Monthly Archives: February 2012

Revitalized and Blog Hub Swap, Day 1

This weekend, I participated in the Craft Yarn Council Certified Instructor’s Program in Knitting.  This 3-day, 15 hour workshop was led by the fabulous Arnetta Kenney (who was also the instructor in 2007 when I went through the certification training for crochet).  She is a wonderful teacher, who is very generous with her feedback and with sharing tips.

I also had the chance to meet about 20 other knitters, including one reads this blog.  Awesomeness!  And, of course, I had 15 hours where I could knit without offending anyone or implying that I wasn’t paying attention.  All of this got me a bit more excited about knitting – you know I’m much more of a crochet gal.

I mentioned that I decided to pull out my version of A Hat Fit for a Fella by Shana Kreikemeier.  The needles I was using were giving me too much trouble.  Now I am breezing along with these Chiaogoo Red Lace needles instead.

The ribbed (roll up) brim is finished, and I’m into the first cable repeat. 

I haven’t been doing much reading for pleasure lately.  You may remember that several weeks back I was reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I really enjoyed it but now there is an enormous waiting list to take the second book out from the library.  I’ve tried to pick up other books since then, but I haven’t been hooked.  Do I need to just buy the book already?  (As much as I love my Kindle Fire, the idea of spending $10 on a book that I can’t later resell or give away doesn’t really appeal to me.  I guess in the end, I do prefer “real” books.)

To add some further excitement to my week, when I arrived home last night, this was waiting for me!

A mystery box this large could only mean one thing – my Blog Hub Swap has arrived!  I mentioned in these posts that I’m participating in a swap with other bloggers through the Blog Hub on Ravelry.  Each of us had to assemble seven items (one a day for a week) for another blogger.  My swap partner was Stitched Together, and she blogged about the goodies I sent her a few weeks back (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, and Day 7).  It was great fun watching her open up her goodies, but I knew it would be even more fun to get my box :).

Ok, so once this box arrived, I checked it for clues.

An international package, you say?

The customs form was intentionally vague (although the mention of chocolate was definitely exciting!).

Obviously, I would need to open the package to find out the details.

What are the odds that my swap partner would also be a native New Yorker?

My swap partner is Heather (also known as nude-ewe on Ravelry) from The Nude Ewe in Bedfordshire, England.  She is actually Canadian (from Ottawa) but was born right here in Manhattan at (the now closed) St. Vincent’s Hospital, where her mom worked as a nurse!  You can check out her Nude Ewe blog here.

Heather included a wonderful welcome note, explaining a bit more about her current home town and apologizing for “the inevitable cat hair.”  Little does she know that I never apologize for those inevitable cat hairs :).

The box included seven secret packages, each with a cryptic sticker.

I chose “Whirli whirli” for Day 1.


My very own drop spindle kit!

Heather explained that the fleece is from a Jacob sheep, an ancient breed that she thinks is one of the most attractive breeds.  Apparently, this is easy to spin and recommended for beginners like me.  This sheep is also from Charlecote Park, where young William Shakespeare poached rabbits and was brought before the magistrates.

I am so excited to have this fleece and the drop spindle – as Heather noted “in a NYC apartment, I’m guessing you’re short of space so a spindle should fit in nicely!”  I really like knowing where the fleece is from and learning about the history of Charlecote Park.  I confess it has me a bit nervous because I’d like to spin it into something fabulous that I can actually use.  (Can you imagine me responding to the famous, “Did you make that?” question with a story about Jacob sheep; Carlecote Park; and my swap partner who was born in New York City, raised in Ottawa, and now lives in the U.K.??)  I doubt that my first spinning explorations will be that fantabulous, but I will give it a shot anyway.  If you have any suggestions for a book on learning to use a drop spindle, let me know!

I’m looking forward to the next 6 days of mystery.

Sheepi sheepi, Loopi loopi, Yummi yummi, Scari scari, Citi citi, and Scarfi scarfi.

