Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Discontinued Colorway

Oh no!!

Three Irish Girls is discontinuing the Maura colorway very very very soon. It is a stunning (but subtle) blend of "olive greens, dusty lilacs, khaki, and burnished gold." This is the color yarn (in Wexford Merino Silk) that is featured in my Spring Awakening Cowl pattern

Today ONLY they are offering a 20% discount for that colorway. I know I'm hoping over there to pick up some. Better hurry before they disappear altogether.

Here is the link to the Maura colorway page. The prices reflect the discount.

Happy yarn shopping!


And the winner is...


Congratulations, Chelsea. I'll be contacting you to get your mailing address so I can get your yarn to you as soon as possible.

Thanks to you all for commenting and especially for reading my blog. I hope that you will continue to follow along in the future. Who knows what fun giveaways and exciting reads will be in store for you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last Day!

Don't forget to comment on this post for a chance to win a skein of Puffin yarn! Today is the last day!!

It seems I have fallen behind with posting details about my sweater knitting. Here is a recap thus far:

Sweater #1
Sweater #2
Sweater #3
Sweater #4
Sweater #5
Sweater #6

Sweater #7
Sweater # 8 (which I can't show you yet because it was a test knit for a friend's soon-to-be-published pattern).
Sweater #9
Sweater #10
Sweater #11
This week I will add some detailed posts about #10 and #11 (and #12 and #13 too). But that is for another day. Now it is time to take a certain preschooler to school!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Warm Up Your Wine

Ah, December! Tis the season for holiday parties and hostess gifting. What do you like to give your party host this time of year? My go-to is usually a bottle of bubbly. Nothing says celebrate like sparkling wine!

Rather than place my gift in the same old store-bought gift bag, I thought of something a little more festive this year.

My bottle of Prosecco was looking a bit bare. You know what he needs?  (Yes, he)... a holiday scarf and hat!

How cute and cozy are these fellas now? I challenge you not to smile when you receive or give some vino all dressed up! I hope I'm not the only one to spread the festive cheer this season.

Conveniently, you know how to knit. So why not make a Warm Up Your Wine set for your bottles too?

Here is my Christmas gift to you...

Warm Up Your Wine

Knit Picks Swish DK yarn (or any DK weight yarn) in the Hollyberry, Peapod, and White colorways (the entire set - 1 cowl, 1 scarf, 2 hats with pom-poms- takes about 25-30 yards)
Size US 6 needles (dpns for hat, any kind for the scarf and cowl)
1 button
sewing and tapestry needle
1 stitch marker

22 sts /4in in stockinette stitch pattern in recommended needle size

Cowl: approx. 6.5 in (length) and 1.5 in (width)
Scarf: approx. 17 in (length) and 1.5 in (width)
Hat: approx. 2 in (height) and 2 in (width)

CO - cast on
CC- contrasting color
k2tog- knit 2 stitches together
MC- main color
st(s)- stitch(es)
st st- stockinette stitch
WS- wrong side
yo- yarn over

CO 8 sts in MC.
Knit in st st (knit all sts on the right side and purl all sts on the wrong side) for 2 rows.
Change to CC.
Knit in st st for 2 rows.
Change back to MC and continue striping as established until cowl measures 6 inches ending with a WS row with MC.
Buttonhole row: with CC, knit 3 sts, yo, k2tog, knit 3 sts.
Purl 1 row.
Change to MC and knit in st st for 2 rows.
Bind off and weave in ends.
Attach button. Block, if desired.

CO 8 sts in MC.
Knit in st st (knit all sts on the right side and purl all sts on the wrong side), changing color with CC every 8 rows until piece measures 17 inches (13 stripes).
Bind off after 13th stripe.
Weave in ends.
Block. Scarf sides will curl regardless.

Using dpns and MC, CO 22 sts, divide over the needles.
Place marker for start of round. Join to work in the round.
(Knit 1, purl 1) repeat across the round.
Repeat last round for 5 rounds total (about 1 inch).
Change to CC and knit all sts for 3 rounds.
Change back to MC and knit 2 rounds.
(Knit 1, k2tog) repeat to last st, knit 1 [15 sts].
Knit 1 round.
(K2tog) repeat to last st, knit 1 [8 sts].
Break yarn leaving a 6 inch tail.
Thread tail through live sts, pull tight and secure.
Weave in ends.
Block, if desired.
Attach pom-pom if desired.

