These came in the mail today. I am in total, flat out, adoration, marry me and have my babies in love with the Spectrum skeins. They’re just sophisticated enough that the multiple, bright colors don’t scream tacky and the base is so soft and bouncy that it just brings the whole thing to another level. The yarn did however come in the middle of breakfast time and the SO eyed the package suspiciously. Not too happy with more yarn coming into the house. No need to say, I guess, that I still have a *few* more packages on the way.
I’ve then, been trying really, really hard to be good today and it’s actually been working. I bought two skeins of yarn yesterday - gorgeous shades of gray (my new love) but I think it’s almost enough for this month. As if it was a spectator sport though, I watched the French Market Fibers shop update come and go and am currently in the middle of the Tanis Fiber Arts one on Etsy. These OOAK skeins that Tanis dyes up for fun are really, really lovely - especially her blues. It’s kind of nice to sit back and watch the ‘show’ without really having to participate in it yourself. It’s especially fun to see the items flying off the shelves!
I’ve been taking copious notes though. I’m sooo late to the game, but Etsy has this great favorites features that you can save individual listings and then peruse your choices laid our next to one another. It’s really interesting to see what I fall for. Soft grays and neutrals with hints of green and blue - I love it. For the listings I couldn’t jump on today … next time, i’m thinking … you’ll be mine. One more sale to go - Lioness Arts later tonight, but if a skein of this Playright comes up, I don’t know how i’ll be able to resist!
Shop updates, or flash sales of specialty or indie hand-dyed yarn are not uncommon in our world, and most of us have experienced the thrills, the stress and even the troubling afterthoughts of attending such sales. Yarn goes up and the hoards more or less virtually descend. Most times you have to be quick – there may be only 1 or 2 skeins of your favorite color, or you might get distracted by new or unusual choices. Depending on the company, quick brains (Can I use that color? Do I have a pattern in mind? Do I really need more red yarn?) and even quicker fingers will get you what you want, but there is such a thing as being trigger happy – buying up lots because you justgottahaveit or because your competitive instinct kicks in. I fell prey to both accounts last week at the Madelinetosh sale – I hadtohave Sea Glass because everyone else wanted it. Now on second thought, do I even like green? Who knows.
Also currently, I shouldn’t really be buying more yarn – I don’t really need it – and yet my habit needs feeding and there are a few companies like The Uncommon Thread, Tanis Fiber Arts and The Plucky Knitter that are having shop updates on Etsy this weekend.
I’ve attended my fair share of flash sales, and while I don’t hit my target every time (buying a color I don’t like, buying too much, missing what I wanted) I think I know enough now to make a few suggestions on how to attend a successful sale. First of all, I think it’s super important to have fun and keep everything light (it’s only yarn!) But of course, it’s also necessary to be quick and you can only be quick if you know your tastes and your stash well, and try to come to the sale with a plan. Read on for more of my tips and suggestions:
1. Before the sale, do your homework. Is this a company you’re familiar with? If not, use Ravelry, the shop’s website, or Etsy previous sales to search listings and the project database. Which colors immediately catch your eye? Write the color names down and a list in order of preference, if you have to.
2. If you don’t have time to research, or just happen across a sale, keep in mind which colors are normally your favorite, you need more of or don’t look good on you. For example, I’m really into complex neutrals and grey tones right now. As much as I love purple, I really don’t need more purple yarn unless the color is TDF.
3. Likewise, keep your planned projects in mind. You probably don’t really need a sweater quantity right now if you have some stashed up. Weigh the pros and cons of the different bases offered vs. project choices. Buying 1 skein of worsted-weight yarn won’t get you very far if you never knit or wear hats or mitts, typical single skein projects.
4. If you’re trying or testing out a new dyer or company for the first time, keep your order small. There are a lot of skeins calling my name right now @ Plucky – but I’m resisting. I chose my favorite color that’s come up so far (Narragansett Gray – wow!) and brought one skein in Plucky Rustic with the concrete idea of making a hat. I’m sure I’ll love the yarn and my purchase, and will want to buy more, but if I don’t, I won’t have made a regrettable investment.
5. In the same vein, know your budget. I’m not only being stingy with my purchases because I want to test out this yarn (and some others, before the week is over!) but also because my bank account really needs it.
