12.19.2014

Sneak Peek for the New Year!

I got so caught up in end of the year goings on I just realized it's been weeks since I blogged... whoops!  I was so "on" it for a while there.... well, here's one of the reasons blogging slowed down!

My friends at Kelbourne Woolens just released a new yarn... a lace weight version of Road to China.  Late this summer they asked me if I would design a mini collection in it.  How could I say no? (Has anyone figured out that I suck at saying no? I love saying YES!)
Road to China Lace has 65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel + 10% cashmere and is put up in generous 656 yds/100 gram skein! You are going to like this yarn! 
Above is a little sneak peek of one of my four designs for The Pathways Collection... I can't wait to share them all with you! They are going to be great for projects in the 1st Quarter KAL in my Ravelry group (more details on this soon...).

Oh, and do you know what?  I never announced the winners of the Chiaogoo Needle Giveaway, whoops (bad blogger!)!  Congrats to Stampergrandma (metal) and Vivcrest (bamboo), get in touch to claim your needles. Thankyou again Chiaogoo!

12.02.2014

Hay Bale Hat and Headband

Well, about an hour after the Hay Bale Mitts released as the Craftsy November MKAL there were rumblings about a matching Hat or Headband (or both!)... so of course I thought that was the best idea ever!  I love a headband and my girl love's a hat... and we both needed new ones for the upcoming winter season!

I knit 3 hats and 5 headbands while I perfected the yarn choice and pattern shaping (see more about that here).... and ended up with versions I love and I hope you do too!
Hay Bale Hat knit with Manos Maxima in Cherrywood with a handmade pom-pom
Hay Bale Headband knit with Manos Maxima in Sea Urchin
 
Hay Bale Hat knit with Knitted Witt Aran in Prussian Blue and a coveted fake fur pom-pom!
I know I say this about every photo shoot but this was one of my fav's... my girl and I ran outside on a snowy Thanksgiving Day for some fresh air and traded off being model and photographer..... obviously we have a little magic (and spice!)!

The headband takes around 25 grams of worsted weight yarn, perfect stash busting, gift knitting, right? I've worn mine almost everyday since it came off the needles.

You can see more photos, read about the pattern, and purchase it on Ravelry. A big thankyou to my speedy testers, Lorrie, Jennifer and Melanie!!! Y'all were super helpful!

11.27.2014

A Thankyou SALE!

My jewelry & accessory kits are FAST and FUN to knit, and there is still time to receive them and knit them for the holidays!  They are also fabulous gifts for knitters as is... if you have a knitting relative, friend, teacher, helper, or loved one you can wrap one up for them without even knitting it!!!!!!

So, while supplies last or until Tuesday December 2nd at 12 pm EST, I am having a 30% off sale on everything in my Etsy shop.  Just enter the coupon code HUGETHANKS14... there might even be some signed copies of Knockout Knits in there as well : )!

Also, I should let you know that Craftsy is having a huge sale too and all classes are $19.99 or less!  This includes all 4 of my knitting classes with them! 

THANKYOU FOR ANOTHER AMAZING YEAR!!!!! 

xoxoxo, Laura

11.25.2014

Winners... and a heads up!

Happy Tuesday!  If you live in the US you are probably gearing up for Thanksgiving like we are... I'm thrilled to not be traveling and we are keeping it simple and making salmon and gnocchi. (I've been watching this class on Craftsy and feel ready!)

I know it's not traditional, but we aren't big meat eaters so I've never taken to making a turkey which is rather freeing when it comes to Thanksgiving menu planning!  The salmon will be served with fresh cranberry relish, the gnocchi will get a wild mushroom sauce, there will be shaved brussel sprouts (my fav!) for a veg and we'll top it off with Miss B's pumpkin pie!

Over the weekend we made these rolls and my girl and honey were discussing how amazing they would be stuffed with chocolate and topped with cinnamon sugar.... so those might be added to the desert menu, or maybe for breakfast?

So, I've got two winners to announce:
First up, the winner of Hunter Hammerson's new book Curls (which I reviewed last week) is Goodstuff.

