9.30.2014

Alpaca Days

I was so excited for Alpaca Days this year! I was tweeting and Facebooking up a storm about it. It had been 5 years since Alex and I made it out for this event, and we weren't going to miss it this year.

We headed out pretty early and checked out Safehouse Farm, which is less than 10 minutes from our house in Barrington, IL. It was our favorite stop of the day.
We got to pet some alpacas while at Safehouse, which made me so so happy (and Alex like it too)!
Of course I had to browse the yarn selection (but no yarn came home with me this year).
After that we headed out to Andean Vista Ranch in Crystal Lake. It was lovely there too. We met the owner and she told us all about her herd and how she got into the alpaca farming business. It was so interesting. Kinda made me want an alpaca farm for myself.
Finally we headed out to J4 Alpacas in Bull Valley. It's just as lovely as when we visited 5 years ago. Here's the maternity ward (the babies were born in the spring and are in here with their mommas): 
These guys seemed more interested in eating than letting us pet them. :)
Overall, it was a great day. I hope it's not another 5 years before we go out for this annual event!

Did you check out any alpaca farms over the weekend? If so, where did you go?

9.26.2014

What I'm Reading/Watching: September 2014

I've been reading Tara's blog for awhile and I love her monthly posts about what she is reading. She reads way more than I do, but I thought it would be fun to post what I have been reading (and watching) during the month too. There's lots of knitting time being spent around here these days with book projects and an upcoming shawl collection, and I spend all that knitting time watching the Netflix and listening to audiobooks. I also read at night a couple times a week when I don't have needles in my hand!

So onto the good stuff, what I've been reading:

Outlander. I am super behind the times and have just started reading the first book. I've been switching between reading it on my Kindle and listening to the audiobook. I'm about a third of a way through. So far, so good.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I've been listening to the audiobook and I've been loving it! I will probably finish it up in the next few days. Great story and great narration!
What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey. I find most people love or hate Oprah. I love her so I couldn't resist the new book. :)
As for what I've been watching....
  • Biggest Loser, Season 11 - My favorite season of the show, with my favorite contestants. Alex and I are currently in a weight loss challenge with my sister and brother-in-law, so I find watching this so motivating! 
  • The Office - When I am not watching The Office?? It's the perfect background show when I am working on something tricky....'cause I have seen them all so many times.
  • That 70s Show - Alex and I spent the summer watching this on Netflix. We never watched it when it was on originally, and it seemed like the perfect thing to watch over the summer when everything is in reruns. 
What have you been reading or watching? I am always looking for something new. I swear sometimes I'm on Pinterest and Goodreads looking for things to read more than I am actually reading!

9.23.2014

Hitofude

I did it! I finally finished my Hitofude! And it only took most of 2014!
I knit this sweater in the lovely Hazel Knits Divine. So yummy! It took almost 4 skeins.
I added an extra 16 rows of lace to the bottom of the cardigan. I'm glad I did. I think it's the perfect length for a nice swingy cardi like this one.
I've been wearing it pretty much everyday since I finished it. It's going to be my new wardrobe staple!

If I ever knit another one, there are a couple things I would change:
  • Cast on fewer stitches for the sleeves to make them a little shorter. 
  • Cut out 1-2 lace repeats in the arms. They are a little looser than I would have liked. 
  • Add the same 16 rows I did with this one. I think the length is perfect!
If you want to see all of my progress photos, I have bunches of them over on the Ravelry project page.

This sweater is like wearing a shawl with sleeves. So if you are like me and like a good lacy shawl to knit I think you will really enjoy this pattern!

