Yarn always makes my day better, but a delivery from The Loopy Ewe makes me especially happy!
(They are super excellent and super quick, by the way; which is always good, particularly where yarn is involved! For example: I placed this order on Tuesday, and it arrived on Friday of the same week! 😄)
Usually when I order yarn, I do so with a particular project in mind, as is the case this time. (Unless it’s an occasional splurge on a gorgeous hand dyed skein that I can’t pass up! 😉)
This yarn order happens to consist entirely of Cascade 220 Superwash; the pink is in their worsted weight, and the others are sport weight. I love this yarn for many reasons, but particularly for baby knits because of its softness and easy care (machine wash-and-dry-able).
So now that my yarn has arrived, I am totally thrilled to be able to get started this weekend on some knits for a new little niece and a new little second cousin who will both be arriving later this Summer! 😄💗
What are your favorite go-to knits and yarns for the babies in your life?
In other news, today was a happy mail day for Sunny too! While I was happily photographing my new yarns…
…Sunny was happily going to town on the tissue paper they came wrapped up in! 😂
Although I wasn’t quite fast enough to get a photo of her in the act, I did manage to document her handy work (above), and her “I don’t know what you’re talking about because I’ve been laying all the way over here sleeping the whole time” face (below)! 😂😂
I didn’t mind her tearing up the tissue paper at all (if I’d had plans for it, I would have kept it out of her reach). It was just too cute and funny not to share with you! I promise that she’s a really good puppy who usually chews only on the appropriate items! Here’s a photo to prove it:
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and very happy knitting!
Yesterday was as close to a perfect day as I am likely to get! 😊🍁🍂
The weather was beautiful and it was Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival day in Berryville, Virginia; and I got to go with my sister-in-law, Annelies and my two-year-old niece, Vera!
We met up in Harrisonburg to carpool to the festival; and truly, the brilliant smiles with which they greeted me totally made my whole week! 🙂
Well stocked with fabulous company and good coffee, the 1.5 hour drive flashed right on by and before we knew it, we had arrived at the festival just in time to get a prime parking spot! (An unusual occurrence for me! 😂)
I showed Vera how to politely examine the soft and luxurious yarns on display in the vendor booths. Not only was this fun, but it helped re-direct the two-year-old urge to pull all brightly colored skeins off of the shelves and hooks! 😂💗
But of course, the biggest hit of the day, by far, was the animals: Alpacas, sheep, and angora goats!
These adorable alpacas were so friendly and calm!
The white one is named “Fenway”, and the brown is “Carpe Diem.”
They were just chillin’ and people-watching, and socializing with whomever came by to say hi!
Vera took a couple of minutes to warm up to the alpacas since this was her first time seeing them up close! Watching another child petting them certainly helped. 🙂
Once she had a chance to get to know them a bit, she absolutely loved them!
I swear she was having lots of fun – right up until we asked her to smile for a photo!
Fenway was very cooperative and photogenic! 🙂
Later on, the sheep really wanted to share a popcorn snack!
And across the isle, a super nice girl brought her goat right up close so Vera could pet it!
In addition to enjoying the wonderful animals, I was also excited to snag a great book…
…some gorgeous yarn…
100% alpaca and SO soft! 😄
…and a blending board!
My plan for the blending board is to use it to blend my Angora Rabbit’s wool with Alpaca wool so that I’ll have enough to knit something special once it’s all spun up!
Annelies was on a mission to find the perfect yarn to crochet a hat for Vera to match her new Winter coat! Here’s the yarn!
And here’s the hat!
By mid-afternoon, Someone was completely worn out from so much fun, and took a very good nap all the way home!
A hand-knit shawl does make an excellent car-seat blanket, don’t you think?! 😉
Do you go to fiber festivals? Do you have a favorite? Got plans to visit any this season? We’d love to hear all about it!