For more Works in Progress, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

Book review and giveaway: Knitting with the Color Guys

This post contains affiliate links.

Today I’m reviewing Knitting with The Color Guys: Inspiration, Ideas, and Projects from the Kaffe Fassett Studio by Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably.  I also be giving away my review copy, courtesy of Sixth & Spring Books.

I first became aware of Kaffe Fassett when I was quilting.  His colorful and creative quilting projects were always calling to me from the bookshelves.  (Whenever I would look more closely at his books, I would realize how much work was involved with the projects, and immediately return the books to the shelves.)  I only became aware of his knitting work in the last year or so.  I wasn’t very familiar with Brandon Mably’s work until I picked up this book.

The concept: Two masters take you on a journey into their creative process as it relates to color, with a focus on projects that are not garments.  These projects are then artfully photographed at the lovely house of a friend “deep in the English countryside,” along with colorful pictures of various inspirations (e.g., a bouquet of flowers, porcelain urns).

Organization: Following individual introductions from Kaffe and Brandon, the book is organized into four color palettes: Soft Tones, Singing Color, Moody Hues, and Rich Shades.  In each section, each project is described by the designer and photographed along with various inspiration pieces.  The patterns follow the descriptions in each section.  At the end of the book, there is a section called Useful Information, which includes brief descriptions of color knitting techniques (Intarsia and Fair Isle), duplicate stitch, and finishing methods, along with the standard pattern book information (yarn standards, pattern abbreviations, etc.).

The projects:

Pattern difficulty

Beginner: 1; Easy: 10; Intermediate: 10; Experienced: 12

Project types

Scarves/Stoles: 12

Cushions: 8

Blankets/Throws: 6

Fingerless gloves/armwarmers: 2

Legwarmers: 2

Hat: 1

Most patterns use some form of color chart, although 7 use written pattern directions only.  Fourteen of the patterns make a suggestion for the colorwork technique to use (9 for Intarsia, 5 for Fair Isle) and the others include no specific instruction.


The book has a lot of interesting visual inspiration and more discussion of the design process than is the norm.  There are some instructions, but the authors expect you to know how to knit and how to decide what color work technique to use when they haven’t recommended one.

I found the home decor items striking and could see how even one such piece could definitely “make a room.”  Some of the wearables are lovely, but my New Yorker sensibilities were overwhelmed by the two coordinated sets.

The verdict

This is one of those books that you will probably love or hate, depending on your general response to the work of Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably.  In addition to the patterns, the book can be used as a design inspiration book/mood board or a coffee table book.  If you are drawn to these projects, bring your skills or expect to learn the techniques elsewhere.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

The Giveaway

I’m giving away my review copy of Knitting with The Color Guys: Inspiration, Ideas, and Projects from the Kaffe Fassett Studio by Kaffe Fassettand Brandon Mably, courtesy of Sixth & Spring Books, to one reader with a mailing address in the United States.  The winner will be chosen at random.

What a Diff’rence a Day Makes

On Saturday night, I was ready to dump this cabled hat project for my dad (details here and here; pattern here) because the yarn kept splitting on the needles.  I ripped it out instead, and started it up again with another pair of circulars.

From 0 to 3 inches with no shredded yarn!

It’s amazing what the proper tools can make you feel ready to accomplish.  I have more of this hat done in one day than I was able to do in the past two weeks on the other needles.  And in case you are wondering, the needles that made me want to cry are Knitter’s Pride Symfonie Dreamz (I should have known that a product with that much “creative” spelling was bad news), and the needles that are making me smile are ChiaoGoo Red Lace.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes,” I think of Dinah Washington.  (And, Run Lola Run.)

In other news, this is my 300th post, which is pretty awesome, so I’ll be back soon with a giveaway to celebrate…

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Bullion stitch blocks, week 2

This post contains affiliate links.

