeds, bark, leaves, roots and stems hold all sorts of color mysteries. We are going to explore these mysteries with some creative mordanting and a little steam on: a cotton hanky, a wool yarn blank and also a skein of silk blend yarn. I seriously can’t think of a better place to learn more about plant color and printing than on the island oasis that is Island Wood.
What you need for this class is a sense of adventure, a love of color and an apron or a t-shirt that you don’t mind getting messy. Dyeing is a creative messy business!
You will leave with a new appreciation of the plants and a hanky, yarn blank and skein as affirmation that you can knit and wear!  Since our time is going to be full of dyeing we will also provide you with a set with class notes.
Lorilee has all kinds of other knit fun planned. Plus great food and a cooking class and …s’mores in a stunning place with wonderful people!
I hope you’ll join us for what is sure to be a wonderful time.
 Have a great weekend!
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in praise of SilkMo

I love it when a yarn and a project come together in perfect harmony. It’s a little slice of knitter’s heaven. And I found two such combinations recently! Double-dose of heavenly goodness.

May I turn your attention, Fair Knitter, to the fluffy wonder that is SilkMo?

It might not have crossed your radar recently – but let me tell you, it should have. Mohair has a bit of magic to it: the stickiness of the fuzzy ‘halo’ around the core fiber (silk, in this case, just to gild the lily) lets you knit it on bigger needles than you think you ought, for a fabric that is light-as-air and oh-so-warm.

Tina describes SilkMo as “soft, furry, goodness,” and boy is that apt. As you knit with this yarn and the project grows, you find yourself stopping to pet the fabric, like a cat in your lap. The knitting just gets better when you make it mindless – just a bit of stockinette in the round, and round and round, so you can meditate and drift off into your happy place.

IMG_0009So here’s my offering of a perfect marriage of yarn and project: Alexandra’s Airplane Scarf by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas in SilkMo (This is colorway “Heckley Speckley.”) Pattern calls for a bit more than 800 yards – and lo and behold, SilkMo’s generous skein boasts 794! Knits up beautifully (and surprisingly quickly) on US8/5mm needles – and the joy is, once you’ve cast on, it’s just round and round and round you go! Nothing to fuss with, nothing to worry about; just stockinette until you bind off. It was fun for me to see how many places and opportunities I had to pick this up and knit it: after lunch at my mother-in-law’s; watching “Gilmore Girls” with friends; over a glass of wine after dinner … Mindless knitting fits in just about anywhere!

And the result? A light-as-air, warm-as-a-down-comforter scarf that’s wide and long enough to keep you warm in the worst of winters without adding a ton of bulk. The gang at Churchmouse named it ‘Alexandra’s Airplane Scarf’ because the gal who brought them the original idea loved to knit them on cross-country plane flights… and because the fabric is so fluffy and light that it’s the perfect piece to pack to wear on a long trip. It would take up almost no room at all in your suitcase, yet be the perfect thing to throw over a dress or under a coat to keep you warm as you wander back to your hotel from the sidewalk café in your favorite European city.

Want to play with SilkMo in a different way? I’ve got another great project for you: pair SilkMo with IMG_0011Targhee Worsted, and you have a fantastic combination that’s ideal for another Churchmouse pattern: the Picot-Edged Mohair Throw & Afghan. SilkMo held with Targhee Worsted is the ideal gauge for the ‘super-chunky’ option on this pattern, and it works up lickety-split on size US15/10mm needles.

The pattern gives you the option to work picots at the edges or not (my sample, started here in colorway “Motley Hue“, is without picots), and the choice of two sizes: Throw (42″x42″) or Afghan (52″x52”). But I’ll let you in on a little (not-so) secret: since this piece is knitted from one small corner out to the center width and then back down to the opposite corner, you can make it as large or as small as your yardage (or patience) allow!

With 2 skeins of SilkMo and 2 skeins of Targhee Worsted in the same colorway, you can make the Throw size or something a bit larger; the trick is to start the decrease section before you run out of yarn in your first skein of Targhee. If you want the Afghan size, or something large enough to really cuddle several people under, you can get one more skein of Targhee and start the decrease section before your first skein of SilkMo runs out.