I’m excited to be heading to the Fall Fiber Festival @ Montpelier this coming weekend! Stay tuned for updates! 😊
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Organizing to Shop your own Stash!
One of my biggest goals this year is to organize my yarn stash and make it easier to know what I have and find what I need so that I can use the gorgeous yarn I’ve collected! I’m sure this is something many of us fiber people can relate to. 🙂 Now that my stash takes up more than two large plastic bins, I’ve decided to buckle down and put it in order! Here are five steps I’m using to approach this project: 1) Review & Sort, 2) Sub-Categorize, 3) Document Yarn Data, 4) Storage, and5) Shop Your Stash! I’ll also be sharing some helpful resources I’ve made, along with some that I’ve found along the way in my research!
Step 1: Review & Sort…
I started with preliminary sorting first, which happily for me, is one of my favorite things! (If sorting is NOT one of your favorite things, don’t worry, this part is relatively quick!) I pulled out all my yarn and sorted it into five piles similar to what Lion Brand recommends in their post “12 Tips on How to Organize Your Yarn Stash…”
The WIPs (Works in Progress) pile includes all of my currently in-progress but un-finished projects and the yarn to finish them.
The Will Use Have Pattern pile is composed of yarn that I’m not only sure I will use, but know what pattern I’ll use it with, AND actually have the pattern. Its a sort of pre-WIPs pile! This pile turned out to be rather larger than I had expected. It must be because I plan faster than I knit… 🙂
The Will Use No Pattern Yet pile holds all the yarn that I know I will use, but either don’t have the pattern I want to go with it, or don’t know yet what pattern I want to use. This is one of the most exciting portions of my yarn stash because it is all yarn that is free and available, which means the possibilities are practically endless!
The Wandering Bits & Pieces pile is for all of those little bits and pieces of yarn leftover from completed projects, as well as their corresponding swatch(es).
And last but certainly not least, is the Won’t Use pile for all yarn that I liked when I bought it, but have decided that I don’t really like anymore; or just don’t have room to store. It also includes yarn that I’ve had FOREVER, never done anything with, and feel that is unlikely to change. 🙂
The best part of this sorting phase of yarn stash organizing? I GET to decide which yarn goes where! The hardest part? I get to DECIDE! I was definitely glad to have some good knitting and a delicious latte on standby for a (few) breaks from decision-making-overload! 🙂
Step 2: Sub-Categorize…
Next, I’ll need to pick a way to sub-categorize my five piles of yarn. The yarn that will likely be most heavily involved in this stage (and the next) is the Will Use No Pattern Yet pile because that’s where the majority of my yarn is! (I’ve been working on Step 2 for awhile now…)
It took me a long time to decide how to sub-categorize the “Will Use No Pattern Yet” pile of yarn. Since this is all of my free and available yarn, there is a large volume involved. And there are SO many options to choose from… I could sub-categorize according to fiber content, or color, or yarn weight, to name just a few.
Having spent considerable time going through this pile of yarn, I have finally decided to sub-categorize it by fiber content because that is often where I start when planning a project. Now to actually divide out all of this yarn!
After much thought, I decided that it makes the most sense to sub-categorize my WIPs pile and my Will Use Have Pattern pile according to project.
I put each project & all the yarn that goes with it into it’s own gallon zip-lock bag, along with it’s pattern and needles. This keeps the project all together in one place, ready to pick up and get going whenever I’m ready! No hunting around for the pattern, or the rest of the yarn, or trying to remember which needles I was using/planning to use…! 🙂 This also provides of peace of mind by preventing me from accidentally using up yarn that was designated for one project to make something else.
The Wandering Bits & Pieces pile I believe I will sub-categorize by project as well. I think I’ll put the swatches and leftover yarn for each project in it’s own small plastic bag and label the bag with the name of the pattern, and perhaps of the yarn as well. 🙂 This will make it easy to find and identify the right yarn later on if/when a repair may be needed. Also, I’ll be able to tell at a glance whether I have enough yarn leftover for another small project, or whether I need to save it for potential repairs only.
