Friday, August 31, 2012

Finished-Object-Friday #2

Before I get to the FO, I have a question for you: did you ever wonder what your teachers looked like around 8pm on any given night during the first week of school?

I think my favorite part of this  is that particular shirt/pants combo...
My poor, dear, exhausted Fiasco! He has officially survived his first week of teaching middle school science. I am so incredibly proud of him... even if he can't keep his eyes open much these days.

Back to knitting: I finished my final Beribboned Hat sample!
I love freshly-blocked lace, don't you?
 Guys, I LOVED knitting with this yarn. Mondegreen from The Verdant Gryphon is truly fantastic. The finished fabric has a lovely silky, drapey feel. I will be sure to sound the alarm here when it finally goes on sale.

Currently de-ribboned.
Those holes above show where the ribbon would go. I didn't have time to lace it up before dashing off to work this morning, but I do have the perfect color ribbon for it. Fear not, though, soon you will see this hat in all its glory. This weekend I will be going to Boston for a dear friend's wedding and am planning to coerce some of my friends into modelling for me. :) If all goes well, the pattern will be available on Monday!

Remember, if you would like to sign up for my email list to find out exactly when I release patterns and other such exciting news, you can do so here.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #8

It's been busy busy busy over here! I busted a move on my Huacaya hat design and managed to finish it up quickly:
Not a great shot of the hat but this photo should be helpful if you ever need to pick my profile out of a lineup, no?
I'm quite happy with how the crown came out:
I just love a nice set of crown decreases, don't you?
More info and better pictures to come later when I officially release the pattern. To reiterate, it will be sold as part of a kit at the Burgis Brook Alpacas booth at Rhinebeck, and will be available digitally after the festival. Now for some real WIPs!
Beribboned the Third:
The Verdant Gryphon Mondegreen, colorway The Ants Are My Friends
That is the start of the third sample for my Beribboned Hat design. Once I finish it and photograph it I'll be able to release the pattern, yay! I love releasing new patterns. :) I'm really loving this new yarn, too. It feels a bit like The Sanguine Gryphon's old yarn, QED, except softer and silkier... so, even better!

Summer Holiday Socks:
The Verdant Gryphon Eidos, colorway Parzival
These socks are progressing nicely. They are my grab-and-go, no-thought-knitting. They came camping with me, they've been picnicking with me, they've gone hiking with me, they've been to the beach with me-- everything a pair of summer holiday socks should do, I think. :)

Color Affection:
A.k.a. the neverending shawl
See where the stitches on the needle switch from green to white? Well, the white ones represent how many more "short" (ha!) rows I need to knit before I can begin the edging. There are 48 stithches, so 48 more rows. Sigh. I cannot wait to wear this shawl. Every time I wear an outfit that would match it perfectly the little fashionista in me feels sad. I'm setting myself a goal to finish it by the end of September, which is the VG Open House in Maryland. I'd love to be able to finish and wear it there.

It's been quite a while since I've updated my Year of Projects goals and progress, so here's a quick summary of where things stand-- 3 down, 47 to go:

1. WIPs: 1/10 actively in progress
2. SIPs: 0/5 actively in progress
3. New Projects: 1/14 finished, 2/13 left in progress
4. New Socks: 2/6 in progress
5. Of My Own Design: 2/16 finished, 3/14 left in progress

Don't forget to check out what everyone else has been up to! Hope you have a lovely Wednesday.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Not-So-Lazy Sunday

There are so many knitting-related and home-related things on my to-do list today, it's crazy! But it's also kind of fun to cross these things off. I haven't had a day at home with nowhere to be in quite a while, so I'm excited to finally get things back on track.

First up were oatmeal pancakes. They weren't really on the list, but they sounded so delicious and I thought the Fiasco could use a hearty breakfast to fuel him through an entire day of lesson planning and preparing for his first day of school (awww) so I made them. That link goes to the Smitten Kitchen food blog, which I absolutely adore. It's my FAVORITE place to find awesome recipes and these pancakes did not disappoint. I'll admit that when I saw I would have to grind oats in a food processor to make oat flour AND cook oatmeal before even mixing things together, I almost backed out and thought "we could just eat the oatmeal..." but I persevered and I promise it is totally worth it and really doesn't take that much more time. We are big fans of the store-bought FiberOne pancakes (healthier, with extra fiber!), but these oatmeal pancakes surpass them by far and probably have a decent amount of fiber themselves. Go make them!

