Sunday, September 27, 2015

How to Get Through Droughtlander - Again

Here's the thing.

All of us knitters are crazy about Outlander on STARZ. The problem is, Season 2 (which corresponds to my favorite book in the series, Dragonfly in Amber - I love the parts in France) is not coming out until April 2016. 


So I thought, why not try and do something fun to help us get through "Droughtlander"? Not just a knit-along, but take it a step further with a read-along of book 1 as well.
Starting October 24, and ending one week before Season 2 premieres on Starz (date TBD), we will have a knit-along and a read-along in the Subway Knits Ravelry Group

Here are the guidelines and rules for playing along:  

There are two components: the Read-Along, and the Knit-Along. Participate in one, or both! There will be prizes for all.

For the Knit-Along:  
  • Knit something in an Outlander Inspired pattern (either explicitly Outlander, like Claire's mitts, or inspired, so long as a connection is made and explained in the thread - check out some here, and an example of an inspired pattern is the Lucy Hat because it reminds me of the hat Claire wore in the beginning of "The Wedding"), or with an Outlander yarn (again, either explicit like yarns from Bijou Basin Ranch, or "Outlander" by Voolenvine Yarns, or inspired by with the explanation in the thread - for example: "this shade of purple reminds me of a Scottish thistle"). You can again do either the yarn or the pattern, or both for the KAL entry. 
  • There can be more than one KAL entry, and you can double and triple dip into other KALs for the duration of this KAL. You must be a member of the group to participate.  
  • To share your knits on social media, the hashtag is #outlandeRKAL. Entries must be made in the Ravelry thread, where a winner at the end of the KAL will receive a Grand Prize via RNG. 
  • The final deadline will be announced once we find out the premiere date (April/May 2016 is the estimate). 
For the Read-Along: 
  • Until we reach the end of the KAL, we will be doing a read-along of Book 1 with about 5 chapters every two weeks (though that may change once we find out the premiere date and adjust accordingly, since the intention is to finish book 1 just right before the premiere of Season 2). Each reading section will be announced in the discussion thread and the quiz thread. 
  • Every two weeks (Fridays by 5PM EST, unless otherwise noted in the discussion thread for that chapter section), either a multiple choice or a short response a question will be posted in the quiz thread. Winners for both multiple choice/short response will be chosen by RNG, and the winner will receive a small prize. You must be a member of the group to participate.  
So far, we have prizes from Bijou Basin, Caithness Craft, Tanya Marie Willis Anderson/The Sampler Girl and C.C. Almon/Geeky Girls Knit, with more prizes (and coupon codes) to come! Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to the start of the RKAL and Season 2. 

Spread the word! Here is an image for your blog, Ravatar, or instagram/other social media accounts. Just make sure to link back here. 
Don't forget - if you're heading to Rhinebeck from October 16-18, check out the Indie Untangled Trunk Show, and booths like Bijou Basin to get planning for the KAL portion of the RKAL! 

I look forward to reading and knitting along with all of you. If you have any questions, please email me, comment below, or ask in the discussion thread
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

On the Road to the Midwest: Midwestern Knits Blog Tour and Review

One of the great equalizers and benefits that Ravelry and the internet have to offer to so many amazing knitwear designers these days is the ability to self-publish. Brooklyn Tweed has evolved into an amazing brand of its own, Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig published Coastal Knits as well as their own individual patterns and books, and magazines like Pom Pom Quarterly and Amirisu.

Which brings me to Midwestern Knits: 13 Knitting Patterns Inspired by the American Midwest. Like everything mentioned previously, this is a self-published book edited by Allyson Dykhuizen and Carina Spencer, but with a twist: this book came about as the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Knitters are anything if not resourceful! 
I have to admit, I know very little about the American Midwest (I thought Colorado was part of the Midwest, and was dutifully corrected), so I definitely relied on the patterns to teach me more about a region that I never have been to, other than a 2-day visit to University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. That definitely does not count. Neither does reading Little House on the Prairie. 

The book is divided into three sections: Fall, Winter and Spring, so you know from the get-go that the patterns are not only inspired by the region, but by the season. Ostensibly this leaves summer out, but I can see why the authors chose to do so - "summer" knits have never been my favorite things to knit. Knitting means warm goodies to transition into and out of the colder seasons. 

