Chittery Chattery Briggs & Little

I certainly love a good story. If it’s a good wool story, that’s even better. When I was asked to have knit with some Briggs & Little yarn, that’s exactly what I got. Having been operational for over 150 years, Briggs & Little is the oldest woolen mill in Canada. And this year the mill celebrates it’s centennial anniversary of being in the Briggs & Little families. You can read all about it on the history page of their website here. Very cool, right?

Aside from a rich history, I was excited to try this yarn simply because it has a reputation for being a really good, affordable yarn. I was given my choice of yarn to test drive, so I spent some time mulling over the loads of possibilities — reading reviews and checking out projects on Ravelry that had been knitted up using their yarns. In the end, I settled on this…

img_3013A skein of Durasport in Smoke & one in Rosewood to pair with Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter‘s Chittery Chattery Socks. Normally I wouldn’t knit socks from a 1-ply, but the reviews were very encouraging and it is a blend of 80% pure wool + 20% nylon so I expect that it’ll hold up much better than your average 1-ply.

My first impression is that these skeins are BIG — each 4oz skein has 430yards on it. It also has a pretty rustic feel. To me, the more traditional feel of wool totally plays into this whole image of a 150-year-old mill, 100years in the same families. It’s a little like a piece of history in my hands. In any case, I got knitting…

img_3102And by the time I was here — you know what I’m going to say — I knew I had a hit.

chittery chatteryAnd true to my other experiences with Stefanie Goodwin Ritter’s Conversation Socks collection — from which the Chittery Chattery Socks pattern hails — these socks were quick & easy & oh-so-fun to knit.

And the result…

toeI love the result.

toe + heelI think the colors are so sweet and fun — the contrast toe, heel, and cuff pop so nicely.

Let’s get a little closer to that texture, shall we?

heelsIt’s divine, I think. It looks almost delicate to me. At first glance you might think it’s stranded or more complex, but it’s so easy — just alternating colors and a simple every-other-round texture.

stitch detailThe color contrast is on the subtle side, but I think it works so well.

All in all…

entire sockWhat a fun & fabulous project!

The best part is that I probably have enough yarn leftover to make another pair of socks… or TWO. I’ll say this first foray into the world of Briggs & Little has not disappointed. It may not be cold out today, but when winter rolls around again these Briggs & Little socks will be perfect. In fact, I’m pretty excited at the prospect of another pairing of the Conversation Socks collection with this awesome yarn. I’m thinking maybe some Smoke colored Air Quotes and a quick pair of Rosewood Retorts. If at first you DO succeed, knit more socks in fantastic yarn!

For information on where you can find Briggs & Little yarns near you or to order directly from the mill please call or email Briggs & Little directly — you can find their contact information here. They’ll be happy to help!

The Week in Yarn & Other Things

Forget the holidays, spring is the busiest time of the year at our house. Spring roughly translates to DO ALL THE THINGS. Yard clean-up from winter, finishing up school, seeking out a 100 bird day during migration, cooking some meals ahead for summer so we don’t have to heat up the house when it’s hot, spring cleaning, fishing season, spring play group — are you tired yet? And let’s not forget that this year I’m trying to get my act together and plan out the kids’ summer activities & be less disorganized in meal planning, too. All in all, that’s just a really long way to go to say that, as usual, I’ve been busy (and after writing that I kind of feel like I need a nap).

I didn’t make the time to tell any one story in particular from my week, so I thought I’d give you little snapshots of them all.

First, as I mentioned it was Mr Knitting Sarah & my wedding anniversary on Monday. As I finished up my morning’s workout, I heard my daughter loudly ‘whispering’ that my husband needed to get me some flowers.

img_3072He briefly tried to disagree, but quickly opted to pay my girl to pick this one for me and make me a card. It was the first card I ever got from him that was signed simply, “Your Husband” — for some reason it felt very ominous to me. It was pretty much awesome.

