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Inspiration Monday: JUKO

Today we have nothing but the freshest inspiration for you … so fresh, it’s only just been released!
JUKO two-color

From the fertile, textured brain of Olga Buraya-Kefelian, aka Olgajazzy, comes JUKO (Japanese for fluted or grooved), a single- or two-color double-brioche cowl in two sizes.

Double brioche, you say – what’s that? If you’ve tackled brioche before, you’re familiar with the glorious depths of its 1×1 ribbing – somehow more elastic and deep than traditional rib, thanks to the doubled strands formed by either knitting into the row below or yarn-overing as you slip stitches. And as deep and squooshy as it is in a single color, in two colors it’s downright magical. Double brioche extends the ribbing into 2×2 territory, with 2 knits next to 2 purls and some slipped and some worked and my, what fun!

Since I follow Olga on Instagram (a highly entertaining thing to do – some of her close-up shots of her textured work look like sea creatures, or wild architecture, or moonscapes!), I saw this cowl flash by with the magical words “Pattern now available on Ravelry!” and faster than you can say “where’s my coffee?” I had purchased, downloaded, printed and grabbed needles and yarn to cast on.

As luck would have it, I had Tina nearby (on a slumber-party stayover after her teaching gig at Lorilee’s “Knitting on a Lark” retreat at Islandwood), and she approved of my yarn choice: La Luna DK. We both thought the combination of silk and high-micron merino would be sheer indulgence around the neck, and would drape lustrously at the recommended pattern gauge.

unnamedBoy, were we right! I love the happy marriage of merino and silk; the silk provides all the luster and drape and amazing sleek finger-feel we knitters crave, and the merino provides the bounce and memory the silk needs to hold its shape. Plus, I gotta say, this is one of my absolute favorite yarns to have around my neck. EVER.

At 220 yards per skein, you’ve got the right amount of yardage to put together either a single-color or two-color cowl with two skeins of La Luna DK without a ton left over. Or go ahead and make it just a wee bit deeper to use up all your yarn – you won’t regret having that little bit of extra fabric to snuggle up in!

Olga’s been fantastically clever in working out the stitch pattern here – there’s a little adjustment at the end of the rounds to minimize any pattern jog between rounds, as well as proper attention paid to the cast-on and bind-off rounds for a professional finish (so important in so sleek a thing as a cowl).

I love how the 2-round pattern repeat magically combines both the yarn-over-and-slip method and the work-into-the-row-below method of brioche – essentially marrying the two schools of brioche into one cool rhythm! Work up a JUKO and you’ll be well-versed in both methods, so you’ll be free to brioche away on any designer’s pattern to your heart’s content. Learning and fun in the same pattern – that’s what I call inspirational!

FYI, if you’re an auditory learner like me, you’ll find yourself chanting a little four-step mantra as you work the 2×2 rib in this pattern. My Round 2 mantra goes: “below, purl, knit, slip” and Round 3 goes: “purl, slip, below, knit.” Curious? Go buy the pattern and try it out!

A soothing rhythm, a cool new technique, a chance to cast on and play with lustrous, sumptuous yarn – this one’s a total no-brainer. Sock away a couple in the gift drawer for the holidays and your December self will thank you later. (Make several so you can bear to give a few away.)

If anyone needs me, I’ll be downstairs on the couch, chanting. Below, purl, knit slip…

I’ll leave you with a quote from Maya Angelou, very appropriate for the design of our friend Olga:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

Thank you, Olga, for this week’s inspiration!

Notes from the ledge…

I am having one of those weeks. You know the ones where the shit just keeps hitting the proverbial fan and you are still reeling from one disaster when another problem arises and needs your attention and only your attention only right now!!!  I am most definitely having one of those months, with this week being seriously the most dramatic and kind of surreal to be honest.

It started on Sunday when I spilled a cup of water on my laptop. Yeah!!!  Of course it stopped working and I had a moment that I am not real proud of.

My son the techie told me to turn it off and teepee it and let it sit for 48 hours and then we would see. Then, in a vain effort to talk me off the emotional ledge I was teetering on, he told me not to work cause he had a ThinkPad I could borrow. So funny. I am a Mac user – it is all I have ever used. That is not a trick that this old dog is capable of learning. I was pretty touched that my son thought I could, though.

Okay so in waltzes Monday and I am trying to get stuff done with no laptop.  The phone rings and it is our electric company, Western Oregon Electric Cooperative, with a taped message informing me that July 10th to 15th from 6:30 am to 5:00 pm they are shutting off the power so they can work on the substation.  What the hell!!! So I call to verify and sure enough that is what they are doing and we have no recourse. Just slam, bam no power ma’am. I suggested that they might want to take the word ‘cooperative’ out of their business name.

