Some amazing things just arrived at the shop. Come see in person on Saturday during our in-person shopping hours or online next week after I get it all photographed. Includes a great deal on 250+ grams of merino from Fleece Artist. As well as a huge shipment of MadelineTosh (I think our largest ever) which includes fluorescent colors and the coveted confetti colors like the finished pictured sock.
Can't wait to show it all off to you!!
Finally back home after 22 hours of travel! There's nothing like an airport and many delays to make you appreciate home. Henry and I are enjoying some alone time and Halloween decorating today, so I'll post lots of new yarn next week. If you're in the Fort Wayne area, come see us Saturday from 10 to 4!
I've packed a few projects and gone on vacation! Right now, I'm in Italy. Was in Montalcino to be exact. The team at the shop has been handling all your orders while I have fled for a little trip with my sister. I'll be back at home in a couple days, but right now I'm enjoying the scenery that beautiful Italy has to offer. And I'm doing a lot of eating, winery visiting, and knitting. Not to shabby! But soon it's back to diapers.
It's been quite awhile since I've had the pleasure of offering sKNITches yarn in the shop! Right now I have for you Sam's striping Syncopation and her variegated Nimble.
Don't miss these, as this isn't something I'll have too often. Shown above is Nimble in Fielding and Theda. Below, Dark & Twisy and Militia in Syncopation striping.
I knit a pair of Militia socks back in the day. sKNITches was the first hand dyed, self-striping yarn I carried in the shop. And I can tell from the carpet in the picture that this was house we had before James was born over 7 years ago. And I finally wore through these socks last winter. It was a sad day, but oh those socks were well loved. I guess I'll have to knit another pair!
Oh, all those tiny socks. I remember knitting them for various babies that friends were having. And I didn't save any for my own!
Joe is, again, outdoing himself creating Halloween costumes for the boys. We are all going to be Lego Movie characters this year. James as Lord Business, Henry as Emmett, Me as Wyld Style, and Joe as Bad Cop.
I can't stop eating the brownie trail mix from the Halloween kit. It's officially a problem.
Diana at the KAL rocking her finished Mama Vertebrae using Tosh DK in Modern Fair Isle. Doesn't she look amazing?! She's the one who convinced me to knit my first sweater. While she was knitting her first sweater. But in a month, she finished her first AND her second.
An adorable Baby Surprise sweater knit in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock color Northbrook. At least four knitters of the 16 in our KAL have finished their projects. Me? I'm only MAYBE 20% finished with mine. The darn Dream Club from this month made me drop everything. FYI, if you wanted a skein of that and missed out, I do have more coming in less than two weeks. I highly recommend getting a skein b/c it's just that awesome.
Blue Moon Fiber Arts and Miss Babs are two of those lines that are just oh-so-collectible and super irresistable. I dare you to take a look at the new colors of Socks that Rock Light Weight and Cosmic Sock and not find at least one color that you can't resist. Just try. No wait, don't try and resist. That's not really condusive to keeping a small business in the black.
What makes these two lines so stashable? First, they are hard to get in stock and hard to keep in stock. It's quite normal that a color will sell out nearly immediately. Second, both dyers are quite prolific in color creation. The batch I got three months ago will have completely different colorways than this batch. I get as much as I can, but when the skeins are gone, it could be a year before that color is back. And it could look quite different the next time. It's just the nature of the beast.
Shown below, Who's the Pumpkin in Socks that Rock Lightweight
Blue Moon Fiber Arts is starting to dye their Halloween, Fall and Holiday colors. I have a batch over 70 colors of Socks that Rock Lightweight to share with you today. I have even more coming as the season progresses. Tina and her team and well known for their color combinations and fun names. And I'm proud that I'm one of the few stores she sells to.
Anne's patterns are expertly written and proofed and come in an array of sizes. When you purchase the Basketweave Sock pattern for example, you aren't getting a one-size-fits-all type design, you're instead getting a reasonably priced pattern that comes in four widths and whatever length you'd like. You can use that one pattern to knit for yourself, your little kids, your husband, whoever you'd like.