Out of no where, I decided to pick up my Knitted Patchwork project.

img_3080I’ve added a few new squares to it and I moved it to a little tub instead of smooshed in a project bag. I think maybe perhaps I’ll be more likely to pick it up and set it down more often this way and, you know, actually make some progress. I really do like it when I’m working on it, I just tend to forget about it when it’s not staring at me.

I managed to finish up the singles for this spinning project.

img_3103It’s from Spun Right Round and will eventually be a standard 3-ply.

Since I’m waiting to ply until the Akerworks Flat Pack Lazy Kate prototype arrives for the test I’m participating in, I started another spin.

img_3100And today I finished the first 2oz. This is from Dyeabolical and is the colorway named Wit Beyond Measure. It’s dyed on 100% Targhee and I’ve split it into 4 parts for a a 4-ply. The aforementioned lazy kate has room for 4 bobbins and one question I’m looking to answer is how it handles 4 bobbins from the Lendrum’s plying head. Of course this means I’m now spinning singles on my plying head. I realize I could spin them on a speedier flyer and transfer them to the big bobbins, but I’m kind of too lazy for that. Plus, this is a great exercise for me as I’m making adjustments necessary for a slightly heavier single as well as working on a flyer which I don’t usually use for singles. I’m feeling very good about how it’s been going so far.

We spent a bit of time on the trail and were hoping to get a big ‘fall out’ day with spring migrants, but alas…

img_3086This trillium was the most exciting thing we saw. My kids are very interested in the spring wildflowers and I am awfully terrible at IDing them, so every time we go out I snap a couple photos and go home to try to work out the proper name. This new challenge has been a lot of fun as we wait for the birds to show up.

A little while ago I got these very cool skeins in the mail for review.

img_3013It’s Durasport from Briggs & Little and a very hardy singles wool. I read a number of comments on Ravelry that folks like their socks that they’d made with this yarn, so I picked up Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter’s Chittery Chattery Socks pattern and cast-on.

img_3102I think they’re just they are knitting up to be just the sweetest! Do pardon the super crumpled pattern — that’s what I call “knitting in real life” and why I love being able to print copies of patterns.

I also had a little exciting stash enhancement this week.

img_3077This is called ‘Luminous Dusk’ and it’s dyed on Superfine Merino by Three Waters Farm. I wanted to share the eye candy, but also the news that Three Waters Farm is holding a Customer Appreciation Sale this weekend. Friday, May 6 through Sunday, May 8 use coupon code TWFMAY201615 to get 15% off your order. If you’ve been wanting to try your hand with this incredible fiber, now’s a great time to treat yourself!

Since the nap isn’t going to happen anytime soon, I’m off to get back to work. Have a fabulous Friday, all!

SpringTastic in Summer

As I mentioned last week, I selected Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter‘s SpringTastic Socks pattern my beautiful skein of SilverSpun Sock in Watermelon Crush, the August yarn for the Feel Good Yarn Co‘s Summer Sock Club. Can I show you the skein one more time?

IMG_0396It’s just so pretty!

In any case, trying the SpringTastic Socks pattern was kind of a big deal for me. I like to keep my socks simple and in the ‘no-brainer’ column because they are small and I’m on-the-go a lot, so their portability combined with the simplicity a basic sock provides is perfect for my everyday life. I also have this weird hang-up in my own head that always questions why I would purposely put holes in my socks via lace patterning. I set aside my prejudices and took the plunge though because I knew these would be beautiful. And sometimes, it’s nice to throw caution to the wind and make something just because it’s beautiful.