Next, we had a great Magmatic BOOM KAL in my Ravelry group and all Boom's finished by November 21st were eligible to win this awesome prize:
From Left to Right- 1 skein of Dream in Color Jilly Lace in Carolina,
1
skein Dream in Color Wisp in Scorched Lime,
1
skein Miss Babbs Yummy Toes in Perfectly Wreckless, 1 skein Shibui Staccato in Velvet
Congrats go to Thecatisfelting for her stunning Michigan Magmatic BOOM in Fiber Optic Swamp Muck... I love how you chose your bead colors to gradiate (is that a word?) in the other direction!
I just have to share a few more Magmatic Boom's as they all came out so uniquely!  You can see them all on Ravelry, but here's a few to whet your appetite:
Clockwise from Top Left, Magmatic Boom's by: Sietsma, DonnaMaReed, LKGervitz, JHWeis, Pajara, JanHick's
Karen and Brenda get in touch with me to claim your prizes! Congrats!

In case any of you are in the New Jersey region, I just announced TWO new events the weekend of December 5th!  I'll be at Chelsea Yarns on Dec 5th and 6th, and at Close Knit on December 7th.  I can't wait to see Chelsea for the first time (I've heard it's GREAT!) and see Close Knit's new location!

Oh, and keep an eye on the blog Thursday night... I'll be announcing a kind sorta big sale in my Etsy shop as a Thankyou for helping support me through this super fun, crazypants year (plus a Craftsy sale as well).

I'm off to exercise... I'm trying to be proactive about the weekend's eating activities!

11.21.2014

Pile of Denial (A Lesson in Yarn)

So, I've had a little yarn schooling this week.... it started with (a bit of) denial, a bunch of knitting, and finally a late night chat with a friend set me straight. Ready for a story?
I decided I wanted to knit a hat and headband to match the Hay Bale Mitts I designed for Craftsy's November Mystery KAL.  So, while I was traveling last weekend I got a skein of Manos Maxima for the hat and a skein of Fibre Company Terra for the headband... which had similar yards/weight and then I knit them. I knew the Terra was a little bit heavier, but the Manos is thick due to it's single ply and they seemed like a good match.
I LOVE the hat, but the headband wasn't quite right, the stitch was getting lost in the textural quality of the Terra so I solved the problem by going to Knitting Etc on Sunday to BUY MORE YARN.

I went with my girl, and she "ordered" a Hay Bale Hat for herself, so we got a skein of Dream in Color Classy. This is the yarn I used for Cruzado Cowl... love it!  It has the same yardage/weight as Maxima, so I assumed I was good to go.

Before I cast that on I knit ANOTHER headband in Swan's Island Merino (admittedly, this was more like 250 yards/100grams). I was in denial.... right? BUT, I'm obviously dense, and also really like to knit so instead of halting and looking at the fabric I kept knitting. Then without stopping to think, I wound up B's yarn, and cast on her hat. I need you to know that I did do a gauge swatch and it was pretty close... but look, it's loosely goosey and NOT at all squishy like the Maxima hat... I'm not happy with it at all!

How can this make sense? Two yarns with the same gauge, yardage and weight and they don't act the same in the design?  NOT FAIR! Last night at knit night Hickory helped me figure the dilemma out and saved me from more mistakes.

Here's the thing, the Manos Maxima is a single ply and that gives it loft that fills in the space between stitches beautifully and helps accentuate the Hay Bale stitch. The Classy and Swan's Island are 4-ply and more tightly spun and the stitch just doesn't show up.... AT.ALL! I don't typically choose single ply yarns as they don't wear as well as plied yarns, but in this case I'm breaking my own rule!

Here's an example of all 4 yarns and how they look in the stitch:
So, there are 3 solutions (all of which involve buying more yarn):
#1. Get another skein of Maxima for the headband!
#2. Get a skein of Knitted Witt Aran for Bella's hat (I want to see if an Aran weight that is smooth and plied, but knit to gauge will work... I haven't tried this combo yet.)
#3. And Hickory's idea (which is obviously brilliant):  Buy 4 more skeins of the Dream in Color Classy in Peacock Shadow and knit a sweater! Cause that yarn is nice and I already have one skein, right?
I took care of #1 and 2 last night...... I just have to knit another headband (cast on above), another hat, and do some photography and the Hay Bale Hat and Headband will be ready for your knitting pleasure! But at least you won't make the same yarn mistake(s) I did!