6. Pounce when appropriate. Is the color you’re contemplating super popular? Is there only one skein left? Cart jacking is unpleasant, and makes me feel pretty grumpy. Don’t stash things away in your cart hoping they’ll be there in a few hours or even a few minutes (or seconds! Erin, anyone?). Check your emotions to see if this ‘super’ yarn ‘feels right’ and then don’t think more if you really like it. Also keep in mind that most companies will combine shipping on same-day orders and issue you a refund (you may have to remind them), so you can check out multiple times while the update is happening.
7. Get your affairs in order. Because the best yarn can go in a flash, it’s really important to organize the things you need. Have you misplaced your Paypal password? Do you have your credit card on hand? Does the site have an account feature where you can pre-enter or write in your address and phone number? Handling these details well in advance of the sale means all you’ll have to do is click a few buttons to purchase.
8. It’s fun to diversify. At the same time as I’m saying all this, remember that sales and shop updates are supposed to be fun! A lot of times indie dyers come out with OOAK (one of a kind) colorways that are unexpected and can be super special and unique. Adding a rogue skein to your normal shopping or knitting routine can be really nice along with the addition of bragging rights of owning yarn that no one else will have. Also keep in mind that sometimes indie dyers will offer up mistake or test skeins and oddities, normally at markdown prices. These can be a great to save a little money, or test out a dyer that may be just a touch outside your comfort price zone.
9. Know when to stop. I would never tell anyone that hoarding is bad or that they shouldn’t buy up X-number of skeins in a sale – yet we all need to have our personal limit and try, if possible to reinforce it. I think most of us would appreciate a gentle reminder that we’ve had enough, when in fact we’ve had enough.
10. In with the new, out with the old. This isn’t really related to the sale itself, but just a suggestion that it can be positive to contemplate our stash at times. If you, like me, have been feeling the urge lately to buy a lot of new yarn, when you already have “a lot”, it might be because your tastes are changing and you may never, in reality knit up those errant lots you bought on a whim or when you first started knitting. Destashing, donating or even knitting up old yarn and saving the products for gifts can help to keep the balance of old and new in your stash.
With that in mind, I’m off to shop the Uncommon Thread update!
So in my quest to troll around the internet mainly checking out knitting stuff, procrastinating instead of actually writing my final projects, I’ve come across two independent magazines that I think are cool and would like to discuss for a second.
Firstly, I friggen love magazines, mostly home, fashion and travel and normally if I go to an airport or the like, I need to pick up like at least three of them. I’ve also recently discovered at my local library a plethora of English-language mags which i’m slowly working my way through. They even carry Vogue and Interweave, in the knitting topic related section even though I had to special order them ;)
But Vogue and Interweave have been around for like, a ton of years (I think) despite that this whole handmade-nation, DIY, crafting, fiber arts renaissance is on a comeback with a lot of young people like myself. Where are the fresh voices and ideas at?
I recently, discovered 2 mags - the PomPom Quarterly which is sold on Etsy and features this issue’s title “Knitting, Thinking, Embroidering, Drinking” (which I totally love) and the Genet Quarterly which I discovered reading this awesome blog. The magazine’s founder, Hannahbelle is trying to get it off the ground in June, and I totally hope she makes it. I love her taste in colors, yarns and patterns, btw, and she’s a seasoned blogger, so you should check her out anyway. I’m obviously not endorsed by any of these things but just thought they were interesting - I like that these publications seem to have a slightly feminist, edgy and fresh vibe about them, which I think totally fits in with my ideology about why I knit.
So, this all leads me to these questions -
What other independent crafting (especially knitting or fiber arts related) magazines do you read? Do others even exist? If you could choose any theme, ‘vibe’ (overall tone of the mag) or feature piece in a new crafting magazine, what would it be? Reblog this post, respond to it, PM me on ravelry or just muse on it!
My ‘research project’ of reading around Ravelry, Etsy, yarn blogs and other knitting-related materials hasn’t just given me new insights into style, projects and why we knit (or at least, what I enjoy about knitting) but they’ve had me reconsidering yarn too. Because after all, what yarn you choose makes a huge difference in both the feel and the quality of a project.
