Deciding what to get for the holidays can be stressful. Fear not! I have created a list of suggestions for things I'm loving this season. Click on an image or link to be directed to the websites.
Handmade ceramic yarn bowls from Mud's Evolution Pottery! Crafted in Raleigh, NC, this cute bowl was thrown on the wheel and altered. Then the artist applied adorable little lambs cast from a hand carved mold.
As you know I love ceramics. If this bowl is gone, consider a beautiful bowl. Useful for display of yarns and also works to hold yarns in progress.
Darn Good Yarn is a fantastic fiber company founded by Nicole Snow. They use their business to empower women in Nepal and India while reducing waste.
Darn Good Yarn became the U.S. distributor of llama wool yarn from the Andes Mountains in Chile. Purchasing this yarn means helping out the Chilean farmers and their llamas.
For the fiber connoisseur, llama is super warm, strong, washable, and even flame retardant! It's a less common fiber and one sure to be admired (and enjoyed)! This particular line of yarn is of the highest quality and promises to be the beginning of a cherished finished object.
Darn Good Yarn also offers recycled silk and sari yarns, and a selection of ribbons. If you're unsure of what to get, consider a gift certificate.
50 gram, sport weight, 163 yards
I. LOVE. THIS. DOLL. Yes, It's true. Part of the "Lovey" doll collection and made in RI, it features a cashmere body and handspun art yarn for the locks of hair. Carefully (and wonderfully) made, this is an adorable piece that could sit on a desk at work to remind the fiber lover of the spinning/knitting/crocheting/weaving fun that awaits them after a long day.
Kate of Dragonfly Fiber Art is a fiber magician (and a good friend!) - I love her creativity and passion for making. There are a few pieces listed in her etsy shop, including this adorable piece!
Schacht Cricket Looms are a perfect introduction to weaving for someone who is interested in broadening their horizons. I'd recommend buying the 15" width between the two, but either loom will easily make scarves, table runners, and placemats!
They come with everything you need to get started (except the yarn) but if you talk to the good folks at Purlescence Yarns they can suggest some yarn to include in the shipment.
Call them to plan the ultimate gift!
(408) 735-YARN (9276)
Michael Woody from Long Beach, CA makes beautiful and simple drop spindles. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this walnut parasol spindle.
Hand turned with a special finish, this specimen is 3.75" dia x 10.5" long and weights about one ounce.
Here's a little-known secret: I owned a few drop spindles long before I ever spun fiber into yarn. They make me happy sitting in a vase and from time to time I will take one out and marvel at its beauty and simplicity... remembering how so much yarn was spun from a tool this simple.
Natalie of Namaste Farms offers beautiful breed boxes. If you are buying for a spinner, consider one of these carefully curated collections.
Each containing an ounce of 10 different breeds, it is a lovely introduction into cleaning raw fleece and trying out different fibers.
(Oh.. and Natalie is AMAZING! She runs her CA based farm and works hard to educate others about the work involved in caring for a fiber flock.)
Wild Fibers Magazine
Celebrating a decade of fiber excellence, Wild Fibers Magazine is the "National Geographic" of the fiber world. Dive headfirst into exotic destinations and learn all about the people (and animals!) that contribute to the crafts.
Beautiful imagery and writing educate and inspire.
A US gift subscription begins at $30.00
Stonehedge Fiber Mill makes fantastic yarn. My favorite (and a real eye-catcher!) is Stonehedge Crazy. Each skein is unique. They are made up of random bits of llama, alpaca, and wool in unpredictable colors.
$8.50 / skein
How about a knitting (or crochet!) bag that works for guys or gals? The SWIFT from Tom Bihn is still my favorite even after owning it for a few years. Offered in a variety of color and material combinations, it includes two clear interior zippered pockets, and an o-ring and key snap.
It also comes with a Yarn Stuff Sack which is a clear bottomed drawstring project bag that will also become a fast favorite.
Made in the U.S.A.
Starting at $90.00
A collection of 15 hat patterns donated by designers across the United States and Canada, I created this volume of Good Deeds to benefit Breast Cancer Connections (a nonprofit based in Palo Alto, CA that offers support and resources to women facing breast cancer).
This e-book is a great gift to give because it provides a library of hats to make, and all the proceeds from the sale of the project benefits a deserving nonprofit.