Anne designs an array of sock patterns, but I also have other accessories for you like the Orchid Lace Mitts, Simurgh Lace Stole (our Angela knit this last year), and the Pompa Scarf. If your seeking pattern ideas for holiday gifts, take a look at over 70 designs that I have in stock for you right now. Most of them use fingering weight yarn, and I know we all have plenty of that (or know exactly where to get more)!
Congrats to the winners of our recent Sock Architecture contest! Four of you won a copy of Lara's new book, and another four won two skeins of Simply Sock Yarn of your choice.
Here are the randomly chosen winners, who answered what pattern they would choose from the new book and which color of Simply Sock Yarn they'd choose to go with it. Here are those answers. Thanks for joining in our contest!
Chrissy H: "I would love to knit uncommon Dragon in the Copper colorway. Beautiful sock patterns."
Linda Z: "Dyad, toe up in merlot and copper."
Helen S: "Strie Socks in Cornflower blue - I knit only toe up but somehow rarely make blue socks. This could be the chance."
Denise W: "Hi Allison - I would love to win this book so I can expand my sock selection. I liked to sock patterns Dyad Sock Top Down and Bootstrap. My favorits colors of Simply Solid are Tuscany (which I have loved for awhile) and Silvery Sage (love green). Thanks so much."
Judi S: "After looking at the patterns I would make the Checked and Squared pattern toe up in Chambray. This looks like the perfect guy sock. My husband and 4 sons all love to get "Judi" socks."
Allison T: "Checked and squared in slate. Just for a starter."
Jolynda B: "The Uncommon Dragon in Mint Julep! Beautiful socks, lovely yarn. On my way to Ravelry to check out your other patterns."
Essjay: "I'd start with Checked and Square Socks, Toe Up in 876 Gray for my husband. I think they would be a stunning combo together."
If this is your name/comment, check your Inbox for your e-mail so we can send you your prize.
I'd love to have more available, but the hand made nature of the kits means that there's only so much I can create. The artisans/crafters/bakers I work with are very accomodating and work to make as many as possible, but I just can't chain them up in my shop and make them design just for me all year long. (I've asked my attorney. He says it's a no-no. But he used more stern words.)
If you'd like to qualify for free US shipping at $85, you might also consider adding on the new Dream Club selection or some of the fabulous sKNITches yarn we have in stock after years without- I have both the striping and the variegated for you.
As usual, we'll also do a Christmasy/wintery kit or two, which will be available later this year.
Thank you so much for making this fun for us! We greatly appreciate how popular our holiday kits are, and I think they are one of the things that makes Simply Socks Yarn Company unique. I look forward to hearing what you think of them when they reach your doorstep!
I've been making really good progress finishing up sock projects that only had one finished sock, and now, NOW they make me start a new project. Afterall, when a huge shipment of this color arrives at the shop on a Friday afternoon, of course I have to spend the better part of the weekend knitting a cowl out of it. I mean, I would be insane not to, right? RIGHT? I'm only human. There's only so much I can resist. DARN THEM.
Something came over me when I saw the Dream Club for October. A super-sized (over 6 ounces!), worsted weight Classy skein dyed in vivid yet deep autumn colors and paired with the Cruzado Cowl pattern- the effect was intoxicating. There was something about the color and the idea that I could get this project done in a week, well, I nearly immediately went home and started.
But there was the problem of feeding and caring for the kids. And the husband. That does get in the way of knitting once in awhile. So I did what I had to do and set the gorgeous cake of yarn aside until 8:30pm when I finally had the kids in bed and Joe was fed and had the entire evening and weekend ahead of me to knit knit knit.
I sat down on the couch, finally looked closer at the pattern, and realized that I didn't have the right needles. I knew I'd be doing a mobius cast on, because I did look briefly at the pattern before I left the shop. But what I didn't think about was that I'd need a 40" US 8 circular needle, and I just had a 24". I may have even called Heather around 9pm with my problem, hoping that she had some sort of magical solution. She did not. I think she may have laughed.
So what did I do? Well, I couldn't handle the idea of not casting on until I was back in the shop after the weekend. So I instead chose another pattern. I went with this one, and while I do like it very much, I'm still more-than-slightly bitter that I didn't plan better. I love a good drop-stitch pattern, and the Cruzado Cowl has that and more. It's a pattern you'll get for free when you purchase your Dream Club skein this month (you'll get a Ravelry coupon code in your box).