IMG_0456I worked on these mostly in my down-time, early mornings before the kids were awake and after they went to bed. Once I had the pattern down pretty well, I was able to work on it when I was paying less attention like when I was watching the kiddos at the playground or listening to them read aloud. I found the pattern to be really enjoyable to knit. I definitely never memorized it to the point where I didn’t need the chart (although I don’t think that would be impossible), but I did get a very good feel for it to the point that a quick glance at the charted directions was all it took for me to manage the next round of patterning. Suffice to say, I think it’s easier than it looks. My hat really goes off to the designer, Stefanie, as well as Holla Knits — the publisher of the pattern — for an extremely well-written, nicely edited pattern with an excellent layout that’s so easy to read and follow. I don’t usually talk much about such things, but for this pattern it’s absolutely worth mentioning because it is so well done. It definitely makes me even more anxious to get my hands on a copy of Midwestern Knits, the new book by Holla Knits editor Allyson Dykhuizen.

But back to the socks at hand.

These socks were definitely like rolling a rock down a hill in that I picked up speed as I went and the second sock really felt like it flew. Before I knew it, I was done.

topsI wanted to share this photo because you can see how they look pretty involved, but I assure you they were so manageable and fun to knit. I think I keep mentioning this because as someone who usually knits only very basic socks I’m kind of shocked at how easy these were.

whole socksAnd I’m just so incredibly happy with how they turned out in both how they look…

onAnd how they fit. They are the absolute perfect match for this skein and the perfect end for me to the Summer Sock KAL.

The end? Yes, the end for me! The last two months I’ve managed to get a pair of shortie socks and a pair of Turkish Bed Socks out of one skein, but these socks took up a bit more yarn with the more intricate pattern and the taller cuffs so I’m left with just about 135yards remaining. That’s not quite enough for Turkish Bed Socks for my feet. I thought about a pair of socks for my daughter, but she’s growing like a weed and I’d like to use the rest of the yarn to make something we can use for more than just a short time. I did a little Ravelry searching and I’m thinking I’ll eventually use the leftovers to make a pair of the Twigs and Willow Mitts by Alana Dakos. My daughter is always borrowing my fingerless mitts and these will be just perfect for her. They’ll be a little big at first, but that’s never stopped her before — between the pink yarn and the cozy pattern I think they’ll be a perfect match.

Just because I’m done, the Summer Sock KAL will go on through Wednesday, September 16th as I mentioned last week with winners of the prizes announced on Friday, September 18th. That’s still plenty of time to work up one last pair of shorties! I’ll still be cheering everyone on in the Ravelry thread & ooohing and ahhhing at everyone’s beautiful socks. I can’t wait to see what everyone knits up!

9 Random Things on a Tuesday

Since not all of you are necessarily all that interested in my obsession with the Tour de Fleece, I thought today I share a bit more of an all-inclusive post of random happenings in list form from my little corner of the world. You know, to catch up and what not. Those are always fun, I think.

1. We have a big bed of lilies that my hubby & his parents planted one of the first years we were at our house and they bloomed last week.

IMG_9846They used to be lilies & daisies, but the lilies took over and I’ve since moved the daisies so the entire width of our house lights up with these beautiful flowers. It always makes me thankful that they took the time to plant these flowers and I always think of my in-laws when they bloom.

2. This week Moose finally got a couple of his chew toys back. With his allergies, we had to take them away to rule out their being part of his allergy issues and now that he’s finally in a stable place (knock on wood), I thought it was time to reintroduce a couple toys. He carries them all over, so proud and happy.

IMG_0012I don’t have a photo of him with his toys, so I’m sharing this post-morning belly rub one instead. I might be biased, but he’s such a handsome guy!

3. Although I’ve been spending most of my time spinning, I have been sneaking in moments here and there with my July sock for the Summer Sock KAL.IMG_0010I’m about halfway through the foot or thereabouts. I’m using the super easy Rose City Rollers pattern. It’s just perfect for summer knitting.

4. A week or so ago I tried to teach my daughter how to spin with a spindle. It was literally the day I figured it out myself and I really did not have the language or skills necessary to teach another person, especially a 7-year-old with a limited attention span. Inspired by TdF teammate Jennie, from Kitchen Counter Crafter, teaching her similarly aged daughter, we tried again.

