7.20.2015

Craft Fair Find

Yesterday afternoon, after a morning spent knitting in the air conditioning comfort of my home, I ventured out to the local arts & craft fair just down the road. It's been going on for years and I've lived here for 6 years now, but it was the first time I was free and able to go! Alex and I walked around for a bit, trying to see if anything unique or super cool caught our eye. When I came to Marie's Crochet Bouquets (she doesn't have a website), I knew what I was coming home with - a crochet bouquet!
Isn't it cute? It's on my bookshelf in my office now. Definitely adding a little cheer to the room!

Did you have any crafty fun this weekend?



7.17.2015

Armada Makes for Good Craft Time

Earlier this week when Ernest Cline's new book, Armada, was released, I stopped everything to listen to it. I loved Ready Player One and was so excited for Cline's next book!

I took about a day and half to get through it, happily working on some projects while listening to it.
My knit and crochet group is having sort of an unofficial striped sweater knit/crochet-along. Those knitting are making Briarcliff, from the most recent issue of Creative Knitting. It's beautiful and going to be a challenge for me (my first sweater with seaming and intarsia) but I think it's going to be worth it. I'm knitting away on the back.
I also broke out my spinning wheel a little bit too. I think seeing all the beautiful spinning on Instagram during the Tour De Fleece gave me spinning envy.
It was a fun couple of days of listening and crafting! I really enjoyed the book too. I definitely look forward to reading/listening to more of Cline's books in the future!

7.14.2015

A Good-Smelling Shawl is Important to Me

I love a good-smelling shawl.

That's kind of a weird sentence, but it's true. When I block my shawls, I love adding wool wash to the water that adds a nice scent to my finished piece. I realize that's not for everyone, but it works for me!

When I got a sample of some Eucalan at Marly Bird's Designer Dinner at TNNA a few weeks ago, I was excited to try it.
I had a small shawl to block, so I decided to use the individual packet of the lavender scent.
Here's what I really like about it - the scent wasn't overpowering. While I like my shawl to smell nice, you don't want it to knock you over, you know? This lavender was very subtle. You could definitely smell it, but it wasn't crazy 'I can smell your shawl from a mile away.' That's good.

The other thing I liked about this particular wool wash is that it didn't get super sudsy. When I am blocking stuff I always fill my bowl/sink with warmish water, add the wool wash, then swirl it a bit with my hand to mix. I've tried other washes that at this point get super sudsy. It's fine, but when you are using something that says 'no rinse' on it and you stick your shawl in and it gets covered in sudsy bubbles it just seems like it needs a rinse. This Eucalan had some bubbly action, which you want to see, but it wasn't too much. I didn't rinse out my shawl at the end and I didn't need to. Success!

I wish I could show you the shawl...but I can't (right now). It blocked out beautifully and I look forward to sharing it with you soon!

I look forward to trying the other bottle (it's Jasmine Wrapture by Kristin Omdahl and it smells awesome) in coming weeks. And, if a scented shawl isn't your thing, Eucalan's Natural Wool Wash is unscented.

If you use a wool wash, what kind do you use? I'd love to know!

7.13.2015

Friendcation

Yesterday I arrived back home after a long weekend away with Alex and some of our friends. We went to Wisconsin Dells - a staple of my family for many years. It was fun to change it up and go with some of my closest friends.


We spent the weekend in a condo resort on Lake Delton. I love being on the lake!

We also did the usual Wisconsin Dells things, like mini-golfing and eating at Paul Bunyan's. Yum.

A few off us headed off to Mirror Lake State Park and hiked around for a few hours. It was super fun.

Mostly we just hung around, swam in the pool and played hours upon hours of One Night. I hated this game when I tried to play it a few weeks ago. Now I'm completely addicted! Of course, there was some knitting:

It's a hat for the Hat KAL/CAL! It's currently almost done and then I'll be finishing up a crocheted hat I started on the trip up to the Dells.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?

7.02.2015

Oops. More Sock Yarn.

I didn't plan on buying more self-striping sock yarn. I've been knitting through my stash, and I still have plenty to chose from.

And then Knit Picks posted new colors of Felici, my favorite of the inexpensive, self-striping sock yarn. What's a knitter to do?

Oops.

But aren't they so so pretty? Those are going to be some happy socks one day!

7.01.2015

Blog Interview: Corrina Ferguson

Today I want to talk about my friend Corrina and her new book. I've known Corrina for awhile now. We met online and have been able to hang out at the last couple TNNA conventions. She's a wonderful person and a fantastic designer. When she asked me if I would like a review copy of her new book, Warm Days, Cool Knits, I couldn't pass it up!
Corrina was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book and her process:


Jen: What inspired you to write this book? 
Corrina: For this book I was really inspired by being a knitter in Florida. I lived in Ohio for 30+ years and then I decided to move to Florida and become a knitter. So I wanted things that I could wear in the seasons of the south!

J: You designed so many different and interesting pieces for this book. Do you have a favorite? Why do you love it?
C: My favorite is Bayard - a yoked DK pullover. The Sweet Georgia Superwash DK is super delicious and I really adore the way the lace pattern transitions into the rib. It's one of those did I really make that moments! And the color is just so fall to me. I really miss a proper fall.