Merry Christmas!!!

xo Meg

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sporting Beret and Giveaway

This week Quince & Co. published a new pattern in their e-newsletter called the Sporting Beret.

Take a look at the pattern page.

Notice anything interesting about the designer?

Yep, that's me! I've finally met my goal of becoming professionally published.

In honor of this achievement, I will be giving away 1 skein of Quince & Co.'s Puffin yarn, which is the recommended yarn for my pattern.

I love this yarn. It is warm, soft, supple and durable. To give you an idea of just how durable it is... I once re-knit the same sweater 3 times, frogged it and then made it into a poncho and the yarn still looked terrific. 

The Sporting Beret is a quick knit and will probably only take a couple of hours for you to make. The pattern uses less than one skein of Puffin, making it a nice stash buster for those lonely bulky skeins laying around the house.

If you would like to receive a yummy skein of Puffin, leave a comment on this blog post by December 11th (Tuesday at 11:59pm)) with your email address or Ravelry name and share what your favorite type of project is to knit with bulky yarn. On Wednesday, I will use the random number generator to pick a winner. That winner will receive one skein of Puffin in the Honey colorway. Which looks like this...

Don't forget to check back to see if you've won!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Knitted Christmas... at Target?

Raise your hand if you have a slightly unhealthy habit of going to Target way too often.

Go ahead.

Don't be shy.

There... I knew I wasn't alone!

Well if you are a knitter, than you now have one really good reason to drop what you're doing and zoom over to the nearest Target store.

The holiday decorations have been up for quite a few weeks now and since Christmas is less than 3 weeks away, all of their Christmas stock is now on sale. Oh yeah, I said SALE!!

Now ordinarily, I would not be the one to run to a big busy store during the holidays just for a sale, especially because I tend to finish my Christmas shopping by the end of November (yes, I am that mom). However, wait until you see what Target is  selling this season, and you may just do what I did...


 How cute are those cable knit tree cones and stars?

These vases, alas, were not on sale. You know I will be snatching one up once they finally get reduced!

 I love the pillows too. The fair isle red and white pillow is so festive and wintery and the combination of the plaid flannel fabric and white knit cables looks sharp.

Two weeks ago, I picked up two of the cone trees and a frame, but could not find the cable platter my friend had told me about.

Then, this week, she text-ed me to say that she'd seen a few at her local store and did I want one? Heck, yeah!

Isn't it pretty?

Hmm, kind of regretting not purchasing the white knit star... maybe I should go back?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One left...

Okay, people. I need your advice.

Eleven done. One to go. Which should I make for lucky #12?

For those new to the blog. I am referring to my 12 sweaters in 2012 goal. You can read more about it here. 

Bring on those opinions people! Just remember that I will have about 24 days to make it ( I say 24 because today is the 5th. I have two small projects to wrap up which will take a couple of days).

Here are the final contenders.

Cable Plait and Bobble Sweater

Organic Guernsey
Pembroke Vest
Skip Hop Pinafore

Or I could attempt to finish this sweater, which has barely been started. I'm hesitant to do so since it is an adult size sweater with an all-over cable pattern.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Knitting and Children's Literature

Have you ever noticed that when you get serious about buying a new car, you see your car on the road everywhere?

I experience something similar with knitting. When I began knitting, more than ten years ago, it seemed like yarn shops and handknits on strangers popped up everywhere I went. Lately, I've noticed knitting in a different field... children's literature.

Once upon a time I was an elementary special education teacher. One of my many responsibilities was to teach children to read and love to read. This was my absolute favorite part of teaching. I miss it tremendously, but now have the good fortune to teach my own children about the beauty of reading. My oldest, Emma, who is now a mere 3.5 years old, loves books. No. She loves books. Our house is cluttered with children's literature, some acquired from my teaching days but mostly additions from family and our inability to say no when it comes to bookstores and book orders.

When quiet and calm (and not on the playground), Emma can be quite observant and point out some surprising observations while "reading." Not long ago, we were reading a book from the library by one of my favorite children's author/illustrators, Jan Brett, about a curious hedgehog who gets a stocking stuck on his prickles. Early in the story, Emma pointed out, "that stocking looks just like Daddy's Christmas stocking that you knitted for him. Look! It has white and red yarn too!" Okay, so if you saw the sock from the book and my husband's stocking, you too would be able to make that connection. But, hey, she's only 3! And she's my kid. So of course I'm going to think everything she does is amazing.