IMG_9997It’s still a little tough for her on her own — the whole when to draft, when to stop drafting and let twist up is not quite clicking all the time, but we’re getting there. For now we’re doing some ‘doubles spinning’, taking turns as a team so she can watch as well as try on her own without feeling like it’s all up to her. Plus, it’s good one-on-one time together. I call that a win-win!

5. We’ve had a bit of heartbreak in the garden this year — just like last year our cherry bushes started showing signs of disease about a month ago. A friend who has some connections managed to get an expert’s opinion who thinks it’s most likely a soil virus for which there really isn’t anything we can do. We let the cherries go while they produced fruit and this week I took the step that I did last year that seemed to help, cutting the diseased branches. It’s a lot of work and really very sad to do, especially since they were bad enough that I literally did not prune in any way for beauty, but just took the diseased branches and left the healthy so they all look like a spastic Edward Scissorhands was set loose to take care of them. Hopefully it helps the plants rally.

6. On the bright side, in a different area of the yard we have a black raspberry patch that has been slowly taking over and the berries started to become ripe about a week ago. The beauty of this patch is that we have ripe berries for a few weeks solid.IMG_9994This is a 3quart contained I picked the other morning — in addition to this, the kids and I probably ate 2pints and we gave a couple cups to our neighbors. Pretty much every meal I just go out and pick a cup or two for dessert. I send a little container in Mr Knitting Sarah’s lunches. My kids run and play outside a lot and I catch them popping over to the berry patch to snag a couple berries in between games. What a treat for us all!

7.  Our air conditioner seems to have met its maker, so we’re going attempt to make it through the summer a/c-less. There will be days that will be uncomfortably hot to be sure, but the vast majority of summer days here are pretty comfortable. We shall see how it goes. A local shop had all their water toys and pools on sale last week so I grabbed a cheap, but effective kiddie pool for about $8 (for which I also went back and got a backup) and a couple slip n’ slides for $3. Oh, and a great blow-up beach ball for $0.59.  The cheap water toys will definitely help!

8. On the topic of weather, I was awakened Monday morning around 2:30 with the first of a serious of alarms from our emergency weather radio including flash flood warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings culminating in tornado sirens going off at 4am. Thankfully we are all safe and unharmed (including the house), but the town just south of us was not as lucky taking a heavy hit from 70+mph straight-line winds. It must be summer in the middle west — wild, unpredictable weather abounds!

9. Of course, a July post wouldn’t be a July post without a little Tour de Fleece spinning. I got my June installment of the Cloudlover Fiber Club in the mail at the end of last week and I started spinning it just as soon as I finished my current spin-in-progress.

IMG_0005It’s called O’ahu and it was love at first sight for me. I split it in 3 equal parts and will do a traditional 3-ply with it.

Yesterday was a rest day, but I spun anyway. I finished up my 8oz of O’ahu and started in on a couple batts from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I heard about this relatively new dyer from the Handmade by Stefanie blog or Instagram account — I can’t remember which.

IMG_0007This is Cloudy with a Chance of BFL. It’s always an adjustment when going from spinning top to spinning batts and after getting going a bit, I’ve gone back and prepped this batt a little differently to really get the most out of it. You can see though, it’s a serious treat to spin. I love the mix of grey, navy, and black with splashes of color.

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Let’s Tagalong, Shall We?

I’ve been hearing that some serious cases of Second Sock Syndrome are going around the Socks with Sarah KAL these days. As for me, I haven’t caught that SSS bug, but I have been devoting much less time than I had been to socks. First, I was wrapping up my Little Wave sweater. Then on a bit of a whim I decided to join the Chill Chaser KAL — the design I wrote about yesterday. As I said, it was just perfect for my daughter and she absolutely adores it.  And then I got it in my head to knit up a special shawl on kind of short notice. Sure, I knit a couple socks in there for the String Theory Coloroworks promotion and I started my Quick’s Point Socks using the special Knitting Sarah Colorway from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber, but the latter is moving slowly these days in lieu of the other projects. And now I have to knit up the entire Mary, Millie, and Morgan set for my daughter’s birthday at the end of the month. This is not helping to motivate my sock knitting!