9.19.2014

FO Friday: Honey, Honey Shawl

Crochet has become my new obsession. Anyone who has been to the blog in the last year or so should know that! :) Since knitting has gone from being my hobby to my job, it's nice to have a yarnie thing to do that has nothing to do with my job (for now anyway). The last couple of weeks have been full of crochet shawl stitching. Last week I showed off my Tangiers Wildflowers Shawl, and this week? It's the Honey, Honey Shawl:
I used Twisted Fiber Art Muse yarn in the Phantom colorway. I had a large "Double Evolution" ball, which is 660 yards, which allowed me to make a nice big shawl.
I made a couple of mods to the pattern. First, I added extra repeats of the body chart to the shawl (which the designer mentions in the pattern you can do). Then I added some extra repeats of the first part of the edge chart. The edge chart did not have any increases in it, so I increased a little bit along the shell stitches so that the edge wouldn't get too wonky. I wanted to make sure to use as much of that beautiful yarn as possible.
I love this shawl so much. The lacy crochet, the gradient yarn, a perfect combination if you ask me. I am so happy that I bought a couple more gradient yarns while at Stitches Midwest this year. So many crochet shawl possibilities!

9.16.2014

Lace Leaf Edge Shawl now on Craft Daily!

A few months ago I went to Denver to shoot several videos for Craft Daily. It was so much fun and I am excited the Lace Leaf Edge video is now available!

This shawl was first published in the Love of Knitting, Knit Accessories 2014 issue. It features my favorite thing: a knitted on border. The shawl was so fun to knit. I love the combo of plain body with a lacy edge. Warm and cozy, but you still get a little pretty at the end of it. :)

The video covers lots of topics. I will show you step-by-step how to make the shawl. It also includes a few little tricks including how to fix a mistake and the best way to block the piece.

You can get all the details for the video on the Craft Daily website. If you are interested in seeing my other Craft Daily videos, you can check them out here.

Photo provided by Love of Knitting/F+W

9.15.2014

Blog Interview: Heather Zoppetti

When my review copy of Everyday Lace by Heather Zoppetti arrived last week, I just about fell out of my chair. This book is completely full of beautiful lace. Creative, interesting lace. Being the total lace nerd that I am, I had to find out more. I'm so happy Heather is joining me on the blog today for a little blog interview!



Jen: How did you get started in designing knitting patterns?
Heather: My knitwear design career grew out of a love of knitting. I knit everything and wanted to knit all day. I started modifying available designs and then decided that I should just start making my own. I have a mathematical background, and fell into design quite naturally. My first designs were simple, scarves and simple shapes. Then I started designing garments and fell in love with sweater designing. That's where I like to focus most of my energies now.


J: What inspired you to write this book? 
H: Everyday Lace grew out of a love of knitting lace, but wanting to see it used on garments and accessories rather than just on shawls and scarves. I still find many knitters are afraid of attempting lace knitting and are not compelled to make shawls. It is my hope that the garments and accessories in my book encourage these apprehensive knitters to give lace a go. 

J: You designed so many different lace pieces for this book. Do you have a favorite? Why do you love it?
H: My favorite is the Narvon Wrap. I love how it blooms from the center and transforms into a cozy wrap with a reversible lace stitch. This circular shape is flattering to all types of bodies making Narvon the ultimate wearable piece.

J: Do you have a favorite stitch dictionary or where are your favorite places to find stitch patterns? 
H: I have many many stitch dictionaries in my collection. My favorites are probably the ones from Japan. Every year I make a trip to a Japanese bookstore in NYC and always manage to find something to add to my collection.

J: Can you tell me a little bit about your book writing process (timeline, pattern inspiration, etc?) 
H: The timeline for a book is very long. Everyday Lace has been in the works for 2 years. One of those years was me writing and knitting all the projects. The second year is dedicated to photoshoots, editing, layout, and printing. It all starts with a proposal and grows from there. My inspiration for designs can start with a stitch pattern, a color, or a shape. From there I work out the details and start knitting.

J:What are your plans for the future? Anything upcoming you can share with us? Any more books? 
H: I am currently working on a second book! This next one will be released next year about this time and doesn't feature only lace...although it does have some lace pieces. In the nearer future I will be touring for book signings and teaching events for Everyday Lace. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks Heather! It's so interesting to hear about other designers and how their brains work.
There are so many things that I would love to make in this book. Seriously, I had to stop myself from putting photos of every project in this post.
The Salunga Beret seems like it would be a fun knit:
And I am already searching the stash so I can make one of these vests. They are so clever!
 