That being said, she did draw my attention to the fact there are several books out there which feature knitted items or the act of knitting. In fact, it has become quite popular in the last few years. You may be surprised at how many of these books are available at your local library. The only books that I could not check out from my library were the collection by Joanna Johnson and the book by Alana Dakos.

I know you are aching to read this list. So here it is... just a few books that feature knitting and/or knitted garments:

Goodnight Moon (1947) by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd
"...And good night to the old lady whispering hush." Look closer. That old rabbit is knitting!


Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone (1997) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998) by J. K. Rowling

Who doesn't remember Ron's and Harry's knitted Christmas sweaters with an enormous "R" and "H" on them, made by Mrs. Weasley? And what about her knitting needles working away without the aide of hands?

The Mitten (1989), The Hat (1997), and The Three Snow Bears (2007) -just to name a few- by Jan Brett

Her books are bursting with handknits inspired by classic Scandinavian color schemes (see The Hat) and dense stitch patterns (see The Mitten). 

Knitting Nell (2006) by Julie Jersild Roth

Who wouldn't love a book about a little girl who knits all of the time? This quiet character reminds me of the silent knitters at knitting groups. They are there, stitching away, taking everything in.
Woolbur (2008) by Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Lee Harper

This book has a story centered around an unconventional lamb who doesn't quite fit in with this sheepy friends. It features pre-knitting necessities: shearing, cutting, spinning and weaving.

Phoebe's Sweater (2010), Freddie's Blanket (20122) and Phoebe's Birthday (2012) by Joanna Johnson and illustrated by Eric Johnson

This is a collection of well written and sweetly illustrated books. In the first book, Phoebe's Sweater, Phoebe is about to become a big sister. Her mother knits her a sweater to make her feel extra special. Wouldn't this make a lovely gift for a soon-to-be big sister? There is even a knitting pattern for Phoebe's red sweater.

Spud and Chloe: On the Farm (2011) by Susan B. Anderson

This is a slightly unusual children's book because it is a "knit and read" book, brought to you by the queen of ittty-bitty knitting. Susan B. Anderson created a collection of knitting patterns featuring the Spud & Chloe yarn company's icon, Spud the sheep and Chloe the little girl, along with a barnyard full of animal friends and accessories. Throughout the book and additionally at the end, is a sweet little story (complete with dialog and illustrations) about a small adventure with these characters.

Extra Yarn (2012) by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

In this story, a little girl named Annabelle knits for everyone in her town with an endless supply of yarn. Now if only life had an endless supply of yarn!

Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf (2012) by Alana Dakos and illustrated by Neesha Hudson

Hot off the presses is a new children's book written by the knitwear designer, Alana Dakos, from Never Not Knitting. It is about a little girl who strives to discover her special talent for a school event. Her mother teaches her how to knit and after much practice and many mistakes, Annie succeeds. There is also a knitting pattern available for the famous Swiss Cheese Scarf. In this podcast you can hear the author's daughter read an excerpt from the book. It is so sweet to hear young children read!

So which book will you be checking out to share with that special little person in your life?

Happy reading!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yarn Tasting Party: Yarn Review

I know you are all chomping at the bit to read my reviews of the yarns from the yarn tasting. Well here you go!

Worsted weight
210 yds
18-22 sts on US 6-7
75% Merino, 15% Silk, 10% Cashmere
Machine wash cold, air dry flat Machine wash cold, air dry flat Colorway: Autumn Trinket
Appearance:  This skein had a stunning blend of colors with beautiful depth, subtle sheen from the silk and felt soft on my fingers.
From Skein to Cake:  It wound nicely, easy to put on the swift and transformed into cakes easily.
Actual Weight: Yarn distributor website's claim this should weigh 100 grams, but that information is not on the label nor on Madelinetosh's website. I have yet to contact the company, but plan to do so shortly because one skein weighed 90 grams and the other weighed 91 grams which means I'd be short 42 yards!
Yarn Play: Like other high quality super wash yarns, this knit beautifully creating a smooth and supple fabric.

DK weight
200 yds/55g
19-24 sts on US 5-7
100% Cashmere
Hand wash, dry flat
Colorway: Tea Leaves
Appearance: In skein, cake and truffle form, this did not impress me. It looked dull and lifeless (not that I expected a John Hurt moment - please tell me you get that joke!). What I  mean is that in any of these forms, the yarn did not grab my attention and make me want to pick it up to knit with.
From Skein to Cake: The cashmere yarn wound nicely. No complaints here.
Actual Weight: 55g (accurate to the claim on the label)
Yarn Play: Despite its initial appearance, this yarn wowed me while knitting. It's as if the yarn needed that additional factors of warm hands, clicking needles and smooth movement to come alive. The final fabric is worth every knitting-minute!