So here's my warning to you. When you buy your Dream Club skein this month, make sure you have the right needle. And if you don't, get one so that you can start immediately. Because you'll want to. PLEASE be smarter than me.
Last week in pictures.
James getting off the bus- hard to believe he's a first grader. Angela hand winding her yarn- she's the one who winds our Poste yarn stripes. Henry pouting at broccoli. A wall of inspirational Lorna's Laces. James at the zoo.
We're chaning things up a bit here in our Poste Yarn studio! We've been hand dyeing two and three color stripes in our own studio for three years now, and now you'll find even more color on each skein- we're dying 6-color stripes!
This is a big deal for us. Hand dyeing striped sock yarn is very labor intensive and takes a lot of hands-on time for each skein. So adding more color and detail to the mix adds more onto our plate, so to speak. For now, I've added two new Halloween-inspired color options in Camp Crystal Lake and Elm Street.
As you can tell by the pictures above, our color saturation is unreal. So vivid. Heather is our awesome dyer (does all the wet work) and Angela does much of the dry end. There's a lot of winding, tying and rewinding in each skein. Each of the 6-color stripes is $2 more expensive than the 2 and 3 color stripes for this reason.
We're quite in love with these new 6-color stripes. I know you are too, as our first batch sold out in less than two days. I have a new batch up on the website right now, but if you notice that the link for the color you want shows as sold out, then just wait a few days and check again. We'll keep dyeing these two colors through October, and we have some more fun colors planned for the remainder of the year.
It's nearly that time of year! Next week, Thursday October 2nd to be exact, get your mouse finger ready for Simply Socks Yarn Company's fun Halloween Kits!
Halloween is The Time of Year for crafters. We get to think outside the box even more than usual. While we might not combine purple, black, orange and lime green on a daily basis, in early fall is seems completely normal to do so and you'll find us knitting or stitching up all sorts of daring color combos without a second thought. That's what the two kits I've designed this year are about. One, more traditional Halloween colors still with a punch, and the other a fresh, almost girly take on this ghoulish time of year.
First, the Trick or Treat sock kit.
The special edition color for this kit was dyed by Tina and the team at Blue Moon Fiber Arts. This color is called Punkin Chunkin, and it's a fresh take on traditional Halloween colors with neon peach and bittersweet. It's dyed on the popular Socks that Rock Lightweight, so perfect for socks or accessories that you want to be soft and easy care.
This is paired with a medium wedge bag from Vickie and Danny at Bird Leg Bags. The size is larger than I have ever offered in our kits or in the shop. At 10" tall by 14" wide (at top, 10" at bottom), this bag is made to hold your larger project. I can easily fit three skeins of yarn in mine. You're getting great bang for your buck with this bag, that's for sure. Hand made from top to bottom with sturdy zipper, beaded zipper pull and heavyweight interfacing for durability and stability. You'll love it so much, you'll use it year round.
Next is the Abracadabra sock kit. The colorway for this kit came from me saying to Tina "I'd like a spookier, Halloweeny version of Christmas Balls" (one of her holiday colors) and she created just what I envisioned. Dyed on the Socks that Rock Lightweight base, you could rock this on socks, a Sockhead hat, just about anything. Such a fun color.
It's paired with a medium wedge bag from Vickie and Danny at Bird Leg bags, with the same size and features as listed above. This bag has the perk of being a little less Halloween-y, so you can definitely sport this year round if you are a bit timid about carrying a bag that doesn't fit with a particular time of year.
Each bag comes with a set of these fun stickers
As well as a lotion bar (unscented for the Trick or Treat kit, Ginger Lime for the Abracadabra kit) made by local fave Old Fort Soap Company. It looks like a mini deoderant stick that fits in the palm of your hand- perfect size for keeping in your knitting bag and applying only where needed so you don't get lotion all over your project-in-progress.
