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!

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.

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.