11.19.2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Curls By Hunter Hammersen

This fall Hunter Hammersen (a knit designer/author and long time friend) and I made a pact.  When Knockout Knits was released she would review it on her blog... and then when her new book, Curls, was announced I would do the same!  Well... it's time for me to make good, and I am SO glad I made this deal as I am adding a STUNNING new book to my collection! (and read below, you could win one for your library too!)
 

First off, there is something about Curls that is irresistible... it dives deep into one particular construction (or rather increase solution) that creates a curl. These curls can be made in any size, any weight yarn and easily translate into intricate lace patterns. The book begins with simpler stitches for the first curls and works up to more advanced stitches as the book progresses.  All in all there are 14 Curl designs to choose from.
I've had a little obsession with boomerang shaping lately, and I spent some time this afternoon discovering the difference between a curl and a boomerang.  In a curl all the increases happen on one edge (sometimes on the right side and sometimes on the right and wrong sides, depending on the design) and the other edge is worked straight.  In a boomerang shaped shawl, increases happen on both the right and wrong sides of one edge, and a decrease happens on only one side of the other edge which causes the shawl to tilt as it is knit but not have a curl to it.
Hunter's Nacarat Curl on the left, my Magmatic Boom on the right
I adore the time Hunter spends helping you understand the anatomy of a Curl and how her stitch patterns fit into them.  Every pattern has a diagram of how the construction works for that particular design and the anatomy section at the beginning of the book helps you translate this for the design you choose to knit!
And guess what?  I've got a printed copy of Curls for one winner, along with a skein of Sweet Georgia CashSilk Lace in Ginger from stash which I think would be perfect for a laceweight Curl!!!!!

Who wants a chance to own this set?  Just leave a comment letting me know which curl you are most drawn to knitting first.  You can see them all listed on Ravelry here. Don't forget to leave a way to get in touch with you.  I'll leave comments open until November 25th at noon EST and then randomly choose a winner!

11.17.2014

Crux Cowl for Me!

Ever since I knit Crux Cowl for Knockout Knits I knew I wanted to knit another for myself... this summer I was in Taos New Mexico and fell in love with a skein of Widdershin Woolworks handspun BFL/silk yarn at Mooncat Fiber. It was a worsted weight and only 130 yards, but I knew it would be perfect to show you how versatile the Crux Cowl pattern is!

Also, I knew that Crux Cowl could be confusing some people as on your needles, it does not look like it does in the photos in the book!  This is because you are working columns of 4 stitches that have a stitch in between them that is dropped creating a long horizontal float.  This dropped stitch does not unravel the stitches next to it as they are either worked through the back loop or as part of a criss-cross stich, that locks them into place. And, that stitch isn't dropped until you have worked the whole cowl... hence the confusion!
It was easy to adjust this pattern for a smaller amount of yarn.  First I weighed my ball of yarn with my handy dandy digital scale (if I was a good blogger I'd have a photo of this step), then I cast on the larger size, and worked the ribbing as written.

I then weighed my ball again and subtracted that weight from the first weight; this is the amount I needed left over to finish the ribbing at the end.  I jumped into working the 4 round pattern, checking the weight on my ball as it got smaller.  When it weighed close to the same amount as for the ribbing, I discontinued the stitch, dropped the stitches (SO FUN!) and worked the ribbing before binding off.  Easy!
And then once it was done... I convinced the girl to take some photos of me attempting to be super super serious.... thanks Miss B you can really catch the essence of your Ma!

11.12.2014

Time for a Nautical Knitting Cruise!

So, whatcha doing Dec 5th- 10th, 2015?
Want to join Melissa Leapman, Patty Lyons and myself on a little Crucero to the Western Caribbean? (that's Spanish for Cruise!)