And no Halloween kit would be complete without a tasty treat, so I asked Zinnia's Bakehouse to make up special snack packs for each kit. If you've shopped here in person before, it's likely you've stopped across the street at this fab bakery. Their brownies, empanadas, quiche, bread pudding... everything is divine. And I'm glad to share a bit of it with you. It's almost like you're going trick-or-treat through our neighborhood and leaving with the best treats in the area.
As usual, the hand made nature of each part of our kits means that there's a limited amount. I greatly appreciate how popular our custom creations are- it's a fun part of my job to work with others to design something unique and so well-loved. I do my best to have made as many as possible, but there's a limit to how much time each artisan can devote to my one shop. So if you do think you might like one, please know they will go up for sale in the morning (EST) on Thursday, Oct. 2. I'll post here, on Facebook and eventually send out e-newsletters when they go live. The quickest way to know is to watch this blog. Our kits tend to sell out in the same day. If you are local and you want to pick up your kit on Saturday when we are open again, place your order online and just e-mail as usual and we can arrange that. Also know that while we do our best to combine orders when we see more than one from you, kit days can be so busy that we may not check e-mails or notes in a timely manner and as as result if you place two orders they may ship separately and thus be charged twice for shipping. The best way to avoid shipping fees, at least when shipping to the US, is to order once with a total of more than $85.
All images produced by and used with permission of Lara Neel
Many of you may know Lara from her Math4Knitters podcast, or as the designer of several hundred free patterns that she published in her last job working for the Journal Gazette newspaper here in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has devoted a lot of time and a million stitches to her craft over the years and I'm so pleased to share with you her new book, Sock Architecture, published by Cooperative Press (also available on Ravelry). In her book, she shares techniques for building your own great socks with 17 top-down toes, 68 top-down heels, 17 toe-up toes, and 26 toe up heels.
One could make 1156 unique socks from the top down, and 442 from the toe up using this book.
One could turn out one sock every day for eight years, and not knit the same sock twice.
Now, I'll admit, Lara and I are friends. I sat next to her every Sunday for the past several years, knitting away while drinking coffee and oversharing about our personal lives. She knows more about me than many people and hopefully will keep her mouth shut about all the bad things I said during my very uncomfortable last pregnancy. I still get the giggles about some of the things we said way too loudly in public and around children. So when I tell you that you really, really need her new book, it comes from a place of not only being oh-so proud of my dear friend, but also a place of awe that she spent so much time, effort and dedication on this all-encompassing sock knitting publication. Having a book published is something that most of us will never experience, not only because of the talent it takes to do so, but the ability to put the rest of one's life aside for the better part of a year to create something out of nothing. I couldn't do it. And I'm so thankful that writers like her can. And that publishers like Cooperative Press give them the forum to do so.
Enough gushing. I'd love to share a bit of Lara Neel with you, so I asked her to answer a few questions about her book and her process. And then you'll want to enter the contest at the bottom (details in the last paragraph) because Lara is giving FOUR lucky commenters a free book, and I'm giving another four commenters two skeins of Simply Sock Yarn, Solids so you can knit your own socks. Eight winners total.
Allison: So, Lara, tell me how the idea of this book came up.
Lara: The book started out as just a list. A friend of mine was frustrated at trying to find a heel that would fit one of her children perfectly and was having a hard time telling exactly how deep, in rounds, a certain heel would be to knit. I said I could draw up a chart of sock heels for her and help her figure out that depth, based on the number of total stitches in the sock. I started out with the French heel, square heel, several afterthought heels and a few variations on the Common heel. I did a lot of algebra and knit a bunch of little sample heels. I said, "maybe I will do a pamphlet about this." Everyone in my knitting group said, "I think it sounds like a book!"
Allison: I remember that day! It was a few years ago, and only you could have taken that seed of an idea and used your passion and talent to turn it into a book. Awesome. So how did you start the whole research process?
Lara: I've always been interested in the history of knitting, so I went back to Richard Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting and worked backwards from there. His library is online, so I started combing through those early knitting manuals. I kept reading the entire time I worked on the book, and actually found a few more heels than I could reasonably fit into one book. I'm starting notes for a second book right now.
