Author Archive

Holidays in July: Keeping Track of it All

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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Now that you’ve created your list, and  you know what yarns and projects, you should probably decide how you want to organize all of this info. Are you a pen and paper person? Do you prefer a computer? Your smartphone? You need to pick what’s best for you. If you prefer physically crossing things off a list, you might want to use a notebook. If you, like many of us, live on your smartphone, you may want to utilize an app.

Holidays in July: Keeping Track of It All

Pen and Paper Person?
Head to your favorite office supply, or even better, paper store and peruse the notebooks. There is great joy in selecting a new notebook with fresh pages that’s just waiting to be filled up. Consider how you’ll want to keep track? Are you going to want to dedicate one page per person? (You can draw a big ‘x’ through the page when you finish the project.) Would you like to use lined paper, or maybe graph paper? Again, you need to think about how you’ll function best. I like the idea of using a page per person, especially in a smaller notebook, like a pocket Moleskin.

Computer Savvy?
Do spreadsheets make you grin from ear-to-ear? Does having information saved on a computer make you more comfortable than a notebook that can be lost? Spreadsheets may be the way to go for you. You can organize the columns however you like. Name of the recipient, project name, yarn being used, anything else you need for the project, finish date for the project. You could even include things like start date, halfway point date (where you need to be halfway done), or a column for a contingency gift just in case (which you won’t need, since we’re planning ahead). One of my favorite things is color-coding. I’d probably color code the people by priority level and then the projects by type. If there are several hats on the list, and I’m feeling particularly excited about making hats for a few weeks, I can easily spot them on the spreadsheet and knock them out. When you complete a project, you can gray out the cells, or use strikethrough to mark it finished.

Smartphone Addict?
Nearly everyone I know has some version of a smartphone, and there are tons and tons of different organizational apps. If you’re an organized person, chances are, you already have your favorite. Mine depend on what I’m doing. For example, for something like grocery shopping, I use Clear. This app is basically a list-maker. You can swipe to check the item off the list. If you want something more robust that handles more information, you may want to check out something like 2Do, or Swipes, which integrates with Evernote. Because organization is such a personal thing, you want to use the app that’s best for you.

How will you keep yourself organized?

 

Holidays in July: Which Project? What Yarn?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
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You’ve decided who you’re going to make gifts for, but what exactly are you going to make them, and what yarn are you going to use. Usually we have at least a general idea of what we want to make someone. Using my examples from last week, I know I want to make my mom socks, my sister would love something kooky, my nephew a dinosaur, and coworker 1 a shawl. My cousin needs a pair of mittens or gloves and we’ll add a boyfriend who needs another hat in there too (since he liked the last one so much).

Holidays in July - Looking for projects on yarn.com and Ravelry

Where do you go now? I think the easiest way to proceed is to choose a specific pattern that you want to make the person. You could search through the patterns on our site, use the search feature, and search for, say dinosaur. Oh look! Danger Crafts Basil the Boogie-Woogie Brontosaurus PDF. It’s adorable and going on the list for the nephew. Something kooky for my sister may be a little bit longer of a search. I would start this search on Ravelry. The ‘advanced search’ feature is great for this. I started by clicking on ‘softies’ (all), then ‘knitting’, and ‘worsted’ (because I don’t want to spend forever knitting it). Next, I sorted by ‘most popular.’ I didn’t see anything on the first page that screamed her name, but what I did see was a fox, and my sister loves foxes. So, I added fox to the search box and found a great project for her – Backyard Bandits. Hey, I could make her all three! Well that’s settled. On to searching for the other projects.

Holidays in July - Searching yarn.com for yarns

So, now that I have that projects settled, it’s time to pick the yarn. I have all the pattern information and a general idea of what I’m looking for. Again, I take to the search section on our site. We’ll use that Boogie-Woogie Bronto for this example. I know I want something washable, since it’s a stuffed animal, and my nephew is 3. Under the yarn category, I click ‘Yarn by Fiber’ and select ‘Washable Wool.’ Scrolling through, I spot Berroco Vintage. I’ve used this yarn before with loads of success, and I know there are lots of color options, so I’ve found my yarn for the Bronto. I just need to decide on colors.

Another option, is of course, knitting from the stash. My stash happens to be a lot of sock yarn that’s perfect for socks, shawls, and mittens. So, taking a look at the requirements for those projects, and looking at the yarn I have in my stash, I’m sure to find just what I need. And if not, there’s always yarn.com.

