Good news!

This past week, I’ve gotten great news on several different fronts, and I really wanted to share the excitement with my readers!

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New Patterns

On Tuesday, two of my designs were released in new pattern books: Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves: 9 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers! and Quick and Simple Crochet Hats: 8 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers!  I have one design in each book.  You can buy the books through Jo-ann Fabric and Craft Stores or online.  The interesting thing about this book series is that it features indie designers and the designers retain the rights to sell the patterns individually online.

© F+W Media (Photos by Corrie Shaffeld of 1326 Studios)

The Wide Ripple Scarf is one of my first self-published patterns.  I made this version using just over two skeins of Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe in Periwinkle.  I love the long length, and you may have noticed that I’m a big fan of ripples.

I designed the Twisted Cable Hat because I love the look of mini cables and twisted stitches.  My version was made with just over one skein of Patons Classic Wool in Leaf Green.  It is super warm and thick because of the way it is crocheted.  I haven’t decided yet when I’ll offer a PDF version of this pattern.

Kollabora also published another one of the secret projects I made for their display at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago.

(C) Kollabora. The pattern is actually crocheted even though the model is holding knitting needles ;).

The Lattice Shell Tunic is available as a free pattern on their website.  (Side note: The schematic hasn’t been uploaded yet, so if you’re getting started on the project, let me know and I can email it to you.)  The small is a great one skein project using a jumbo skein of Kollabora’s Nora’s Pantry yarn, which is a soft alpaca.

It’s always fun to see your designs published, but there was other great news this week…


Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival

I’ll be teaching two classes at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival in March, and my mom and I have decided to make it a weekend road trip!  I’m really looking forward to spending a few days out of town with my mom.  I booked the hotel this week and am already thinking about what to pack.  (Can you tell I don’t travel much??)  I’ve been wanting to check out Pittsburgh for a while, so this is a great opportunity.   And, since my mom is driving us up, we’ll have a car to get around town with, too.

Knitting Cables 101 (left) and Bruges Lace Basics (right).

If you’re in the area (or are planning a road trip, like me), I’d love to see you at either of my classes: Knitting Cables 101 on Saturday morning or the Bruges Lace Basics Stitch Sampler on Sunday afternoon.  Also, if you have any Pittsburgh tourist suggestions, let me know!

But wait, there’s more good news!


Press Pass


I was granted a press pass to Vogue Knitting Live in New York City!  You may remember that I went last year and had a lot of fun.  I later interviewed two vendors I met in the Marketplace: Liz Cooper from Seabury Organizers (here) and Vivian Osborne from Arctic Qiviut (here).  I’m thrilled to be able to spend three days focused on yarn in my home town.  I’m looking forward to blogging and Tweeting from the event!

Awesome Crochet Blog Award

And as if I hadn’t already had enough excitement for the week, yesterday I learned that I won the 2012 Awesome Crochet Blog Award for Best Interviews from Kathryn at Crochet Concupiscence!

When I won the award last year, I was thrilled, but this year I’m even more excited.  It may not be evident, but I put a lot of work into my interviews – probably more time than for any other type of post.  But (even without these two awesome awards!!) it is completely worth it because I learn so much from the interviewees and I’ve been able to “meet” some of my crochet heroes by contacting them for an interview.

When I started blogging, I naively thought interviews would be a good way to have content on days when I didn’t know what to blog about.  You know how they say that ignorance is bliss?  If I would have known then what I know now about interviewing, I might have never started ;).  About half of the people I contact may never respond while others may be interested but aren’t available to answer the questions for months because their schedules are so tight.  Each interview can require hours of research before I even write the questions – everything from reading the interviewee’s books to searching the web for information about their background.  Once the interview answers are returned, taking the time to organize the pictures and links for the posts, as well as editing out typos and adding in my own comments, adds in another hour or two.  I feel so honored that Kathryn would highlight my interviews again this year, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed them.  You can find all my interviews here.  (I’m also planning a recap of my favorite interviews from this year later this month.)

This has been an amazing week for me, and I hope yours has gone just as well!

Interview with Vivian Osborne from Arctic Qiviut Yarns

Way back in January, I had the pleasure of meeting Vivian Osborne  in real life at Vogue Knitting Live.  As the President of Arctic Qiviut Yarns, she was busy selling in the marketplace, so I contacted her for an email interview later.  (And if you’re new to qiviut, as I was, Vivian’s website tell us that it is pronounced “kiv-ee-ute.”)

Vivian Osborne at the Arctic Qiviut booth at a trade show.

Underground Crafter (UC): What are your personal favorite fiber crafts? How did you get started with these crafts?
Vivian: I admire all fiber crafts. Two of my grandmothers taught me to crochet. As a teenager, I crocheted show horse blankets and braid reins. I set up shop at horse shows and made a bundle. My focus now is to create beautiful luxurious yarn out of the downy underwool of the Arctic Muskox – “qiviut.” It’s such a soft, exotic fiber that’s perfect for heirloom creations.