Oh, and if you want tassels on all four corners, make them before you begin knitting so you can really maximize your yarn usage: hold a strand of SilkMo and a strand of Targhee together and wrap them around a hardback book of the right size. Wrap and wrap and wrap until you have an ample chunk, then take a separate strand and slide it under the top fold before you cut the bottom fold; take another separate strand to make the ‘neck’ of the tassel, tie that off securely and give it a haircut! Two tassels from one set of skeins and two tassels from the other set of skeins will ensure that you can still knit from one set of skeins to the middle of the project as described above.

Whether ‘Winter is coming’ to where you are, or it’s already arrived, now is the time to try knitting with SilkMo – it’ll warm you twice, once during the knitting, and a second time during the wearing! (Plus, knitting’s a lot easier than cutting firewood.)

 

 

A little lighthearted knit fun!

One of the parts of my job that I really, really, really love is creating themed colorways! I especially like doing so with the designers and stores we work with. Usually I get a theme form and maybe some photos or we come up with a theme together and then am asked to put my spin on it. It’s the translation and the challenge of it all that I so love. I do love me a good color challenge. Of course themes speak to me and are more fun than others. However there is always that challenge aspect that pulls me in right in and inspires me.

I am sure the over 11 years I’ve spent dreaming up themes and colorways for our notorious knitters in our Rockin’Sock Club kind of trained me for this kind of color work and play.

Here is a current list of the stores that I am working pretty intimately with on pretty large color projects.

For years I have designed colorways for Twisted in Portland for the Rose City Yarn Crawl. We plan on expanding that this year with some PDX themed one also.

I have created all kinds of club type kits for both Simply Socks Yarn Company and The Loopy Ewe. Most of these have been one-time-only hues only available for a very short period of time.

Last year I started working The Loopy Ewe on a once a month specific colorway based on Sheri Berger husband’s photography. He’s a brilliant photographer so it is all kinds of fun to go through his files and choose pics that bot Sheri and I are inspired by and then translate all that beauty onto yarn. We had so much fun we are doing it again this year. We are doing this again this year. So look for those colorways mid-month of the Loopy Ewe site.

We also work with Erin Walker and her ridiculously fun team at Eat Sleep Knit on their Yarnathon
Last year they had a space theme which was pretty great since I am a big Trekkie and Rd Who fan.
This year though has just been a blast because the theme is the game Candyland which was my favorite game as a child. We have come up with 9 count them…NINE special Candyland inspired hues. I did a ton of research on these. I used the older board that I was more familiar with for my inspiration and of course also tons of feedback from Emily Ann and the rest of the ESK team. Yes, as you can tell I am pretty excited! How could you not with characters like Lord Licorice and his bitter bats and Mr. Mint and of course his royal sweetness himself the Imperial Head Bonbon King of Candyland.
Here they are in all of there color glory!
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I cannot tell you just how tickled I am with these. The colors and the names and just every little thing about them. If you do not know about the Yarnathon do check it out it looks to be all kinds of fun. Look at the board they made!!
Gameboard

So very much fun!!!!

Okay so that is it for now! I will do my very best to post here or on instagram when one of our stores has a colorway of ours to introduce.

Oh…almost forgot there is still time to join us for our themed color project the 12th year of the sock club for Sock Opera the Musical!

Knit on!!!

sock it to 2017!

We’re putting the finishing touches on 2016 (and some would say ‘thank goodness!’). Right after we slide through the holidays, we’ll be looking onto clean, blank calendar pages – one of my favorite times of year. Fresh starts! Clean slates! So many possibilities!

It’s natural for us to think about improving things, doing it better in the new year. Better food choices are a natural starting point – but what about better knitting choices? What would you like to do to make 2017 your best, most productive knitting year?

I’m gonna start the ball rolling with socks. It’s no secret that BlueMoonLand loves its socks: they’re an endless platform for creativity (as our legion of sock designers from the Rockin’ Sock Club will attest); they’re portable; and they have so many interesting steps that you don’t have time to get bored!