What’s your favorite way to search for yarns and patterns?

No New Ready, Set, Knit This Week – What are you listening to?

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
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There’s no new Ready, Set, Knit this week, so check out the archives and listen to your favorite episode, or catch up on some you’ve missed. Not having a new podcast this week got me to thinking about the different things I like to do when I’m crafting. I watch TV, listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, and sometimes I just like to enjoy the silence. I have a backlog of podcasts that I need to catch up on and a pile of audiobooks that are waiting to be listened to. I think this weekend will be a good time to slow the go-go-go that’s been happening, take a little time to craft, and catch up on listening.

What’s your favorite “noise” to listen to while knitting, crocheting, weaving, or spinning?

 

Holidays in July: Making a List, Checking it Twice

Monday, July 6th, 2015
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When planning your holiday projects, the first step is to decide who you want to gift with your precious handmade projects. Well, the first step is deciding if this is something you want to undertake, but even if you’re only planning one or two projects, a plan is always helpful. Anyway, because your time is important, you do not want to spend that time working on a project for someone who is just going to shove it into the bottom of a drawer, or won’t be able to properly care for it, or who could lose it.

Holidays in July - Making a List, Checking it Twice - Deciding who's on the list

For example, I love my dad. He is amazing and can fix anything. I would love to make him a hat, but I also know how many hats he goes through in a winter. It’s not because he makes a habit out of losing things, or because he’s absent-minded. He has a tough, busy job where he doesn’t stop and is responsible for things like snow removal. In the process of doing a hundred things at once, things like hats get misplaced. I know he would be afraid to accidentally misplace it, so I don’t want to make him something, that I know he’ll love, but will be afraid to use.

Another gift recipient type is the kind that won’t actually be excited about receiving something you spent your time creating. I’ve seen this happen with family members who don’t know anything about crafting, or think it happens overnight. I’ve also seen stunning handmade gifts be cast aside at baby showers because the recipient just wasn’t interested. I’ve been very lucky because nearly every single one of my projects has been excitedly received. Sometimes you don’t know if the person is going to be excited about your gift, but it’s a chance you need to decide if you want to take. Most of the time, you can tell if the person will be thrilled.

So, make a list of the people you want to craft for. Really look at that list. Then, prioritize based on who you really want to knit for. Will my mom, sister, and cousin love those things I’m planning on making? Yup! They stay on the list and move right up to the top. As I mentioned, Dad would love it, but wouldn’t use it, so he gets crossed off. Is my 3 year old nephew really going to be excited about something I make? Possibly, if it’s a dinosaur. He’ll go in the middle, because I can always pick something out equally fun from the local toy store. Coworker 1 would love a project, but since they aren’t family, they’ll also be moved to the middle of the priority list. Coworker 2 would appreciate it, but probably won’t use it, so they’ll get some other awesome trinket. Friend 3 would be just as happy with some store-bought mittens and can’t tell the difference, so I won’t be spending my time knitting for them.

How do you prioritize your gift list?

Holidays in July: Planning Ahead, So You Won’t Stress Later

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
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I know, you probably don’t want to hear it, but we’re just 5 months away from the winter holidays. This year is going to be different! I say that every year, but this year, I actually mean it. I’m going to make a plan for holiday projects and I’m going to stick to it. I really am. (Please stop laughing! :))

If you’re anything like me, organization goes a long way to making things easier, and so does checking stuff off of lists. There’s nothing more satisfying than having a to do list with everything crossed off. So, this month, we’re going to take a look at some planning tips. Every week we’ll have a different post focusing on the things you can do to make planning and completing those projects you want easier.

Holidays in July - Tips for Planning Ahead

I know this makes holiday projects sound like a big undertaking, and there are lots of you who don’t feel the need to make anything for anyone. (And there’s nothing wrong with that, the entire rest of the year, I’m happily selfish with my crafting!) I have found, there’s nothing better than watching the face of someone who truly wants a handmade gift as they open the package and are thrilled with the contents.

What are we going to cover? Well, we’ll talk about putting the right people on the list, the actual planning (for yarn and patterns), and the best ways to keep track of your progress.

What are some of your favorite tips for planning holiday projects?

