Knitting in the New Year

Happy New Year, Knitters!

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paper chains made by Belle

After a very busy holiday yarn season, we all took a week off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

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With Christmas and Hannukkah so close, it was a whirlwind, with matzo ball soup and candles at my parents’ then  our family’s traditional homemade Swedish Meatball Christmas Eve dinner here. Every year, we make up a new 12 Days of Christmas song to reflect the events of the year, so this one included “nine baseball players,” “three weeks of clouds,” and “A Sasha under the tree.”

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this little hat was a gift from my mom, handknit and fairly traded

After The Best Christmas Ever(tm), with brunch at our place and dinner at Mom and Dad’s, we took a whirlwind trip to Michigan to check out Mike’s dad’s tree, 12 feet tall with more than a thousand ornaments. Little Buddy found the pickle.

Then two days and two cakes of celebrating Li’l Buddy’s birthday. German Chocolate cake is a family tradition, and it’s an old-fashioned one, with egg separating both for the cake and the frosting. But man, is it worth the time. The kids who came over for a sleepover (just a few this year) got homemade chocolate cupcakes with ganache.

And then it was New Year’s Eve, and frankly, my dears, we were partied out. I snuggled up in our new flannel sheets with a laptop and Dr. Who (season 3, David Tennant, now my favorite Doctor) while Lil Buddy hung out with friends and MIke and Belle puzzled the evening away.

IMG_1703 If you’re puzzlers, I highly recommend this particular one, the Fairytale Fantasia. I have never seen a more intricate, detailed picture, though its complexity isn’t for the faint of puzzle-heart.

And now it’s 2015! Today we’re back to work in the Lair for one big day before the weekend, doing exciting end-of-2014-things like inventory and taxes. But we’ve got a new year of yarn creating and knitting!

Knit this Year 

I took a few luxurious moments to revisit my favorite projects on Ravelry, and though my knitting time is limited these days, a girl can dream! Here’s what I’m hoping to work up this year:

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Moyen Age; this is my dream sweater to knit for myself this year. I just find this delicate design by Hada Knits captivating, and it looks good on all of the Ravelers who’ve posted photos.

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Knotted Pine, by Alicia Plummer; love these cables, with just enough texture and changes to keep it interesting.

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My mom loves the Manly Scarf in progress Mike, so she requested a version for herself using the 100% cashmere Trapeze yarn I dyed for her for Christmas. A (Wo)manly scarf! This pattern uses a classic texture pattern for a timeless effect and it’s perfect car or waiting room knitting.

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Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s patterns always intrigue me, and I’d love to try the unusual stitch in her Moko-Moko cowl.

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Of course, Susie Anderson is on the list, with her 50-Row Shawl I’ve been itching to try. A worsted-weight shawl would be so comfy in the winter.

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Dandelion Days cowl; big surprise, I love the combination of cables and lace in this compelling cowl.

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In fingering, I’m going to try the Ici Paris Beret for my mom; she loves Paris, and I’ve been curious about the Eiffel Tower Stitch for years.

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I want the Zag-Edged Scarf for myself; the combo of garter stitch and a nice edging looks like a sure winner for the actual knitting time I have, which is usually while playing Big Bang Clue or watching Modern Family with our own family.

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Et Frais would make a perfect use for our gradient yarns in the 25g balls. That texture looks super fun.

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The Accelerating Stripes mitts, of course, would make a perfect canvas for some Gradient Stripes action. Belle would love a pair of these.

For socks, I always use Susie Anderson’s How I Make My Socks or Wendy Johnson’s toe-up basic slip-stitch heel pattern, but this year I’d like to try the Fleegle heel with the Time Traveler Socks and some nice patterning with RPM, like Cindy did in our KAL earlier this year.

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Kirsten Kapur creates lovely patterns and I’d love to knit up her Snow Drops and Snap Peas shawl, as well as my perennial favorite, Cladonia.

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What are you knitting this year?