If we were not the creative, problem solving souls that we are this would shut us down for the week. However we are creative and there are generators and we are going to work in shifts so we do not put too much of a load on the generator. Yay team Blue Moon!!! Such rock stars, these women I work with.

Okay, so we are feeling a little more optimistic and like we might have that covered. (We’ll see how the generator holds up.) Then lo and behold our work horse Dell laser printer dies. It dies DEAD!! Yup. And you know I can’t even complain, because that thing has worked its arse off for us for about 10 years. It’s just the timing of it all, right? Almost like someone does not want us to dye yarn for knitters. It’s really starting to feel that way.

We use this printer to print our yarn labels and all kinds of other very necessary things. I am waiting to hear from the repair guy on a printer they might have we can buy or use. I am hoping I hear from him before I leave here at noon today to go teach a dye day at Lorilee Beltman’s On a Lark Knitting Retreat.  I know…that stars are obviously aligned for some wickedly weird happenings.

Underlying all of this running-a-yarn-business drama is some personal stuff that has me at the very least distracted.

I feel like I am leaving something out but  I need to get to the fun exciting part of what I have to tell you today. Fingers crossed that the force is with us and our generator next week!

Look: we have a new yarn!!!

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PLUSHY!!!  Three plies of 100%  superwashed 20 micron worsted weight Merino goodness!! There is a whole lot to love about this yarn. It is squishy and soft and lofty and elastic… . The stitch definition will bring a tear to your eyes.  I see all the knits with Plushy.
100% SW 20.5 micron Merino – 3 ply
Length: 330 yds / 301 m
Weight: 9.5 oz / 270 g
Gauge: 16 to 20 sts / 4 inches (10cm), US 7 -9 needles (4.5 – 5.5mm)

Plushy will be priced at $27.00. Right now we are offering it at $22.00 so we can all get our holiday knit on. Maggie and I are so going to knit sweaters and blankets out of Plushy! We were hatching a plan yesterday. We are adding it into our line-up now since we are starting our Holiday Gift Knitting KAL on our new Facebook page this weekend. We are starting at the top with… hats!!!

We have added in 5 of our favorite holiday colorways to the website, rotating these in and out until we add them all back in the fall. Can you you find them all?

Another special we are running this weekend (or until we run out of yarn!) is on our beloved Marine Silk Fingering. (I might have found an extra box or two in the storage pod.)  20% off  and the coupon code is:  MSF2017

I have a shawlette out of this yarn that is one of my favorites to wear just because it feels so very nice. All that silky shimmer makes it looks pretty wonderful too. Oh.. and the drape: my, oh my!!!

Here are just few lovely shawls folks on Ravelry have knit with our Marine Silk Fingering:

AnnaW’s Spotlight:

Spotlight

mmhiscox’s Shiver (with notes about how she squeaked it out of one skein):

Shiver

And have you seen all the beautiful Reynas on Ravelry? Noora Laivola designed it to make the most of 400+ yards (so one skein) of fingering-weight deliciousness like our Marine Silk Fingering… and to show off gorgeous multicolor colorways as well! Sounds like a win-win.

Reyna

Okay a few things before I dash off to pack the car and head out to Bainbridge to set up for tomorrow’s class.

• The Rockin’ Whorl Club next phase goes up for sale next week!!

• We are working on getting out all the yarn gifts and such that you won for my birthday fun and games. We have not forgotten.

• Also check out our new group on Facebook – we plan on having all sorts of  colorful knit fun there!!

I am sure there is more I had to share but the ticking of the clock is getting louder so I am going to go pack the car…  Have a lovely weekend!
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in a timely fashion

TimelyIn these warm months of longer days, we can feel more generous with time. Watering the garden takes time; steeping sun tea takes time. Is there more time to think right now? I’d like to think so.

“In the fulness of time” is a phrase that has such a tempting feel to it – in the fulness of time, I could write a book; knit a sweater; learn to meditate… so many delicious things can happen with the gift of time.

Today’s Inspiration Monday is a lightweight, fun, colorful project that would be an ideal companion to a summer’s day … and it’s quite literally Timely. This stripey, top-down cardigan by Libby Johnson of Truly Myrtle is a treat of a project, combining stripes and easy construction – it would be timely to start it now so you can wear it as the evenings draw in this Fall.

Doubly timely, as well, given that Libby started a KAL over in her Ravelry group on July 1. Choose some colors lickety-split, get your order in, and the Barn Girls will have your yarn to you asap so you can swatch and join in the fun!