 

And the Conestoga Tunic needs be in my closet ASAP.

Ok, I'll stop there. There are lots more fun, beautiful knits in this book. You really should check it out. You can see all the projects on the Ravelry page for the book.

You can find Everyday Lace in yarn stores and bookstores now, or you can purchase it online here.

Photos courtesy of Interweave/F+W.

9.12.2014

FO Friday: Tangier Wildflowers Shawl

It's Friday and I actually have an FO to show off. Woot!

About a year and a half ago, I took some crochet classes from my friend Laura. Since then I have fallen deeply in love with crochet and Laura has started doing some designing of her own. I was so excited when her latest pattern, Tangier Wildflowers Shawl, came out with Cascade Yarns that I immediately had to order some yarn and get out my crochet hook!

Here is my finished shawl:

The color I chose is Galaxy. It's so beautiful. And I love the long, slow color change of this yarn. It's stripes so perfectly (which can be hard with crochet, since it uses up so much yarn).
This shawl went so quick (one of the many reasons I love crochet so). Three days and it was done! I'll definitely be wearing this all weekend. It's gotten very fall-like here in Chicagoland the last few days and this snuggly worsted weight shawl will be perfect for the outdoor activities I have planned.

Happy crocheting (and knitting)!

9.11.2014

Clarendon

Last year, Knit Picks released the City Tweed 2013 Collection and my pattern, Clarendon, was included.

$5.00

I am happy to announce that the individual pattern is now available on Ravelry! Hooray!

Clarendon is knit from the bottom-up. It starts with a 4-row cable pattern (which you can make longer if you like) and transitions to a short-row stockinette section. It's tweed, it's cables, it's totally fall knitting! I think I am going to look mighty fine wearing mine while picking apples and getting lost in a corn maze in the coming weeks. (oh, and where we go pick apples has sheep you can pet too!)

$5.00

I hope you all enjoy knitting this one as much as I did. The yarn and pattern made for one addicting knit!

8.18.2014

Danielle Shawl

Last week, I told you all about my new pattern Savanna made with Done Roving Frolicking Feet Transistions yarn. Well, this week I'm happy to tell you that my Danielle shawl, which uses the same yarn, is now available for individual download! Yippee!


$6.50


This shawl uses half-pi construction to form the shape. The same lace pattern is used throughout the whole shawl, making it a great choice for this yarn, which transitions from solids to variegated throughout the ball.
 This shawl was knit out of the Pumpkin Botanicals colorway, and will definitely be a staple in my wardrobe this fall.

$6.50

And, while I love the transitional yarn that Done Roving has done, I have seen some very pretty ones on Ravelry where just one skein of a striped or variegated yarn was used. This shawl is great for whatever might be in your sock-yarn stash!

8.14.2014

Stitches Haul

It's possible that I overdid it on the yarn buying at Stitches this year.
Um, that is a lot of yarn (and project bags too...oops). There is one ball from KnitCircus that is missing - I already have turned it into a new shawl design.

Included in the haul was KnitCircus (I bought two balls of the gradient yarn), and another gradient from Apple Tree Knits. I got four (!!!) skeins from Fresh From the Cauldron, and four (again, !!!) skeins from Bijou Basin Ranch. There's the custom Stitches skein from Three Irish Girls and some Lost City Knits. I got Kristin Omdaul's new Bamboo so fine yarn and some Fiber Story. Finally there were a couple of shawl pins, some project bags, and some new needles (for the new shawl I started over the weekend). Yikes.

One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing my Wayfarer shawl in the Fresh From the Cauldron booth. I had no idea they used my pattern for a sample. I love it!
It was a great weekend full of fun with my friends and some great classes. Did you make it out to Stitches Midwest this year? If so, did you get anything good?