Nautical Knitting takes place on Royal Caribbean’s beautiful Brilliance of the Seas and departs from Tampa, Florida on Dec 5th, 2015. It is bound for Key West and Cozumel... the class schedule is amazing! I'm teaching some new classes AND designing a shawl just for the event! I'm already searching for the perfect yarn for it! Or maybe I should design that bikini y'all have been asking for?


You can see boat information class schedule, fees, and sign up info here. You can either pay via credit card on-line or print out the registration and send it in with a check.  It is necessary to book your room on the cruise through Joel (see link above) at the same time to be part of the group.

I've set up a thread in my Ravelry group so we can get the party started! I have some ideas for evening events that are going to be humorous!

This is going to be SUCH A BLAST!  Who is in?

11.06.2014

M-Club Sign-Ups closing soon!

Don't miss out.... next year's M Club is going to be amazing... the exclusive yarns and patterns I have in store for the club are unbelievable... keeping secrets this big is HARD!
Last year's M Club was phenomenal; tons of fun and learning was had by all. Julie, one of last year's members, summed up all that was learned perfectly here.
Enrollment closes on Nov 10th, or when we fill up, whichever comes first. So, sign up here! I have added a deposit option for those that who would prefer it. Please e-mail me for details.

10.23.2014

ChiaoGoo Giveaway!

Last week, Julie from ChiaoGoo got in touch with me to see if I would do a giveaway for their new Interchangeable Sets.... and who can say no to giving you all the opportunity to win something I already bought, own and LOVE?
So, I have one each of the new 4" TWIST and SPIN Small Interchangeable Needles sets to giveaway.  The sets include US tip sizes 2 - 8, 8" cables, end stoppers, cable connector, stitch marker, needle gauge and a nifty case.  I don't think these have started shipping to shops yet... so y'all are really getting a treat!

I actually don't have this set, I bought 4" tips individually to put into my current set, but if this set had existed when I went shopping I would have bought it instead : )! 4 inch tips come in super handy... you can use them for working anything in a smaller diameter, like a hat, or sleeve, or cowl as they work with an 8" cord.  I've also found it really handy to have a second set of tips when I'm working on multiple projects at once (which is like all the time)!

The Knockout Knits tour is almost over, I'm off to Chicago this weekend for Vogue Knitting Live, and then to the DC area to teach at Fibre Space and The Yarn Spot on Nov 6th - 9th, and then it's time to take a break... I think I want to have Thanksgiving in my pajamas. During all this travel I've been working on a super secret collection for a super secret new yarn for one of my favorite yarn companies.... I hope to have sneak peeks to show soon.  It's so hard keeping secrets.... and I've got some holiday knitting AND some M Club knitting to do so I need to wrap it up!

Have you started planning your holiday knitting?  What's ready for the needles?  Maybe the sets above will come in handy. Just leave a comment below letting us know your holiday knitting plans.  Now's the time to make them!  I'll close the comments on 11/29 at midnight EST and randomly choose two winners the next day!

Thankyou ChiaoGoo!!!!! (Also, I love that ChiaoGoo means Crafty Lady in Chinese!)

10.22.2014

New Cambio and Stereo Colors for Fall!

I'm excited to finally share two new color ways I've been working on for the Cambio Kits...
 (both Cowl and Cap)
Introducing Fuschia (above) and Lichen (below)! I had such a hard time choosing two new Freia colors to add to the line, but in the end these were clear winners.
And, since I introduced a new solid color from Jill Draper Makes Stuff in Esopus it meant I got to design a new Stereo Cuff as well.... It's called Moonless, and I love it so much I want to marry it! I actually made this one for Jill to give her at Rhinebeck, but decided I needed to keep it... guess I need to make her one before I see her at Vogue Knitting Live (where I'm teaching and she's vending) in January!
And finally.... I've announced the fabulous yarny prizes for the Magmatic BOOM KAL in my Ravelry group.  Check it out!
I'll have all these new colorways with me this weekend at The Windy Knitty Booths #102-104 at Vogue Knitting Live... I'll be there Saturday 1 - 3 signing copies of Knockout Knits and trying not to buy all the yarn!

