Petrea is here!

So very excited! Amy Herzog has released a new pattern, Petrea, using Mad Color Sweet! Current stock of Sweet is now available in the Mad Color shop as well as pre-order kits in 9 semi-solid colorways. (You are getting the pattern for free with the kit!)  Check out the kit, which comes in three sizes, in the Mad Color store under Patterns.


(Pattern photos by Caro Benna Sheridan.)

Dropped purls


This weekend, I had the very exciting opportunity (yes, this is my kind of excitement) to teach my cousin and her daughter — I call her my niece, and no one will tell me otherwise — to knit. They truly were naturals! Now, however, I am home, and Nikki is an hour away and running into the occasional issue. The error that had her up half the night was a dropped stitch. Oh yes, she got the perfectionist gene. It runs strong in our family. So, I put together a video to help her pick up her stitches from the purl side, as that is the side on which she was working, as well as a video on putting in a life line. Hopefully, it will help out some other folks as well.
On a side note, watching the video I have realized that I desperately need to moisturize my hands. Yikes!


This was my first time making any type of a tutorial or video, so be gentle!

Getting ready for Fiber Festival


…a little taste of what will be in the booth this weekend… http://www.thebige.com/ese/ESEEvents/Fiber_Festival.asp
Booth #446!
(Please forgive the poor lighting in the pic!)

Contest!

Just a little quickie post — How about a little contest? Looking for a name for a new lace yarn line — 80% merino/20%silk. Lovely stuff (strong, smooth…love!). I’d love a name that evokes the wispy, ethereal feel of lace yarn, possibly something that is musical in nature, to accompany the 50/50 blend, “Ayre”. Random name to be chosen from commenters gets a skein of the new line in your choice of available colors (one entry per person, please).
Also, if you haven’t yet, head on over to the Facebook fan page to be the first to get news on all things Sereknity.

Thinking about color

It used to be that I would go through my day thinking about color, or, more specifically, color schemes or colorways. I’d see a lovely flowering tree or a fantastical emerald beetle and begin plotting which colors to pull from the image, what dyes to use to achieve the shade, and what sequence by which to paint the skein. I still think in color, constantly, but there has been a great shift in emphasis. I rarely think in terms of sequencing anymore. The precise sequencing results in a truly variegated skein and is often best left to knits of a simple sort that allows the colors and yarn to speak for itself. A simple stockinette sock, in wild colors, that perhaps pools at whim, or creates lovely little swirly stripes can be a thing of fun and beauty. I have many of these colorways in the repertoire and love them dearly, but my mind just doesn’t go there very often, creatively speaking, anymore.
Presently, I am mired in thoughts of semi-solid colors. Subtly shifting stitches of highlights and lowlights, and layers of color giving depth to each strand, enticing a glow of color from within. I am drawn more to colors that I would like to wear and those that suit the patterns that I want to knit. I must confess, I am not much of a sock knitter. I love hand-knit socks, and have a queue loaded with interesting patterns, and have even started a fair number of pairs. Finishing, however, is a whole other story. I am a sweater knitter. I can finish an entire sweater in half the time it takes to make a pair of sock. I tend toward more classic subtle colors in my attire. I love cables, and lace, and marvel at the development of stitch patterns within the knitted piece as they build row by row. I want yarn that compliments this, and enhances it, not yarn that battles for attention. I want yarn that I can paint with, in terms of stranded colorway designs, but that is also interesting enough in its own right.
I think I have made a bit of a reputation for myself for having bold, bright color. I worry if folks will feel some of that is lost with the introduction of so many colors in this new vein? (The established favorites are not going anywhere, tho, rest assured!) Certainly, that need not be the case! Bright and bold and clear — colors that make me smile (I have always insisted on bright sunshiney colors for my umbrellas, to combat the gloom of a rainy day. My husband thinks I am strange.) — will always be first and foremost in my mind, followed closely by rich, deep, equally bold but somehow more sophisticated tones that make me want to bite them. As I delve further and further into this art of fiber, I constantly find new and interesting things to try, and to perfect. It is never static. My goodness, how I love my job.
What inspires your knitting and color choices?