Take Rae for example, the scarf pattern I mentioned in a previous post that has been inspiring me all week, and has even led me down the road towards bankruptcy, buying 2 skeins of Madelinetosh Spectrum (among other things) for the project. Now this pattern and modern, bold color choice would make the final project completely contemporary. I really dig the idea. But on the other hand, knitting up a Rae in something softer, maybe a yarn that had a bit of a halo and in a very neutral, feminine color would make give the final product a very different, soft and ethereal feel.
Decisions, decisions. But back to the yarn:
Madelinetosh will always be my first love - and in a way, it feels like i’ve been cheating on it a bit. But on the other hand, I think not mixing enough in my stash has skewed me, and i’ve been forcing too much to find the right patterns for such yarns that maybe aren’t the best fit. I’ve thus been lusting after some new sophisticated indie dyers who I think are really going to revolutionize my stash and and how I think about patterns and projects. I’ve also been aiming to research into indie dyers a bit closer to home, to try to minimize the costs i’ve been incuring buying Madtosh. I like to feed my stash habit once in awhile, but I really don’t need to be giving away any more free money to the Danish government, just because they enjoy stopping all of my yarn packages.
So on I went, and here are my four new loves (we can include to this list, some from previous posts which include Fiberphile, String Theory and Habu Textiles) and some honorable mentions I’d like to try when I get the chance.
Viola - ohhhh, Viola. How I have missed out on such an opportunity that I could almost cry. These yarns are not going to be sold anymore, but oh what gorgeous colors. Words I would use to describe them would be soft, gentle, sophisticated and calming. I really haven’t seen anything like it. Despite my yarn diet and troubling financial situation I brought the very last 2 skeins in Pumpkin Pie from Loop in London at what will now be the most I have ever spent for a single skein of yarn ever. It hurt so bad, but oh it will feel so good.
Hedgehog Fibres - I love how this dyer plays with color and she herself has a great taste level in patterns. All the skeins look rich and saturated and they all have great names like ‘Rusty Nail’.
The Uncommon Thread - This is going to be my new replacement for Madelinetosh, I can just feel it. Beautiful yarns, really. Rich colors and sophisticated, complicated and dark neutrals. Plus dyer Ce, who i’ve PM’ed to on Rav (why do I feel like i’m talking to a celebrity) is out of the UK, so major win for me. Colors Toast and Confetti are high on my list of wants.
WalkCollection - lovely greys and browns that call out for chic sweaters and hats. Also love the greys and some of those fresh greens, as well. Close to home too in Germany!
Honorable mentions go to: Northbound Knitting, Sweet Fiber, The Plucky Knitter and French Market Fibers, but since they are located in North America, I’ll have to wait until I go to visit the US to try to order them.
If you want to know more about what the heck i’m trying to say about patterns and check out my small stash, you can find me on Ravelry, username: sptmbrsmmr.
I was going to write a separate post about my level - near 100%, now - of procrastination from writing finals. What is it about papers that makes me feel so cooped up inside the house yet especially drowning in lots of ideas and creativity, none of which, mind you, has anything to do with school, academics, writing, or my paper topic?
The funny thing is that in a way, I have been working hard - studying, reading a lot, even taking notes and building up schemes in my head - but all about knitting, yarn and fiber arts. I think i’m just a wee bit obsessed, but I’m really finally thinking that I found my passion. And oh boy, do I like it.
All my research has been leading me up to lusting seriously after some new knitting stuff and ideas. My reading, surfing of Ravelry first just began as it normally does, researching into new patterns i’d like to knit, seeing if there are better fits out there for my stashed yarn than I currently had queued up. There’s a lot of crap out there in the world, but also a lot of knitters, designers and dyers with amazing taste level and an amazing eye for colors and textures and how things should go together.
My yarn and pattern choices are changing all the time, just like my fashion sense and it especially gets confusing in research sessions like the ones i’ve been having. On the one hand, i’ve lately been interested in modern, structured and super contemporary styles as much as I have been in very classic, timeless pieces, especially with lace and delicate looking accessories.
This got me thinking: what are handknits supposed to be? What are the purpose of them? Should they be something that you’d want to buy in a real retail store but you just happened to make yourself, or should they be more like unique and cosy heirloom pieces - things that are inspired by tradition and are kind of simple in the way that they are timeless. You wear them and suddenly you think of all the ‘good things in life (or at least in my life) sunshine and seasides and gardens full of fresh things … good food and glasses of wine, music, close friends and wrapping yourself up in blankets with loved ones or pets somewhere warm and safe.
