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Preview: Go Knit In Your Hat

Go Knit In Your Hat

Just another day in the dog-eat-dog world of yarn. . .

Updated: 2017-08-21T11:58:49.410-04:00


A fresh start


New Year's Day: time when people all over the world start over again. It's a nice illusion, that the simple change of a numerical marker we use to count years is a chance to reboot our lives. But it's a helpful illusion. It's a great way to muster up the energy and commitment to make changes. And change has come to Go Knit In Your Hat.

In the past months, I've been working with a fabulous graphics designer to revamp my Black Bunny Fibers website. It's taken longer than I thought (ha) and been much more intense than I anticipated (ha) but we're finally finished. I have held off on blogging as much lately because it seemed a little silly to post more content to the old website when a new one was in the offing.

We're finally done. Introducing the new and vastly improved Black Bunny Fibers website. You'll find, in one place, information about my dyeing, writing, patterns, teaching and books. You'll also find a new incarnation of my blog. I'll leave up this Blogger-based blog in archived form for a while, but change your settings, please, to reflect the new URL for my blog. There's already a post up there telling a little more about the move.

Meet me in NYC!


I know it's been quiet on the blog, and I'm hoping to get back to posting more regularly very soon.  In the meantime, my last teaching trip of 2012:  I'll be at Lion Brand Studio today teaching from 2 to 5 p.m. -- see all the details here.  Call the shop at 212-243-9070 to see if there are spaces left!

Tomorrow I'll be doing a talk and booksigning at the LB Studio beginning at 6 p.m. Details are here, and although it is a free event, the shop would like you to RSVP online if you can.

It's been a crazy fall for me, and I am still recovering from all my medical stuff, so please excuse my silence here -- and the short notice for this event (I'm more active on Facebook and Twitter).  Hope you see you there!

With apologies to Miss Dickinson


Because I could not stop for KristiShe kindly stopped for me.The Civic held but just ourselvesAnd Donna, her sweet pea.We slowly drove, with no great hasteAnd I had put awayMy knitting and my Facebook tooFor her civility.Northampton City HallWe passed Noho, where ladies droveOn streets, in comfy shoes.We passed the fields of Amherst nextA parking spot we choos'd.Emily Dickinson MuseumWe paused before a house that seemed Our destination, sure.In gold and green the clapboards wereWe signed up for a tour.Emily DickinsonShe lived a century ago, and yetHer work endures this dayAll too soon they drove me backTo the hotel where I doth stay.Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, K. & D.!Miss you two already![...]

Come say hi at WEBS!


I'm here in Northampton, Massachusetts, taking a little rest. Mr. Franklin Habit and I left Pennsylvania early this morning,

and although it took us a good five hours to get here, it was a very pleasant drive. (Probably because Franklin kept me laughing and entertained the entire way.)

Northampton is a wonderful place. We are staying in an amazing hotel

and had a chance to walk around a little bit already.

We are both so excited to be here--to get to spend some time in this terrific town, to get to see the lovely Elkins, to see the great folks who work at WEBS, to meet lots of knitters and get hugs from old friends, and, oh yeah, to check out the amazing yarns!  (It's a particularly great time to shop at WEBS because through tomorrow, the Elkins will be donating 5 percent of all sales to the American Red Cross's Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.)

I will be signing Sock Yarn Studio beginning at 11 a.m. tomorrow, and I'll have tons of the sample items from the book for you to see. (I will also give away Tastykakes while supplies last. Seriously.) Franklin is speaking tomorrow afternoon, and there may be a space or two left in his two classes Sunday afternoon. All the details are here.

So I want to remind everyone who lives close by to come and see us this weekend at WEBS -- America's Yarn Store!