I am all about the cardigans. The first pattern in the book, Midtown is a lovely intarsia open sweater with an interesting story - and it is the stories behind the patterns that really make the book cohesive and unique. The pattern designers delve into their personal histories, and share tidbits about the region that only those who live there are privy to, which makes the stories all the more fascinating. 
In addition to Allison and Carina, there are other designers featured as well which gives the book a wide berth for different types of styles and patterns, which means that there is definitely something to suit your own personal style.  Blowing Snow Cardigan from the Winter Section (again with the sweaters) by Emily Ringleman, is another favorite and an example of that. 
The photography in the book showcases various types of angles of the knitwear, which I think is key - not only do the pattern directions, schematics and charts need to be clear, but the photography is a big part of any book or pattern because it helps us as knitters visualize whether or not the patterns will work for us. And in this case you can see that the photography really aids in telling the story. 

Moreover, there is a knit-along happening to coincide with the release of the book, and as you can see, there is a ton of variety and choice when it comes to casting on for your next project from this book. 
Midwestern Knits is available in print ($25 + shipping) and in digital format ($18) on Ravelry.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In the Conductor's Booth: An Interview with Three Fates Yarns

Kick off Rhinebeck 2015 the indie way: Indie Untangled is holding its second annual pre-Sheep and Wool Festival trunk show on Friday, Oct. 16 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Best Western Plus, across the river from the fairgrounds in Kingston, N.Y. Browse hand-dyed yarn and fiber, handmade project bags, buttons, notions and garments from more than two dozen indie artisans. The first 100 shoppers will receive a goody bag filled with gifts and offers from our vendors and sponsors. For more information and a full list of vendors, visit Indie Untangled.

We are back in NYC, and back with the Road to Rhinebeck series! Today we are taking a closer look at Three Fates Yarns. She creates lovely yarn and fiber, with a great inspirational connection to mythology, and talking about the start of Ravelry. 

Gradients and Ombres Sock Blank Yarn Club. Source: Three Fates Yarns
Falkland Merino Roving. Source: Three Fates Yarns
Glitterati Sock Yarn. Source: Three Fates Yarns

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Getting the Hang of My DSLR

In the beginning of August, the Aussie and I went to Steamboat Springs in an effort to explore more of Colorado besides what was in the Boulder-Denver-Colorado Springs Metro area. It was a tossup between Steamboat and Crested Butte, but for reasons I explain in the last episode, you all know why Steamboat Springs was truly an epic win. 
Fishcreek Falls - short hike before it started raining. 
I *think* I am getting the hang of this digital photography thing. I took the Basics of Digital Photography on Craftsy (which is having a big back to school sale now), and I did see a bit of improvement and more comprehension with my photos. All of the photos here are my own, unless they have The Aussie's watermark on it. 
Colorado just keeps on surprising me with how much nature is both awe-inspiring and wild at the same time. 
Stagecoach State Park - we went off-roading here and put the Subaru through its paces. 
At first glance, it seems like it all looks the same, but when you take a step back, pause and really take a closer look, you see that everything is so different no matter where you go. And that just makes Colorado all the more exciting. 
In the creek at Gondola Square. It was actually Adele's first time in a creek and she was a little shocked and confused at first, but then didn't want to leave. 
When we got home, I played around with my camera a bit more after finished the Craftsy class. My mom actually thought the photo  with the lotus flowers was taken by The Aussie, which to me was a big complement! I am also finishing up the Essential Guide to Lightroom to help me with photo editing and streamlining the process. 
For a bit of comparison, here are my favorite photos that he took in Steamboat Springs (and on our way home - he now stops the car on the highway to take photos). He does have a year (and amazing lenses) in his bag of tricks, but everyone has to start somewhere. 
Another reason why I am excited to head back west - to continue taking in the gorgeous scenery and documenting it. 
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Friday, September 4, 2015

Road to Rhinebeck: An Interview with Magpie Fibers

Kick off Rhinebeck 2015 the indie way: Indie Untangled is holding its second annual pre-Sheep and Wool Festival trunk show on Friday, Oct. 16 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Best Western Plus, across the river from the fairgrounds in Kingston, N.Y. Browse hand-dyed yarn and fiber, handmade project bags, buttons, notions and garments from more than two dozen indie artisans. The first 100 shoppers will receive a goody bag filled with gifts and offers from our vendors and sponsors. For more information and a full list of vendors, visit Indie Untangled.
Today we have an interview from Dami of Magpie Fibers! She has had a trunk show at Gauge and Tension before, and I hope to see more of her yarn in person in the future - I have my eye on a few of my new favorite colors, which I highlight after the interview and what I would make with them. She will have a pop-up booth with YOTH Yarns at the Indie Untangled Trunk Show! 
1) How long have you been a knitter and how did you learn?