Have a great one,

Jaala

Working like Elves

Hi, Knitters,

Wow, it always seems like the holiday season trots by so fast, like a speeded-up jingle sleigh. We’ve been working like elves in the Lair, trying to go as fast as possible to fill everyone’s orders. We bought in a new person, Lena, to do wet processing (rinsing, steaming, etc) and that’s helped us speed up dyeing significantly. If you’ve ordered dyed-to-order yarn, please know that we are doing everything we can to get it to you soon.

Christmas Home

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Last weekend, our family went to Summer’s Christmas Tree Farm to find our lovely tree. Belle was under the weather, so we chose a precut fir, but still got to let Sasha sniff all around and have our traditional cider donut and brats cooked al fresco by the Appleberry Farm folks. You can see decoration in progress in the pic above.

Mulberry Street

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About the my new patterns,the Mulberry Street Hat and Cowl; I apologize, at first the Mulberry Street Cowl pdf hadn’t loaded properly, but it’s up there now, so please click over to Ravelry and download it you haven’t yet! I hope these quick knits will help you through your last-minute gift list. 🙂

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Holiday Fun

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The kids have been stumbling out first thing in the morning (and it is early, because middle school around here starts at 7:20) to find the little treats I stash in the pocket for the Advent Calendar. My cool friends had one similar when I was young and I swore I would one day make one for my own kids. I actually created this felt one when they were little (maybe three and four?). It’s so fun to see that The Yarn Harlot made one this year! Of course, her ornaments are way more beautiful and complicated than mine.

Lil Buddy already put the pickle ornament in the last pocket for Christmas Eve. We’ve adopted the tradition of the finder getting a special treat on Christmas morning after hearing about it at a relatives’ house.

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A little treat I’m doing for my family is a new holiday desktop for our living room computer each day. Above is today’s, from Wallpapers in HD.

Every year for the last few, we’ve had fun putting our photos (including cats and now dog, of course!) into Elf Yourself and laughing along as the velvet-clad cancers jump and jig away.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Hat and Cowl Knitting, Sale Yarns and Holidays Yes

The holidays approacheth! I love hosting, getting out the good china, and making pumpkin pies (I think I might need to practice that one this weekend so the T-day ones are perfect…)

Here’s wishing all of you US knitters safe travels, enjoyable times with family and friends and plenty of time to knit over the holiday.

Cold Weather; Knit Faster!

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Look at this awesome t-shirt my mom got for me! This pretty much sums it up…You can find it at Northern Sun. If you’re more girly, this is a unisex style, but I think it’s perfect for layering in the Lair. 🙂

On My Needles

During this latest cold snap, I realized that the handknitter has no knits! I love wristwarmers and wear them all winter whenever my hands aren’t in buckets of rinsing yarn. I’m working on a pair of the new Gradient Stripe Handwarmers for myself in Hummingbird.

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I’m also working up a quick textured hat and cowl set for myself to keep out the winter wind. Patterns coming soon.

Over the long weekend, when I’m not hosting, feasting and playing indoor mini-golf (new family tradition) I’m thinking about whipping up Kirsten Kapur’s One Day Beret for my sister-in-law and trying some simple ornament designs to surprise the kids…

What are you all knitting? Lots of holiday gifts?

Let It Snow

It’s been very January-like here, with a couple of inches of snow staying on the ground.

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Sasha was excited because the whole backyard was covered with something she could eat. She kept bounding around, snuffling at the ground, then licking her muzzle.

Sale Yarns and Holiday Orders

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More knitters have ordered yarn from us in the last two months than ever before, and we are immensely grateful! I’m dyeing up yarn as fast as I can (including on weekends) and if you’ve ordered yarn, you’ll still get it by Christmas.

We’re making sure to put up ready-to-ship yarns every day between now and December 21st, and to help your holiday jingle,we’ve added many Sale items to the store; just as soft and knittable as all the rest, but unusual colors, or with small color spotting, one knot, etc.