But what yarn? This little cardi is going to be a three-season stunner because of its gauge: 27 sts and 39 rows = 4″/10cm is a super-lightweight fabric that can go outdoors in warmer weather, or be the perfect layer for the office A/C.

Standard fingering-weights might just be too beefy for this project – a yarn that knits up comfortably at 7 sts/1″ might not be opened up enough to create drape at this gauge, and end up a bit too stiff or pert. My first thought was La Luna Lace, since it’s a perky little 2-ply that’s thick enough to be inbetween cobweb lace and fingering. Sure enough, I tried a swatch and got gauge on the second try with US4/3.5mm needles. It’s so drapey and wonderful, I had to make a little video of it swishing and swinging…

Now what about color? Here comes the fun – the 2-row stripes mean you can really play with contrast and ground a highly-active Multicolor Wave with a grounding neutral. The texts have been flying back and forth between me & Tina since we discovered this sweater with colorway combinations; kind of like a game of Colorway Poker (“I’ll see your ‘Muddy Autumn Rainbow’ and raise ya ‘Farmhouse’!”)

Jengu

For my project (and you know I already got my order in), I chose to stay true to her beautiful photographed sample and use a pale neutral for my Color A – I chose Jengu, one of the Spirits. Because these pale, pale neutrals are ‘spirited from’ just one color, you can tease out your favorite hue from a multicolor and anchor it with your favorite Spirit.

Xander

For Color B, you can really let fly – even if you’re resistant to wearing multiple colors at once, like I am. The alternating stripes of solid + multi create a harmonious, and nearly minimal, impression. So here was my chance to dip my toe into Buffy waters – I chose Xander, because I’m totally infatuated with browns and blues together right now. Since Jengu is spirited from blue, I know they’ll go together beautifully.

everydaygrey_sk Everyday Grey

Golly

Golly

tempest_sk

Tempest

Hey all!! Happy Monday. I (tina) am chiming in with a few other colorway pairing suggestions, cause I just can’t help myself!  And as always if you need help please ask. infor@bluemoonfiberarts.com

I’ll list the Bespeckled colorway and then next to it will be a list of shaded solids that I like with that Speckle.

DepravedDyer Birthday Sprinkles :  Just about anything. On the brighter end Boysenberry, Aquarius, Fancypants Fuchsia, Lean Mean Aubergine, Tit4Tat. On the lighter end ~ Chillaxin, Rosebud, Everyday Grey, Pistachio, KMBFLA and Lauma.

Apron Strings :  Magically Delicious, DesAqua, Pistachio, Saffron Surprise, Coral, and Melusine

Scattering Particles on Parade: KMBFLA , Coral, DesAqua, Aquarius, Mermaid Tears, Boysenberry, Orchid Queen, Pooze, Lean Mean Aubergine and Lauma

Heirloom Tomato Jam : Pistachio, Pooze, Pond Scum, Harriet, Saffron Surprise, Calendula, Rose Quartz, Brick and Poupon

SugarPlum Fairy Dust: Lauma, Mermaid Tears, Winter Solstice, Pooze, DesAqua, Seafoam Home, Saffron Surprise and Rosebud

Autumn’s Up:  Magically Delicious, DesAqua, Pistachio, Saffron Surprise, Coral, Melusine, Pond Scum, Aquarius, Chillaxin, Calendula, Harriet and Sun Salutations.

Guardians of the Galaxy :  Just about anything!!   I like Everyday Grey, Mermaid Tears. Jengu, Tit4TaT, Smoke on the Water and Pistachio to name a few.

Heckley Speckley : Lauma, Branwen, Winter Solstice, Sun Salutations, Tempest, Spruced and Mica

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And since it’s Inspiration Monday, we’ll leave you with this inspiring quote. This week’s is from Virginia Woolf, and we think it speaks directly to us as knitters, especially knitters who love garments.

There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us, and not we, them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking. – Virginia Woolf

Friday!!!

Oh my goodness but it has been a week! So much drama.

I am most definitely looking forward to a quiet and peaceful weekend playing catch up and sitting and knitting.  Maybe a walk or two along the river and some gardening but other than that it’s me and my knitting and a movie.

I was hoping to have wip pics of my Breezy Cabana shawl but my skein of Heckley Speckley mysteriously disappeared and I had to dye another one and I got busy and forgot to dye another one and I did not want to start until I saw those two colors together so here we are.

Here’s is my wip shot, my skein of Grawk patiently waiting for it’s hue date who is super late to the cast-on party. It’s darker than this picture is leading us to believe!IMG_2127 (1)

Ain’t no party like a cast-on party! ( Like I said, it’s been a week!)