Yarn in the Won’t Use pile will be categorized by destination. Yarn to give away at Guild Fiber Swaps, and yarn to give away to non-Guild friends/family.
Step 3: Document Yarn Data…
Now it’s time to decide how to document all of my neatly organized and sub-categorized yarn so that I can quickly and easily see what I have! When it comes to keeping track of yarn data, one could go several ways. There’s the digital way – I could document and track the yarn in my stash electronically on Ravelry. Here’s a link to a great blog post by Stacey of Fresh Stitches, about how to use Ravelry’s handy yarn stash feature! One of the things I find most exciting about using Ravelry to keep track of yarn stash is that once all of your yarn is listed in your Ravelry Stash, you can do a search for only patterns using yarn that you already have in your stash! SO helpful!
And then there’s the physical/tactile way – I could create and keep an actual, physical Yarn Stash Notebook.
Yarn data can be handwritten and a small sample of each yarn attached to pages kept in a three-ring binder. The binder can be decorated as desired, and decorative penmanship can be used on the pages.
This option appeals deeply to the artist in me, and I REALLY love the idea of being able to see the true colors & touch/feel the texture of an actual sample of my yarn while planning a project – without having to go hunt down the skein(s) in the bins first!
In fact, I believe I will go ahead and make a Yarn Stash Notebook first. Later on someday, I may add my yarn stash on Ravelry also, but for now, making the notebook will be enough. Here’s a link to a very helpful post I found by Dedri of the Lookatwhatimade blog. She talks in detail about how to create a Yarn Stash Notebook.
I decided to create my own templates, both for the Yarn Stash Notebook pages, and for optional yarn tags. My Yarn Stash Data template (for notebook pages) is double-sided with places to record important yarn info on the front, and free space to make any notes you wish about that yarn on the back. I found Dedri’s advice to either print the template pages out on heavy paper such as card stock, or laminate them to be very important. It really helps to have nice stable pages to attach the yarn samples to.
I’m so excited to be able to offer free PDF downloads of both my templates to all of my Newsletter Subscribers (current & new)! If you are a current Subscriber, you can access your free template downloads in the Newsletter!
If you would like to become a Subscriber and be kept in the loop with knitting tips, discounts, & coupon codes, please click here to sign up to receive my Newsletter and you’ll receive an email with links to the free template downloads!
Step 4: Storage…
I don’t know about you, but for me, “out of sight” really does become “out of mind” quickly, and I want to finish my works in progress so I can use them or gift them! To keep my WIPs projects on my mind, I’ve decided that I’ll store them in a pretty basket and set it out by my favorite knitting spot in the living room! That way I’ll see them often, and it’ll be very satisfying to see the number of WIPs in the basket dwindling!
For my Will Use Have Pattern yarns, I’ll make use of another nice basket. These “next up!” projects also need to be visible and easy to access so they don’t become forgotten in the middle of the business of life.
My Will Use No Pattern Yet yarn will live in three large plastic tubs. (I still need to purchase one more…) I’ll label them Boxes A, B, & C so that I can specify in my Yarn Stash Notebook where each individual yarn is located. This will make finding the yarn I want for a particular project so much faster and easier!
The Wandering Bits and Pieces yarn can go into one of several large cardboard boxes I have saved. Since this is a growing yarn pile (it gets bigger every time I finish another project), it’ll need to be a nice big box. And since it’s made of cardboard, it’ll be easy to label with a sharpie!
I’ll put my Won’t Use yarn in a couple of totes or plastic bags so it’s easily portable. The bags of yarn to be given away at the Guild Yarn Swap will go with other Guild stuff, and the yarn to be given away to other friends & family will go by the door so that I don’t forget it!
Step 5: Shop Your Stash!