Spinning yarn takes time, patience, and skill. The artistry of Ilga shows up in her shop over and over. The time it takes to make yarn is worthy of proper compensation. I did a lot of searching for a good example of handspun yarn and settled on this WA based spinner because the pricing is set at a fair amount for the work that goes into the product.
Fiber: 25% silk / 75% BFLwool
Weight: 8.1 oz., 229 g
Length: Approx. 820 yards, 750 m
YPP: Approx. 1620
WPI: Approx. 18-22
Ply: 2 ply
The best set of needles I own? Addi Turbo Long Lace Clicks. I like the longer length and sharper points of these needles, and REALLY love that I can change the length of the cord to suit my project. For VERY VERY VERY big projects (think blankets), there's a connector to join two cords together.
Camilla Valley Farms has a great webpage that details the available sets and I'm sure if you get in touch with them they'd offer advice as to what they think your fiber lover will like based on what they knit.
Their online shop is not automatic - you'll need to fill out their order form or give them a call: (519) 941-0736 to place an order. They also have gift certificates... so if you're totally confused, that's always an option!
Begins at $169.00
What items are on your wish list this season? Share in the comments and include website links if you have them. Here's wishing you and your family have a safe, happy holiday season!
Kristin Omdahl has written the kind of book I can wrap my imagination around. Knitting Outside the Swatch spends half the book explaining all the different motifs, and then the second half shows examples of motifs in ten different projects!
I love the special bind off Kristin used for the motifs in the Shania medallion hat for the book cover!
Interweave/F+W Media; $24.95
Kristin is known for imagination and talent with mathematics... and it shows through the pages of this latest title. She's created a lot of really interesting patterns for this book, and I believe that this resource is well worth adding to your library. Over 40 motifs are included, and with clear instructions on each piece, it's like having Kristin right there with you, showing you the way!
As a lover of freeform knitting and crochet, I think of this book as an inspiration library. These small motifs use only a little bit of yarn, and they are creatively designed. One of my favorite motifs uses yarn wraps to hide a join, creating a beautiful finish. It's also a great chance to use up leftover yarns or for sample skeins. My plans include using this resource to knit up bits to include in a freeform wrap that I started a while back... These patterns are really a breath of fresh air!
I also believe that motif collections like this help us to come up with new motif variations on our own. Work a few new pieces, and add them to your freeform scrumbles. See how these new bits might inspire new experimentation in your other work.
The book is available in paperback or by digital download. Click the image above or button below to get yours right now, or head to your LYS to pick up a copy.
If you'd like to dive right in, Interweave has a solution for you! Take your choice (digital or paper) and go ahead and order it now:
Want a free copy of Knitting Outside the Swatch? I have one to give away to a very lucky reader.
Here's how to enter -
Post in the comments, and tell me what is your favorite thing to knit? It could be one of her designs from the book, or it could be some other project... as specific as a certain pattern, or as generic as "socks!"
Post your comment by 11:59PM PST Saturday, November 16, 2013 to enter.
Be sure to include your email address when posting your comment so that I can contact you if you're the lucky (random!) winner.
Thank you for sharing this post with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites!
As always, thank you for taking time to read the blog. If you have any questions or comments for me, feel free to send me an email using the comment tab on the website!
CONGRATULATIONS! to Cheryl! She won the copy of Knitting Outside the Swatch, and I hope she has a wonderful time working the new motifs!
This is something that I have wanted to do for quite a while. Finally, the announcement can be made that Volume One of Good Deeds is released! At the bottom of this blog post is the first of a few drawings to celebrate the release!
This project is a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Connections; a non-profit based in Palo Alto, CA that offers support to those dealing with breast cancer. In addition to support groups, they also provide opportunity to attend discussions with medical providers who are able to answer questions regarding treatment, symptoms, and prevention.
More than this, Breast Cancer Connections also organizes a boutique where clients can "shop" for wigs and hats (all provided at no charge!), and they have an oncology esthetician who meets with clients to offer beauty tips!
The collection is available as an e-book (.pdf) download via Ravelry, and 100% of the proceeds benefit Breast Cancer Connections. There are many ways you can contribute:
- Purchase the e-book for yourself, or as gifts for friends on Ravelry - Everyone gets a varied collection of knitting (and one crochet!) patterns that they can make for themselves, or give as gifts
- Use the patterns to make some hats for Breast Cancer Connections - have each member of your craft group purchase a copy of the collection (raising money for BCC), and then do a drive to make and donate hats. Mail them in with notes of support as a goodwill group effort
- Blog/Chat/Share the good deeds: Talk with your online and social media friends about the collection and the importance of self exams, checkups, and preventative care. Use your voice to provide support to others. Contemplate and discuss other ways to help others in your community
- Donate - either time, talent, or money to help improve the lives of others.
