Meet Dyeabolical’s ID Squishy Sport Single + *GIVEAWAY*

Around the time I was ordering my fantastic new fiber from Dyeabolical I received a message from Rachel — the awesome lady behind the shop — asking if I’d be interested in trying out a new yarn base she was really excited about. Of course, I jumped at the chance and in with my gorgeous fiber came a couple fab skeins of the new ID Squishy Sport Single in the Sebastian colorway

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Photo courtesy of Dyeabolical

ID Squishy Sport Single is 100% (non-superwash) wool that is grown, processed & dyed in the USA. I have to say that nothing… nothing could have prepared me for the life in this yarn. Before I had it wound into a center pull ball, I had searched a number of possible patterns and when it came time to try them out they just weren’t clicking. I just could not have anticipated how much bounce was in this skein! In my eyes and hands, this yarn beckoned to show off its off-the-charts stitch definition. After two attempts at a certain shawl, I recalled a hat that I thought might require a sport or light dk weight yarn. Sure enough, Alana Dakos’ Sprig Cloche called for a dk. From my early attempts, I knew ID Squishy Sport Single to be a pretty generous sport/light dk weight can really hold its own in the heavier side of its weight, so I thought it was worth a shot.

This was the ‘a-ha’ moment in this project.

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 You know it, it’s that moment when you look down at your needles and you know you’ve found it.

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I knit this beauty in the sunshine while my kids played and I loved every minute. The bounce, the spring, the life, the energy — whatever you want to call it — ID Squishy Sport Single has it in spades and it is sheer joy to knit. It’s one of those yarns that when it’s in my hands I find myself asking why I ever knit with anything else. It’s that kind of high!

The finished hat… well, let me just show you…

flat hatBeautiful.

hat front viewIt is quite literally one of the best fitting hats I’ve made thanks largely in part to that bounce in the ID Squishy Sport Single.

hat side viewAnd the unique construction of the hat, I worried about a little is my favorite thing about it. I gave it a generous measurement when working in the inches of the main body just because I knew the yarn wouldn’t quite as readily slouch for me as the recommended yarn. The extra couple rounds did the trick perfectly.

And let’s look at that pretty leaf detail one last time…

hat close upI’m smiling. Are you?

As if the hat wasn’t awesome enough, I still had almost half of the hefty 270yard skein left. I couldn’t let that go to the land of leftovers, so I popped into my patterns and pulled out a favorite, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Welted Fingerless Mitts. These little mitts are a brilliantly simple pattern. I’ve made at least 4 or 5 pairs of them over the years for gifts, not to mention a couple pairs for myself. I worked them two-at-a-time and whipped them up in less than a day.

mitts2Et voilà!

mittsI think they’re just the absolute perfect companion for the Sprig Cloche. The welted detail echoes the edges of the hat’s band and both are just simple & classic.

hat + mittsPerfection.

The best news, however, is that Rachel sent me an extra skein of ID Squishy Sport Single for one of YOU!

It’s true! I will be shipping one beautiful skein of ID Squishy Sport in the Sebastian colorway to one lucky winner — whew-hoo!

To enter this giveaway, simply hop on over to the Dyeabolical website and have a nice, relaxing, inspiring look around (it’ll be hard, but for the good of your tech try not to drool too much). Then, share in the comments section of this blog post one or two items from the shop that you’d really love to try out. Rachel’s just added some new colorways and bases in Yarns & Fibers as well as some really gorgeous new soaps in the Bath & Body section, too. One entry per person, please, but please do feel free to share with your friends.

Entries will be accepted through 11:59CST Monday, April 20th.

The winner will be announced Tuesday, April 21st.

Many thanks to Dyeabolical for making this giveaway possible and best of luck to you!

Freezing, but Happy

I will admit it. I love winter, but it is really, really cold right now.

