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Let It Snow!

November 30

Let It Snow reversible scarves

I’m thrilled to release a new pattern, just in time for cold weather knitting….

It’s winter, and there’s nothing I like better than a warm, snuggly scarf. Double knitting makes for a doubly-cozy thickness and it’s reversible. My “Let It Snow” pattern includes instructions for two weights of yarn. The dk version features Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in two colors:

dk weight Let It Snow Scarf

The heavier Rowan Felted Tweed Aran makes a great width for guys. For this one I’ve used three colors:

Let It Snow scarf Aran

As I experimented with the snowflake motif I liked the play of positive and negative space that emerged. And there’s a sweet little heart on each edge of the snowflake, which I find endearing.

Let It Snow scarf detail

The pattern is written with the less experienced knitter in mind, using the slip-stitch method. This means you only need to know how to knit, purl and slip stitches. With detailed instructions on how to use the charts, you can grab a pad of sticky notes and be all set to start stitching. Knitters who are experienced in working with any of the two-stranded-at-once techniques can certainly use those methods instead.

I love a pattern that lends itself to lots of variations. The Let It Snow scarf can be made with lighter or heavier yarn, depending on whether you’re going for a wide wintery width or a more feminine narrow one. Or maybe smaller, for a child, in primary colors? You can play with solids or tweeds or yarns that transition from one shade to another. As long as you use yarns with some drape to them, you can let your imagination go wild. The pattern includes a “Make It Your Own” section for ideas. Here are a couple swatches I played with:

Let It Snow scarf swatches

I hope you’ll enjoy the new Let It Snow pattern. It can be purchased for $6.00 from Ravelry or Love Knitting.

Let It Snow Pattern Cover

 

Resources:

Rowan Felted Tweed Aran yarn can be purchased online or in person from the Ball & Skein & More in Cambria, California

The wonderful photos were taken by the amazing Gale Zucker

Another Gimme Shelter Cat Blanket

November 10

I love my local animal shelter! Rescue Village in Geauga County, Ohio, has the most dedicated staff I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I know I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s really fun to knit blankets for their cats. Thick blankets help to keep the kitties cushioned from the hard bottom of their cages. I love that the shelter sends the blankets home with the cats when they get adopted so they have something familiar to have in their new surroundings.

Despite my friends’ and relatives’ attempts to give me cats, a toy stuffed animal had to suffice for the photo shoot.

Cat Blanket 4

I used the Double Density stitch pattern from my Gimme Shelter Cat Blankets pattern. I used two skeins of the fun Cascade Big Wheel yarn and enjoyed the stripes the yarn creates all on its own. It can be machine washed and dried, which is a necessary attribute for the shelter. The Double Density stitch pattern, worked on #9 needles (two sizes down from the ball band), gives the little blanket wonderful thickness. I’ve seen cats at the shelter happily dig their claws into these blankets and blissfully knead away. Then they curl up for a nap while they wait for a human to come play with them.

You can download the free pattern here and make blankets for your local shelter, too!

Gimme Shelter_Cover

Little Forest: Fall Update

October 31

Lots of people have asked how my new habitat is coming along. (For those of you who missed it, I planted an acre of native habitat on unwanted lawn.) Of over a hundred trees, only two didn’t make it. We also planted hundreds of berry bushes for the birds, plus groundcover plants and wildflower seeds that will come up next spring.

Here’s the comparison, with the top photo from July when the planting was finished, and the bottom photo from early October. As you can see, the trees are thriving and the plants are filling in:

Forest July to Oct 2016

Some of the plants, such as this Black-Eyed Susan, were tiny when we planted them. I can’t believe that in just a few short months they have turned into giant mounds of exuberant blooms!

Black-Eyed Susan

The ironweed has also gown like crazy. It attracts bees and butterflies, and is home to the American Painted Lady caterpillar.

Ironweed

The Echinacea plants are happily blooming. Looking closely, I’m in awe of the center structure. Nature is marvelous, isn’t it?

Echniacea center

As I was leaving my little habitat, I spied this LGB (Little Grey Bird). I hope someone will tell me what sort of bird this is! He reminds me of why I find my forest such a place of joy. It’s gratifying to see the birds flock to their new plants. I love it.

grey bird

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Early Fall River

October 18

It’s early Fall, with hints of changes to come.