I Love a Good Mystery

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015
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I don’t know about you, but my summer knitting seems to consist mostly of MKALs (Mystery Knit-a-longs). There’s something about the surprise that is more appealing to me during the warmer months than any other time of year. I like having a pattern handed to me in chunks. It also sometimes helps me to finish sections, since I know the next one is coming.

Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light

There are several MKALs starting up (or that have recently started) that I’m already signed up for, or thinking of signing up for. Kirsten Kapur’s Through the Loops Mystery Shawl 2015. I have quite the stash of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light that I’m planning on going through and choosing two colors to make this shawl. It’s one of my favorite yarns for shawls, so I’m excited to get going on this one.

The Fibre Co. Meadow

Next up is the Hydrangea MKAL 2015 by the fine folks from Kelbourne Woolens in The Fibre Co. Meadow. I did their MKAL last summer that featured Meadow and I loved it. They include great tips on the different techniques, so it’s awesome if you’re trying to pick up new skills and really learn something. I’m still trying to decide on a color though. After the winter we had, I still don’t want any dull or netural colors, but the Queen Anne’s Lace is calling to me!

The Shetland Trader MKAL is also appealing to me. I like that it’s more of a focus on texture than on lace. Gudrun Johnson designed one of our 40th Anniversary patterns, Valley Yarns 40th Anniversary 14 Tirrick Shawl, and this one is still on my to-knit list. I just love the pattern and I have no doubt that Gudrun’s MKAL would be a fun one. Maybe in three colors of Valley Yarns Charlemont?

So, what do you think about MKALs? Are they something you’re interested in? Obviously from my three picks, I’m a shawl knitter, but there are lots of other MKALs out there. What is your ideal MKAL project?

Valley Yarns Spring Baby Sets eBook

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
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It seems like everyone I know is about to have, or has just had a baby. Knitting baby things is very rewarding for me. You get a finished project in no time at all, and thankfully, most of the people I have knit for are super appreciative of the gift. If you’re looking for some inspiration for Spring baby knits, the Valley Yarns Spring Baby Sets eBook is a great collection.

Valley Yarns Spring Baby Sets eBook

It contains three matching sweaters and blankets that are perfect for baby. The yarns it features are Valley Yarns Longmeadow, Valley Yarns Valley Superwash DK, and Valley Yarns Valley Superwash (which happens to currently be part of our Anniversary Sale).

Martius Baby Pullover and Blanket

The Martius Baby Pullover and Martius Baby Blanket feature cables and moss stitch. I love the addition of contrasting, colorful buttons at the shoulder. It is a cute detail that can add a bit of pop and personality.

Aprilis Baby Cardigan and Blanket

If you’re looking for an adorable short sleeve baby cardigan with a lacy touch, you’ll want to check out the Aprilis Baby Cardigan and Aprilis Baby Blanket. I love the lacy pattern, and you may recognize it as a tiny version of our popular Philomena Cardigan.

Maia Baby Cardigan and Blanket

The Maia Baby Cardigan uses a fun math trick to turn two matching garter stitch hexagons into a cardigan. The trick is that they aren’t really hexagons, but 3-dimensional shapes made of six right angles. Simple stripes wrap all the way around the outer edges of each hexagon to give clues to the clever observer about how it’s made. The 3-needle bind off used to join the pieces together in the end is sturdy, but can be undone in order to be worked on again to keep the cardigan growing right along with the baby. The Maia Baby Blanket is worked from the center out, bright stripes around the outer edges.

All of these patterns are also available individually, but the eBook saves you almost half the price! Plus, having the patterns as downloads is so handy for carrying along and saving without taking up physical space.

Which pattern in the collection is your favorite?

Start a New Crochet Project Today

Monday, March 9th, 2015
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The long winter has me itching to start new things, which is terrible for my WIP list, but great for discovering new (and new to me) patterns. Since March is National Crochet Month, I decided maybe I’d flex my crochet muscles and took a peek at what we have for crochet PDF patterns. I love PDF patterns for several reasons. They don’t clutter up my house, I can store them on my phone or iPad, so I have them right there with me, and I can make notes on the patterns with several of the PDF apps that are out there (and save my notes for future projects).

Perusing our collection of PDF crochet patterns, I have encountered a small problem. I want to make every pattern I’ve looked at. I guess I haven’t been keeping up with our PDF patterns because, wow! There are some incredible patterns available.