Combine all that with Tina’s wicked sense of color humor and you’ve got a match made in heaven for a super-fun and productive Year In Socks!

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Supreme Black Dalek in Tigger Targhee is ready to take on 2017!

Let’s think of all the great ways you could take on a Year In Socks:

  1. The Pair-a-Month Challenge: knit up a pair of socks each month and you’ll have a full sock drawer by the end of the year! A friend of mine is on Pair #12 for his 2016 challenge, and he’s thrilled with what he’s accomplished. Pairs for himself, for his partner, for his mom … and a memory of a month in time attached to each one!
  2. The Gifting Challenge: Isn’t this the time of year where you say “Next year, I won’t try to knit all my holiday gifts between Thanksgiving and Christmas!”? Wise thought, but how to make sure that happens? Do a variation of #1 above: make a list of each of your loved ones who are ‘sockworthy.’ Knit a pair a month, wrap them when you’re done (don’t forget to label who they’re for!), and hide them in the cupboard marked ‘Gift Shoppe.’ Come the holidays, you’ll have a trove of pre-wrapped presents all ready to gift – and you can spend December relaxing, taking walks – or casting on a pair of socks for yourself!
  3. The Skill-Builder Challenge: Socks are such a nice, compact place to learn a new skill. Never tried lace? or cables? or reading a chart? There’s bound to be a great sock pattern out there that incorporates some new technique you want to know. And while you might struggle a bit through the first sock when the technique is new, by the time you hit the second sock you’ll be much more comfortable – and ready to take that technique off into the world of bigger projects, like sweaters!
  4. The Try-a-New-Tool Challenge: Stuck on two circulars? Try a pair on Magic Loop! Never tried double-points? Want to learn how to knit TAAT (Two-At-A-Time)? Any tool can be used for any sock pattern – why not get comfortable on all of them?
  5. The Play-with-Color Challenge: If you’re like me, you have a little ‘safe spot’ when it comes to color. Open up your closet and you’ll see a sea of … grey, or green, or name-your-favorite. Trust me when I say that Tina is your gal when it comes to shaking things up and thinking outside the box when it comes to colors! And socks are such a great place to play with color; for minimalists like me, it’s a little ‘subversive’ moment in my wardrobe. I may be wearing all neutrals, but no one knows that I’ve got Farmhouse socks on under my charcoal trousers. Extra credit: sign up for the Rockin’ Sock Club and you’ll have Tina-curated wardrobe-expanding inspiration every other month in your mailbox!
  6. The Yarn Challenge: If you are feeling a bit of sock burnout, might it be that you’re not changing things up enough? If you love your tried-and-true sock pattern because you love the way it fits and all, what about branching out into a new-to-you yarn? Tina’s brought in two yarns recently that I had been dying to try – so I’m whipping up one of my Unpattern Cuff-Down Socks in Tigger Targhee (that’s them, above). I’m loving the bounce and the matte finish – and suddenly, I’ve got my sock mojo back! Next on my list to try: Super Sparkle. Because a girl needs sparkly socks, right?
  7. The Rockin’ Sock Challenge: Thousands of avid sock knitters can’t be wrong – there’s no better way to immerse yourself in a bunch of sock-lovin’ fun than to sign up for the BMFA Rockin’ Sock Club. Six shipments a year, great color stories to go along with exclusive colorways, great patterns (and not just for socks) … the fun doesn’t stop all year. If you’ve never signed up before, let me tell you it’s such fun to be part of a group of avid socksters – excitedly awaiting their shipments, then ooh-ing and aah-ing over the colorways, digging into the patterns … Even if you don’t knit up every pair that year (though we all swear that this year we’ll keep up!), you’ll expand your notion of sock-ness into another dimension.

Turkish Bed Socks from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas – getting ready for gifting!

Of course, you can combine any of the above to double the impact! Try a new yarn for your next gifted pair of socks; learn a new skill with a new yarn; knit up your Rockin Sock Club projects as gifts … Any way you slice it, you could slide into 2018 a better knitter thanks to your socks next year.