I just love those knitters out there that have blogs or finished projects that evoke those feelings. I’m so often craving these things more in my own life, and in a way I think I knit because it evokes this for me and feeds a creative imagination i’d thought i’d pretty much killed off in my college days.
The moral of the story, is that i’m starting to see now that it is super important (at least for me) to really plan my projects by way of making smart decisions that I think are both stylish and practical. Maybe i’ll never resolve my question about hand knits or even my own personal fashion style, but I can make a concerted effort to stop mashing up my favorite patterns with my favorite yarns, because I can. Unfortunately, I think many knitters ruin perfectly beautiful patterns with bad yarn choices. Those knitters (and usually many of the top designers) that make smart choices, I really appreciate and I want to emulate as I begin to get better and more advanced at this art, creating pieces that will always evoke for me, like this photo, feelings of ‘home’.
If you want to know which patterns i’m lusting at now, you can always check me out on Ravelry, username sptmbrsmmr.
If you happen to be somewhere in downtown Copenhagen and see a young girl on the street corner asking for spare change, it’ll be me because I nearly emptied out my bank account on Friday spending money in the Madelinetosh clearance sale.
Ok, maybe it isn’t quite that bad, but I had promised that I was on a yarn-diet, and save for (the couple of) times that I cheated, it was for - presumably, a good cause. What is it about me and stashing?
I am really happy about my Spectrum skeins, however. Of the ones I saw on Ravelry, the colors are super saturated with a kind of sophisticated rainbow scheme with all kinds of fantastic blues, purples, pinks, reds and greens running through it. My skeins are marked ‘pale’, and I really hope they have big fat streaks of hot pink and turquoise running through them. Obviously I haven’t received them, but the stock photo (taken from Madelinetosh.com) looks like this:
Among other things, I also got one skein of the famed discontinued Sea Glass colorway, which is a very vibrant semi-solid green. People can’t seem to say enough good things about it, so naturally I wanted to try it out for myself (i’m such a sucker!). If I don’t like it, it’ll go into destash, probably for my never ending quest for the discontinued Erin yarn, which hopefully is coming to a close.
I had this ‘epiphany’ of sorts last night about the whole Erin thing. People are only crazy about the yarn because it’s been dyed at MadTosh, but in reality, the yarn still exists here, at Imperial Stock Ranch. Now, it is a bit more expensive than the $9 Madelinetosh sold it for (which, in my personal opinion, also upped the allure about it for me - the only affordable option with fantastic colors and lots of yardage, what’s not to love?) But if the yarn itself is as fantastic as everyone says it is, then maybe I should just buy it natural from them and dye my own. This revelation had me stopped in my tracks and finding my way here where I envisioned taking over my kitchen with dyeing tools and a mad scientist cap dreaming up my own custom-color combination for the perfect sweater. Now, this won’t happen for awhile, I know, but it is a really good thought and is probably how most dyers began conceptualizing their concepts.
No more needing to stalk shops and threads, no more heartache over discontinued yarns or colors. Learning to dye might actually replace the energy I put into these rather pointless activities, into something a bit more creative - which i’m excited about!
While knitting and otherwise being a student in Copenhagen takes up a lot of my time, creating wishlists is like another hobby of mine. I love spending time looking into things that inspire me or that I want to aspire to and cataloging things i’d love to get for myself in the future. In the last post I promised a wishlist post of sorts but then I realized that there were so many knitting-related things I’ve been wishing for lately that perhaps it would be better to break up the posts into different sections.
I had just been surfing around on Purl Soho’s online store and blog when I came up with the first item on my knitting wishlist that I had to talk about. For many who may not know, Purl Soho is a crafting ‘super-store’ of sorts in New York City that runs a great blog called the Purl Bee that has a ton of free, Martha-stewart-esque patterns. I’ve never actually been to the store, but I frequently favorite their patterns on my Ravelry page and plan to make it my first stop when I go to the US in the fall.
Anyway, I’ve been lusting after this tee-shirt/sweater thing for months and thus a love for fashion-forward shapes and designs in patterns and unusual textures or contents of yarn that could really make more simple constructions pop. Two yarns that top my list so far are Habu textile’s Natural Linen and Root Sizing Silk.