This post is part of my Year of ProjectsCrochet Master Class series. You can read the other posts in this series here.

I was under the weather this week, and I’m taking the Craft Yarn Council Certified Instructor’s Program in Knitting this weekend (14 hours of fun, preceded by many days of swatch making), so I haven’t made as much progress with my bullion stitch blocks as I would like.  I did share an update on Wednesday.

I finished one Poppy Bullion Block, with several added black borders to bring it up to 12″.

This is such a fun block. I definitely recommend it.

I’m so excited that Heartmade Blessings only wants 12″ squares with all of the ends unwoven.  Yes, folks, you heard that right.  Apparently, they received too many donations where people just cut off the yarn when they were finished, tied a little knot, and then everything unraveled later.  So since they can’t tell if your ends are woven in or don’t exist at all, they ask you to leave a 6″ tail at the start and end of every color.  This has admittedly made me more interested in blocks with multiple color changes :).

I hope to have a lot more to show for my bullion stitch explorations next week.

For more Year of Projects posts, visit When Did I Become a Knitter.

FO Friday: Dye Job

Last Sunday, I took the Kitchen Safe Yarn Dyeing class at Lion Brand Yarn Studio.  We were asked to bring two hanks of yarn from a long list of mostly wool Lion Brand yarns.  Naturally, I made three hanks from stash yarn.

Side note – It is almost harder to get a ball of yarn into a hank than it is to get a hank of yarn into a skein!  I found a great tutorial online about how to tie up and then twist the hank, but I forgot to save the link and now I can’t find it to share :(.

Back to the class – Our teacher was Grace.  When I signed up, I thought this was going to be a class about using natural, edible dyes, but it was about dyeing with cake gels.  That required a bit of expectation adjustment on my part.

I know that your first time working with a dye doesn’t usually result in stellar results, but I’m still a little underwhelmed by these.

The first yarn I worked with was Fishermen’s Wool. I attempted to use complementary colors (purple and yellow) with this hank.

Grace thought that perhaps I had not wrung the yarn out enough so the dye didn’t really saturate.  In the store, this looked like a big blob of grey, so I’m glad that in intense sunlight (only), there are some hints of color.

My next victim was this small hank of Bernat Lana. I actually like how this one turned out.

I think I had better luck here because the hank was really small (less than 100 yards) and easy to wring out.  I also took the most time with this hank.

This was the most difficult hank to work with, since it was significantly larger than the rest.

I purchased this mysterious yet extremely itchy wool on eBay many years ago when I was not that familiar with working with wool yarn.  I later used it successfully for several Kool Aid dyeing projects based on this tutorial.

Two change purses made with this same wool, dyed with Kool Aid, circa 2007.

This giant cone of yarn is wound with two strands, so the yarn is fairly thick.  It does felt up nicely though.

Back to the class – I tried saturating the entire skein with orange, and then adding different blobs of bright color.  The yarn was a bit darker than the other two hanks to start, so I think the color had a different effect.  This hank barely had time to set in the crock pot during the class and was bleeding colors when I got home.

I did have a good time learning a new method of kitchen safe dyeing, using both the cake gels and a crock pot.  But ultimately, I think the structure of the class is a bit too short.  You need about 30 minutes to soak your yarn before dyeing, another 30 minutes to heat your yarn after dyeing, and another 10 or so minutes to get your hanks prepared to soak (since there are several people sharing two sinks).  That means with a two hour class, you really only have about 30-45 minutes for the actual dyeing and that the class is hard to end on time since there are still yarns in the crock pot.  I felt very rushed and if the class was longer, I probably would have took more time with each hank, and made sure that the water was running clear off each hank before leaving.

I will probably be sticking with the Kool Aid since I’m more familiar with it than the cake gels, I wasn’t amazed by the results in comparison, and I would have to do a bit more traveling to get my hand on the cake gels.

For more Finished Objects, visit Tami’s Amis.