UC: What inspired you to make yarn out of the underwool of a musk ox?
Vivian: I was running my nonprofit organization, Just For Kids, Inc., as part of the Choosing A Safe Camp For Your Child Program.  Someone donated one pound of raw qiviut fiber, stinky and complete with guard hair and vegetation, and matted in a sheet.  It was an absolute mess.  Some local Boy Scouts helped me, and we spent a year hand cleaning the raw musk ox fiber.  I learned how to use a drop spindle at the local guild.  It just grew from there.  (UC comment: Wow, that is some start!  It makes me want to learn to use my drop spindle even more, just in case I unexpectedly receive some awesome, mystery fiber!)

Vivian cleaning those guard hairs, about 12 years ago.

UC: You’ve had the opportunity to visit various fiber events to promote Arctic Qiviut Yarns. Tell us about some of your favorite experiences at these events.
Vivian: My first event was the NW Needle Market wholesale show in Seattle. Everyone was so excited about what I had to offer. They liked that I’m from North Pole, Alaska; that I use the underwool of the arctic musk ox to make 100% qiviut yarn and 5 exclusive qiviut yarn blends; that my yarn has a beautiful twist; and that it is available in 28 incredible hand dyed and hand painted colors. I have also exhibited my yarn at TNNA wholesale tradeshows in Long Beach and Columbus,  Knitters Connection, and at Vogue Knitting Live in New York. People love learning about qiviut. Vogue Knitting Live was fun because I met the knitters, crocheters, and weavers. They truly enjoy touching the yarn and seeing all the colors. They liked meeting the manufacturer – me! They liked that I manufacture something different not found anywhere else in the world. My qiviut sock yarn was a hit at all the shows.  (UC comment: As one of the crocheters who was visiting Vivian’s booth at Vogue Knitting Live, I can tell you that the yarn is really amazing to feel and that people did respond very well to the colors!)

UC: Not many crocheters and knitters are familiar with qiviut fiber. What are some of the properties of your yarn that you’d like people to know about?
Vivian: Qiviut is truly an amazing fiber. It is the delicate underwool of the Arctic muskox. It is one of the most sought after fibers in the world because of its rarity, softness, and warmth. Qiviut is softer than cashmere and is light as a feather. It’s an insulating fiber and is comfortable to wear in any climate.

Qiviut is the only fiber in the US that is an heirloom fiber that can be treasured for generations. The value goes up over time. Qiviut yarnwear or yarn is a unique gift for yourself or that special person. Only the best delicate underwool of the Arctic muskox is used to produce Arctic Qiviuts’ yarn. We offer 100% qiviut and qiviut blends. We only use the highest grade, finest quality German angora, cashmere, baby alpaca, cultivated Bombay silk, superwash merino, bamboo, and nylon in our blends.

A musk ox.

Muskox is a very old species they have been around since the time of the woolly mammoth. Most live in the Arctic, in Canada, Alaska, and Greenland. Qiviut is not another term for the muskox but refers to the soft, downy undercoat. A mature male produces around 6 to 8 pounds of muskox raw fleece fiber. After processing the raw fleece fiber you will yield about 2 to 3 pounds of cleaned qiviut ready for spinning into yarn. It is one of the lightest and warmest of all the natural fibers. Qiviut feels wonderful next to the skin.

Some of the characteristics and properties of qiviut:

  • It is 8 times warmer than wool,
  • Very light weight,
  • It is comfortable in any climate,
  • It doesn’t shrink, felt, or inch,
  • It is safe for people who suffer from wool allergies,
  • It is softer than cashmere
  • Wild muskox averages from 16.5 microns in yearlings to 18.2 microns in adults,
  • The undyed color is gray-brown, but qiviut dyes easily, and
  • The staple length is 3.5–7 cm (1.5–3 inches).

UC: What are your plans for 2012? Will be you be at any other events?
Vivian: On May 24, I will be meeting and greeting passengers from a knitting cruise ship in Anchorage, Alaska at the Quilted Raven. I’ll be at TNNA from June 21 to 25 in Columbus, Ohio and at the Twisted Thread Knit and Stitch Tradeshow at Alexander Palace in London, England from October 11 to 14.

UC: Is there anything else you’d like to add about Arctic Qiviut?

Vivian: I am the exclusive manufacture of hand dyed and hand painted 100% Qiviut yarn and 5qiviut yarn blends. I only sell my yarns wholesale and at special events like wholesale and retail tradeshows. I also do trunk shows at retail shops that sell my yarns. On my website, you can find a worldwide list of shops that sell my yarn, properties of all fibers used in Arctic Qiviut yarns, more information on qiviut, free patterns including one designed by Alaskan designer, Beverly Shannon, and patterns using 1 skein of Arctic Qiviut yarns that you can purchase directly from the Alaskan designer, Nancy Davidson. On my website you can see all the beautiful hand dyed and hand painted colors of our yarns. Our slogan is “Experience the journey of the qiviut, from the muskox to your fingertips.”

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Vivian, and for sharing so much about the qiviut fiber with us!