Bijou Bliss + Ashbury Mitts

In case you missed it, I thought I’d talk a little bit about a project as well as a post I wrote up for the Bijou Basin Ranch blog. I’ve have the pleasure of doing some guest blogging for them in a really fun series dubbed “Getting to know you.” The first post was all about swatches in general — why they’re important, what we learn from them, and how to use them. This month, I got to actually talk about a project from start to finish — from buying the yarn to finding the perfect project to knitting it up.

I’ll leave the details of that story for the Bijou Basin Ranch blog — you can find it all right here — but I thought I’d show off the project a here because I think it turned out pretty spectacularly.

You see, they started here…

img_3213And they kind of….

img_3230Continually…

img_3296Got so much better.

They’re knit is the utterly delicious Bijou Bliss which is a 50/50 Yak/Cormo blend sport weight yarn. I happened to have 2 skeins of the natural brown in my stash and I was so happy that I had the excuse to pull them out for this project because as you can see…

full onThey turned out gorgeous.

These mitts are designed to be a little loose fitting and while it may hit 90degrees here today, they will be a fabulous addition to my wardrobe, one I will surely appreciate in just a few short months. Did I mention that I only just broke into the 2nd skein I have to finish these? I think some sort of matching hat might be in order, don’t you?

To check out the full post and get the full story on how these mitts came to be, visit the Bijou Basin Ranch blog right here.

Many thanks to the folks at Bijou Basin Ranch for letting me be a guest writer on their blog!

Unstuck

img_3265-1This.

I’ve been a bit remiss here as I managed to mire myself in this giant bobbin of beautiful yarn this week. True, there are so many worse places to be stuck, but as a spinner the experience was significant to me. This is the first time that my plying flyer was really just not fast enough for me for a plying job. For those who aren’t spinners, lighter yarns require more twist and the plying flyer on my wheel is the biggest, slowest-to-add-twist flyer I have. Traditionally I’ve just used the plying flyer as a default for most plying jobs because the bobbins are bigger and therefore I can keep my spinning in one continuous skein which I’m weirdly into. The slow-nature of the flyer has never really bothered me before. This time, though, I felt like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s European Vacation when he gets stuck in the round-about and is maniacally repeating, “I cannot get left!” Night after night I’d sit for the evening with the wheel and I just could not get through this plying!

And then finally…

img_3297Yesterday I did.

Of course I was exhausted by the time I’d finished and I didn’t have it in me to wind the behemoth off the bobbin in that moment, so I popped my next plying job onto the wheel and got it going…

img_3298This will be 4oz of aran/chunky yarn (we’ll see for sure after it’s washed). Compared to the 8oz of light fingering I’d just wrapped up, I’m FLYING! It’s magnificent.

Yesterday I also got to a long-delayed project…

img_3291I started the long process of remeasuring and labeling all my handspun yarn. Doesn’t it look awesome? I’m so happy with how these turned out. I worked with Rachel from Rachel’s Cozy Knits & Designs on Etsy and while I didn’t diverge far from her standard yarn labels, she did an awesome job of individualizing them based on my requests and creating just what I wanted. She was very patient and made the whole process quick & easy. And I’ll be honest, I’m totally nerding out with this. It’s certainly a time investment, but I’m learning a lot about my handspun as I’m meticulous measuring, checking wraps per inch, and weighing each skein. Additionally, having everything tagged will be utterly fabulous once I’m all caught up as I’ll be able to do this as soon as my new yarns are dry from here on out.

img_3294I managed to get through 10 skeins before it was time to take the kiddos to the pool yesterday and I have…

img_3299What can only be described as a heap left. Eventually some of these will find their way into my destash sale on Ravelry. In efforts to declutter our home, I’ve been destashing a number of fantastic skeins on Ravelry so do check it out.

6c314d7a-a059-4309-9fe4-a4520d43ff8eThese are just a couple examples of what I have up for grabs over there. They’re all reasonably priced and all prices include US shipping. And like I said, if you’re looking to grab some destashed handspun keep your eyes peeled in the Ravelry group & on Instagram where I’ll be sharing when I’ll that up. I have some weighing and measuring to do ahead of that though, so it might be a bit.

My needles have been clicking away, too, as I race to yet another finish line.

img_3296I’m closing in on the end of my Ashbury Mitts. I’m cooking up a little something for Bijou Basin Ranch with these and I’ve got a bit of a deadline, so when I’ve not been tackling the grand beast on the wheel I’ve been cruising on these.