Double Your Pleasure

We’re all about the cowls this winter over here in BlueMoonLand. Such a great way to mess around with tasty bits of yarn; and bonus: at the end of a little bit of knitting, you get something warm and soft to wear around your neck! This week, the cowl mania continues with Northwestern Exposure Cowl, a fun brioche pattern from the ever-talented Jessica over at Weaving Works in Seattle.

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Sometimes I think the only thing better than playing with a Blue Moon yarn is putting together colorways..! So many different fun combinations, even if you’re ‘only’ trying to combine two colors.

This week, I put together a seasonal speckle with a shaded solid since the pattern uses two colors, one round each, in brioche stitch (aka Fisherman’s Rib). The resulting fabric is visually complex, but so easy to knit – just slipping stitches, yarnovers, and knits and purls, using one yarn at a time.

I used to think that the softness of Crackpaca couldn’t be beat… But now I know that it outdoes even itself when worked in brioche! The texture of this fabric is truly out-of-this-world soft. 3D soft. Next-level squoosh factor!

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The hardest part about this project would be choosing just one set of colorways. I’ve just spent an inordinate amount of time today messing around with possible combinations, and I’m nowhere near done yet (although it’s already gone teatime around here)!

 

I chose Winter Wonderland with Royal Blue for my cowl:

royalwonderland

… but now I also want to knit Heckley Speckley with Star Sapphire:

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… and Jingle Sprinkles with Boysenberry:

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… Ooh! And what about Autumn’s Up with Walkin’ the Dog?

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So many choices when you start putting two together… It really does double your pleasure – and that’s even before you start knitting!

Baby it’s cold outside…

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It’s a snow day here at Blue Moon which basically means I am here working alone which is all kinds of peaceful. I am getting so much done!
Don’t get me wrong I love team Blue Moon, they are the best. It’ just that sometimes having quiet gives one space for colorful new thoughts and ideas!

Like…
V is for Vagenda!!!
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Super hot electric pinks!

Have you heard about the PussyHat Project
The Pussyhat Project aims to provide the people of the Women’s March on Washington D.C. a means to make a unique collective visual statement which will help activists be better seen and heard.
And to also provide those of us who cannot physically be on the National Mall a way to represent ourselves and support women’s rights and those we love.

As much as I would like to be there I can’t. However, my daughter and a whole bunch of friends and family will be there and so I am knitting them hats! I will most definitely be there in spirit.

We already have quite a few appropriate pinks:
Hot Flash
Psychobarbie
Rosebud
China Rose
Rosetta
Tit for Tat
Help Us Rhonda
Rose Quartz
Fuchsia Rose
and now…
V is for Vagenda!

Thanks to Kat Coyle and The Little Knittery for putting this all together! Check out their web page, mission statement and blog. The pattern they have supplied is super cute and an easy and quick knit. There is a place to send hats if you want to knit one (or two) show support and be involved.
We at Blue Moon are donating 20% of our December sales to the ACLU.

Okay…my buddy Karen just showed up for weekend knit shenanigans. Yay!!! And speaking of Karen, did you read her blog post this week (sweater dreams) on knitting for ourselves.

This month starts our next 3 spinning adventures. Long Wools!! If you want to join in the fun there is still plenty of room and time. The first shipment leaves at the end of December.
Rockin’ Sock Club is up for Gift Certificate purchases for the holidays. The gift that keeps on giving all year long!

Okay my lovely wonderful knitterly friends.
Have a great weekend.
Stay warm and safe.

sweater dreams

There’s no denying it: we are definitely into December. For many of us knitters, this means we’re knee-deep in gift knitting for the ones we deem ‘knitworthy.’ The ambitions of the fall, our heady notions of knitting EVERYTHING! for EVERYONE! are getting a bit more real. We might even be cutting a few choice things off the list (Uncle George is getting a hat instead of socks because … ya only gotta knit one!).

Hang in there, knitters – crunch time is upon us, but relief is in sight. A few short weeks from now, the last ends will be woven in, the bows will be on the packages, the packages will be in the mail, and then…

Personal Knitting Time begins.