Indie Gift-a-Long

Wow, 293 independent designers are participating this year! This is a great chance to get literally thousands of wonderful patterns on sale, and they’ve got tons of activities, KAL’s and chances to win goodies in the Giftalong Group on Ravelry.

Have a lovely weekend and stay warm,

Jaala

A Few of My Favorite Things

Some things I love this summer:

Puppy Love

I had my doubts about a dog, but Belle is really stepping up her responsibility, and Sasha really could not be cuter or more fun. She loves every single person that comes to meet her.

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alert puppy!
alert puppy!

Little Library Love

photo: Little Free Library site
photo: Little Free Library site

Madison has a delightful program with tiny house-shaped bookstands that have popped up around the city in front yards, schoolyards and unexpected places over the last few years. The Little Free Library is just what it sounds like; open it up, take out a book or magazine, or put one in! We have one right on our block, there’s at least one on the way to school, and two in the school garden, so we have lots of chances to find new-to-us books, magazines and poetry.

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One of my favorite Little Free Library finds so far; the House on Mango Street, by Sandra CIsneros. I’ve heard of it for a long time and finally got to read it; short vignettes beautiful and heartbreaking. Easy to pick up and put down and worth every minute.

Kitty Love

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We had a dry spell, and Squeak found the perfect place to nap. Come on in, birdies, the water’s fine!

 Cherry Love

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cherries!

Our energetic little cherry tree is full of fruity goodness! Traditionally, our first cherry dish is sour cherry ice cream, which made last night. Tart, creamy, with sweet chocolate chunks…yum! Next we’ll probably do a cherry pie or tart.

150-g Gradient Love

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Goodness gracious, big cakes o’ yarn!

New in the Lair: a lot of popular shawls, like all of Martina Behm’s, require 150 g of fingering weight yarn, and our gradients just came in 100g skeins. You asked for bigger gradients, and we listened! I love the heft and longer color runs of these new cakes!(The Shades of Gray in the middle left shows you how much bigger they are than our usual 100-g skeins.) Grab one here.

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My newest knitting project; designing a shawl with one of these babies! Super fun.

Little Baseball Love

outta there!
outta there!

I guess this is the time of year to feel proud of my Little Buddy; his regular season Little League team had playoffs this weekend, and in their second game, he hit his first home run! They made it to our local Little League Championship, so we’re crossing his fingers for a good game tomorrow evening.

New Pattern: My Darling Wristwarmers

Hey, Knitters!

my darling mitts in the snow
my darling mitts in the snow

It’s such a busy time in the Lair, working on a huge, secret project and getting the Gradient Club orders out, but last weekend, I took a little time to make my daughter a knitted treat. These little wristwarmers knit up so fast and were such potato-chip knitting (can’t make just one) that I had to share them with you.

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One of the schoolteachers in my grown-up knitting class brought in mitts similar to this and asked if she could knit some new ones. Knit flat, no thumb gusset, seamed up the side, worsted weight…as it turns out, perfect beginner mitts! When I bound them off, the finished purple mitts were instantly claimed by my darling daughter. She loves them, and I love that she loves them!

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So I called them My Darling Mitts, after my sweet tweenager. My li’l darlin’ girl hasn’t had an easy run of it, and has endured years of sickness and other health challenges. I don’t know if we finally found the right pieces of the puzzle or she’s just growing out of some of it (please, please, please yes) but she’s seemed really happy lately. Not sick, not sad, but energetic, hopping about, hugging us, crossing her eyes, making jokes.

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So here’s to my lil darlin.’ I wish everyone the best health and happiness for the new year. These mitts have some very happy mojo in them to pass on!

Take care,

Jaala

PS I forgot to mention that the yarn is Knitcircus Harlequin in the Tiny Princess colorway. You could easily substitute any light worsted yarn like Tosh DK, Berocco Vintage or Malabrigo Rios.

Long Weekend Knitting

Happy belated Thanksgiving and Black Friday/Craft Friday to everyone!