As for knitting, I plan to finish my Huacaya hat design for Burgis Brook Alpacas today:

I'm nearly there, just another repeat and the crown to work out. Then I will be winding this beauty up:

That is Mondegreen, a new yarn from The Verdant Gryphon that will be released next month. It is 60% BFL wool, 20% silk, and 20% baby camel... and it is fantastic. FANTASTIC. I will be knitting another sample for my Beribboned Hat design with it this week. Then next weekend I will hopefully be able to convince my friends to model it for me and then I can release the pattern! Yay, exciting.

By the by, if you'd like to be notified exactly when new patterns are released, you can sign up for my email mailing list here!

That's most of the knitting that has been occupying me lately. I'm fighting the urge to cast on about a million shawls because I already have so many on the needles, but there's something about the onset of fall that makes me want a shawl for every outfit. This doesn't seem unreasonable to me, really. ;) Designs first, shawls later. Oh yeah, and housework. Lots of housework.

What's your favorite shawl pattern? (You know, just to fuel the fires.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I've been feeling a tad out-of-sorts lately so haven't been blogging much. Part of it is just the end of summer, when I always feel all this pressure to Make It Last and to Do All The Things before fall hits. I love fall and everything that comes with it, but I still experience that end-of-season antsyness. I think it's particularly bad this year because there are a lot of big changes coming up this fall. The biggest change is that I will be unemployed. I have 9 work days left at my current job and it's quite unusual for me not to have a plan for the next step. Thank goodness the Fiasco will be starting his teaching job... Lots of things coming up, lots of things to do, lots of things to look forward to, I just have to be patient. I'm bad at patient, but I'm trying.

Anyway, onwards and upwards! I did a bunch of winding this week and I'm still in love with my new nostepinne:
My, what lovely balls! ;)
It's much more soothing and calming to use than a hand-crank ball winder. It does take longer, but I really like it. See that undyed ball of 100% worsted weight alpaca yarn on the bottom left? That became this:

First attempt.
That is a preliminary swatch for a new hat design I am working on. I met the owner of Burgis Brook Alpacas, an alpaca farm in Connecticut, at a local fair and she generously gave me a skein of her lovely yarn and requested that I design a pattern to be sold as part of a kit with her yarns... at Rhinebeck. Say what?! I am so excited. We are still working out the details but if all goes well my little patterns will reach a whole bunch of people at one one of the biggest wool festivals of the season. Woohoo!

Saturday, August 18, 2012


It's raining today in Connecticut, which makes me sad because it was supposed to be Hiking Day. I've been so busy the last few weekends that I was really looking forward to getting out and hiking, to revisiting the peacefulness of the woods, the smell of sunshine through leaves, the sweet burn in my legs as I work them the way they're supposed to be worked... but no. Torrential downpour instead. Sigh. It's ok, though, because it gives me the chance to gush about all the wonderfulness that showed up in my mailbox yesterday! First, a big ol' bag of yarn from Uruguay:
* squee *
These were sent to me from the uncontestedly-amazing Malabrigo Yarn! I love these skeins very, very much. They are all destined to become designs. The four skeins on the left are Twist in the colorways Indiecita and Natural. If you remember from a previous post, Twist is my absolute favorite Malabrigo yarn. These will be used for my Malabrigo Quickie design. The next skein is a brand new yarn, Rastita in Solis. It is a slightly-felted sport-weight single-ply Merino yarn, a little cousin to the super-bulky skein to its right, Rasta in Arco Iris.

See the family resemblance?
I've used and loved Rasta before, so I think I'm going to adore Rastita. Another new thing I adore is my nostepinne:
No, it's not a magic wand. Sadly.
Have you ever used one before? It's for this:
I practiced using it with my already-wound-by-hand handspun.
My cheap plastic ball winder from Knit Picks broke (again) and I just got fed up with it. I could either spend $20 on another piece of plastic that will never degrade after I eventually have to throw it out, or spend less than that on a beautiful, handcrafted wooden tool. I chose handcrafted, even though it will still take a while to wind my yarn. Until I can afford to spend big money on a solid wooden ball winder, this nostepinne will have to do. I purchased it from David Linquist's Etsy shop, Craftiness, and I couldn't be happier.