They are just two examples of this kind of yarn that I can only describe as crunchy looking and straw-like but block down to more drapey goodness. Thinking of patterns - sweaters, shawls and tee-shirts in elements like these only make me think of Eileen Fisher-esque knitwear which I think has a super modern edge to it. I’d like to also play more with yarn with bamboo, linen, silk and natural elements like the sea cell in Anzula’s Mermaid. Purl Soho has great examples of unusual yarns as does Little Knits, which I watch frequently.
On the pattern side of things, I’ve really been favoring unusual pattern shapes for fall. I spoke about one in one of my last posts, but since then i’ve fallen for cropped, oversize lacey sweaters like Making Waves, Sidezip jackets like Sportster and Classic shapes with super modern stitching details like the Olga Pullover. (Check out the links for photos as i’m not 100% I can reproduce photos from Rav without permission)
- Knitted jewlery? This seems like a really cool idea for gifts, plus a chance to use over left-over luxury yarn or special yarn which is too expensive to buy more than 1 skein.
- Knitting with beads? I’m getting around to this.
- Free knitting? Sometimes I have half a mind to cast on and work through standard raglan increases, but then to throw away the pattern. I could work stitches that appeal to me, or make uneven hem lines, etc. Who knows, but who says that knitting has to be so standardized anyway?
- Real life knitter as inspiration: This knitter, knittimo on Ravelry is pretty much who I want to be when I grow up. She makes all patterns, even the most simple or traditional ones look fresh, modern and feminine. She’s also my sole reason for lusting after a dress form of my own. I am particularly fond of her neckwear projects.
As always, you can follow which favorites I favorite and my current projects on Ravelry, username sptmbrsmmr.
Finals. Ugh. I thought that when I graduated from college it would have meant that finally, i’ve learned how to get through exams. But no, here I am with three weeks to go and 35 pages to write and i’m behind and procrastinating. Just like last term, this semester’s main distraction is my knitting with never-ending plotting of future patterns and MadMay projects getting in the way once again.
MadMay is actually coming along quite nicely. I finished one hat already, aptly called Babyita for the nickname of a friend’s baby I made the hat for. A pattern completely of my own devising, it uses the leftover Logwood on DK Twist from Madelinetosh that I used for my Mary Jane. I love the color so much and hope that I can eek out one more in the color for a newborn hat, should the same friend be having another baby girl in 6 months. BTW, I finished Mary Jane a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t blocked it yet, but I did wear it for the first time today. I’ll tell you about it in another post.
On the needles right now is the Playful Plumage hat I talked about in my last post and a cardigan which is a highly modified version of Vanadium. It took ages to find the right pattern, but I’m totally stoked to be in new territory again, this time working on a cardigan and making my first real mods to a pattern.
We won’t mention however that I broke my no-buy ban and had to purchase 4 new skeins of yarn - Madelinetosh Sport in a soft, feminine shade of Grenadine. I also broke down and bought some one-of-a-kind MCN Fingering from Madelinetosh’s online shop last night. It’ll be totally worth it though. I have Iridium in mind for the color - Dr. Zhivago’s Sky. I’ll post pictures when it arrives.
Speaking of future posts, I’ve also been procrastinating thinking about ways to keep up with the blogging. I’ve been a bit lax recently, simply because I haven’t had so many completed projects to talk about, but more knitting will definitely mean more blogging. I’m also aiming for shorter posts and more general ramblings about knitting vs. projects. Here are some things to look forward to which, without coincidence, also are distracting me from doing much school work:
1. Wishlist (growing by the day, it’s really sad)
2. Muses on MadMay
3. Stuff on and off my needles
4. My Rav-based project for school (oh yeah, can’t wait to bore you with this one)
5. Post-worthy patterns
As always, you can follow me and my projects on Ravelry, username sptmbrsmmr.