The slideshow below shows the different patterns available in the collection. Use the arrows or the thumbnail images below to navigate, and click on an image to be directed to the pattern's page on Ravelry.
Good Deeds Drawing!
There are prizes to give with this launch! The amazing folks at Blue Moon Fiber Arts have donated a $100 gift certificate as one of the prizes!
Want to enter? (I know you do!!) - here's how:
Post a comment on this blog post, sharing an example of a good deed you do for others, or that someone does for you. (Be sure to include your name and email address so you can be contacted if you're the winner!)
Deadline to enter: 11:59PM PST, November 10, 2013
The winner will be announced on November 11, 2013.
Enter as many times as you like before the deadline. All winners will be selected by random number generator. Thank you, and good luck, good deed-doers!!
UPDATE: Congratulations to Carrie Pugh! - She's the lucky winner of the $100.00 gift certificate to Blue Moon Fiber Arts.
Thank you to everyone who commented and shared the good deeds they do for others. It's inspiring to hear your stories!
Shooting photos for the Good Deeds e-book Photograph © 2013 Jill Wolcott
While so many fiber folks are posting, sharing, and commenting about their fluffy finds at Rhinebeck, I'm here in the studio working on layout and final edits for the upcoming ebook: Good Deeds, Volume One: Hats"! The project is almost ready, so I better get back to work. I just wanted to say "Happy Rhinebeck!" to everyone who is lucky enough to be there.
While you're perusing the fiber, perhaps you'll pick up a couple skeins of yarn to knit a hat for charity?
I am so excited
to finally hold in my hands Knits of a Feather (Sellers Publishing, Inc.) by Celeste Young
! This first (hopefully of many) book by Celeste honors our feathered friends with a collection of well-conceived, classically-inspired designs. Featuring fibers from Cascade Yarns
, this book is beautifully written, and promises to introduce you to a myriad of projects that must be immediately cast on or placed in queue.
Stranded knitting, cables, duplicate stitch, lace, embroidery, beading, steeking... there are many techniques flexing their muscles in this collection, but it's all done in a way that's not threatening. Celeste gently guides the reader through each step, and even explains the why
behind the notes (which helps us all become better at our craft!)
My favorite project in the collection? The Bird on a Wire Cowl. It's whimsical, graphic, and allows for a bit of practice at stranded knitting. It's the first piece out of this book that I'll cast on.
The second favorite project is that incredibly beautiful Peacock Tam! WOW what a stunning design.
...and that cute beaded bracelet is a perfect style choice for knitted jewelry. It's a clever concept, and I believe that it'd be a great introduction to beading for those who are curious about that technique.
...and I also love the Cardinal cap. (OK, OK... I should just say the projects are all really cool!)
Knitting books seem to follow the same basic layout. Learn to knit instructions, background information, patterns, then resources (or sometimes the tutorial information is here at the back of the book). Knits of a Feather does something that I don't remember seeing elsewhere: the hints and instructions relevant to a pattern are located right next to the instructions! GIVEAWAY!I have an autographed copy of Knits of a Feather to give to one of my readers! Post in the comments and tell me which project in Knits of a Feather is your favorite and why. I'll randomly choose a person from the comments on this post. Entries deadline 12:01AM PST on Monday, October 14, 2013.
If you can't wait, or want to buy a few copies for friends, the book is also available through the designers website
(where you can get an autographed copy!), your local yarn shop, book stores, and online retailers.
Here's a peek at the projects included in the book. Click on each image to be directed to the corresponding Ravelry page (where you can add it to your favorites or queue!)
CONGRATULATIONS! to Vivian who won the autographed copy of Celeste's book! I have sent out an email and as soon as I get a mailing address, this great book will be on its way!
Thank you, everyone, for taking time to read and comment!
Full details about this design are included on the pattern page HERE
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With Autumn just around the corner, I'm happy to share my latest design: the Colton half-zip pullover.