Some call it ‘Selfish Knitting,’ but personally I think that’s a little harsh. If you’ve spent some considerable time making thoughtful gifts for others, isn’t it appropriate to also dedicate some time to making something for you to enjoy?

If you’re like me, you’ve been queueing up sweater patterns for just such an occasion. January, with all its promises of fresh starts, really calls for a cast-on of some magnitude, don’t you agree? ‘Tis the season for a solid sweater project you can really sink your teeth into (especially if you’re doing a food ‘reset’ after all that holiday eating – a cast-on is a calorie-free treat that keeps your hands out of the cookie jar!).

So now’s the time, knitters: start planning that January Treat Sweater. Pour yourself a mug of eggnog and open a tab in your browser with your Ravelry queue, a second tab with the Blue Moon colorways, and dream big!

Here are some ideas from my queue to get the creative juices flowing:

v-neck-boxyV-Neck Boxy by Joji Locatelli

A new variation on her wildly popular Boxy designs, this eminently wearable, totally forgiving silhouette would be a dream to slip into after the holidays. Worked from the top down this time, with a V-neck opening (so flattering on many of us!), it makes a great platform for fabulous fingering-weight yarns. But knitted at a gauge of 23 sts = 4″/10cm, it’s quite open and drapey… Not all yarns can hold their shape when knitted that far open.

Enter Cloud Nine: a sport-weight wonder in superwash merino, cashmere, and nylon. That’s the trifecta for combining softness with reliability in a long-living fabric. Its gauge range is pretty phenomenal, too: knitted down for socks and the like, it can go as dense as 7 sts/1″, but it holds its own all the way up to the light-DK range… So the 23 sts = 4″/10cm gauge in V-Neck Boxy would be right up its street!

1300 –2050 yards means 4 to 5 skeins will set you up right – just as soon as you can pick a color! The Shaded Solids are all so tempting…. I have a skein in Porcini that’s just begging to be swatched for this, just as soon as I get that Christmas stocking done.

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breathing-spaceBreathing Space by Veera Välimäki

Can’t decide on just one color of Cloud Nine? Or want to bring a little stripey fun into the dark months of winter? Look no farther than Joji’s comrade-in-arms, Veera, for inspiration. This stripey pullover sounds like just the thing for the post-holiday rush. One lighter shade (she’s using some speckles here – wouldn’t that be fun?) over a darker MC for high contrast… and then that striping on the bias! No winter doldrums possible with this design.

820 to 1370 yards (2 to 4 skeins) of MC plus 320 to 620 yards (1 to 2 skeins) of CC will do it; the hard part will be deciding on color combinations! Putting together colors is just a load of fun in and of itself: what about Tree Toots with Deep Unrelenting Grey:

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or A Speck of Autumn with … just about anything!a_speck_of_autumn_sk

 

… Aaaand just when I thought my queue couldn’t possibly get any longer, Tina texted me this morning with a link to this bit of loveliness:

img_5017_small2Crossing Over by Hanna Maciejewska

That waist detail! That collar! The ribbed back! I don’t even know where to start with the loveliness. And if you’re wanting something a bit more robust for a winter instant-gratification knit, this great open-front cardi done in worsted weight should do the trick.

Look no further than Targhee Worsted for this one: at 18 sts = 4″/10cm, the gauge is spot-on, and the bouncy reliability of the Targhee would shine in this design. I love how Targhee Worsted showcases texture: the half-brioche ribbed back would snap into relief. And the lightweight warmth would be fantastic to snuggle up in on the couch with a good book, or to running errands in on a windy March day.

1000 to 1900 yards for this design means just 2 or 3 skeins of Targhee Worsted will do it (and so few pesky ends to weave in and slow you down!).

I used to have a (store-bought) cardigan in college in a shade much like Chana Masala, and I wore it all. the. time. It’s a surprising near-neutral that sets off other colors beautifully (especially blue jeans!).

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It’s perfect timing to order up an SQ (‘sweater quantity’) of any of these right now: that gives the Barn Girls time to dye them, dry them, bundle and ship them to you so you can cast on the sweater of your dreams in your pyjamas on Boxing Day!