I have some excellent incentive to get ahead though, as I somehow always do.

img_3295This insanely soft and beautiful Skinny Wool from Be Sweet arrived and I’m dying to get knitting on it. I think I have just the pattern for it and it’ll be on my needles just as soon as those mitts are done.

img_3287I also received this fabulous 100% merino trio from Backyard Fiberworks. I love the colors, just love them. I definitely want to use them together, but I’m not quite sure which pattern yet. Each skein is 400yards, so I’ve got so many options. Sweater? Tri-color shawl? What do you think? I’m so loving the process of brainstorming this bunch!

And — as if I needed further motivation — my Top of the Month Club arrived from Three Waters Farm.

img_327760% Polwarth / 40% silk. Yes, 40% SILK!

img_3278It positively GLOWS.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially unstuck and that I definitely have my work cut-out for me. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

Miya Shawl, Finished!

Since today is the last day to enjoy 15% off of Bijou Basin Ranch‘s Xanadu for the Miya Shawl KAL (use coupon code: MIYAKAL to claim your discount and get a free copy of the pattern!), I thought it would be a great day to share my finished shawl.

If you’ll recall, it all started here…

skein2With 2oz of luxuriously, soft & light 100% cashmere dyed a lovely shade of teal.

There were a lot of in-progress photos…

IMG_1017As I knit away on this incredible project.

IMG_1174I have to admit to stealing quite a few moments in the very early morning and very late night working on this shawl.

IMG_1219And it was really a treat. The pattern, Mari Chiba‘s Miya Shawl, has a phenomenal rhythm to it. It’s the kind of lace on which it’s very easy to get hooked and into that ‘just one more repeat’ cycle of awesome productiveness. I think it would great for a novice lace knitter looking to expand his/her knowledge as well as an experienced knitter who just wants a fun, pretty project.

Of course, I posted about my close call at the end as I was engaged in some epic yarn chicken.

IMG_1272-0But it all ended just fine with about 3yards to spare.

IMG_1276I was reassured by the folks at Bijou Basin Ranch — who always provide exceptional customer service, by the way — that the test knitter had a ping-pong sized ball of yarn leftover. I knew I was a little chillaxed with my gauge, but apparently I relaxed a bit too much for my own good! This is an excellent example of do what I say (check your gauge often) and not what I do (measure gauge and then get caught up in the knitting and let your gauge meander). Whoops. In any case, there should be no worries if you decide to give this project a whirl — and really, I highly recommend that you do because…

ondelia2The results are gorgeous! A simply lovely shawl that is light as a feather and soft as can be.

det22I adore the lace work. It’s so simple and yet so pretty.

fullAnd the shawl itself has the gentlest of curves to it.

foldedReally, it’s just breathtaking.

Suffice to say I already have my next Xanadu project all planned out. This yarn is definitely requiring some more of my time! In the mean time, I’m planning to live vicariously through my fellow knitters over in the Bijou Basin Ranch Ravelry thread who are knitting along in the Miya KAL. The 15% discount may expire today, but the KAL runs through November 30th. I can’t wait to see all the other shawls continue to take shape!

Many thanks to Bijou Basin Ranch for sponsoring this KAL and asking me to participate!

Twitchy

I’ve been a bit busy the past week. First, I had to deal with Mt. Laundry from our vacation. Then there was the unfortunate fact that I desperately needed to clean out our gutters as they were totally full of maple leaves and helicopters. And the outdoors planters needed to be cleaned and tucked away for the winter. pumpkinAnd the pumpkins we accidentally grew from the compost needed to be picked. And the lawn needed to be mowed. And then there was the tiny fact that this little lady had a birthday.

dOf course, this isn’t a current picture as she turned 8-years-old. I’m still trying to figure out how that is even possible.

You get my drift though — lots to do these past few days. I’m happy to report though that the gutters were cleaned, the pumpkins picked, the lawn mowed, the laundry cleaned and folded, and my girl had a wonderful birthday.

Phew.

And while not doing all these non-craft related things I, monogamist that I am, have been a bit twitchy about having multiple projects in the works. While it’s true that I finished a sweater (it’s drying…) and two skeins of handspun yarn this week, I’m feeling a bit anxious with three active knitting projects as well as two spinning projects.

First, there’s this singles yarn I whipped up while I was waiting for it to warm enough to deal with the gutters Saturday morning.

IMG_1183It’s from Three Waters Farm & is a 4oz braid of Finn Wool in the Spotted Purple Admiral colorway. It spun beautifully and honestly I didn’t realize that I’d managed a fairly even singles yarn until I was taking this photo. I’m planning to lightly felt it when I set the twist and I just haven’t quite found the time (or the kitchen clean enough) to do so yet. I’m hoping to get to that today or tomorrow.