With my yarn stash tidy and organized I’ll be able to easily see what yarns I have and how much of each. This will save me a lot of time and money! All that remains is to remember to use my Yarn Stash Notebook to shop my stash first when I’m considering a new project or design!
Since quite a lot of yarns living in stashes are leftovers from previous projects, I took a look around and came up with a whole list of cute, and interesting patterns that are great for using up odd bits and pieces of leftover yarn! I can’t WAIT to try them and whittle down some of my stash! I hope these are helpful for you and your yarn stash as well!
As you can probably tell, it was windy, cold, and damp…
… for most of the morning, the wind blew a chilly falling mist around and around. It was rather impossible to stay dry and we were so glad we’d brought our rain coats!
Even with the chill, wind, and wet, we had a marvelous time walking around,…
…chatting with friendly vendors,…
…admiring handsome animals, …
… gazing at gorgeous yarns…
… and examining knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, rug hooking, and dying tools and equipment of every sort imaginable!
Phyllis was in need of a yarn swift and ball winder, so we kept an eye out and we found the most gorgeous yarn swifts at the Knitting Notions booth!
These swifts are made out of beautiful wood – you can choose between oak, cherry, and walnut. The craftsmanship is superb as they consist of four carefully shaped pieces that fit together with wooden pegs holding them in place.
The other neat thing about these yarn swifts is that instead of clamping onto the edge of a table, these sit serenely on the table top! (I ended up getting one too)!
I couldn’t resist this lovely skein of mohair/wool/nylon boucle in the Dancing Leaf Farms booth… The texture and colors (the color way is called “Sapling”) just calls to me!
I also purchased this lovely skein of Beezigns B’Luxor, in alpaca, silk, and linen. It’s a wonderfully soft, yet hardy 3-ply hand painted in rich blues, purples, and greens.
Now I just need to find time alongside work, house chores, and all the baby and Christmas knitting (yes, I’m working away at a bunch of Christmas gifts that I hope to finish on time!) I’ve got going on, to work on two more knitting projects!! Piece of cake, right?! 🍁😉🍂
It’s become a favorite little tradition now between Phyllis and I that we shop for each other’s Christmas gifts together each year at the Fall Fiber Festival! It’s always worked out super good for us – we have lots of fun, we neither of us have to deal with any stress or pressure about finding the “perfect” gift, and last but not least, we get to enjoy giving a gift that we know the other really wants/needs! (And of course, let’s not forget that we get to enjoy a gift that we really wanted and can/will use!!
What about you? Been to any great Fiber Festivals recently? Got any clever little Holiday traditions you’d like to share? Do you gift handknits to your loved ones? If so, how’s your Christmas knitting coming along? Feel free to share in the comments, we’d love to hear all about it!
All in all, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and quite behind with my knitting. As much as I hate to do it, I think it may be time to work on bringing my knitting expectations back into line with reality again… 😉
What does your To-Knit list look like? Are you a knitter who enjoys working multiple projects at a time, or do you prefer to focus on one thing at a time?
Mom and I go every year; it’s sort of become our Mothers Day tradition. 😊💕 This year, my sister in law, Annelies, and little niece, Vera, came too!
It was so nice to have them along, and we had such a marvelous time!
And yes, I stayed up late the night before, blocking my Lace Leaf Shawl on the floor of my parent’s guest room so that I could wear it to the festival! 😉
There was a lot of fabulous yarn bombing going on at the festival, and I am a huge fan of yarn bombing!…
There were beautifully yarn bombed trees and fences…
… all along the path leading into the festival…
…and adorable little knitted and crocheted sheep dotted about here and there…
…even the entrance itself…
…was decorated with colorful knitting!
Here is one of my very favorite things about the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival – so many fiber-arts-loving people relaxing outdoors and working on their projects together! I always find myself wishing that I had brought my camp chair so I could sit down and join in!
There were more vendors than I could count, and they were all amazing!…
The sheer range of colors on display was staggering!
