Sometimes you find wonderful things in places that you don’t expect. And while that sounds like some sort of silly motivational quote, in this case I mean it entirely literally.
I was popping into Newbury Yarns a while back, and I was caught unawares. I didn’t actually need any yarn (and their prices are fairly outrageous anyway) but what should I find hiding in one of the bins but some spinning fiber! And it was spinning fiber of rare and delicate beauty.
It was the color of fairy wings, and dewdrops on cobwebs, and the shine on a dragonfly’s back. And darlings?
It was 100% suri alpaca. I was helpless in its thrall.
So, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to announce the winner of the little giveaway I’ve been running!
The random number generator has spoken, and…
Congratulations to TheSexyKnitter!
I was actually really surprised by all the people that entered the giveaway, and thank you all for joining. It has been so amazing, having people getting so excited about knitting. I know that I rather rode the wave of the Hunger Games, and how insanely popular it’s become. I love that it is a series that makes young women feel like they can be powerful and strong. If you’re really disappointed about not winning the contest (and I felt bad that I couldn’t give everyone a cowl, you were all so nice!) I’m currently running a sale in my Etsy shop, where I’m selling the cowl handmade by me. I started it for Black Friday, but I figured that I’d keep it going through Midnight ET Cyber Monday since I was drawing the winner today. I thought that in case anyone who didn’t win absolutely had to have one, at least they would get the lower price! And, I’ll tell you a secret. Since you guys read my blog, if you want one, send me a private message on Etsy with your measurements, and any other special requests that you might have, and I will customize it to the best of my ability.
I really want to thank all of you. You have all been so kind and amazingly nice. It just reaffirms my belief in how wonderful people can be in general. Knitters are a nice group, and it seems like people who like knitted stuff are just as nice, even if they haven’t yet been assimilated. So many of you have had encouraging things to say about my design, and I really appreciate it. This pattern has kindof blown up in my face, in the best possible way, and I’m positively flabbergasted. You guys are awesome. Thanks for making me feel like I have a bunch of nice internet friends
There’s still time to enter my giveaway from the last post! I’m going to draw the winners tonight at 12pm ET! So if you’ve been waiting to enter, hurry! There’s not much time left and I don’t want anyone to miss out
Every once in a while, we want to do something for the people we love. They do a lot of things for us, and we want to show them that we appreciate it! For a knitter, this almost always translates into wool. We want the people we care about to be warm and cozy. But this effect is multiplied when one of our favorite people asks for something yarn related. In that case, we are hopeless in the face of evidence that our art is appreciated, and will go to any lengths to make it happen!
Such was the case, many months ago, when Greg evinced a desire to own an item knitted with a particular yarn. Backstory: Greg loves Mantis Shrimp. Even before the Oatmeal did his fabulous comic about the glories of the Mantis Shrimp, Greg was thoroughly enamored of them. In all fairness, they are pretty amazing. So it didn’t really surprise me when he asked for some socks out of Mantis Shrimp yarn.
Yes, this does, in fact, exist. (and he did the research.) Cephalopod Yarns makes a Mantis Shrimp colorway, on their Skinny Bugga! sock base. Which non-incidentally is merino and cashmere, and softer than a baby’s bum. What flummoxed me was that Greg wanted this particular yarn, and the stashed options on Ravelry just weren’t right. He loved the picture on the website, and it had been sold out since the beginning of time. (slight exaggeration, but only slight.) This was basically the holy grail of yarns and it was perfect.
So not only did he nicely ask for knitwear (which means that you will DEFINITELY get woolly things from me if you belong to the very select group of people that I will actually knit for) he had presented me with an entirely delicious challenge. I became the mighty hunter. I stalked my prey on their website. I lurked on their email list. I set up a notification for the moment it was back in stock. And finally, after months of patience and terrifying persistence, it was back. I bought it immediately. This is what I received. This is why all that was worth it.
It is a thing of beauty.
(I hope he likes the socks.)
ps. If you want to enter my giveaway from the last post, there’s still time! You can share my Katniss Cowl on any form of social media, let me know, and you could win a custom-made Katniss Cowl just for you! It’ll be running until November 30th.