My husband celebrated a landmark birthday over the weekend and what was supposed to be an adventure in the Northwoods was derailed by snow, wind, and extreme cold. We probably could have made the drive up to the Northwoods — I am told I’m far to cautious when it comes to driving with the kids in any type of bad weather. In the end though it was probably for the best as our little boy ended up coming down with a pretty serious cold.  Although it was kind of disappointment to not follow through with the plan & I spent a good deal of time feeling guilty for calling it off, we did our best to make what we could of the weekend together. We went looking for a Snowy Owl.

Relatively speaking, our area is crawling with Snowy Owls this year. It has been very, very cold (right now it is 3degrees F and ‘feels like’ -7), so I assume this has driven even larger than normal numbers of these beautiful arctic birds south. It’s tradition — we try to find one every year — but this year we seem to consistently just miss them. We have, however, seen a lot of amazing wintry scenery.

20131216-101509.jpgThis was our ‘snowstorm’ that never got super bad, but was pretty uncomfortable to stand out in. When it is that cold and snowing and windy, it mostly just feels like tiny icicles being sprayed directly into your face at moderately high speeds. Ow.

20131216-101635.jpgBut it’s still beautiful.

20131216-101625.jpgAnd as always, Moose is still happy to chase sticks. He may be the world’s biggest snuggler (read: big baby) when it comes to being cold indoors, but throw a stick in a subzero snowstorm and he’s in heaven. That’s our dog.

We struck out finding an owl, but we did see lots of Rough-Legged Hawks which are stinking gorgeous. And we found this guy:

merlinA merlin.

One of two we saw over the weekend, we rarely see them so this was a real treat. My husband nearly froze taking this photo. I stayed in the car. Thanks for taking one for the team, dear — it’s an awesome photo and not often that a falcon will sit still for that long for you (I totally arranged that for your birthday, by the way — Happy Birthday!).

With our boy sick though, I spent a fair bit of time sitting with him so I did manage to wrap up some knitting which is good. After all, Christmas is only getting closer.

mittensI finished my daughter’s mittens — finally! They took me five days. Five days that felt like for-ever.

mittens2They came out really nicely and thanks to Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns they should fit perfectly. I made them a little big to account for felting — my daughter severely felts all mittens instantly. Even fibers that shouldn’t felt much, felt. I have learned that the hard way. So her mittens are now always made with a little extra room.

hat scarf & mittensSo her matching trio of Annie’s Swiss Cheese Scarf, Knitbot Simple Hat, and her custom mittens are all done & ready to be wrapped (they are unblocked in the photo — call me lazy, but I don’t believe in blocking outerwear for 6-year-olds for the most part).

And…. I think I have enough of the Quince & Co Osprey in rosa rugosa left over to make myself a Simple Hat, too. Rock on.

I also managed another of Churchmouse Yarn & Tea’s Boyfriend Watch Cap. This one for my boy.

peak's ferry 2Knit in Quince & Co Lark again, this time in the peaks ferry colorway. I thought the colorway was going to be kind of a boring Christmas red, but it is actually a really unique red. Just a little watery which adds some depth and keeps it from being a really sharp, flat red. Love it.  And it’ll be a perfect back-up hat for my boy.

And finally, I’m working on the last Christmas knitting projects (probably)…

regia irlandSock #2 of a pair for my husband. I would keep these a secret, but I had to check the sizing so my husband tried one on already. I haven’t made a stockinette sock for him in a while & it just looked huge. But nope, they fit well. I am loving that Old Norwegian/German Twisted Cast-on, by the way. I will never go back to long-tail cast-on for socks.

As is par for the course, my mind is racing ahead to what I’m going to work on next. And I am in full-on planning mode for a fun year-long 2014 theme/goal for myself and, of course, for anyone who decides to join me because y’all are always welcome. More on that later though.

For now, I am going to be right here. Caring for my sick boy who was up at 4am coughing. Laughing at my dog who seems to want a nose warmer to wear in the house. Keeping the kids out of the basement so no one sees the snake. Wrapping gifts. Finishing socks. Looking for owls. Getting way too excited for Christmas. And just in general…

20131216-101645.jpg Freezing, but happy.