These little white wildflowers are in all stages at once – opening, in bloom, and fading away:

White Wildflowers Seot 2016

I was mesmerized by the peaceful Chagrin River:

River 3 Sept 2016

River 2 Sept 2016

A closer look reveals changing colors:

River 1 Sept 2016

River Reflection 2016

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Custom Fit: Fun with Sweaters

October 12

I am super excited to finally start my first Custom Fit sweater. The brainchild of designer Amy Herzog, the Custom Fit program allows you to create sweaters that fit perfectly because they are created for your specific measurements.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that during our recent yarn crawl I ended up with a ridiculous amount of yarn earmarked to make sweaters. That was the impetus for me to finally try Amy’s ingenious program. Do I know how to alter sweater patterns to better fit me? A qualified yes…I still struggle, especially when altering armholes and sleeve caps. At the end of the day, I have limited confidence that my alterations will work as I hope. That’s why I wanted to give Custom Fit a try.

Here’s how it worked:

I signed up for Custom Fit. Once registered, I entered all my measurements into my account. It was easy, since the measuring instructions are very clear. Next I chose a pattern to buy. I wanted my first Custom Fit sweater to be simple so I could easily understand how the program works. I chose the basic v-neck Drumlin Cardigan.

drumlin-finals-web-1_medium1

Once I told the program my gauge it started to create the pattern using my own measurements, plus gave me an option to refine my measurements even further. Rather than “secretary’s spread”, I refer to my hip area as “knitter’s butt.” I altered the hip measurement so that the back would be wider than the front to accommodate where I carry my weight.

I hit a button and out came the pattern I purchased, completely customized for my measurements and gauge. It’s like magic!

Drumlin is exactly the style I had in mind when I bought my gorgeous dk-weight Cestari “Ash Lawn Collection” yarn.

drumlin-pattern-and-yarn_1

When I make sweaters I like to start with a sleeve. It’s a good chance to see whether my gauge swatch is truth or fiction! Miracle of miracles, the sleeve and gauge swatch match and the sleeve is the exact measurements that my Custom Fit pattern says it should be. I can’t tell you how relaxing it was to knit the sleeve, knowing all the shaping was already calculated for me and the final measurements would fit me.

drumlin-pattern-and-sleeve_2

In addition to the online program, Custom Fit can be found in many yarn shops. A trained staff member will take your measurements and get you started in the program. They’re there to help you every step of the way.

 

 

Apple Time

October 4

A harbinger of changing weather is apple-picking time. Here in Northeast Ohio there are lots of wonderful orchards such as Eddy Fruit Farm in Chesterland. I love all the corn stalk and pumpkin decorations.

eddy-entrance-decorations

eddy-building-sign

Picking apples right from the tree is heavenly!

eddy-apples

As we picked different kinds of apples the sun set, making it a memorable evening.

eddy-sunset-clouds

eddy-red-sun

eddy-sunset_

Time for everyone to get out their favorite apple crisp recipes!

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YDT Shop #10 – Harps & Thistles

September 24

harps-thistles_1

The Harps & Thistles Yarn Emporium was shop #10 on my Yarn Discovery Tour. At the outset, I decided that 10 shops would be enough for this year, so this was also my final stop.

The Emporium’s dinosaur is a good representative of the whimsical nature of the store. It’s filled with a large selection of colorful yarns.

harps-thistles_2

The end of the line, stamp #10 was added to my Passport and I was entered into a drawing for the special gift basket for anyone visiting 10 shops. Some intrepid knitters are going to all 15. I’m impressed! I had a wonderful time getting to know Northeast Ohio shops that I wouldn’t otherwise have known about. It’s been a great Tour!

harps-thistles_passport

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YDT Shop #9 – Long Tail Knits

September 22

 

Long Tail Front

It was stop #9 on my Yarn Discovery Tour, and judging by the happy knitters gathered around the table I am not alone in really liking Long Tail Knits. Owner Jeannine Hausch was welcoming and very knowledgeable. As she showed me around the shop’s yarns and spinning supplies, I was impressed by some special lines she carries. For one thing, I am a complete sucker for cashmere. Long Tail Knits has its very own line of hand-dyed fingering weight yarn in a luscious blend of merino and cashmere, with a bit of nylon thrown in for stability. The yarns are shown off on displays with original shawl designs:

Long Tail collage

I appreciate that the store carries products from two local alpaca farms, Whistler’s Glen and Black Walnut.

Long Tail alpaca

I went slightly nuts in this store. Not only does Jeannine carry high-quality yarn, but also she has a few garments for sale. I bought a gorgeous little alpaca-blend Peruvian stranded jacket which I simply must have for winter. I also…you guessed it…bought another sweater’s worth of yarn. Jeannine introduced me to the Cestari line. Not only is the yarn beautiful, it’s entirely made in the USA. I can’t wait to get stitching with it!