Pretty wood!
It's made from birdseye maple and it is really gorgeous. I bought the 'slim' version since it was a little cheaper and I do have small hands. It seems to be a perfect fit.

It is silky smooth to the touch and I love using it. It's quite a simple tool, but it makes the job of winding yarn balls much more pleasant.

Plus, it makes a more neatly-wound center-pull ball than what I used to wind without it. If you're in need of a nostepinne, I highly recommend the Craftiness Etsy shop. Do you have a favorite Etsy shop or a great handmade item that you adore?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #7

... a day late, but I have two new WIPs I still wanted to share. However, first you need to check out this bit of awesomeness:

My Fiasco likes zombies and I'm (obviously) a fan of knitting and when my future-father-in-law saw this magnet, he thought of us and bought it for me on a whim. How perfectly sweet is that, right? I am marrying into such a great family! :) Now, onto the knitting.

Naughty Lace (named so because that's how I hear the name of the yarn in my head):
Cephalopod Yarns Nautilace, colorway Trigger Fish
I finally finally finally started that cowl I had you guys help me decide on making. I was delayed because I couldn't figure out how to actually purchase the pattern (which is Thundercloud Cowl by Snowden Becker) because the link wasn't working. Then I had to go buy some beads. Then I had to wait to print the pattern out because our printer was busted. Then I had to pre-string 360 of those beads (yup). Then I just procrastinated because I hate provisional cast-ons.

BUT! Then I had this brainwave: I don't have to really do a provisional cast on!! The TechKnitter blog has a great post on how to do this kind of cast on, but the idea is basically that you knit with waste yarn for a few rows and then start knitting the pattern with your project yarn. When you're done, you snip the waste yarn just before the "real" knitting begins and unravel that row stitch by stitch, catching each live stitch on your needle as you go. Then you can join those stitches to the other end relatively seamlessly. It's so simple and much less intimidating for me than fiddling with crochet hooks or a two-needle twisty weird cast on. Sometimes you just want to cast on and go and deal with issues later. :)

Summer Holiday Socks:
The Verdant Gryphon Eidos, colorway Parzival
I started a pair of my Ribby Holiday Socks as my celebrate-the-end-of-summer, easy-pick-me-up, knit-while-I-read-boring-papers project. I love them so far. The colorway involves every single color I love. This is my first time knitting with Eidos and I like it very much, although I did go down a needle size from my much loved and slightly thicker STR yarn. The fabric is working out nicely.

That's all I have for you this week. I worked on My Own Fiasco socks a bit, as well, but I don't have a new photo for you. I'm just about at the heel on those so they are moving along well, too. Now to catch up on all the WIP Wednesday fun that I missed...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In the Wee Hours

Here's what I did with my night:

I made some business cards (woohoo!) in preparation for the crazy amount of fiber-related awesomeness coming up this fall. Time just flies by in a blink, doesn't it? There is an open house event at The Verdant Gryphon studio September 29-30 in Maryland, Stitches East October 11-14 nearby (thankfully) in Connecticut, the New York state sheep and wool festival at Rhinebeck October 20-21st, and the Fiber Festival of New England November 3-4 at the Big E in Massachusetts.

Fall is definitely a good time to be a knitter in New England. Or a bad time, depending on the damage your wallet incurs. Either way, I'll be prepared for spontaneous networking, should the opportunity arise! Are there any festivals going on in your area that you are looking forward to? Do you have a favorite fiber event?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

SS: Grey Gotland

Apparently when I don't superduperlove working with a fiber, I spin it with abandon and it flies off the spindle quite quickly!

This Icelandic wool was actually quite easy to spin. It drafted very well so there was not much spindle dropping with this one. However the fibers were very long and fly-away, which you can see in the photo above, and I didn't love handling them.

The finished yarn did soften up more than I expected in the wash. This is one I'd be especially curious to see knitted up, I can't quite picture what the fabric will look like. Perhaps I will start swatching all of  my Spinner's Study breeds soon. Onto the next!