Overrun

For the past week or two, most of my free time has been spent gutting the laundry room/tool room/craft pile/junk depository that abuts the studio. I have simply become so overrun with STUFF and stock and supplies that I can hardly move. Sadly, we (my family and I) are atrocious pack rats, and we have “stored” (losely used term for throwing crap upon crap upon good stuff now turned to crap) so many odds and ends from construction are renovation that really, are they worth it? A resounding “no” is the answer. The clean-out has allowed me to expand the studio a bit, and do some hefty re-organizing, but is certainly bringing out my tendency to overthink every. little. thing. Will the dye jugs be more useful stored in the laundry area or the studio area? What about the trays? Buckets? Should they all be together or split up? Do non-yarn craft supplies even belong in the studio? but if I put them in the laundry area, does that take up too much room for the jugs? and do the jugs really belong there anyway? and what about dyed vs. un-dyed stock? and stash? and and and …
ahh! Brain explosion imminent. (And so I sit here and blog about it because I can’t make a decision. doh.)
I have at least made enough headway that I can put some semi-solids to dye in their base color baths. Finally back to the color! Most of the week will be spent skeining, but I do have some Perfect ready to go, and about 10 lbs. of Verity. Now the color decisions (oh dear, not this again). I’m thinking I need to replenish Rock Lobster and Envy, and then Dionysus (a deeep plum purple),
Purple People Eater (Brighter “true” purple), Floozy (deep, hot pink),
Coal, and Caramel macchiato are all in the running. Or maybe some Margaritaville, or Fallin’, or Forbidden Fruit?
Off to make some of those decisions! Pictures when all is said and done.
…and on the colors — input is always welcome!

Promised linkies!

First, my Clotilde


…I love her so. You can find the pattern at Alison’s blog or in her Ravelry store. She has such gorgeous things.
My Jaali, also by Alsion, has come much further along than this early picture, and is also being done in Verity. Find Jaali at Twist Collective!

My gorgeous friend Jackie has also knit a stunning Sassymetrical in Verity in the Envy colorway. (I’d post a pic, but haven’t asked her yet, so y’all will have to use the Ravelry link — and if you aren’t on Rav yet, why the heck not? lol)

and then there are the up-coming fairs…
NH Sheep and Wool Festival, May 8th and 9th, Hopkinton, NH

Acadia Fiber Fair, Saturday, May 22


Maine Fiber Frolic, Windsor, ME, June 5 & 6

Fiber Revival, Newbury, MA (site is not yet updated, but bookmark it — it will be!)

and
New England Fiber Festival, Nov. 6 & 7, in West Springfield, MA.

Hey, wow, look at that…

…I thought I was going to have to do all kinds of crazy changes to the old blog here, but apparently this is not an FTP blog after all (whatever that is) and all my hesitancy to post was for naught. This is a good thing.

SO, been a while. Life, as always, has been a series of ups and downs coming at what seems to be break neck pace. On the business side, I have so much to tell you! On the personal side, much will be left unsaid, but know that the hubster and kids are great — I could be completely obnoxious and subject you all to home videos, but I think I’ll leave that special kind of torture to family for now. I will, however, say that much of 2010 was taken up with my son’s training for his Black Belt in Shaolin Kempo (and boy did he train hard!) and subsequent success. I am so crazy proud of him, and at the same time glad the pressure is off. The girl is getting ready to enter middle school next year, and still singing her little heart out at any school event that allows. Perhaps some more drama training this summer?