Okay so this week because it is the 4th of July and we’ve put our Super Sparkle on special for a few days. 15% off from now until July 5.

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So get you sparkle on!! Coupon code is in fact:  getyoursparkleonjuly4

You might want to stock up on your favorite colors. We are going to be starting our holiday gift knitting support group in the next week or so. What says ” Happy Holidays” and rings in a new year better than a bit of sparkle. Not much really!!

Since we are talking about specials this is the last day to sign up for sock club if you are interested.

Also for all of you  already in the sock club the 20% part of the discount turns to 15% on the 15th of July so if you want that extra 5% discount now is your time!

Our Tour de Sock coupon code also expires this weekend.

I am making lots and lots of new colorways. Some for the sock club so you can’t see those some for stores and even working on the Rose City Yarn Crawl colorways for Twisted! Portland Waterways is the theme and I am having a tone of fun transposing that to yarn.

Here’s one of the new colorways that will be coming your way soon! It needs a name. Thoughts??

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See this lovely grouping of colorways?

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I am currently possessed by them. Seriously so. They are not my usual personal comfort colors but they just make me happy. So.., I think I am going to knit them for someone I know that will love them ever so much which kind of makes this a twice the love project.

I do think I will take our that extra sold peach on the end. It’s not really needed. So from left to right we have, ummm…. Sun Spots, Wallflower, Razzle Dazzle, #shepersisted, Bet you thought this skein was about you., Goodby Kitty and Baby it’s cold outside.   This should be all kinds of fun!

Okay my knitterly friends stay tuned for we have some wicked cools plans coming your way!

Oh…and check out our Inspiration Monday blog post by the lovely Karen Alfke!

Be safe and have a lovely weekend!

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Inspiration Monday: Cloudy, with a chance of cowls

Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s the first official Monday in summer, and yet in the perverse schedule proscribed to us makers, what’s on our needles now is what we’ll need to wear come Fall. Smart Gal Amy Singer of knitty.com is all too aware of this, so she gives us the gift of a “First Fall” issue in June.

So many good pieces in this ish! But the one that jumped out at me first and inspired me to reach into my Blue Moon bin was Wolkig, by the endlessly-talented (and fellow German, again!) Martina Behm.

WolkigbyMartinaBehm2_2_medium

It’s a little fluffkin of a cowl, perfect for knitting at this easily-distractable time of year, when your eye might be on the kids playing in the surf or on the waiter bringing you your drink with the umbrella in it, rather than on your pattern.

WolkigbyMartinaBehm2_1_small2

Dudes – it’s a ONE-LINE PATTERN. ONE set of instructions, round and round, ’til you bind off. A genius AFP (Afternoon-Friendly or Alcohol-Friendly Project, depending on how you roll) that will roll off the needles just in time to deter the first windy days of Fall.

A piece like this needs a fluffy dream of a yarn, and good thing Tina has just the ticket: Featherlight. As Tina says in the description, it’s “a perfect balance between softness and twist, like a feather dancing on a breeze.” 100% merino, with just enough twist to hold its shape, but an airy single that will let the texture of the decreases and increases in your ONE PATTERN ROW (did I mention it was easy?) shine.

And with 430 yards per skein, you can just knit knit knit til you have just enough to bind off – or splurge and make it bigger with two skeins and extra stitches (Martina tells you what multiples to add right there in the pattern).

May your summer be filled with blue skies, with the only cloud on the horizon the Wolkig on your needles!

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Summertime and the knitting is…

light, airy, colorful and breezy. At least today with the temperature rising to 90 some odd degrees in the shade.

I have been on the prowl for the perfect pattern to showcase our La Luna Lace and the very talented Lesley Anne Robinson just released a summer shawl pattern that just made my heart happy and my needles itchy to cast on. Of course swatching first, cause that is what what we do!

Breezy Cabana

IMG_0483_medium2

Isn’t it beautiful? I pretty much love everything about it, the bias sway, the contrast in color and texture and the very many ways to pair colors ( yay!!)  but most especially I’m charmed by the mesh pattern she creates by using condo knitting. I have a thing for pattern shifting and creating by changing needle sizes. I’m not quite sure why but it just tickles my fancy and always has.

As I said I am going to use our La Luna Lace and I hope you will join me. We are offering 15% off starting today and good for a week (expires next Friday) The coupon code is: lalunalace17

I spent a good amount of time this afternoon in the barn driving everyone a little nuts playing with colorways pairings. So much fun. It is one of my favorite games!