Then I started a new double marl. It’s been a couple years since I did a double marl and I’ve had two Cloudlover Fiber Club braids earmarked for it for a good long while.

IMG_1195I had some doubts early on, but I’m feeling pretty good about how this will look finished as a 2-ply. I couldn’t remember if I had the barber poling like this the first time around with this technique so I hopped back to July 2013 on my blog and had a look…

20130701-191518.jpg

I do spy barber poling so that concern was relieved. I was also pretty chuffed to see both the photo and spinning quality appear to have improved quite a bit in two years. Anyhoo, I have quite a ways to go before the current project is finished. It’s a full 8oz and to maintain a fair bit of control in the spinning, I’m taking it at a slower speed than I usually would for this weight of singles yarn. I think it’ll be a fun journey even if I’m a little anxious along the way.

On my needles, I spent the days that were busier working on my Simple Skyp Socks.

IMG_1218I managed to finish up the first sock and get about one-third of the second sock’s leg finished as of the time of this post. I’m using Spun Right Round‘s Sport Sock in the Holy Crow colorway and I just love how it’s working up. For me, this is a really nice & easy project to work on while I wait for the kiddos during school or if I’m watching the more visual TV program Wallander that my hubby and I have been enjoying lately.

And last night I managed to work through the second of five sections of my Miya Shawl for the Miya KAL over with Bijou Basin Ranch.

IMG_1219This project and the yarn is exceeding my expectations on all levels. The yarn — Xanadu — is amazing. It’s light and airy and soft and just a dream to work with. The pattern is also really fun. It’s not quite the kind of pattern I can memorize and work on on autopilot, but it is still relaxing enough to kick back with once school is over with the kiddos. Just a reminder that there’s still time to enjoy the KAL and the 15% discount on this yarn + the free Miya Shawl pattern with the coupon code MIYAKAL over on the Bijou Basin Ranch website. After having worked with it now, I’m definitely considering another skein or two.

And then there’s my Miss Grace Shawl.

IMG_1217Sadly, I haven’t touched it since before our mini-vacation last week. Since there’s no progress to share, I thought I’d share the project bag this shawl calls home for now. It’s from The Fawn & The Fox and I just adore it. I’m very anxious to work on it again, but with the twitch to get something finished, I think I’m going to just allow it to remain on pause until I can whip through the socks or the Miya Shawl. Then I’ll be able to just enjoy the knitting and that’s really how it should be.

I won’t tell you about how I’m all set to get started with a new technique and sock pattern or how after knitting a sweater for each of my kids I’m jonesing to get one going for myself. Or how I have another shawl and at least three more spinning projects I can’t wait to get going. Perhaps it’s actually the projects I’m dying to get started that are making me twitchy — not the ones on which I’m already working. Whatever the case, you can count on the fact that my wheel & my needles are flying these days!

Let’s Knit with Cashmere: The Miya Shawl KAL

I’ll confess: I love knitting with cashmere. Who doesn’t though? Beyond soft, a dream to both wear and handle, knitting with cashmere is a happy place for any knitter. Generally I knit with cashmere in a blend just because of the price tag, but that’s why when I heard about Bijou Basin Ranch’s Xanadu I was super excited. One skein is 400yards of lighting fingering weight 100% cashmere Mongolia for $35 per skein and it comes in 8 classic colors. I’m not a huge gift knitter, but I instantly thought of knitting gifts with this yarn — it’s just such a great value for this luxurious yarn. Images of shawls and delicate scarves wafted through my daydreams as I contemplated the joy I’d be sharing as I presented fine handknit cashmere to the ladies in my family.

Now I had planned to make Bijou Basin Ranch my last stop on the way out the door of the WI Sheep & Wool Festival, picking up a special skein of Xanadu for a special family member for a holiday or birthday gift. The best laid plans always have a twist though, right? My children started to run out of gas quickly and in my rush to not totally overcook them in yarn & fiber I ferried everyone to car, remembering halfway home that my last stop never happened.

Lucky for me, it turned out that Bijou Basin Ranch had a knitalong coming up and I was asked along with Stefanie from Handmade by Stefanie to help lead the way on it. To make it even more awesome, it’s exactly the project I had been hoping to work on — the Miya Shawl by Mari Chiba Luke.