As for Sereknity, I had a fantastic time at NETA Spa Knit and Spin once again this year (although I was in the throes of bronchitis for the weeks prior, during, and after — that part? not so much fun). Unfortunately, due to my illness and some worry, illness, concern, and loss in our extended family, it has taken me far too long to get “back to business”, but back I am! The Etsy shop is slowly being re-stocked and I even have new lines to list! I debuted two wonderful new yarns at Spa — Verity, an DK 100% merino superwash that is my absolute FAVORITE new yarn. It is so springy with a fantastic twist, takes color beautifully (although I have found I have to work a bit harder to get the color to soak through to the middle of the twist, but it is oh so worth it)and it has great stitch definition. I am working on Alison Greenwill’s Jaali from Twist in Rock Lobster with this yarn, and have also knit another design by Alison, Clotilde, using the Blue Lagoon colorway. LOVE IT. I have so many ideas for this yarn, and it a super versatile gauge. I have also brought in another new sweater yarn, Puro, a 100% wool heavy worsted. This is a perfect go-to yarn for just about any project. I am slowly working up a fun cardi pattern for this that should be ready by fall. Both yarns will be available in semi-solid hand-painted colorways. The Verity has been photoed and will be on the Etsy site by the end of the weekend and I hope to have the Puro up shortly thereafter. Bear with me, tho — I am also getting the studio cleaned out, reorganized, and expanded to hold more stock and get ready for the boat loads of dyeing I’ll be doing in the coming months.

On that note, in addition to a number of wholesale orders on the docket, I’ll be vending this year at the NH Sheep and Wool Festival on Mother’s Day weekend. Come see me! This is one of my favorite fairs, and I have always attended as my Mother’s day Gift to myself, but finally chose to work it this year. For me, “work” is a bit of a misnomer for fair vending. The work is done getting ready for the events, and of course in the set-up and break down (but I have gotten that much more streamlined, and have had great help from friends!), but the fair days themselves — love them! I have so much fun meeting new folks and seeing “old” friends that I usually walk away on quite a natural high. I am also slated to be at the new Acadia Fiber Fair (May — ME), the Fiber Frolic (June — ME), Fiber Revival in Newbury (August — MA — I could never miss this one!), and another new event in November that looks to be a big one — the Fiber Festival of New England (MA).

A little note on patterns — I’m working on them!! I had a few samples of some original Sereknity designs at Spa that got great reception. The various personal issues alluded to above have contributed to delays in publishing the patterns, but I also found some errors, esp. in the shawlette, after they were test knit. The cowl pattern will be published free here to the blog shortly, but I do want to work up a new version of the shawlette prior to publishing, to be sure the kinks are worked out. I promise — it will be worth it! I have no desire to cause anyone frustration in his/her knitting, and the end results of the revisions make the garment just that much prettier. I also have a colorwork sock pattern (ring a bell?)that just wasn’t making me perfectly happy — and if you know me at all, it won’t be a shock that I can’t put it “out there” unless I am perfectly happy — so that will be re-worked a bit once the others have been published. One step at a time, right?

But I am running out of time now, so I’ll put up a separate post later today of pictures and linkies of all the good things mentioned above.

It’s good to be back. :)

The Eyes have it


The Eye of Jupiter took on a bit of a life of its own over the past few months, and has left me with much yarn and fiber to play with.
First, my socks (which for some odd reason, I just can’t get done! Perhaps in subconscious protest due to the fact I don’t want the show to be done?). Briefly, I am knitting them in the Classica merino/nylon base, they were started over a year ago (I’m just not a quick sock knitter), toe up, plain foot, scrap yarn for afterthought heel, Crusoe pattern for the cuff, two-at-a-time, magic-loop. And I somehow managed, once I picked them up again for “karate knitting”, to knit the two socks together. See those little crossed over threads?

Yeah, not good. So a-tinking I went. How on earth did I knit 4 rows without noticing the socks were joined?
Then, there was the tam from my last post. It will be winging its way overseas to a friend who will get a kick — and hopefully a lift — from the bright colors.
Lastly, while vending at Spa, a customer in my booth pointed to this colorway stating that, “yeah, but when you spin it, it will look like mud.” Being the obsessive person I am, I had to spin some for myself.
As with most space-dyed tops, the spinner actually has many options. The preparation can be stripped out randomly and plied together with little forethought, which may result in “mud” or can create a pleasant blending of colors, depending on the colors present in the top. It can be spun as a single, chain-plied to preserve stretches of color, or stripped in a conscious effort to manipulate the colors. I took a small length of the colorway and broke it out into color sections in an a-b-c-d fashion (yellow-red-orange-blue) as it was painted. Then, I took one length and split it in quarters and spun them in the same a-b-c-d order. Then I took another section and spun without splitting a-b-c-d fashion on a seperate bobbin, and then plied these together.
The result?
No mud!