In Review: Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf

When Alana Dakos came out with her children’s book Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf a little over a year ago, I passed on purchasing it. My daughter was barely 5 and in all honesty, she wasn’t that interested in knitting. While I would love for my kids to take up knitting, I pretty strongly believe in not pushing it — when they ask I will absolutely work with them, but it’s important to me that they find their own way to it in their own time.

It was this past spring and summer that both kids asked to learn. We walked to our LYS and each kid picked out their own kitchen cotton — red for my son & pink for my daughter. Naturally they both have very strong attachments to their favorite colors. For my son, I got him a regular ‘ol pair of size 8 straight bamboo needles just as I would recommend for any beginner. For my girl, who has small hands still, I picked up some 4 or 5″ Brittany double-point needles and when we got home we put rubber band stoppers on one end of them to make them into teeny, tiny straight needles. And away we went.

To this day, I remain true to my word and when they ask to work on their knitting, we pull it out and practice a few rows. When they get tired & lose interest, we stop. My son has the patience, focus, and dexterity now to handle it and is doing pretty well. My girl, well, she is a little more frustrated with the lack of instant results and the clumsiness of her little hands. She’s in this phase, though, of really being a mama’s girl. It is the sweetest really and I can’t tell you how much I am savoring it. She follows me around wanting to be involved in everything I do and every night we have at least a few minutes of Mama-Delia snuggle time. That’s why when I saw online that for the Black Friday weekend Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting was offering a 50% discount on certain titles that included Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf, I jumped at it. In fact, I splurged and ordered the Deluxe Gift Set that included the book, paper dolls, a puzzle, and stickers in a cute box.

It arrived a few days ago and it is absolutely perfect.

20131210-122730.jpgIt. Is. Adorable.  And the story, of a little girl who wants to be like her mom & learn to knit, gets frustrated when it doesn’t come easily, and in the end learns the patience and skills needed to finally succeed… it totally made me tear up. It is just so sweet and reminds me so much of my daughter. I cannot wait to share this gem with her.

20131210-122754.jpgI love that the book comes with a note from Annie. It is such a sweet touch. My daughter is a really gifted & voracious reader (she’s in Kindergarten and reads almost as well as her 3rd grade brother who is one of his classes’ best readers) and she will love reading this note from Annie herself.

20131210-122813.jpgLook at all these fun goodies! While I know it won’t be as exciting at gift opening as — say — the stuffed animal Black Footed Ferret mama & baby that she’s getting, I can see this gift being one she enjoys for a long time to come. The cherry on the sundae is that I handknit the very same sweater that Annie wears — Dakos’ Playful Stripes Cardigan — for my girl a while back as a shop sample for Firefly Fibers. Thankfully I made it a few sizes too big, so it still fits her today!

Speaking of matching… when the confirmation letter came for my purchase, I was directed to the patterns to make your very own Swiss Cheese Scarf. I downloaded that pattern right away, too.

An idea was brewing…

She already had the sweater, so….

Originally knit with Quince & Co Osprey, I hopped on over to the Quince & Co website and ordered 3 skeins of Osprey in Rose Rugosa — plenty for a scarf, hat, and mittens. The perfect little trio to go with the book (and also an excellent excuse to try one more of Quince & Co’s lovely yarns for the first time).

20131210-122906.jpgThe scarf uses short rows & double yarn-overs to create this ‘beginner’s’ look to it. The yarn is exquisitely squishy and the color is a deep, bright pink that my girl will undoubtedly adore.

It just so happened that Hannah Fettig of Knitbot also just released her Knitbot Simple Hat pattern to go with a KAL she is hosting. Written for 3 weights of yarns & in 5 sizes, it was the perfect quick hat to whip up. The timing could not have been any better if I had planned it myself!

20131210-122925.jpgThe only problem with it is that now I want one for myself. It is going to be nice & warm for my girl & — again — I can’t get over how perfect the color is.

And finally, I am once again relying on Ann Budd’s Basic Mitten Pattern from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns to whip up some quick custom mittens. I just love that I can knit up simple mittens quickly and at the density of my choosing.