This vendor (Woolbuddy, I believe) had adorable and fascinating felted items; and just look at that enormous felted giraffe!!
Many vendors had items made from their yarns on display; this particular vendor (Scandinavian Weave and Knit) would give you the pattern for free with your yarn purchase!
In addition to those outdoors under tents, there were also many vendors inside the vast tunnel-like buildings…
Aren’t the colors amazing?!
We could not get over these booties! Aren’t they precious?! We would have gotten some for Vera, but she’s growing so fast that they would have been too small in just a week or two… Nevertheless, they are totally adorable!
Another thing I absolutely love about the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is the people. All the many people wearing lovely handknit or crocheted garments they crafted themselves, or perhaps were gifted by a friend or loved one…
We met these two lovely ladies and their gorgeous handknit shawls just inside the entrance!
Just look at these amazing hats! Aren’t they fab?!
I love the colors, shapes, and textures on her vest…
…and this lovely lace knit sweater!
This stunning circular shawl had to be the most spectacular sighting of the day, though!
And then there were the animals, the wonderful animals!
We saw angora goats…
…keeping cool in the shade…
…lots of lovely sheep…
This friendly little guy just wanted to play!
And it looks like he found the perfect buddy! 😊
Sheep are very social…
…clearly, they like to be together! ☺️
And let’s not forget the angora rabbits!…
And what treasures, I’m sure you’re all wondering, did I bring home with me from the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival?…
These lovely gradients are from the Fiber Optics booth! I’m planning to knit an Echo Flowers shawl with the lace weight neon gradient, and the lovely fingering weight raspberry gradients are going to be a pink and white shawl for my sister Melody!
These beauties are from the Scandinavian Weave and Knit booth! Their yarns were absolutely stunning, and so were all of their knitting patterns! It was really hard to leave their booth… I haven’t yet decided exactly what to make with these gorgeous skeins…ideas…suggestions…?
I’m good at spinning in the worsted style, and now I’m learning to spin in the woolen style. I picked up these gorgeous balls of roving from Riverside Farm’s booth and plan to spin some nice soft yarn once I get a bit more practice in!
These are some lovely gems I picked up at the festival as well…
This lovely glass bead was hand made by Kris Schaible. Isn’t it stunning?! I got a second one for my aunt-in-law who is into beadwork, and she loved it! Kris was kind enough to mount both beads on lovely ribbons for me so they’d be ready to wear!
This lotion is the best!
It’s all natural, smells heavenly, and feels even better! It even works wonders for sunburn! 😊❤️
Does anyone else enjoy the Maryland Sheep & Wool? If so, we want to hear all about it! What do you like best?
I was so thrilled when my mother-in-law, Phyllis, asked for a handknit sweater for Christmas! The important thing to understand here is that I was longing to knit something for someone who would actually wear it. My dear husband, you see, refuses to wear anything I knit for him ever since the unfortunate incident of the black-hat-with-the-red-angora-lining. And who could really blame him?! But that’s another story for another time. He saves me time and trouble though, by telling me up front, not to knit him anything because he won’t wear it, so at least there’s that. This then, is why the excitement was impossible to contain when Phyllis asked for a sweater!
[Yes, I do realize that we are currently in the month of March, and that this fact makes my Christmas gift to Phyllis about three months late. Fortunately, Phyllis is a fabulously gracious person who didn’t at all mind opening a half-knitted sweater on Christmas, and who waited very patiently while I finished it. ❤️]
Since she was actually visiting at the time, we got online immediately and went virtual shopping to pick out the perfect yarn and pattern together! What a good time we had! It was even better than “normal” shopping because we didn’t get worn out and stressed from walking and driving from store to store and dealing with crowds and traffic. 😊
Phyllis settled on the Cable Down Raglan by Stefanie Japel. She wanted a turquoise color, and the sweater was to be warm, but not too warm in order to layer in Virginia’s mostly moderate winter weather. We decided to go with a cotton yarn, and settled on Knit Pick’s Shine Worsted in Aquamarine.