I knit a fairly large swatch to show all the color shifts.

I do think if I were to make a larger garment, I would only strip the top in half, rather than quarters, to get longer sections of color, but I do think this technique would be great for entrelac. I am debating frogging the sample to make Quant. Or I just may have to spin out some other colorways to play with. What a hardship, huh?
(oh yeah, and guess what? I have a new wheel!! more on the next post)

Back in the Saddle

Ok, so it has been a long hard winter (but hooray! today is the first day of Spring!). Ice storms, snow storms, illnessafterillnessafterillness. I have been laid-out sick four times — twice with a stomach bug — since Christmas, and the kids too many times to count. And when they haven’t been home either sick or on another accursed snow day (and I haven’t been confined to bed or the couch) I have been DYEING. While one wouldn’t know it from stock in the Etsy shop, my little business has kept me very busy. I had the good fortune of being “Harlotted” for my homage to Battlestar Galactica (only 3 — strike that — 1! episode left!!) which certainly had me hoping while I was also trying to prepare for NETA Spa Knit and Spin. Busy, busy, busy!
In my silence, I have also been knitting. A lot. In fact I completed nearly two sweaters. The first of which is a major UGH — made of Patons Bella on size huge needles I attempted to alter the pattern given for the yarn to knit in the round, top-down raglan with waist shaping.

Well, the neck is too tight, the shaping pulls in too much and shows too much belly, I completely messed up the increases, but did find a creative way to stitch over and make them look a bit more matching, but all in all this will be frogged. Buh-bye. I hate it, feel fat in it, and it hurt to knit on big needles with such bulky, heavy yarn. So much for stash busting.
The second sweater more than made up for this one, tho! I knit Francis Revisited in Artful Yarns Fragrance in a lovely deep teal and can’t stop wearing it.

It fits beautifully, I love the collar (I didn’t tack it down and knit it all on the large size needle. Worked just fine) and the yarn was delightful to work with. Love it!!
Sadly, I haven’t felt perky enough for a photo shoot, so all you get is a poorly lit shot of it blocking with inaccurate color, but it is proof of completion!
I have also managed to crank out a few small samples knit with Sereknity Yarn.
(Again, I haven’t hauled out the light box, so these photos may be lacking in the color accuracy department, although not too bad.)
First a lovely mitten created form the free chart for Swirly Mittens using a generic wool/nylon sock form the stash and a new color, Rainbow Ripple on the Shimmer base. LOVE THIS MITTEN.


I have cast on for number 2 and will get back to it soon (I swear!). I fear my little girl will run off with them when they are done.
Then, another new color, Winter of my Discontent (told you it has been a rough one) dyed on Perfect Sock and knit up into the Good Luck Cowl.

I used a size 6 needle as I didn’t have a 5 in the correct length and it worked out perfectly, lightly blocked. The girl has stolen this one repeatedly.
I also had a remnant skein of Eye of Jupiter in Perfect and knit up a super quick little tam — La Parisenne Beret by SockPixie.

Fun and easy, and I only used the one color as I wanted to see what the colorway would do. I do wish I had gone down a needle size or two for the ribbing, and perhaps knit it a bit longer. Unblocked, the hat wasn’t slouchy enough, and blocked, the ribbing lost its stretch. BUT, it still sits nice and cute and casual on my head (esp. since I have a lot of hair) I just worry it will fall off, although it hasn’t yet.
And lastly, I have started Wisteria! I love, love, love this pattern, although my own inattention and attempting to knit on it when I really, really shouldn’t has lead to some tinking, I am nearly past the cable yoke section.

Yay! I am using the discontinued Adrienne Vitadini yarn Natasha in a so-pale-it-almost-isn’t-a-color green. This yarn has so much life in it. It is very springy, the fabric is soft and spongy, and the halo just lovely. I love the soft effect it gives to the cables. mmmmm. I’m using size seven needles to get gauge (or so my swatch tells me) and knitting a size 40 1/2.
(Man — wrote this post a week ago, and it has sat here waiting for pictures. So many new things to tell already! Tomorrow? Maybe even again today!)

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