The motif is based on houndstooth and uses a few simple repeats to create an engaging pattern. Using Cascade 220 in your choice of colors, it could be knit in traditional black and white, or a more subtle offering of navy blue and brown. What I liked about this concept was the gentle allover pattern. The sleeves and chest are fitted, and the lower part of the body is left with no shaping which helps to keep the wearer comfortable.
This design is offered in 5 sizes, and the pattern can be purchased online as a .pdf through Ravelry.
For the photo shoot, I selected the walls and doors of The Misión San Francisco de Asís. Built in 1791, it's the oldest standing building in the city! With over four feet thick walls and redwood ceiling beams, its sturdy construction helped it to survive the great earthquake and fire of 1906. Interested in learning more about this beautiful building and the neighboring basilica? Visit: www.missiondolores.org.
Exterior of the Old Mission Church, Mission Dolores, Dedicated in 1776
This men’s half-zip pullover uses a gently shifting motif to create a modified houndstooth motif. Carefully tailored with set in sleeves, and solid cuffs and hem, a zipper finishes off the neckline and completes this timeless design.
This pattern is worked flat and requires basic knitting knowledge, including knit/purl, increasing, decreasing, reading charts, stranded knitting, and finishing.
I've been rethinking how I use my week and weekends. With so much to do, it's difficult (sometimes) to get lines crossed off of the list.
I adopted the Google Calendar and add appointments and reminders on it using my phone or computer and that way when time arrives, it's easier to stay on schedule. For example, I knew this past weekend I wanted to dye alpaca top. In order to do this, I like to have my fibers soak for a good day or two before I dye. A reminder on Thursday morning went off and reminded me to measure out and soak fibers for Saturday!
(and I did!)
That means I have alpaca fiber dyed and ready to sell this week listed in the shop
. I've been working on adding more solids to the list (and they seem pretty popular!) - so this week I added brown and orange (which, of course, I named chocolate and pumpkin).
A Dye Lab snuck itself into the mix as well - I had blue left over from yarn dyeing and it was begging to be put on the alpaca with the brown... I think any two of these colors could be combined for a fun result.
Emerald on 4oz Merino top
I also have some more merino dyed in the Emerald colorway to list in the shop. Doing the dyeing is a fun diversion from the knitting and design work that I have been doing. It all takes time and energy... but being able to step away from the calculator for a while and get messy with dye makes my soul smile.
Here's to an amazing week!
Among the many projects in my queue, the CYC Certified Instructor Program
Level 1 has lived comfortably ignored for much of the past year. This certification is mostly for teaching beginning knitting (or crochet) courses at big box stores. I felt it'd be a good exercise and its lessons guide the student through the steps of creating a lesson plan, and gauging class time. I finished the bulk of the work pretty quickly, but then left it to hibernate in my studio and queue on Ravelry
. After much delay and procrastination, I finally completed the swatches for this level.
There should be some sort of award for completing levels. (Actually, there are many: A feeling of accomplishment, Receiving feedback from the instructor, Growing as a craftsperson and becoming more critical of the work you produce, Turning the tables on yourself and thinking as a new student)...
It will be nice to hear back from my instructor, to complete any updates or re-do that needs doing, and to move to the next level.
Dr. Lace's Badge of Accomplishments
Working on that program, I spent time thinking about what it meant to be recognized for accomplishment. Many of us get awards at work or through our good deeds, but what about our knitting? A friend of mine has considered the same conundrum and created Dr. Lace's Badge of Accomplishments
Beautifully presented on a letterpress card, this badge sings honor for knitting a first scarf (or first project, for that matter!) I think these would be a perfect reward for a "learn to knit" class... and every yarn shop should have them as special treats for those who need that extra encouragement.
Learning a new skill can feel daunting, but I promise. Everything we do gets easier with time and practice and determination.
Sometimes, a little encouragement from our friends or community is all we need to step out of our comfort zone and press on into the unknown!
Want this badge as an award for yourself or a friend who has learned how to knit? Post a comment telling me who taught you to knit and I'll randomly select one entry as the winner of this beautiful pin! Deadline: Saturday, September 28, 2013 at
UPDATE: - Congratulations to Michelle who was the winner of this contest! Visit www.drlace.com if you'd like to purchase a badge of your very own!
Things are busy as usual here in the studio. I'm in the middle of finishing up a new pattern for release in the next few weeks, and the project has just grown to the size that I can't carry it in my bag with me everywhere I go.