Photo from
According to the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, Gotland is another breed that is part of the Northern European Short-Tailed Family (the third that I've spun so far, the other two being Finnsheep and the Icelandic). It is a Swedish breed that is also developed in Britain, New Zealand, and North America, with different strains having different characteristics.

The F&FSB describes this wool as "unusual, resembling a fine mohair or an English luster longwool" with which I agree. The top I have has a very dense quality to it and when I start fluffing it up it feels softer and very silky. I think my favorite thing about it is the natural grey color, which is just lovely.

I'm still getting the hang of spinning it, drafting is a bit difficult due to the top's denseness and the fiber's silkiness, but it seems to be spinning up much like the Finnsheep and Icelandic breeds: on the less-fluffy-side with some ends sticking out. The staple length is usually between 3-7 inches and the fiber diameters vary, with fleeces from New Zealand averaging 27-34 microns and those in Britain being coarser, around 35 microns. Gotland spans the medium-coarse range but it has this really great luster that I am excited to see in the finished yarn.

Image from Stansborough shop.
Super fun fact: Gotland wool was used to make the elven cloaks and other costumes in The Lord of the Rings movies! If you've got about $730 lying around, you can even buy one of your own. The Stansborough farm in New Zealand has a pretty neat story, I encourage you to go read it. They've developed their own flock of "Stansborough Greys" from the Gotland sheep and now sell the wool and weave fabrics used for costuming in many movies. Who knew Hollywood was so authentic and eco-friendly, right? I hope whomever has those cloaks now makes good use out of them. They must be absolutely lovely.

I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I've begun spinning some new fiber on my other spindle as well:

This is Polwarth wool from Woolgatherings in a great purple color. I have two braids of it and am planning to chain-ply it when I'm finished. This will probably be on the spindle for a while but should result in some very soft 3-ply DK/worsted-weight-ish yarn. Anything special occupying your spindle or wheel lately?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Verdant Love

This post comes from a knitter who is omgsogladit'stheweekend. But it is finally Friday and I have exciting things to share!

Have I thoroughly discussed my love of The Verdant Gryphon with you? I know I've mentioned Bugga (ha, mentioned!), but most of my stash came from The Sanguine Gryphon before they closed. Funds and yarn-stalking time have been pretty limited  so I haven't really been able to properly profess my VG love through yarn hoarding yet. Until now. I wasn't supposed to (due to a poorness-induced yarn diet) but then I went and got some new yarn (thanks credit card!) because it was just too darned pretty.

The top skein is Traveller (superwash Merino DK) in Barbary Coast, which is perhaps the most fantastic blue-green color ever. I'm a complete sucker for blue-greens and teals, and this one is extra fabulous. It has much more complexity than I expected from the photo. Luckily it is one of their standard colorways so it is easy to get if you are patient. Most VG yarns require a bit of stalking, particularly the special ones, but the Back in Stock Notifications are helpful. The bottom skein is Eidos (superwash Merino fingering) in a one-off colorway called Parzival. Eidos is one base I haven't yet used so I'm excited to try it. I think I'll make some Ribby Holiday Socks out of it, something simple and fun to show off all those great colors.

Speaking of VG, they are going to be releasing a new yarn very soon! You can read the details in this Ravelry thread. It's going to be a worsted weight yarn called Lyrical composed of 60% BFL wool, 20% silk, and 20% baby camel. It sounds absolutely divine and I can't wait to try some! They have a fun Nomadic Knitting activity planned for the yarn's release, as well. As per Gryphon:

"We have a little game planned, which we’re calling Nomadic Knitting. It goes like this: We’ll start a thread in which interested knitters can post. Again via lottery, we’ll select three of you. Those three will be sent a nomadic skein of Lyrical along with its passport, travel log, and a pattern. You’ll cast on for the project in the pattern, knit an inch or so, and then pass it on to any other knitter you like. That person in turn will knit a bit and pass it on again, and so on. The final knitter will return the FO to us, and we will donate it to a charity. Each knitter should record their name, email, and any notes on where they are in the pattern in the travel log. When we receive the logs back, we’ll send a coupon code to every email in it."

And guess whose pattern will be one of the three sent out with the new yarn?!?! ;)

It's true, my little Beribboned Wrists are going nomadic! I am so excited for one of my designs to be included in this and can't wait to see the projects that result. I am completely flattered that an artist whose work I admire liked my pattern enough to associate it with her gorgeous yarns! I bet that Lyrical is going to make some really luxurious wristwarmers, too.