That being said, along came the announcement in my Facebook feed that Knitter’s Pride is hosting a knitalong during the month of October — cleverly named the Socktober KAL — for the fantastic Conversation Socks collection by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter of Handmade by Stefanie. The KAL is super simple and I think it would be a terrific opportunity for anyone who has kind of gotten out of the groove of sock knitting and wants to get going again. Plus, there are prizes! All you have to do is complete one of the sport weight sock patterns in the Conversation Socks collection by October 31st and tag it on Ravelry with #KPConvoSocks (knitters are encouraged to use the same tag on Instagram, too) and you’ll be entered to win a couple prizes!

First,  a Knitter’s Pride Dreamz DPN Sock Set!

https://i1.wp.com/www.knitterspride.com/images/snaps/dreamzDPNSetMedium.jpg

This set contains needle sizes US 0, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3, so it would set you up with all the most commonly used sock knitting needles sizes. What a great prize!

Second, you’ll be eligible to win 2 skeins of SilverSpun from Feel Good Yarn.

SilverSpun | Feel Good Yarn Company

I wrote about using this fabmazing yarn back in April — it is really a tremendous treat to work with. Plus, 2skeins is enough to make either of the smaller sizes of the latest Conversation Socks release, the Say What? socks.

So, any Socks with Sarah knitters who feel like tagging along will not only have some new motivation to click away on some socks that will knit up quickly in sport weight yarn, but also have the chance to win a some awesome prizes!

Whether you’re knitting with Socks with Sarah or not, let’s all just tagalong, shall we?

My only question to you is: Which of these 5 fab patterns will you choose?  Take a look at each of them and then vote below — I’m dying to know!  Not able to knit in the KAL? feel free to vote for your favorite design anyway.

Retort Socks
Persuasive Socks
Chittery Chattery Socks
Air Quotes Socks
Say What? Socks

Personally, I’m pretty limited at the moment in solid colored sport weight yarn in my stash that is appropriate for socks , so I’m leaning heavily toward trying out the Retort Socks pattern with the thought that I may carry the stitch pattern all the way down the top of the foot (just to be crazy!). This is my yarn…

IMG_6546It’s Lorna’s Laces Sportmate in the Arlington colorway. It’s a little light on yardage, so I’m probably going to be playing yarn chicken through the whole project but I did check back at a couple of my sport weight socks and I have at least one that I finished using about 10yards less than what I have in this skein. I think I’ll be fine (and if I have a random colored toe, then I have a random colored toe — lol!).

I must admit that I do really love the Air Quotes pattern as well and I’m tempted to use a solid I was saving for my husband for them… Maybe I’ll start with Retort and follow-up with Air Quotes if I have time? What’s your plan for this super fun month-long KAL?

Photos used with permission of Knitter’s Pride, Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter, and Feel Good Yarn Company — Thank you!

Wow.

As someone who is generally pretty introverted, the last couple days at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival have been pretty overwhelming in the best of ways — I almost don’t even know where to start here! So let’s let the words ruminate for a bit while I show you some photos…

IMG_6320Sheep show! These were not completing based on their wool…

IMG_6327 I had never watched the shearing process before and it was nothing short of incredible.  I also discovered later that this gentleman has quite the… um… fan club of ladies at the festival.

IMG_6297This is the puppy my husband almost adopted while I was away for the day.  She ended up being a little pricey otherwise I think we’d now be a 2 dog family. Apparently this answers the question of what would happen if I’d ever take a day away from my family.

IMG_6309When I got home Friday, I realized the last two skeins Green Mountain Spinnery had of Weekend Wool in the Blue Jay colorway that I had purchased to complete my Little Wave sweater were the same dye lot as my sweater. What are the odds?!