DK weight
275 yds/100g
20-22 sts on US 5
70% Alpaca, 30% Silk
Hand wash cold, dry flat
Colorway: Robot Overlord (best name ever!)
Appearance: Considering the silk content, the yarn appeared much duller than I expected. It was soft but this individual skein looked like it had been sitting on a dusty shelf for quite a while - lots of lint.
From Skein to Cake: What a mess! This is a huge skein (275+ yards). My swift was stretched to the limit with the length of this one. It was such a nightmare to wind. The ends were twisted oddly within the hank of yarn making it a very twisted skein and constantly getting tangled while winding into a cake.
Actual Weight:106g (+ 6g...bonus!)
Yarn Play: Meh. I do believe that was exactly what I said out loud while knitting with this yarn. Not great. Not bad. Not that interesting.

DK weight
150 yds/50g
22-24 sts on US 4-6
50% Silk, 50% Merino
Hand wash, dry flat
Colorway: Ravelry Red, Jupiter
Appearance: Pretty, very pretty. Both skeins had that beautiful sheen and soft halo that silk and merino blends are so well known for. Both had that enticing appearance that automatically makes you lean in and want to grasp it. The shades of color were striking, but I did notice flecks of bare yarn while winding.
From Skein to Cake:  Both skeins slipped onto the swift easily and transformed into cakes without any hitches.
Actual Weight: 52g (+2) and 51g (+1)

Yarn Play: This yarn was enjoyable to knit with, however, I didn't honestly notice any difference between the Silky Merino and Manos del Uruguay's Silky Blend.

82 yds/50g
16 sts on US 10
45% Kid mohair, 45% Wool, 10% Silk
Hand wash cold, dry flat
Colorway: Chestnut, Moss
Appearance: It was easy to identify the fibers in this skein. The shiny silk, hefty wool and halo of mohair were very apparent to sight and touch. 
From Skein to Cake:  These wound interestingly. The mohair fibers did not like the movement of the swift or the friction of my fingers easing the yarn onto the ball winder. It looked electrified after winding much like Dr. Brown's hair in "Back to the Future."
Actual Weight: both 50g (accurate)

Yarn Play: I didn't really enjoy knitting with this yarn. It was a bit scratchy and very loosely spun and plied. This means snagging while knitting, so I'm not eager to pick this up again.

Sport weight
159 yds/50g
24-26 sts on US 4
65% Baby Alpaca, 10% Cashmere, 10% Camel, 15% Silk
Hand wash, dry flat
Colorway: Citrine, Autumn Jasper
Appearance: Heavenly. This is one of those skeins that will cause involuntary reactions. I don't see how a knitter could not pick this up and take it home (buy it first!) whether you need it or not. Just looking at the skein, it appears supple, soft, evenly spun and plied. It even looks like it would knit beautifully. The colors alone are muted and comforting to the eye.
From Skein to Cake: This wound beautiful. Both skeins were so lovely, I would have done this by hand if I had the time.
Actual Weight: 49g (-1) and 48g (-2)

Yarn Play: This was clearly my favorite yarn of the night. Ever hear of a yarn-gasm? Yep. That's what will happen to you when you knit with this yarn. Do I really need to explain further?

In summary, buy the Mongolian Cashmere, marry the Road to China Light and toss Honor out the window.

Happy knitting!

How to Organize a Yarn Tasting Party

This past week, my knitting group held a yarn tasting at my house. I had the fun task of organizing, ordering and winding the yarn for the party. We had a terrific time fondling the little yarn truffles (as one knitter called them), swatching and sharing opinions about the different fiber combinations.

I have never had the good fortune to attend a yarn tasting before this event. I signed up for one a month ago at a LYS but the event was cancelled due to low interest. I have to say that if I owned a yarn shop (boy, how many times have we knitters said that?) this would be just the activity to get knitters and crocheters interested in new yarns at a low cost to the shop and the participants. For two hours and $15-25, a crafter could get to really experience different kinds of yarns by simply swatching and absorbing the many characteristics that individual yarn portrays now as a knitted fabric. Think of the time and money saved by doing this little step! It's all done without the financial and time-consuming investment of riskily buying a large quantity of pretty yarn, making a garment and then discovering too late that the pretty yarn was the wrong kind of yarn for your sweater.