10.14.2014

Rhinebeck bound with a sweater!!!

YES! I finished my sweater in time for Rhinebeck! I've been working on my Lopi Affection since earlier this summer, and it's actually done!
I blame Kay Gardiner for this sweater as I was innocently reading Twitter one night when she shared it and at midnight suddenly I found myself buying yarn and the pattern... you know the story!
I love Lett Lopi for light warm sweaters, but find it itchy as all get out, so I used Quince and Co Osprey from stash on the cuffs, hem and yoke to protect my delicate skin. This worked out well, all I had to do was go down a needle size for the yoke so it didn't bag out.
I made the second to smallest size, and didn't mod it other than decided to add the two extra sts for the steek.  I wasn't sure if I would button or zip it but once I finished it (with a hand sewn ribbon facing) and tried it on with a button I decided a zipper would be more wearable and flattering.  I sewed in the zipper OVER the ribbon and I'm finding it a bit stiff.  I might need to snip it out and reapply the zipper without the ribbon, but that will have to wait until a snow storm hits.
Who knows what the weather will be like at Rhinebeck... but chances are you'll see me wearing my new sweater! I've got a full schedule besides being out shopping or waiting in line for Artichoke French, I'll also be in Building A, booth 25 helping The Spinning Room show/sell my kits and I've got some signings for Knockout Knits and meet-ups scheduled!

Saturday
10-11:30- Merrit Books Building B (in the back)
12:00- Ravelry meet up (on the hill)
3:30-5:00- Merrit Books Building B (in the back)

Sunday
10-11:30- Merrit Books Building B (in the back)
12:00- Ravelry meet up (on the hill)
3:00-4:00- Merrit Books Building B (in the back)

But first, I'm off to Ohio to shoot a segment of Knitting Daily TV!  Life is certainly not boring : )! (Follow me on Instagram or Twitter if you want to keep up with that adventure!)

10.13.2014

Tutorial: The Making of a Magic Ball (with Magic Knots!)


I've been a wee bit obsessed with designing for magic ball knitting lately and decided it was time to make a photo tutorial to show the magic knot I use for joining skeins and teach you a few tricks about having it be successful. Jane Richmond has an excellent video that shows this knot, which is how I learned about it.  Thanks Jane!


Step 1: Choose Your Yarn!  I decided to play with my LYS's excellent "stash" of Knitted Witt Gumballs for this tutorial. I choose enough to knit another Gusto as I can't really get enough of that pattern! (From the bottom to the top: Silver Lining, Oregon Sky, Honey Lavender, Buckle My Shoes, Winter's Night, Prussian Blue, Guy Noir) You can join together yarns in stash (see note below), or have a base yarn and join bits of color throughout it (like I did for Magmatic Boom).  This is where you get to be CREATIVE! If you aren't sure about the amount you can use a digital scale to weigh your odds and ends. Then begin to wind your yarn.
Step 2: Lay down the two ends you want to join with the tails going in opposite directions.
Step 3: Take one end and go underneath the other end to the opposite side.
Step 4: Then bring that end back over and lay it across itself.
Step 5: Then take that end and go inside the loop you have created to make a overhand knot.
Step 6: Pull tight.
Step 7: Repeat with other tail.



Step 8:  Holding onto the working yarn, start to pull in opposite directions.
Step 9:  Keep pulling, the two knots will slide together.
Step 10: Pull all the way tight!
Step 11: Trim the ends VERY close to the knot, sharp scissors help!
Step 12: Test your knot by yanking on it HARD! If you do not follow these steps exactly the knot will pop apart! 
 
I want to make a note that this knot is not perfect for every yarn and you should definitely test it with your yarn before you commit to it. I've heard that it doesn't work well with single ply yarn, yarns with high silk content, and cellulose based fibers (like cotton, rayon and tencel).  You can put a bit of Fray Check on it, which will make it hold... but just do a test first to be sure, sometimes it can change the color and hand of your fiber. Your other choice for joining the ends is to use a Russian Join, which will work on wool fibers but not the other fibers listed above.

(As seen on Knitty.com's blog)