...and you KNOW I can't go anywhere without knitting!
So, I decided to knit the Caden scarf again. This time I'm using Chickadee
in Winesap (a beautiful, saturated red). Caden is just such an easy-to-remember pattern, it's perfect for my lunch/break/wakingup/fallingasleep knitting time.
This new Caden scarf will be an ongoing project, with no deadline (which means it might never get done; I just got an email with a call for designs and that means swatching should also commence!
Caden is available through Quince and Co's ebook: Scarves, Etc. 2013
. More information about the pattern and ebook can be found HERE
In other news, I'm working feverishly on the ebook of hat patterns that will benefit Living Beyond Breast Cancer
. The pieces that are coming in are incredible and I'm so happy to be working with such talented designers!
Of course, I knew that this would be a lot of work. Creating and releasing a single pattern takes hours and hours and hours of work on the computer. Every step, from laying out the pattern to paper, to coordinating photography, must be done as nicely as possible. In this case, it's a quantity of patterns and it's fun to work with the different pieces to create a unified book.
It will be rewarding to share that project with you and I will do that just as soon as I can. I should also mention that a couple yarn companies have stepped forward and offered gift certificates as prizes!
More to come... so stay tuned! And as always, thank you for your support.
So... there's a thing about things. There's something special and magical and interesting (to me, anyway,) about how "things" exist for the whole time that we are alive, and for decades (or centuries) before, and then, one day, they arrive in your life. I also think about the path that we as individuals take that lead us to each other. Yes, I'm a bit nuts. OK, back to the new wheel. (Didn't I mention?! I have a new wheel!) OK... it's old, but it's new to me!
Since I saw my very first Canadian Production Wheel in Albany, NY in 2012, I have wanted one. I blame you, Celeste
, for showing up to knit night full of excitement about your new wheel.Yes, I know. I said I was only going to have one wheel... but a guy can change his mind, right? (Actually, I've always wanted an old wheel, and this type is beautiful, simple in design, and a real workhorse!) My other wheel, a Schacht Sidekick, is different. It's portable, modern, and has other features like additional whorls that make it different. Different is good, right?
THIS wheel... my new (old) CPW, has a 30" wheel, single treadle, and only one bobbin and whorl. It has a higher ratio and is a faster spin all the way around. Once the bobbin is full, I'm told that folks generally wind the single onto a different bobbin to preserve the leather pieces that hold the flyer assembly. My wheel feels like new in that area, so I'm sort of hoping to find more bobbins (or have them made) so that I can switch them out. I have a feeling that if I can just switch out bobbins when they're full, it'll make for more spinning.I LOVE my wheel. I said that one day I would own a CPW. One day. Thank you to my friend who answered, and for those who have guided and supported me in my crazy decision to buy another wheel. I now own one. And it's beautiful. SO beautiful.
What do I know about these wheels? Most were made in Quebec, Canada in the late 1800s - early 1900s, and many can be found for a reasonable price. They have one speed on the whorl, and either the beautiful cast iron pedal like mine, two metal strips, or a wooden pedal, and usually only one bobbin. I was lucky to get mine from a California seller who was looking to reduce her inventory. She was kind enough to drive it up to San Francisco (hooray for easy delivery!) and today it lives as part of my studio collection.
I was able to sit down yesterday for a few minutes and try spinning on her, and I was able to make a single pretty easily. The only immediate thing I believe I need to do (besides remembering to always oil oil oil) is to make a longer drive band so that the mother-of-all can be moved back to about the 11:00 position. I hear that will make a difference in how she spins.
I'm still working on the treadling. This is a single treadle which makes it feel different than the new double-treadle of my sidekick. In time, me and this old wheel will get to know each other, and once I can get it to spin with little effort, the next step will be working on my long draw technique.
With time and practice I'll have the ability to produce yarn in production level quantities. For now, though, I'm really really happy even having my new wheel in sight. I find myself putting myself to sleep at night wondering about who worked on it, and where it's been in its century of existing. It was probably around at the time of the Titanic sinking, and might have even been around as early as the big earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. Now it lives with me in my home on the hill. As I learn more, I'll be happy to narrow down its date of creation.
And, as required, here's the "selfie" portrait of me and my CPW:
Do you know about this wheel? I'd love to hear! Post in the comments to share your knowledge! Thanks