When I think about it, my foray into the world of knitting has taken off in the last six months. Since summer, I have gone from knowing very little about the skill besides K1, P1, very little about the world of yarn and even less about Ravelry, which has very much nearly changed all of my daily-interests and routines, for the most part in a good way (as it is now, i’m stalking Ravelry when I should be like, working). I have already knit several hats, which i’m very proud of, tried a lace pattern or two and am almost done with my first sweater, and of course very nearly bankrupted myself stashing beautiful yarn. There’s only more fun and challenges coming up however, which I am attempting to keep organized with this post. I can’t wait to try more new things in the coming month and keep up this fantastic knitting momentum which I have been building in the previous. Here are my project-focuses and knitting goals and events that are coming up!
April: Gift knitting. I have some harder, yet single-skein projects I want to finish up this month. I’m thinking a week for each. They include 198 Yards for my grandmother, the Playful Plumage Hat for R, a hat of my own design for R (long-ago promised and in black … i’m going to finish it this weekend) and Magnolia Crescent for R’s mom, who we are going to see in July.
May: It’s the Madelinetosh Lover’s MadMay celebration and I can hardly wait to participate! Even though I’ll be really busy in this month with exams and possibly with moving I want to do two KAL’s. Magnolia Crescent may fall into this category but I am also looking forward to possibly doing Gemini. I don’t have the yarn for it yet and I know i’m on a yarn-diet but maybe a tiny destash?? I just need above 500 yards of a sport-weight colorway. I was thinking of using Bloomsbury, but if feeling ambitious, I will CO for the Pomme de Pin cardigan, although I probably won’t finish it. At the very least of all this, I also have my eye on Madelinetosh’s Comfort Cardi, which is the only pattern I think my tarnished skeins will look good in.
I’m not sure what to do with this Tarnished colorway. It’s not my favorite, but when I think of the Comfort Cardi in it, wrapped up at the beach somewhere, it may all work out in the end…
June: It’s time to play catch-up on all these errant projects as well as, I think, complete another sweater. I’ve been dying to cast-on Nanook since the yarn came from Quince & Co in the US. It’s a super, soft, greyish, blue and in this pattern I can just think of it as the perfect travelling sweater. Warm enough for chilly summer nights, wearing on planes and matching with everything from jeans to skirts.
July: Another exciting event to happen is the Ravelympics 2012, another first-time event for me. I have some time to decide what team(s) I will join, but because I’ll most likely be away from internet access during this month, i’ll probably choose either a long-term sweater event (won’t have to check back much), or a single-skein project that I can work on little by little in between my vacation. Earmarked for such event might include my single Madelinetosh skeins of Dahlia and Thoreau, or a local-bought yarn for a linen loose-gauge short sleeve tunic. I might use my Quince & Co Tern finger-weight skeins to make the Calla Cami, a beautiful lace tank.
August: Believe it or not, but it will be time to work on fall projects. I may have a bit of downtime in the beginning of this month perfect for trying my hand at socks, tackling a fingering-weight sweater that will make use of my beautifully soft (like kittens and cashmere, really) fall-colored Malabrigo Finito. I also have my sights set on a Driven or something like it to make use of my Errant three skeins of Madelinetosh Erin. Also on my list is an ambitious lace project as a gift for a friend’s upcoming wedding. There are many good shawl patterns out there, but I am keeping my eye out for something extra special that will be stunning (if she chooses to wear it) for a fall wedding in Vermont.
September: Yarn-diet busting!!! I am travelling back to the US at the end of this month and with it I want to take back as much yarn to DK as possible. In trying to avoid high customs charges and taxes, I’ve been holding back from buying yarn but it hasn’t kept me from putting together a wishlist of the things I want. I’m going to make separate post about this but these wishes include a Knit Picks Needle Set, or something similar and sweater-quantities of Fiberphile, String Theory or Sundara Yarn, that is if I don’t subscribe to the Summer edition of the Madelinetosh sweater club and pick up my 3 SQs when I get home. I will also begin planning/knitting my fall/winter projects which I would like to include a scarf, an assortment of new hats and beautiful fall-colored sweaters like Levenwick, in some kind of gold color, Danforth, in grey/blue and Camilla in red.
Whew! When I look back on the list, it seems like I have a lot planned in the next six months. Perhaps then, the biggest goals I should keep in mind for myself would be to keep up the pace of my knitting, to challenge myself and always attempt to keep my stash balance that is more projects going out than yarn coming in. Regardless of how any of my projects come out, fulfilling these overall three goals would make these next six months of kntting successful.