Guys, I can’t even tell you what a crazy few weeks it has been. The response to my latest pattern has been absolutely tremendous! People are really excited about the new Hunger Games movie, which I guess means that knitters will be all over the gorgeous dystopian knitwear It’s been fun and completely trippy to see how the knitters represent for their fandoms. The Katniss Cowl made it up to #3 on Ravelry’s Hot Right Now page, and has currently been downloaded over 2,000 times! In celebration of the awesomeness of nerdy knitting, I have decided to do a giveaway. It’s my first one, and I couldn’t think of a more auspicious time for it. Here are the rules:
1. Share the link to my last blog post or the Ravelry page for the cowl on any form of social media (blog, Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, pick your poison.) You can get multiple entries by sharing on multiple platforms! One entry per social media outlet. Also, if you’ve already shared it, that’s awesome! You can be entered into the giveaway, just make sure you let me know about it.
2. Leave a comment letting me know where you shared it with a link, or send me an email at LollyKnitsDesigns@gmail.com Make sure that you give me some way to contact you, whether by email or ravelry ID. If I can’t get in touch with you, I’ll have to pick another winner, and that would be so sad!
The prize will be a Katniss Cowl knitted by me, customized to your measurements! (or to the measurements of whoever it is for, if you want it to be a gift.) I will enter all of your names into a spreadsheet, and the random number generator will decide the winner! I’m limiting the giveaway to the US and Canada, because I don’t want to be paying a million bucks in postage for the odd-shaped package this is going to be. If you can show that it will cost less that $25 US to ship it to you, I’m happy to enter you, but, in the style of Dr. Bones, “I’m a researcher, not a millionaire!”
I’m going to pick the winner on Saturday, November 30th, so you’ve got almost two weeks. Have fun, and thank you all so much for making this experience so exceptional. I never thought that only my second knitting pattern would get such a wonderful response, and you guys have surprised and delighted me to no end. I can’t wait to see who ends up with a custom version of the cowl. Good luck everyone!
I knew that this was destined to be mine from the moment I saw the first Catching Fire trailer.
Introducing the Katniss Cowl…
I have to say, I love Katniss Everdeen. Unlike a lot of heroines in YA fiction, she is tough and takes care of herself. However, she’s still human, and she has many loving relationships that mean everything to her. She has a balance that I feel like a lot of female characters lack. While she spends most of the books kicking ass and taking names, she’s not just a stereotypical Amazon. She has depth, and we can understand her feelings, even if she can get a little angsty at times. (What teenager doesn’t? Even if they aren’t destined to save the world.) As awful as it would be to live in the dystopian future that is the setting for the Hunger Games, Katniss can handle anything (and look great doing it!) Besides, what isn’t awesome about being a badass archer? Reading those books made me want to try archery again, but I won’t, because I seriously sucked at it. Maybe because, like many nerds, my vision is horrible.
A few months ago, Rachel of All Night Knits was looking for a pattern for the fabulous cowl that Katniss Everdeen is wearing in the trailers for Catching Fire. I hadn’t seen them yet, but the minute that I saw this cowl, I was in love. I had to make a Katniss Cowl of my very own! I wanted to knit it and wear it to the premiere, and I finished it up in just a few hours of knitting time. However, it came out so beautifully that I wanted to release the pattern as well. So here it is!
The great thing about super bulky yarns is that they knit up fast. If you want a Katniss Cowl of your very own to wear to the premiere (November 22nd people!) you still have time! It’s amazingly quick to knit, even though the neckline is a bit fiddly. I did a really detailed step-by-step guide with pictures, so hopefully it should be way easy for you guys! If there’s a little girl on your Christmas list who loves Katniss, this might be just the ticket.. If you want to be loved and adored forevermore
These pictures were taken on a FREEZING cold roof by the inimitable Greg Dracoulis, who managed to get some really lovely shots. I don’t know how, because it was miserably cold. He must just be a really great photographer My hands and feet felt like they got frostbite, but my torso was toasty warm!
As dramatic and avant garde as this cowl is, I really think it’s very wearable. Big smooshy cowls have been really popular the last few seasons, and I love the neckline on this one, how crisp and structured it is. It’s very unique, and I think I’m going to get a lot of use out of it in the Boston winter.