In Weldon’s Practical Stocking Knitter from 1885, I found the Balbriggan heel, which is now one of my absolute favorites. It's very fast and easy to work, and fits very well if you don't have an extremely high arch. I also looked up Ethnic Socks & Stockings, by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, to make sure I was getting the full benefit of a heel I remembered reading about years before that can only really be worked from the toe up (I tried it top-down, but it was far too difficult to be practical), the Joined Heel Flap.
Along the way, I finished some ideas I had been reaching for in my own heels. I developed a short-row heel that has no wraps and doesn't gap at the turns. I love it because I can even work it in black yarn, in not-great light, and be confident that it will work out.
I also took the heels I created for my Tootsie socks in Knitty and the Touch of Silver AWE Socks I wrote for Crafty Living, which are different from each other but, I see in hindsight, are kind of working toward the same idea. I love the notion of taking a sock and working it in the way that is most convenient and fun at that moment. In those socks, and the two Procrastinatrix Socks patterns in Sock Architecture, you make the entire sock, including the gusset, before making the heel. You are free, then, to knit the sock either toe up or top down, and make the heel either toe up or top down. Since the heel is completely separate from the rest of the sock, if you ever want to pull it out and re-knit it, you can.
I'm interested in toes, too, and I tried to get a lot of variety in there. I tend to always make the same toes for myself and my wife, since we both have pretty wide feet. I designed sets of one shape of toe in the book - you can make them either short, medium or long depending on how your foot is shaped. When I first started making socks for Dee, a lot of times the toe was too narrow and that was very frustrating, so I wanted to give people options. My favorite heel/toe combination is always whatever one I'm working on at the moment. If I don't have a completely firm grasp on that particular heel and toe, I make a little note to myself with the numbers I need in my knitting bag.
Allison: Are the techniques in your book applied to your current sock-in-progress?
Lara: Right now, I'm working on a sock out of self-striping yarn that uses the afterthought Thumb-Joint Hat Top heel and toe. That's a mouthful, but it's a really simple concept. The heel/toe made it into the book, but I didn't have room or time to make a pattern for it.
The advantage of that particular heel in a self-striping sock yarn is that, with a very small amount of stripe management, you can have a perfectly uniform set of stripes all of the way down the front of the sock. The heel is automatically custom-fit to the wearer and it's much deeper than most afterthought heels, so it fits more like a standard flap-and-gusset sock. I really encourage anyone who hasn't loved afterthought heels in the past to try that one and fall in love with it. One of my proudest moments in the last year has been when I convinced one of my friends to try it. Now, she's an evangelist for that heel! I'm partnering with Simply Socks Yarn Company to release that pattern, so I don't have the details yet, but I'll share it on my blog (math4knitters.blogspot.com) when I do.
Allison: Did you have an idea of what you thought the whole writing/publishing process would be like beforehand? And if so, how did the actual process differ from what you were imagining?
Lara: This is my first book, and it was a great process, but very involved. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started, but my advice to anyone considering it is this - be prepared to invest a lot of time and effort! I knew I wanted a lot of sizes for the book, but if I had it to do over again, I would have asked my tech editor for sizing guidelines before I wrote a single word. As it was, I had to do a lot of the work over again, from scratch, because her (much easier) method for sizing was almost completely different from mine. I also knew I wanted to include plug-in-your-numbers sizing to make the patterns completely customizable. At first, I wrote those as entirely separate patterns. My editor said we just had to find a way to make it shorter. So, I ended up adding the adjustable instructions to each pattern as if it were just another size. I'm really happy with how that turned out, and I wouldn't have thought of it if she hadn't challenged me to find a way to be less long-winded.
I don't know how everyone does it, but with my editorial team, it worked like this:
1) I write the initial patterns/manuscript. 2) The tech editor takes a look and sends me notes. 3) I answer her notes/revise.
Repeat steps two and three a few times, until we both feel we have it worked out. 4) I send my updated patterns/manuscript to the editor for layout. 5) She sends a laid-out version to the tech editor. Repeat steps two and three a few more times.
Repeat step 4. 6) We all review a final draft. 7) Publication!
Allison: Sounds like a lot of hard work for everyone! How many patterns have you written, outside of this book, and where can they be found?