Finally, the shop offers all kinds of open knitting times, workshops and events. I don’t know how they keep track of it all!

They kindly added stamp #9 to my Passport.

Long Tail passport

YDT Shop #8 – The Designing Woman

September 21

Designing Woman

 It was easy to find The Designing Woman in Fairlawn. It was stop #8 on my whirlwind Yarn Discovery Tour. I was amazed by the number of manufacturers represented there. For pattern junkies like me, there are also binders filled with all kinds of patterns. It would be impossible not to find a project and the yarn to go with it at this store!

Designing Woman

I had a nice time being helped by a very friendly and knowledgeable staff member. We found some lovely, soft lace yarn for a pattern I took from my queue. I was concentrating on finding yarn, but the store carries a selection of fabric as well.

Designing Woman yarn

Here’s my #8 Passport stamp:

designing-woman_passport

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YDT Shop #7 – Cornerstone Yarns

September 20

Cornerstone Yarns

Shop #7 on my Yarn Discovery Tour reminds me of a phrase I love – “small but mighty”. Cornerstone Yarns is a little shop with a fun array of yarns in Brecksville.  I enjoyed meeting Kathryn, the owner, whose many beautiful shop samples reflect her decades of knitting experience. I always enjoy meeting knitters who have such a depth of knowledge.

Cornerstone Yarns samples

Cornerstone carries a nice selection of yarn, with a good mix of fun self-striping and self-patterning yarns, and also good solids. I found yarn for yet another sweater. This time it’s a bright red dk weight Nature Spun by Brown Sheep.

One of the hard-to-find yarns that Kathryn carries is Kauni. Swoon! I will definitely be going back to this store to pick up a Kauni pattern and yarn. Cornerstone’s Facebook page is a good way to keep up on their current hours.

Cornerstone Yarns

So there we have it. Passport stamp #7!

cornerstone_passport

YDT Shop #6 – Crochet Innovations

September 19

Crochet Innovations front

While crochet may be the emphasis in expertise for stop #6 on my Yarn Discovery Tour, there are plenty of delightful yarns to be found for any yarn lover at Crochet Innovations. I like that the yarns are arranged by fiber. As a designer one of my first considerations in matching yarn to a new design is to find the right kind of fiber content that will work for the design’s season, stitch pattern and drape.

crochet-innovations_3

Despite several attempts to learn to crochet, I am terrible at it. My hands seem to have a mind of their own; they refuse to do anything but knit if they’re holding yarn. I do love to add crochet edgings to knit pieces, though. So far my edgings have been very simple. At Crochet Innovations I found just the right book on crochet edgings, and hope that I can graduate to fancier stitches if I study it.  If I still can’t get the hang of it, I know where to come for lessons.

crochet-innovations_2

Stamp #6 was duly collected!

crochet-innovations_passport

YDT #5 – A Milestone – The Artful Yarn

September 18

Artful Yarns Front

The Artful Yarn in Chagrin Falls was shop #5 on my Yarn Discovery Tour. It’s the closest store to where I live, and feels like “home”. Part of my affection for the store is that when I had my trunk show and taught a class the owner and staff made me feel so welcome. Their enthusiasm and kindnesses made both events fun for me.

One of the many things I love about The Artful Yarn is that Cathy always brings in new yarns. She carefully considers which yarns to carry, explaining, “We support fair-wage, fair-trade companies and those that foster ethical treatment of animals and responsible disposal of dye.”

The new-to-me yarn I found during this trip is Baah Ram Ewe. I found just the right colors to make the Passerine Hat that’s been in my queue for a while.

Artful Yarn

I like the way The Artful Yarn is set up. There is a dedicated class room, which means that when a class is in session there isn’t the distraction of being in the middle of a store where people are shopping and asking questions. One of nicest areas is a super-comfy sitting area for “In the Loop” gatherings, where knitters hang out and knit together several times a week.

Artful Yarn

On the Yarn Tour, every time you get your Passport stamped you are entered into a drawing for that particular shop’s prize basket. Stops number 5, 10, and 15 are special, as you’re then entered into even bigger prize baskets. I sort of planned it so that The Artful Yarn would be my milestone stop #5, since I knew it would be especially fun. The staff member was excited about adding me to the list for the big drawing, and even celebrated the fact in my Passport!

Artful Yarn Passport

posted under Events, Yarn Shop | 1 Comment »
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