The yarn should be released in early September. The Nomadic Knitting sign-up thread is here, if you'd like to participate (though I think you need to join The Verdant Gryphon group to play along). I like the idea of so many different people contributing to one piece of knitting. It's like knitting penpals or some sort of mobile quilting bee. Have you ever participated in something like that before?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #6

Hello, hello! I haven't made a whole lot of progress on some of my other WIPs this week, but I did make lots of design-WIP progress!

And Sing My Ribbons:
The Sanguine Gryphon Codex, colorways And Sing Myself (purple) and Lionness of Brittany (silver
This hat went from WIP to FO quite quickly because I was anxious to get the pattern out to testers. Look for it to be released near the end of the month! And it is my second completed Year of Projects project, yay!

Lillypad socks:
The Verdant Gryphon Bugga, colorway Yellow Fringe Doris
I (finally) finished the first sock of this upcoming design! It did turn out to be a bit too snug so I will be adding a few more purl stitches to provide more room in the final design. Those cables and twisted stitches really tightened up the fabric. Luckily, I was able to obtain another skein of this colorway through a trade on Ravelry, so I will be able to gift this pair to someone with smaller feet someday and still be able to have a pair for myself in the same colorway! I know it shouldn't have too much weight in the process since the finished pattern will be knit in a variety of colors, but some of my designs are very much inspired by the colorway I use and I really love this particular pairing.

My Own Fiasco:
BMFA Socks that Rock Lightweight, colorway Sigur Ros
I'm making some good progress on my Fiasco socks. The colorway is striping nicely and I think the textures of the pattern are bold enough that they still show through, even with so much variegation. It's a very odd colorway, really, containing red, teal, tan, mustard, lavender, and aqua. It sounds like that mix should be really gross but I dig it! In my patterns I like to include multiple size options for multiple weights of yarn whenever feasible. For my first pair, I knit size 1 at the DK weight gauge to fit my Fiasco's man-sized foot. This time I'm knitting size 3 at the fingering weight gauge for me. I think that sometimes the sizes in sock patterns are not very explicit and I'm hoping my way of describing sizes is helpful (rather than just more confusing) and allows for more flexibility in yarn choices. Here is what the sizing table from my free Ribby Holiday Socks pattern looks like:
What do you think: helpful, not helpful? I'm curious! Do you have an example of a sock pattern that you thought described the sizes very well?

Besides a few secret swatches, that's all the progress I have to report this week! Be sure to click the images below to see what everyone else has been up to.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy Days

I had a wonderful weekend, how about you guys? My little-cousin-who-is-like-a-sister-to-me (and who is not so little anymore!) came to visit and we had a grand old time. We spent Saturday kayaking with the Fiasco's family and Sunday strolling through the beautiful Wickham Park and the fantastic Coventry Farmer's Market. I even convinced her to model my upcoming Beribboned Hat design for me. :) Here are some photos from the day:

These were as big as my head!

We made a furry friend!

I almost took this little furry friend home with me.

This is the worsted weight version of my Beribboned Hat design, which is also the 2nd project completed from my Year of Projects list:

The yarn is discontinued Sanguine Gryphon Codex. This version of the hat is less slouchy than the DK weight version and uses a tiny bit of contrasting yarn knit into i-cord instead of ribbon for the bow. I liked it both ways so instructions for both will be included! The pattern is in testing now and should be available around the end of the month.

And before I forget: congratulations to Lisa from Wicked Artsy, she won the needle/mini-skein/free pattern giveaway from last week! Thanks for spreading so much Shoelaceswitcher Designs / Woolen Diversions love. :)

Finally, I received some exciting news today: Malabrigo Yarns accepted my design submission for their Malabrigo Quickies series! Malabrigo Quickies are 1- or 2-skein patterns from independent designers that are featured every couple of weeks on the Malabrigo blog and other social media outlets. There is a call for submissions open right now and the program fills up quite quickly so submit soon if you are interested. My design won't be released until late January but I still can't wait! Malabrigo was the first yarn that I fell in love with and it's still my go-to for holiday gifts and comforting knits, so I'm really psyched to have one of my designs associated with the company.