20131210-123150.jpgWhen I am in a time crunch (or just being lazy), I always knit these custom mittens 2-at-a-time so that — and this is kind of terrible — I don’t have to make any notes on how I knit them. They match, but I can just forge ahead and get them done. I am about halfway through the thumb increases and hope to wrap up these puppies tonight.  I will say that having witnessed my daughter’s love of rubbing new wool mittens all over everything — the rougher the surface the more appealing — I am making these mittens on the large size to make up for whatever felting and shrinking is bound to occur. I don’t think it should be a problem, but I am hedging on the big side just in case.

While I’m sure this plan is totally overboard, I’m at peace with that. Sometimes I just have to indulge myself… and my little girl. She probably won’t want to be just like me forever and while that’s ok, it’s also ok to celebrate the fact that at this moment she does. I’m sure that my girl will love this little gift set and I can’t wait to catch her in her matching sweater & scarf (maybe hat & mittens, too!) reading away. Most importantly, I think it’s important to recognize that Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf is more than just a book a knitter’s daughter receives this Christmas. It is a story that captures a moment in time that is dear to all mothers & daughters.  The moment when daughter wants nothing more than to be just like her mama. I’m so happy to have indulged, embellished, and made a bigger deal than is probably necessary of this beautiful gift set. This moment, it’s worth it.

Too. Many. Great. Choices.

It seems that all my favourite designers have new books coming out these days. With so many amazing options, the hard part isn’t finding fresh new patterns to love. The challenge is figuring out a way to make them fit in my budget. I thought today I’d share with you my favourite new titles as well as my thoughts and plans to incorporate them into my personal library.

I have sung the praises of Jane Richmond many times in the past & I have no doubt I will continue to do so for years to come. Of all the designs I knit up, Jane’s are some of the most used and loved in my wardrobe. Always timeless, always practical, always simple & beautiful, I recommend Jane’s designs for knitters of all skill levels.

What we discovered about Jane from her first book, Island (reviewed by me here), is that she transcends the title of talented knitwear designer. Her book was groundbreaking in that it took a collection of designs and gave them depth and meaning by forever intertwining them with a place, her home of Vancouver Island.  Her new book, Journey, which officially launched at Knit City in Vancouver this past weekend, promises the same layers of inspiration.

Cover journeyThis time collaborating with the talents of her friend and colleague, Shannon Cook, it looks like once again we will be treated to not only beautiful designs, but more breathtaking photography by Nicholas Kupiak. For a sneak peak, you can check out their amazing video preview. Be warned though, it will make you extremely anxious to lay your hands on this book! You can count on the fact that I will be dropping whatever I am doing the moment this is available & placing my order. I have absolutely no doubt it’ll be worth every penny of the $26.95!

Next up is Ysolda Teague’s The Rhinebeck Sweater. This book is a collection spearheaded by Ysolda & offers designs from many big names in the design world, so the hype is thick. Like any collection of sweaters, there are some I love — how do you not love Pumpkin Ale, Jenny at the Fair, and Dutchess? There are also some that aren’t really my style though. One thing to keep in mind is that most of these patterns appear to be pretty involved, so it may not be the most practical purchase for those with a less advanced skill set. I am pretty tempted by my LYS’ offer for 10% off of pre-orders because the cost of the book is a little on the high side, but I still find myself squarely on the fence about this book. Thank goodness I have a couple days left to mull it over before the pre-order offer expires!

Then there is the highly anticipated Botanical Knits 2 due out next year from Alana Dakos. You may remember that I reviewed the original Botanical Knits in May and raved about the beautifully detailed patterns & the superior pattern writing of Dakos. While we await the release of the second book in the series, this wonderful designer has granted us a fabulous gift. She has pre-released the absolutely gorgeous Sprig pattern.Sprig modeled 5Officially part of the Botanical Knits 2 collection, if you purchase this sweater pattern now individually you can apply the “entire cost of the pdf” to the purchase of the new book when it is released. Just save your PayPal receipt & you will have already invested in a lovely new collection for 2014. I think it is an awesome (and effective!) promotion — I picked up my copy of Sprig yesterday. Knit in Quince & Co’s Owl, I think the hardest decision will be in which color to knit it!