Once the yarn arrived, I could hardly wait to cast on and start knitting! It was really hard to make myself knit gauge swatches, but I’m REALLY glad I did!
When one is knitting a garment, especially for someone else, (especially if that someone else does not live in the same house or even what could be called reasonably close by) it is vital to:
1) Take said person’s measurements with care, ahead of time; paying close attention to his/her preferences regarding ease…
2) Note and plan ahead for any alterations in fit that will be preferred… (for example, my mother-in-law wanted the sleeves on her sweater to be full length rather than 3/4. This necessitated planning ahead by ordering more yarn.)
3) Find and maintain the proper gauge…
4) At least one or more fittings along the way to ensure the garment will be a success!
The Cable-Down Raglan, as the name suggests, is worked from the top down, circular fashion, raglan style, and all in one piece.
I love the cables. I really enjoyed knitting them, and I still enjoy looking at them! You can see the sleeve stitches on hold and the rest of the body in progress.
I put my Grellow & Gray Sirka Counter to excellent use on this project! Would have lost my head for sure without it! At one point I was using all three hands to track three different sets of repeats! What a lifesaver!
This was my first experience with knitting a raglan sweater, and also my first experience with knitting a sweater in the round – all in one piece!
I really like the idea of knitting a garment in one piece. Of the entire ensemble flowing along smoothly in an orderly and aesthetically pleasing fashion. Of not having to go back and sew up seams afterward.
But I discovered, as I worked on the sleeves of the sweater, that it became very frustrating to deal with the bulk of the body of the sweater while knitting around and around each smaller sleeve. I had to adjust the entire body of the sweater in relation to the sleeve four times per round. It really slowed me down. In the future, I think I may try holding the body stitches and working the sleeves first since they are so much smaller and could be easily pinned in place to keep them out of the way while knitting the body.
There were a lot of ends to weave in, but that just goes with the territory! Aunt Peggy had made a gorgeous bracelet that went perfectly with the sweater!
As a final touch, I sewed in a special label…
Phyllis loves her sweater, and it makes me happy to see her so happy!
It all began with reindeer. My friend Claire Hudson (lovely lady with a fabulous blog, be sure to hop over and take a peek!) and reindeer!
Not long after Christmas, Claire and I were discussing what knitting projects we wanted to make next. (See comments on this post.) Of course, there was a long list… and on my list were several items bearing reindeer motifs! (I have no idea why I kept finding adorable reindeer patterns after Christmas, but whatever! Why not start planning the gift knitting for next Christmas early, I concluded when the trend continued.)
Among those items was a toy reindeer for a child. It was so adorable! I loved it! Wanted to make it for my baby niece, Vera (2 months old). But next Christmas is a really long way away… Claire loved it too! And THEN. She showed me the Little Cotton Rabbits pattern she had recently bought – it was for a toy bunny rabbit! It was beyond adorable! I admit, there were a few squeals of delight…
Even better was Claire’s idea! She proposed that we knit these bunnies together, as a sort of mini knit-a-long! What a fabulous idea! So here we are, both making bunnies for our respective nieces!
We began last Sunday – perfect timing for me as there was a big snow storm here in Virginia, resulting in perfect knitting weather! (Although, for the record, any weather is perfect knitting weather as far as I’m concerned!😉)
I’m using Cascade Yarns Cascade 220 in Grey for the bunny’s body; and Knit Picks Shine Sport in Black, Wallaby, Cosmopolitan, Blush, and Cream for the facial features and clothing…
Ball-winding and tea went together perfectly…
We completed our bunny heads last Sunday! Here is a peek at mine…
This week, we’re working on the bodies and the legs!
This is the body worked as far as the neck…
Here I’m almost finished the body, just a couple more rows on the cute, striped underpants…!
And here is the finished body, all seamed together!