Since I have a very strong love for our Heckley Speckley I am choosing that as my speckle and I was going to go with Pond Scum as my solid. It is not enough contrast so I am either going with Lean Mean Aubergine or one of our Ravens like Grawk.

I did try all kinds of Heckley Speckley combos as you can see.

See not really enough of a contrast.  I had no Grawk dyed to photograph. Here are some higher contrast duos.

The possibilities are endless!!

As in: Shoqua and Wallflower or PsychoBarbie and just about anything but I like Goodbye Kitty or H.R.H.Princess Violetta with Black Dragon Wisteria…

If you need any help with color choosing please do let me know. info@bluemoonfiberarts.com

When my Grawk dries I will post a picture of it on instagram with my Heckley Speckley friend!

If you are going to Black Sheep Gathering stay cool and hydrated and maybe pet a sheep for me!

Remember RSC sign ups close on the 30th of this month.

And our coupon code for the Tour de Sock expires on July 2nd!

We have dyed so very much sock yarn lately. I can’t wait to see all of the sock knitting pics!!

Okay I have a dog here that wants to eat so off I go.

Have a lovely weekend!!

PS: We have added some fun summer hues from summers gone by.

“Be the rainbow in someone else’s cloud!”  Maya Angelou

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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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WWKIP, Anniversaries…. and the winners are!!!

Saturday is Worldwide Knit in Public Day!!! Where are you going to be knitting? I am going to be at the Salem Public Library with the Salem Area Ravelers.  I am going to be there with Maggie with some of our Socks that Rock Mill Ends and Rare Gems and maybe a few other treasures.

I talking about Blue Moon and our ever evolving industry. If you are in the area please do come by  and say hi and sit and knit a spell in…public. Public Library kind of public!!!

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There are so many anniversaries.

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Simply Socks is celebrating 12 years for spreading the sock knitting love.  We are joyfully celebrating with them by creating them a super exclusive colorway to go with a seriously cool mug!

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So pretty together!

And we also are running an exclusive-limited-engagement yarn special. Colossal Sock is quite the yarn and quite the skein! 600 yds ( 150 grams) of  lovely  100%  Superwash Merino with a nice twist that makes it good for socks or shawls or hats or gloves or baby knits. It’s got a nice boing factor which we love and a nice light hand.

Happy Anniversary to Allison and her lovely team!!

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Twisted is celebrating 10 years of supplying the greater Portland metro area with all kinds of fiber related goodness and fun.  And we are pleased as punch to being joing in the festivities!!!

We’ve created them a very very special colorway to commemorate the occasion.

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Twisted’s 10th Anniversary Speck-tacular!! I love this colorway so much. It just makes me happy. I took the ball of yarn graphic part of their logo and blew it up so I could pick out all the colors and then I speckled  the heck out of a few skeins of yarn with them.  They are exclusive to Twisted so check out their website for pre-orders and of course there will be some at  Twisted next week!! Along With Maggie and I who will be there to chat and take pictures with the photo-booth and I will bring my color fortune telling mojo. It’s going to be all kinds of fun. Please bring your Blue Moon knit and especially socks for pics!!!

Happy Anniversary Twisted!!!! You’re the bomb!

Okay so I was supposed to announce winners last week and well to be honest it took me longer to recover from birthday celebrating than I thought. Also it just kept going and going!

Thank you all so much for playing along. You brightened my week so very much!

Here are “I  made it to 60 bitches” birthday give-away winners!

Here’s a pic of the wonderful and super sassy mugs from the oh so lovely and talented ladies at JaMpdx!

Mug with Yarn winners:

Cindy Mooney, Gwen Toma, Katie Dugger, Kathie Harris, Cassandra Paul and Cara Davis

Bag with Yarn winners:

Kristin May, Courtney Pierce, Mitra Emand and Sara Hoffee

So this is not written in stone. If you want a bag and not a mug just let me know. I do have 6 mugs and 4 bags. I am picking up bags today and will add a picture of them when I do. Thanks so much for playing along. I will email all of you this weekend with choices and such. Thank you for playing along!

and…. then   Ashley H, Pedora1, Tinkingbell and stephi gordon I will be cooking up some colorways for you in the next few weeks!  Love your color stories. Thanks for taking the time to share!

Phew….that is a whole lot.

We got a little backed up with orders from all of this. We will be shipping most of them out on Monday!!!

Keep in mind that the price increase is Monday the 19th.

Have you singed up for Tour de Sock??? There is still time!!

Also we still have plenty or room in both of  Dye Camp Sessions. It’s is a grand and colorful time!

Okay I am off to pack up for tomorrow’s knit adventure in Salem! I hope to see you there.

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!