After all of the cleaning and prepping, Thanksgiving went off wonderfully smoothly. We had 11 people here, but didn’t have to do all the cooking. My dad makes the turkey and gravy, my mom the cranberry-apple sauce and green jello (we are midwestern, after all). Mike made his famous garlic green beans, my brother brought two kinds of mashed potatoes and I was in charge of the pies. Because our family now comprises several special diets, we only made pumpkin pie, but two good ol’ Libby’s pumpkin pie, one gluten-free pie and one low-carb/no sugar pie.

pumpkin goodness!
pumpkin goodness!

Every year, Thanksgiving means taking out the Wedgwood at our house. We don’t have much family on my Dad’s side, so using my grandmother’s wedding china always feels very special. We always unwrap each piece from its newspaper cradle very carefully and save the same newspaper for next year.

they don't make it like they used to
they don’t make it like they used to

Because our family’s  a melting pot of religions, right after Thanksgiving and before we pulled out the handmade Advent calendar, Grammy and Buppa invited us for Hannukkah dinner. (We lit all of the candles because  Buppa will be out of town for the last half of Hannukkah).

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And, remember how I’m not doing any holiday knitting? Well, I might sneak in one project….

IMG_1795My dad has been hinting for years that he would love some heavy ski socks to replace the ones our dear departed Grandma Misa made way back when. It’s a perfect chance to try out the 100% Blue-Faced Leicester superwash base I’ve been dyeing up. (This is the Enchanted Forest colorway). My darning skills aren’t up to snuff, but I may track down somebody at the Sow’s Ear or Knitting Tree to patch up the originals, too.

We didn’t really participate in Black Friday, or Craft Friday, having a Baseball and Movie Friday instead, but I love the #CraftFriday idea!

Saturday and Sunday, I spent a good deal of time in the Lair, working on yarn for a big wholesale order (shhh, it’s a secret) and getting packages together for the All Wrapped Up and Gradient clubs. Both are just waiting on final pattern layout to start hitting the mailboxes!

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Yarn Sale Continues

Thanks to everyone who’s purchased yarn in the Yarn-a-palooza kettle-dye sale! It’s not just a Cyber Week thing; I’ll probably keep it up for the next couple of weeks, since I still have more kettle-dyes and handpaints to add!

Happy December, everybody!

Jaala

 

 

 

Tiny Treads Review and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you wonderful knitters. You make my heart happy.

My mom stopped by this morning to give me this treat; she’s pretty much the Queen of Hearts.

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She got the cookie stamp on her trip to Paris last year and saved it just for today. 🙂

Hope you all have a lovely day full of sweet surprises.

Book Review: Tiny Treads

Knitting socks for kids is such a treat; they don’t take too long and, if you’re lucky, they still think it’s really cool to have handmade things. One child at my kids’ school wears hand-knitted socks every day, and he (and his knitting mom) are a local legend in knitting. This book will give me a leg up on getting my own kids’ feet toasty in superwash!

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Joeli Caparco, who I already know is an excellent pattern writer, since she has edited some of my patterns, fits a lot of content into this book!

Before you cast on, she gives tips on knitting for kids, choosing yarns and washing kids’ socks to get you ready to fit and knit your kids. Size charts are given for both US and European sizes form tiny baby to kids US 7, which almost crosses into adult sizes. She doesn’t choose favorites, instead giving you a recipe for both top-down and toe-up socks, plus 10 patterns for socks, slippers and legwarmers with textured, cabled and lacy stitches to try.

The patterns really do provide a canvas for trying new techniques, from the simple knit-purl of Sandman to the more complicated charted cables of Crooked Styles and lace of Contrary Cockleshells (below).

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The pictures of toddlers on playground structures and chubby baby feet definitely enhance the enjoyment of this graphically-appealing book. Highly recommended for anyone with little feet in their lives!

Thanks so much to Cooperative Press for providing a review copy of Tiny Treads! Photos © 2012, Joeli Caparco, Luke William Johnson and Kate Heppell