IMG_6306I brought home some of the Knitting Sarah/Socks with Sarah customer colorway, Quick’s Point, from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber

IMG_6353And I cast-on right away. I had started them on my Hiya-Hiya needles, but I got these Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina DPNs at the show & literally could not wait to try them. I sat down in the car and knit my sock right onto them. They are fab!

IMG_6305Of course Quick’s Point wasn’t all I brought home from the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber booth. I grabbed an armful of fiber and am super excited to try knitting with these gorgeous silk hankies.

Now for the words…

The festival was just a wow.

First and foremost, I have to thank all the readers who took the time to visit with me. Whether you tracked me down while I was walking about or you came & found me in the Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber booth, it meant so much to me to be able to put faces & voices with the words and photos I see online. Really, you can’t imagine what a treat this was for me!

Next, I have to thank all the shops that offered (and these offers are still good today at the Festival!) discounts to my readers. One of the real joys I have writing about my craft on this blog is introducing crafters to amazing supplies & tools that are perfect for them. I’m a true believer that every crafter and even every project is unique. I feel truly lucky that I have the opportunity to try so many different yarns and fibers and tools. Not everyone is interested in everything I do and my personal favorites aren’t always going to be yours, but I like to think that by feeding my own love of variety I help readers to find their own ‘perfect fits’. The right needles that have the perfect tip, yarn that feels just the way you’ve always dreamed it should, eco-friendly practices that you feel good about supporting, or sometimes just a single artist who really loves their work, treats customers with kindness, and creates a color palette of fiber you never want to live without — whatever you are looking for, I love that I get to play a little role in helping you find those things that make your craft that much more fulfilling in your life. And I so appreciate that there are shops that support me in that and — for example — offer generous discounts to help make it easier to get their items in your hands.

If this wasn’t enough, I also got to meet some wonderful people this weekend that I’ve worked with, exchanged many emails with, and yet never met in real life.  I got to have a really great visit with the wonderful instructor and special events coordinator from Cream City Yarn & the owner of Sheepish Yarn Company, Jennifer Donze. We had an awesome discussion about sock construction and she told me all about how she teaches her Sock Club — seriously, it sounds a-ma-zing! I got to meet Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter, author of Conversation Socks, her blog Handmade by Stefanie, and all around excellent/dangerous influence. I had quick chats with the very friendly folks at Bijou Basin Ranch and the sweet, sweet ladies from Green Mountain Spinnery. I also wondered into a booth looking for buttons and ended up meeting Alison Wheeler, my new favorite ceramics artist. I bought buttons for the sweater I’m making for Spud & Chloe’s Chill Chaser KAL from her, but wished I could have also brought home a yarn bowl, too… next time!

Last but not least, I have to give an extra special shout-out to Natalie from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber. We met once a few years ago and it was from her that I bought my very first ‘Learn to Spin’ kit. Her yarn & fibers have been a constant source of inspiration for me over the years, so you can imagine when she agreed to work on a custom colorway for me and then offered to let me hang out in her booth for a couple hours at the Festival, I almost died. It was such a awesome treat to visit with her in person. We talked about the colorways we’re dreaming about, how her fiber club always delivers exactly the colors I’m dying to have in my hands, and all sorts of random stuff. It was just the best time. So thank you, Natalie! You rock!

After all this excitement today I’m enjoying a quiet day. I’m going to partake in some knitting — it seems only right — and maybe I’ll ply that fiber that’s been waiting for a couple weeks. Eventually I will start to put away the goodies that followed me home. I’ll also be sifting through all the ideas and inspiration of the last couple days and plotting out a couple years worth of projects. The best laid plans rarely survive reality — it’s true I think especially in knitting and spinning — so I don’t have too many delusions that I will stick to said plans. That being said, just the act of making them is what propels me forward and keeps me going. I’m so glad, so thankful to have been able to attend the WI Sheep & Wool Festival and I’m looking forward to all that I will do with the ideas, yarn, fibers, and tools I’ve brought home.