Sweet Clementine by ChickenBetty

I’m a big fan of hats, because I’m often cold, and if you’re having a less than stellar hair day, you can always throw a hat on! Sweet Clementine by ChickenBetty (who happens to be our own Sara Delaney) is high on my to-crochet list. I have loads of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in my stash, and already have two hats made from it, so I know it’s great for just this purpose.

Fresh Stitches Crochet Patterns

I want to crochet every single one of the adorable amigurumi patterns from Fresh Stitches by Stacy Trock. Flavia the Unicorn, Forrest the Gnome, Murray the Squirrel, Jackie the Cow, the Choose Your Own Adventure Dragon – I don’t know where to start! These are a great gift for your favorite child. One of my favorites (my godson) is turning two later this month, and he may be getting at least one of these as part of his gift.

Crochet Patterns by Linda Permann

All the time I’ve been spending inside lately has made me want to make some changes around the house, and Linda Permann, in addition to having some spectacular garment and accessory patterns (we did a CAL with her Sugar Sparkles Shawlette), has a lovely pillow that I can picture on my couches. The Everyday Lace Pillow has a fabric cover underneath, and since I’ve also been dabbling in some sewing, this project will be a great way for me to combine that in.

What PDF patterns do you want to download right now and start?

New Spring Yarns and Patterns from Rowan

Friday, February 20th, 2015
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It’s that time of year! New yarns are rolling in and the new yarns and patterns from Rowan have us itching for warmer weather. (The frigid weather and feet upon feet of snow isn’t helping matters much either!)

Rowan Cotton Lustre

Rowan Cotton Lustre blends cotton, modal, and a touch of linen into a tape yarn that is super light. This worsted weight yarn is machine washable and comes in an array of colors that have us thinking Spring and the beach. There’s a dedicated pattern book where you’ll find 13 gorgeous designs. Rowan Cotton Lustre includes garments that have loads of beautiful texture.

Rowan Tetra Cotton

Rowan Tetra Cotton is another tape-style yarn. This 100% cotton yarn is light and airy and comes in variegated colors. The dedicated pattern book, Rowan Tetra Cotton, features projects for men and women that range from openwork cardigans to textured sweaters.

Rowan Summerlite 4-Ply

Rowan Summerlite 4-Ply is a machine washable, 100% cotton. It is fingering weight, so it’s perfect for lighter garments and accessories. Rowan Summerlite 4-Ply is a collection of garments designed by Martin Storey. You’ll find cables, lace, and other textures in the featured garments.

Rowan Magazine 57

And, of course, you can’t forget Rowan Magazine 57. Always a wonderful collection of patterns, this book features three stories: daydream, relic, and essentials. Daydream is a collection of feminine knits inspired by romanticism. The designs have a fun, modern feel with a slight 1950s retro influence. Relic is a collection of men’s and women’s knits inspired by the past and the colors and textures of ancient architecture. In Essentials, you’ll find key shapes and textures on trend, designed into easy to wear styles.

Berroco Spring is Here!

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
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Have you had a chance to check out the Spring yarns and patterns from Berroco? If you haven’t yet, you’ll want to take a peek!

Berroco Mixer

Berroco Mixer is featured on the cover of our Spring catalog. (Have you looked at the online version? It should be hitting mailboxes soon!) This blend of cotton, polyester, viscose, and nylon has a shimmery and matte finish and a great texture. It works up into a flowing fabric and is featured in Berroco 354 Mixer pattern book.

Berroco Espresso

Berroco Espresso is a bulky blend of cotton and acrylic that works up at 3 stitches per inch. It is a colorful yarn that is machine washable, so it’s perfect for easy-care projects that will fly off your needles or hook. You can find patterns in Berroco 356 Espresso.

Berroco Indigo

Berroco Indigo is made of recycled cotton fibers and is super soft – like a favorite pair of jeans. It is slightly tweedy and comes in a great palette of colors. It is a machine washable yarn that’s perfect for garments and accessories. You can find patterns for both in Berroco 353 Indigo.

Berroco Fiora

Berroco Fiora is a soft blend of cotton, viscose, alpaca, nylon, and wool. It has a wonderful heathered look because of the different fibers. There is fantastic pattern support for this classic yarn in Berroco 355 Fiora and Berroco Norah Gaughan Vol. 16.

Check out the Berroco Spring 2015 video we have on our YouTube channel!