I am a very new knitter, I took a beginning knit class from Cathy Baucom, co-owner of The Knot House, in Frederick, MD, in Feb. 2014, just a few months after moving to Fredrick. I was completely obsessed from day one, in fact Cathy likes to tell all our new beginning knitters that I was in the shop every single day for those first few months... And it's true! 

2) When did you start dyeing yarn? Why? 
Swish Worsted. Source: Magpie Fibers
I decided to try my hand at dyeing last year. I have always loved working with color, so getting my hands dirty in the dye pots seemed like great fun. I started with a pile of what would become Swish Worsted and just played around. I got lots of helpful input from knitters at the shop and just kept at it. At some point I decided to focus on gradients and everything fell into place. 

3) How was your company founded and what was the impetus behind it? 

Once my palette came together, and I had figured out how to consistently reproduce my colors, while maintaining the quality, The Knot House offered to host a trunk show. The overwhelming success of that show made it clear Magpie Fibers had arrived. 

4) Can you tell the listeners what types of yarns do you offer? 

 Magpie Fibers currently offers 8 bases. 100% SuperWash merino in worsted and bulky called Swish 80/10/10% SW merino/cashmere/nylon in sock, DK & worsted called Swanky 50/50% SW merino/silk in fingering & DK called Posh 70/20/10% SW merino/cashmere/nylon sock called de*lux The names to me are about luxurious yarns that don't take themselves too seriously! 

5) From where do you draw inspiration when deciding colors for your yarn? 

I started with a color wheel and just played around filling it in with my favorite versions of the different shades. A love of color is really the inspiration, whether I am creating a specific color for a certain project or stumble across something fabulous by accident. 

6) What are some of your favorite colors from your collection? How do you decide to name them? 

Right now I'm a little obsessed with the neutral gradients and the collection of Visual Texture colorways including Empty Night, Hell's Bells and Stars & Stones. 
Empty Night: Source: Magpie Fibers
Hell's Bells. Source: Magpie Fibers
I like to have fun with the color names. Most are reference from songs or books or pop culture. 
Stars and Stones. Source: Magpie Fibers
7) What have been some of your favorite dyeing techniques? Hardest? Why? 

I really enjoy creating the variegated sock yarns, coming up with the color combos is really fun. 

 8) What have been some of the most rewarding things you have experienced by being an indie dyer? I have really enjoyed getting to meet so many wonderful knitters all over the country. There are so many fantastic people in this industry. 

9) What was one of the most important things you have learned about dyeing yarn? 

Keeping good notes and consistency!! 

10) Any other yarn companies and designers that you love? 

My dear friend Veronika Jobe from YOTH is a fabulous designer, her creative use of texture and technique really inspires me. She and Danny have created a beautiful range of yarns. Sandra Miracle from Duck Duck Wool has beautifully saturated colors and has been such a supporter of me and my yarn. My very first sweater project was Jane Richmond's Gemini top, I love her elegant simplicity. Shannon Cook is another favorite, my newest sample is her Bradway shawl. Stephen West's use of color and texture is always an inspiration Michelle Wang & Jared Flood feed my addiction to cables like no one else!! 

11) What other fiber and textile crafts do you enjoy in addition to knitting?

 I grew up sewing and was a Fashion Merchandising/Apparel Design major, I also used to quilt and do cross-stitch. I pretty much stick to knitting right now, just wish I had more hours in the day! 

12) What are your plans for the future of Magpie Fibers? 

There are a lot of exciting things coming up for Magpie! I will be at Stitches Texas in September as a pop-up shop inside the YOTH booth and at the Indie Untangled trunk show in Rhinebeck. 

There are collaborations in the works with Veronika Jobe, Casapinka, Lynn D's Studio and Grist Creative. 

I would like to continue to grow the online presence, (look for some fun accessories to make their way onto the website). I am also trying my hand at designing. 


My favorites: 
Blaze reminds me of the Shinto torii gates in Japan, the perfect vermilllion. I can see this in a gorgeous textured, cabled cardigan with a navy button-down and a sparkly necklace. 
Blaze. Source: Magpie Fibers
I have a weak spot for turquoise-Caribbean colored yarn ever since I went to Turks & Caicos. This skein in Mermaid's Garden feeds that addition, and I would make a textured cowl with a pattern that makes it look handwoven, so it can pop against my camel winter coat.
Mermaid's Garden. Source: Magpie Fibers
To be quite honest, it was hard just picking the two! The colors are lovely and amazing. Definitely go check Magpie Fibers at Stitches Texas in the YOTH Booth, and Magpie Fibers at the Indie Untangled trunk show.
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