 J: Do you have a favorite stitch dictionary or where are your favorite places to find stitch patterns? 
C: I have about 40 stitch dictionaries. The Japanese ones are my favorites, but I'm finding that even the obscure stitch dictionaries are being overused in the shawl/lace world. So I'm really into taking a stitch concept and then making it my own by changing elements. I always have graph paper and pencils with me so I can capture ideas as they come.


J: Can you tell me a little bit about your book writing process (timeline, pattern inspiration, etc.)? 
C: My book writing process is kind of a disaster. The ideas come in all sorts of ways and sometimes I do things out of order, and I really, really need to fix that. I like project monogamy though so I really like to do something from start to finish in one fell swoop. Going back and forth between all the steps is sometimes maddening for me!


J: What are your plans for the future? Anything upcoming you can share with us? Any more books? 
Right now I want to take over the knitting world. Is that too much to ask? Actually my upcoming plans include a podcast or videocast and some PicnicKnits products. I have a fabulous dyer who has offered to dye some custom yarn for me for kits so I'm working on ideas for that. And I am pitching my next book - but that's super secret still!

~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks, Corrina! I always love to chatting with other designers and learning about their process!

Warm Days, Cool Knits is split up by season - 5 projects for each. The book has a little of everything - shawls, sweaters, tanks, cowls, socks and more! It was hard for me to pick a couple favorites to feature. There's so many great patterns in this book. I really love Mayella, a slipped-stitch asymmetrical shawl:
 
I'm also really digging the tank on the cover of the book, Leora.
It's written for 5 sizes, and has beautiful lace details. I think I might need one!

One thing I've noticed in Corrina's patterns (whether in this book or the rest of her catalog) is that she has an excellent attention to detail. The way she can come up with awesome stitch patterns and combines them with interesting construction is amazing to me. If you are looking for something fresh and new, then you should check out Corrina's book!


You can find Warm Days, Cool Knits in yarn stores and bookstores now, or you can purchase it online here.

Photos courtesy of Interweave/F+W.

6.29.2015

No Knitting, Just Mud

I'm on a deadline and probably should have been knitting this weekend. Instead, there was mud! I participated in the Dirty Girl 5K (my fourth time) with a few of my friends. Here is Team Mudstache before the race:

 I think my face here pretty much sums up my feelings about the mud:
 At the end, nice and dirty!
Then yesterday, Alex and I went on a 5-mile hike near our house - and saw a bald eagle! We couldn't get a photo, but it was very exciting. We had never seen one in Illinois before. We knew that there were some in the area, but getting to see one was pretty cool.

This week, it's back to the knitting grind. I have some mittens to finish (the joys of a knit designer - you have to knit all the wintery things in summer) and a shawl that needs a few more rows. How was your weekend?

6.24.2015

Fibery Friends!

Last week I wrote about my latest crafty endeavor - cross stitch! It didn't take long for me to start a new project. I've been sneaking in a few stitches here and there over the last few days when I need a break from the knitting.
It's the Fibery Friends Sampler from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. I definitely need this framed and in my office ASAP. :)

This pattern is amazing. As a total newbie when it comes to cross stitching, I was so pleased to find loads of information at the start of the pattern. I'm looking forward to having a little more time next month to work on it. I've decided that July is going to be time to relax and recharge. I even bought a kit from Frosted Pumpkin to work on when I finish up this current project.

I have one last thing I'm working on for my fall eBook. That's what I'll be working on today. Perhaps later this week I'll have a sneak peek of that one to show off!

6.23.2015

New Collection WIPs

I've been knitting like crazy! I'm working on a new collection for fall (it will be in eBook format, released in the same way I did the Gradient Collection). Lots of accessories in this one!

I knit on a piece while watching the Blackhawks rally from the comfort of my home last week. I love my hometown hockey team, but I do not love gigantic crowds.
I have a few things finished up already too.
There's a couple more things on the needles. I'm definitely excited for this fall/winter collection. I hope you love it too!

6.17.2015

Second Annual Hat KAL/CAL

If you're in the Ravelry group or you get my email newsletter, you've already heard about this - it's time for the Second Annual Hat KAL/CAL!

Last year, I collected hats for Halos of Hope and donated them at Stitches Midwest.
This year, I'll be donating to a specific cancer center - Cancer Treatment Center of America in Zion, Illinois. This is the center where my dad was treated, and I would really like to do a little something to help them out. Everyone there was so wonderful to my dad and my family. You can read more about my family's experience here

Now through August 15th, I'll be collecting hats (the center also welcomes fingerless mitts and convertible mittens), so that I can donate them at the end of August. There will be prizes involved, including a prize for the person who sends me the most hats! You can knit or crochet any hat you want and I have a thread on Ravelry where you can link to your favorite hat patterns.

My goal is to get 150 hats to donate to the center. So, if you have a little extra time and want to make hats for a great cause, join us for another great hat KAL/CAL!


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