Interested in hosting a yarn tasting of your own? Not sure where to start? Read on, my friend. Below is a step-by-step list of how to organize your very own yarn tasting.

How to Organize a Yarn Tasting:

1. Take an initial informal survey of which yarns your friends are interested in trying (ask at knit-night, email, post the inquiry on Facebook or in your Ravelry group). Try to collect a list of about a dozen or so yarns.

2. From those dozen (or so) yarns, compile a formal list. Ask your friends/participants) to select their top 6 yarns-of-interest. You can change that number, but I'd recommend selecting between 4 and 6. Any less, and it wouldn't feel like much of an event, any more and it wouldn't be a tasting... it'd be deluge of fiber!

3. Tally the votes. Inform your friends which yarns you plan to order and double check that the cost per person is agreeable to them before making the purchases.

At my event, the cost came to a little under $24 per participant (there were 8 knitters at this party).  

4. In regards to quantity of yarn per person, each knitter should have enough yarn to make a 4 in x 4 in swatch. Weigh old swatches in different weight yarns to determine an estimated quantity to order per person.

For example, when I rummaged through my swatch stash, I found that one swatch of Knit Picks Swish (worsted) weighed 10 grams and one swatch of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (worsted) weighed 8 grams. So I knew I needed at least 10 grams of worsted weight yarn/person. With that in mind (and knowing that most skeins were either 50 or 100 grams), I tried to order 100 grams of each yarn to be divided evenly between 8 people, which equals roughly 12 grams each.  So at this party, each person had about 10-15 grams of yarn (worsted, dk and sport), with the exception of the cashmere yarn ordered. Due to the high cost of yarn, we agreed we'd sacrifice quantity for quality (about 7 grams of dk weight).

5. Shop around before making your final purchase. Look through the de-stash pages on Ravelry for great deals, research which websites offer volume discounts or shipping deals.

In the end, I chose to order from Mr. Yarn and Jimmy Beans Wool. Both offered free shipping and Mr. Yarn offered a volume discount too. Between the two, I plan to order from Mr. Yarn again. The order arrived in a sealed clear bag with the free additions of a mini skein and a pin! The order from Jimmy Beans Wool, although it arrived faster, felt sloppy. All of the yarn from that order was not protected by any bag or tissue paper. It was clearly tossed in the shipping bag and mailed. This did not impress me since some skeins shed like crazy onto the other skeins.

6. Once your yarn arrives take pictures of these beauties to taunt your friends who chose not to play in the yarn fun! Ha! Then weigh them individually, write this accurate information down and wind them.  You wouldn't believe how some skeins vary in weight.

I'll be reviewing the yarn from the yarn tasting in tomorrow's post, but just to give you an idea of what I mean, one skein claimed to weigh 100 grams and actually weigh 106 grams (bonus!) which game me an extra 17 yards! On the other hand, one skein claimed to be 100 grams and actually weight 90 grams (minus 20 yarns). It's worth taking the time to complete this step.

7. Divide the new weight of each yarn by the number of participants to determine what each little yarn truffle should weigh and begin winding. This is a time-consuming step. Sorry, folks. If you know of a faster way to do this, let me know! Set your scale on the table next to your ball winder. Leave the recently wound yarn cake on the scale and attach the working yarn to the ball winder. Stop winding when the weight of your original yarn cake is reduced by the expected yarn truffle weight.

For example, 100 grams divided by 8 equals 12.5 grams. So 100 grams minus 12.5 equals 87.5. Stop and cut your yarn. Set the little truffle aside and reattach the working yarn from the cake to make the second truffle. So now you have 87.5 minus 12.5 equals 75 grams. Stop... so on and so forth.

8. Label each yarn truffle neatly so that the participants know what they are working with clearly and how much yarn they have. Mine looked like this...

These cute little tags would be quite easy to make at home, but I cheated and bought mine from the Martha Stewart section at my local chain craft store.
 Also, include a list of the specs of each yarn (yarn company, yarn name, gauge weight, weight claim, yardage, recommended gauge, fiber content and care instructions).

Each bag has six yarn truffles with labels and a sheet of information about the yarn.
 9. Get knitting! Make an even better time of it by adding an extra skein of yarn to your order as a prize for one lucky knitter. If you put the different yarns in a bag for each person, then write a "Y" on the bottom of one bag. Whoever has the "Y" wins the yarn! Want your night to be even sillier than that? Make it a Wine &Yarn Tasting event! Get creative!