The pattern is free in my Ravelry store, (link here!) I want everyone to have one so I’m not charging for the pattern. It only takes about two and a half skeins of Lion Brand Thick and Quick yarn, so it’s economical too. Everyone should knit a Katniss Cowl. We all deserve them, and we will all look fabulous. And revolutionary.
And maybe as cute and charming as Jennifer Lawrence. I take that one back. No one is as cute and charming as Jennifer Lawrence. Let me know what you think! (it’s only the second design I’ve ever published and I am nervous.) Thanks bloggy friends!
(One last picture because Greg’s pictures are awesome. Over and out.)
**UPDATE** If you’ve decided that you absolutely MUST have one of these and don’t knit or have a knitting friend that you can beg and bribe in order to get one, you can buy one from my Etsy store. Too many people asked, so I finally caved.
So I feel like my blogging mojo has been on vacation. I don’t know why! The knitting mojo has been quite seriously present, but not so much with the blogging. I’ve actually got an ENORMOUS backlog of great things to show you, so I should probably get on that, huh? Well, first things first, some spinning!!
This is actually my first spinning project where I tried to get something besides enormous bulky uneven yarn. (which does have its charm, but has limited usefulness.) I was going for a fingering to sport weight yarn, Navajo plied so the colors wouldn’t get muddy. I came close, but this is more like a DK/light worsted weight for the most part. However, it is smooshy and soft, and about 250 yards in total so that’s pretty good! It’s not perfectly even, but it is a huge improvement over my previous efforts.
The lady who taught me to spin gave me some very good advice. She told me that for my first attempt to Navajo ply, I should use something that I wasn’t desperately in love with, because it might not turn out well. Even though this came out quite nicely, I think her assessment was right. Using something that I liked but didn’t love desperately made it waaaaay less stressful while I was learning.
The fiber is merino from Fashion Touch Supplies on Etsy. The braid was a little compacted when I got it, but I was able to persuade it apart without too much difficulty. As much as the short staple occasionally drives me nuts, I do love merino. It’s so squishy!
I am pretty happy with this. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of brown, and I thought that the brown bits were actually grey when I purchased this. I don’t think that this is going to be for me though, so that’s fine! I’m actually considering a baby surprise jacket, since that seems like a brilliant use for handspun. ( Look at this one, and this one, and this one!) That’s definitely a back burner sort of project though, because I don’t have any impending babies to worry about. So yeah! Spinning! I still do that
So I know you all wanna see the sweater, right? Well I want to show you! Credits for the photos go to Greg, who is an awesome photographer, and very good natured about getting roped into photographing my hand knits. (I think that “knitwear photographer” is fairly atypical of his accustomed oeuvre.) But he does such a good job! Any faults with these pictures are almost certainly due to my.. err.. extremely inexpert photo editing.
The setting of Rhinebeck is really ideal for sweater photography, with the stunning fall colors and general air of sheepiness.
I absolutely adore this sweater. It is one of my favorite colors, and while I wasn’t sure of the variegation in the store, I love how it knit up! (Greg told me to get this one rather than a pale purple. Shocking revelation: when you’re unsure of a color choice, listen to the photographer/graphic designer/filmmaker. His advice is probably legit.) I think that the variation in color is just slight enough that the lace looks gorgeous, especially in the long panel down the back. I think that is such a brilliant detail of this design! In addition, it is SO WARM. That Malabrigo worsted is just cushy fuzzy wool goodness. I love this yarn, and I think it’s pretty long-wearing for a single ply. Naturally there will be pilling, but I am prepared for that so it won’t exactly be a surprise.
The pattern is Bloomsbury by Svetlana Volkova, and I love the clever design of this sweater. It’s worked top-down in the round, and when you’re done, you have six ends to weave in, and ZERO sewing. Sign me up! The lines on the front of the bust are really cool, almost like a wetsuit! This is beautifully designed, though the pattern is a bit difficult to get the hang of. I had to use the pattern for a good portion of the yoke, which was a huge pain in the ass! I usually don’t have trouble memorizing a pattern and just trucking along, so that frustrated me a bit. However, the results are stunning so I can’t exactly whine too much The yarn is Malabrigo Worsted in Velvet Grapes. I love it so much!! I made extensive mods, including changing the waist shaping so that it would nip in more dramatically, (I like curve-hugging sweaters.) and adding some short rows in the bust so that it wouldn’t pull up in the front. I also shortened the sleeves, and went for a tighter-fitting sleeve than in the original. To me, the sleeves look a bit heavy when they’re full length. This is probably the best fit of any sweater I own, so yay!