Speaking of Quince & Co’s Owl, just in the last hour Knitbot Yoked by Hannah Fettig has been added to the Quince & Co website. The entire collection is knit in Owl & just could not be more beautiful. I have been a pretty huge fan of Hannah Fettig for years and that has only grown with her partnering with the amazing folks at Quince & Co. I have to say this collection may just be my favourite yet! From what I have seen & read, these designs are billed as an excellent first foray into colorwork & will include tips for choosing yarn & colors as well as basic construction information within the book. Video tutorials will also be available online. For under $20, you can’t go wrong!

Finally, the one book in this post I actually have in my possession, the wonderful Clara Parkes’ The Yarn Whisperer.

yw_cover_smallI am savoring this read, so I can’t provide a full review yet. I will tell you that there is very good reason to let the words soak in, to linger on these pages. There is also a reason Parkes is my favourite & most admired figure in the knitting world and this book is a testament to why that is. I can’t wait to tell you more, but for now I’m just going to enjoy.

This is only cracking the surface of some wonderful new titles in the knitting world. Check them out, enjoy, and be inspired!

Many thanks to Jane Richmond, Alana Dakos, and Clara Parkes for permission to use their images.

In Review: Botanical Knits

I have had the great pleasure of knitting a few of the Alana Dakos’  patterns over the last few years. When I started writing this & looked over my Ravelry projects, I realized a couple are not uploaded yet uploaded onto Ravelry. I thought I was mostly caught up… apparently, cataloging projects is the job that will never end. Can I make a list of the patterns I’ve knit? Just for fun? Why not?

Playful Stripes Cardigan

Cedar Leaf Shawlette (I knit this one twice)

Autumn Vines Beret

Oak Grove

Seedling

Winter Trails

Cloudy Day, the Wildflower Cardigan (not to mention the Wee Wildflower for my wee daughter), and the Sand & Sea Shawlette have been on my ‘must-knit’ list for far too long. Despite having patterns from the wonderful Coastal Knits collection as well as stand alone patterns waiting in the wings, when Alana Dakos’ Botanical Knits became available for pre-order months ago and I must admit that I ordered it almost immediately. Adding another of Dakos’ timeless collections to my library was simply too good to pass up.

Like artists, knitwear designers who get ‘big’ tend to have something they do really well. It’s like their signature. With Dakos, it is definitely botanical themes — leaves, flowers, & trees are ever-present in her designs. Obviously, since the book is called ‘Botanical Knits‘ the latest collection continues along this trend. It’s undisputed that the art of her designs is lovely, but what’s almost more important is that she has a talent for making these intricate designs knit-able. Gifted in writing incredibly clear charts, keys, and written instructions, I consider her one of the most skilled pattern writers around. Somehow Alana Dakos always knows how to be crystal clear without using too many words. She gives her knitters exactly what they need to knit her patterns easily with not one character extra. It not only makes knitting these patterns a breeze for seasoned knitters, it makes them accessible to more novice types, too. No designer that I’ve come across takes patterns this complex and writes them this clearly. No one.

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While I received the eBook when I placed my pre-order months ago, I didn’t focus much on it until the book arrived in the mail a week or so ago. As I peruse the pages of this beautifully book, more than a few designs catch my eye and are mentally added to that ‘must-knit’ list (fyi — if it isn’t apparent, this list is really long, but everything on it is spectacular). The Twin Leaf Loop has that handspun alpaca written all over it. How do you not just love the Oak Trail cloche? I don’t think it’s possible to not love it. Entangled Vines is a cardigan that has my name written all over it — you can see it, too, right? — so I simply will have to knit that. And then there is the Forest Floor hat for which I am attempting to hone some new spinning skills, hoping to creating my own single for it. It will take me time to get there, but I think we all need to reach for the stars sometimes. Reach for the stars, by way of the leaves, flowers, & trees — now that is something I can relate to and Alana Dakos knows just how to inspire that kind of creativity.