Lara: Right now I have 185 patterns available on Ravelry. (http://www.ravelry.com/designers/lara-neel) Most of them are free, and I should warn everyone that the ones I wrote for Crafty Living were definitely a part of my learning experience. They're not bad, exactly, but not all of them feel like a complete thought and none of them have multiple sizes.
Allison: Who benefits the most from your finished knitting?
Lara: I knit, mostly, for my wife, Dee. But, now that we've moved to Minnesota, I've started knitting socks for myself, too. I also knit a lot of holiday presents for family members and baby stuff for friends and charity.
Allison: And what do you knit the most?
Lara: For the last year and a half - socks, socks, and more socks. I love knitting sweaters, but I've become kind of addicted to turning out a pair of socks every 10 - 14 days. Sweaters take me at least a month. I have an afghan on the needles that has languished for about a year. It may be time to pull it out and work on it.
Allison: I don't think I ever asked you this question, and it seems odd not to know... How'd you learn to knit?
Lara: I originally learned to knit when I was 6 at my after-school daycare. I didn't learn how to cast off or cast on, though, so I had to stop when I moved on from that particular place. I took it up again in college when I wanted something concrete to do to help me relax from working on my Physics degree. I read every book on knitting I could find, and even used interlibrary loan to read just about all of the knitting books in Massachusetts. This was around 1999, so it was way before the knitting publication explosion that we're experiencing now. There were very few online resources, but the now-gone Woolworks: the online knitting compendium was one, and the very kind knitters there helped me when I got stuck.
Allison: The knitting community is so generous and has definitely made a difference in my life too. You, alone, have introduced me to some of my best friends and you even connected me with my shop-manager Heather. You're definitely missed in Fort Wayne. Tell me about the "day job" that got you to Dee to move to Minnesota.
Lara: I work as a social media manager at a book publisher, Quarto Publishing Group. One of our imprints is Voyageur Press, a name some knitters who pay attention to logos on the back of books may recognize. It's fascinating work and I'm learning a lot about the nuts and bolts of the publishing business. Basically, most of my job is to talk about books on the internet all day. I love it.
Allison: I'm really happy for you and Dee. Your book is fab, you have a great new job and house- what an exciting year! So let me pose a quandry. Picture this: Zombie Appocalypse. You and Dee are stuck in your house for a year with access to just three pattern books to do all your knitting. Which do you choose. I force you to choose your book as one of those.
Lara: For pattern books I would choose: Sock Architecture, Knitting from the Top by Barbara Walker, and Knitter's Alamanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman. For non-pattern books, I would choose: The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, Anna Zilboorg's Fancy Feet (color inspiration galore!) and Knitting with Two Colors by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen.
Allison: You're thinking outside the box. But I know it's what you do best. Who in the fiber industry keeps you inspired and thinking outside those walls?
Lara: I love Annie Modesitt. Her designs are as free-thinking and as fun as her personality. I feel real gratitude that she is my friend. Lucy Neatby and Cat Bordhi both also bring a sense of fun and excitement to everything they touch.
I have what I consider to be my nine muses of traditional knitting (in no particular order): Meg Swansen, Barbara Walker, Anna Zilboorg, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, June Hemmons Hiatt, Nancy Bush, Elizabeth Zimmermann, Beth Brown-Reinsel and Mary Thomas. In their own ways, they have all illuminated and expanded the galaxy that is knitting. A knitter could really spend their entire knitting lives walking in these the footsteps of these women and continually learn new things.
Allison: Many thanks for creating this book for us. Really, it's beautiful, informative and a must-have resource. I'm honored that you exclusively used my shop's yarn for all the patterns, and I just can't wait to share it with everyone. And I do hope we can work together on something else in the future.
* * * * *
If you want a chance at winning a signed copy of this great book, go here and look through the 17 patterns. Tell me in the comments below the one you'd choose to knit first. Then if you also want a chance at winning two skeins of Simply Sock Yarn Solids to knit your socks, tell me (in the same comment) which color you'd choose from the 60-some we offer. Leave your comment by this Friday, Sept 26 at noon EST. I'll randomly choose the winners and announce them here the following week. I'll also send out e-mails to the winners.