And now the back!!! Lovely lace panel detail ^.^
I do have one question for you, my bloggy friends. I have some yarn left, which means that I could make the sweater longer. Should I? I’m generally one who likes my sweaters really long, but I think that that tends to make them look less polished. This sweater is a bit more on the fancy side, so I curbed that tendency, but now I wonder. Should I lengthen it, or leave it as is?
I have to admit, one of my favorite things about going to Rhinebeck was the actual drive down there. In general, I am not a fan of driving huge distances, plus I was expecting that with my lead foot we would get there a lot more quickly than we actually did. However, the foliage was beautiful, and the hills were rolling and lovely, and the sunlight on the leaves in all their fall colors was dazzling. Every time we would come to the top of a rise, I would be freaking out and demanding that Greg LOOK AT ALL THE LEAVES. He probably got a little sick of it after the first ten times or so :P
We saw sheep:
(I forgot to write down the breeds. Duh! But I remember that last guy was a Jacob because he had the crazy horns! Four of them, eek!)
I got a selfie with a llama! I loved the llamas and alpacas. They were mostly totally down for pets, and they were super soft! Like great big clouds of soft cuddlyness.
I know the llama looks like he’s not into it, but he is.
My favorite thing that I saw at the festival though, (fiber related) was definitely the paco-vicuñas. They were so beautiful!!!
They had such slender faces and necks and such enormous eyes! I was petting one, and he made a buzzing noise like an enormous bee and I was ENCHANTED. I just fell in love with these beauties. The coolest thing about them is that they were originally bred from alpacas, attempting to imitate the form and qualities of wild vicuñas, which live in South America and have one of the finest, softest, rarest fibers in the world. These guys look a lot more like them than they do like alpacas. And they are so soft you just want to sit and pet them all day. The only thing I saw that was more exciting was the lemurs fighting. And that was partially because of Greg’s face. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him look more thrilled.
I enjoyed Rhinebeck, but I think a few factors contributed to me not enjoying it as much as I expected to. I went on Sunday, so a lot of the really cool stuff in the market was gone already Everyone seemed kindof tired too. If I go again, I’ll definitely go on Saturday instead. I also felt a bit like some of the vendors didn’t take me seriously because I don’t have a spinning wheel. It seemed like, “OH, you just use a SPINDLE. How plebeian.” Honestly I feel like we who love the fiber arts need to stick together. Just because you have a certain preference (Like how I don’t particularly enjoy crochet) doesn’t mean that it’s any less valid that other people love it. People already think that we’re weird enough without us being hard on each other. I’m not necessarily a great spinner either, but I feel like that shouldn’t matter. I’ve had a lot of people who were really technically amazing give me great advice and make me feel very welcome despite my lack of a wheel, so I wondered what the deal was with this. It wasn’t overwhelmingly my experience, but I did get the feeling more than once. I also thought that there would be a bit more variety.. But I think I’ve gotten a bit spoiled by being able to shop on Etsy I thought it would basically be like that except you got to touch all the things!
I don’t mean to whine, I did really like Rhinebeck! I just was a bit surprised by some elements of it that I was certainly not expecting. There was a lot of shopping, and a fair number of sheep and other animals which I loved seeing. I also loved admiring (and also cringing at a few really flamboyant) outfit choices. Even the ones I personally considered hideous I liked seeing, because to me that means that Rhinebeck is a place where we can all be as weird as we want :P
And because I know you all are wondering, yes, I finished the sweater! I finished it in the morning before we left, because Greg and I made a deal that he would not drive. So it was done, and here’s proof!
We did a proper photo shoot as well, but that will get its own post. I told Greg that we needed to get a picture of us together, and he immediately fluffed his hair, and carefully posed the one fiber braid that I bought, as well as our programs. I was just going to snap a quick selfie, and he was basically like “Psh, amateur.” Those photographers are so exacting
I bet I’m still going to be knitting this in the car on the way to Rhinebeck. \
Hopefully I don’t also have to drive