Using just one skein of Xanadu, it’s just the perfect sweet treat whether you’re giving it to a special someone or you’re making it for yourself. Plus, oh yes, did you notice that little note on the photo there? The always generous folks at Bijou Basin Ranch are offering 15% off your Xanadu purchase and the Miya Shawl pattern for free when you buy from Bijou Basin Ranch online — just use the code MIYAKAL when you checkout to claim your discount & free pattern. And remember when I said these folks are generous? I wasn’t lying — there will also be prize drawings for those who finish and share their qualifying projects on the Miya Shawl KAL Friends of Bijou Basin Ranch thread on Ravelry. All those who finish and share their Miya Shawls on the thread by November 30th, 2015 will be entered to win two prizes:

  • $20 gift certificate to bijoubasinranch.com
  • 2 Allure Fiber Wash sampler packs

Awesome, right?!

The Miya Shawl thread is currently open and you’re encouraged to pop on and share progress photos along the way. As soon as I post this, I’ll be hopping over to introduce myself and share photos of my beautiful yarn, too.

skeinI’ll be knitting with the very, very lovely Teal colorway.

skein2Isn’t it gorgeous?! Don’t even get me started on how soft it is!

This KAL will be running Monday, October 12th through November 15th, 2015, so you have plenty of time to order your skein (or skeins…) and join us. I hope you will!

You can bet this weekend I’ll be working to wrap up a few loose ends, winding my beautiful skein of Xanadu, and I will be poised to cast-on my Miya Shawl asap on Monday. I can’t wait!

The WI Sheep & Wool Must-See List

The Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI kicks off tomorrow and I will be there with bells on. As in my tradition, I thought I’d take a moment to on this festival eve to share my survival guide and ‘must-see list’ with all of you. For the most part I go to for inspiration — I don’t get to any other fiber festivals really and it’s just so nice to be around fellow yarn & fiber addicts. As relaxing and fun as this event is for me, I do go into it with a plan. I could easily just say that I want to see all the things in all the booths because that’s the honest truth, but I thought I’d narrow it down to the vendors I’ve highlighted in my guidebook to make sure I don’t miss them. I’m listing their location in the Country Store East and West buildings, too, just in case you want to jot them down.

  1. Bijou Basin Ranch (Booth 616-617E): This booth is inspiring and terrifying to me all at the same time. Inspiring because there is never a shortage of gorgeousness and terrifying because if I’m not careful I could easily spend my entire budget here. I’m going in specifically (but not exclusively, of course) to check out Xanadu, their new 100% Mongolian Cashmere. At $35/400yd skein I think this might be prime gift knitting yarn, especially when paired with the freshly re-released Miya Shawl from Mari Chiba. I’m looking forward to the chance to check this yarn out in person. Also in this booth you’ll be able to find Lindy Sinclair, of Balwen Woodworks. If you’ll remember, Balwen Woodworks sponsored a giveaway here on the blog in June. Not only will Lindy be helping out in the booth, she’ll have some of her beautiful wares for sale, too. I will definitely be looking for buttons for my son’s sweater I started last week.
  2. Bumblebee Acres Farm (Booth 687E): I meant to stop here last year, but somehow missed them. I’ve been following this farm on Instagram and browsing their online shop pretty frequently, so I’m excited to see some of their unique fibers in person.
  3. Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber (Booth 732W): Of course. Of course, I have to stop in and check out one of my favorite dyers! I may have one of almost every color she dyes in my stash, but that’s only an ‘almost’ so there’s definitely room for another braid or two.
  4. Green Mountain Spinnery (Booth 739-740W): It has been another little tradition that as a huge treat I get sweater yarn here each year. Unfortunately, even though I have a pattern all picked and ready to go, I haven’t quite made it to last year’s sweater yarn. I thought about attempting to crank out a sweater during August, but I simply ran out of time. Regardless, I’m looking forward to visiting this yarn. This year I’m actually hoping to take a look at their Sylvan Spirit and Cotton Comfort yarns.
  5. Wheeler Clay Studio (Booth 776W): Last year I purchased buttons here, but there is no shortage of absolutely beautiful, locally made pottery. I’m especially excited to check out her yarn bowls and mugs this year.
  6. The Woolgatherers, Ltd (Booth 656-657E): Another local shop, this one I’ll be looking specifically at spindles. I’ll have one eye open for spindles everywhere, but I’m interested to see if they bring a selection of Snyder Spindles since I’ve been very pleased with the one I have.
  7. Yarns by Design (Booth 668-689E): This shop always has great kits and a gorgeous selection of yarns. Last year I managed to avoid buying my weight in Mrs. Crosby, but it was restraint that could be categorized as ‘heroic.’ Always lots of delicious temptation and friendly customer service here, so even though I don’t need anything specific I can’t pass up stopping.

I’ll be there most of the day Friday soaking up all the awesome. I hope you get some time this weekend to attend and enjoy, too. If you’re there Friday, give me a shout-out — I’d love to say hi!

IMG_0637