Chicago, part 2: Ferris Sulcoski's Day Off


In my last post, I left off at Saturday night. Saturday night was when folks at the show started seriously wondering about Hurricane Sandy. One designer got a call Saturday canceling his Sunday flight, and all of a sudden everyone who had to fly back to the East Coast on Sunday or Monday started worrying about whether they ought to leave early lest the airports be closed.I had a class Sunday morning until noon (more lovely students!), and my flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 7 p.m. Because Philadelphia wasn't supposed to get hit as hard as NJ and NY, I figured there was a decent chance I would make it on that flight. (I was also skeptical that there would be any seats on flights leaving earlier Sunday afternoon.) I had a lecture from 3 to 4, and had planned on leaving right for the airport--only to learn just before 3 o'clock that my flight, too, was canceled. There were some panicked calls and some rooting around for hotel rooms, but things got worked out, and I was given a new room to check into at the same hotel.At this point, the trip started to get a bit surreal. The show was over, but several of us were stuck for at least another night or two, and some of the folks who taught on Sunday had planned to stay another night anyway, and leave on Monday. I met up with a bunch of wonderful people in the hotel bar, like the amazing Fiona Ellis, modeling her Soakworthy fingerless mitts with matching nail polish.We ended up having a really fun dinner with Franklin and his partner Tom, Fiona and her husband Rob, Brooke Nico, and Josh Bennett. We went to an Irish place out by Franklin's apartment, where the food was amazing and we were treated like royalty.Hmm. Not sure that my photo of fried asparagus really reproduces how tasty it was!My flight was rescheduled for Tuesday, but there was a lot of uncertainty about whether the East Coast airports would even be open at all. But that left me with a free Monday in an amazing city. Since the Art Institute was only a block and a half away, I headed over there bright and early Monday morning.What a rare pleasure, to spend a day wandering around a spectacular collection of art. There were so many iconic works, including a phenomenal set of Impressionist works,some Georgia O'Keefes, American Gothic, a wing full of modern art, all sorts of great paintings.I zipped through a special exhibit featuring colonial needlework, like the above sampler, and lots of quilts,and saw beautiful pieces of furniture and fragments from architecture and Tiffany lamps and all sorts of things to lift one's spirits. Even the day itself was bright and autumnal and breathtaking.My flight on Tuesday was canceled in due course, and I was rescheduled for a Wednesday morning flight. Tuesday, I must confess, was a much less relaxing day for me. I really started to miss my family and the stress of being stranded far away, while so many awful weather-related things were happening on the East Coast, was getting to me. I was lucky to have dear friends around me (or a few clicks away) to help distract me (Thanks, T.M., K.V. & K.E.!)Instead of moping around the hotel on Tuesday, I took another "field" trip. I went to see the Field Museum (see what I did there?) which is a museum of natural history. It was a brisk walk and the day was cloudy and chilly.I did enjoy the walk, though, since I got a peek at the lake and got to see more of the downtown area.The Field Museum was wonderful in a different way. How can you not love a huge dinosaur named (of all things) Sue?There were all sorts of textile-related things to pique my curiosity, from a brief exhibit on fashionto Native American beadwork to Tibetan clothing and more! I was captivated by an amazing collection of gemstones and jewelry, too. Eventually I went back to the hotel, took a nap, and then obsessively checked the USAir website to see if my Wednesday flight had been changed....I was up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday and my flight was still[...]

Chicago report (part 1)


I have always had a soft spot for the city of Chicago. Many years ago, Mr. Go-Knit-In-Your-Hat and I took a trip there, saw the sights and had a wonderful time. Almost four years ago, I went to visit Franklin and meet some of the wonderful women I'd met on a Ravelry forum I was involved with. And I just returned from yet another amazing stay in the Windy City, this time to participate in Vogue Knitting Live.The moment I checked in, I knew I was going to spend the weekend surrounded by knitters, and so it was. I immediately ran into the lovely Brooke Nico(shown mugging here with Lily Chin and Erin Slonaker of Yarn Market News).  Knitters armed with yarn were everywhere, perched on couches in the spectacular lobby of the hotel (the Palmer House is full of history, and jam-packed with amazing architectural and decorative details).Armed with my new I-phone, I was able to take plenty of photos. The first 24 hours that I was in the hotel, I found myself snapping photos of all sorts of weird things: a snippet of wallpaper, the moldings on a ceiling, even the design on the bolsters on my bed. It's that kind of a place, where everything is beautiful and interesting to look at.Thursday evening was the teacher's meeting, which is such a blast. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to meet up with many of the same teachers and VK staff members at various events, and we've become friends. So it was a total pleasure to see folks like theseand theseand this studly fellowas well as many others who were, well, let's just say a bit more camera-shy.All too soon, it was time for bed and then the first day of classes rolled around. I taught a class on knitting mittens, and it was full of enthusiastic and delightful folks. I then got a phone call from my pal Julie Turjoman (author of Brave New Knits) and that fast, had a lunch date. We went to the second-floor restaurant at the Art Institute. The food was delicious, the company superb, and the views of Chicago's downtown were spectacular.I got to spend a bit of time at the marketplace, so of course I had to stop by and see Ron and Theresa of The Buffalo Wool Company;the gorgeous Marly Bird of Bijou Basin;and Denise of Lost City Knits.Earlier in the day, I had seen a man wearing a kilt, and intrigued, I kinneared him.  Later I realized that he was Denise's husband!  And so he let me take a nice close-up photo of him in his kilt to replace the blurry, long-distance photo I had taken that day (like a big pervert, I was, taking I-phone photos of men in kilts I do not know. See what you have done to me, Dr. Mel?!?)In a wonderful twist of fate, I ran into Philly pal Allison at the marketplace. Here we are standing in front of some of the Buffalo Wool yarn that I dyed:Because I was trying to be good and not end up in the hospital again, I left the marketplace a little early, went up to my room and spent an hour or so just sitting with my feet propped up. I was a little nervous about traveling so soon after my hospitalization, and didn't want to take any chances.Friday night was a cocktail party for teachers, sponsors and students, and it was held in the Red Lacquer Room, a ballroom that was, like the Palmer House lobby, full of amazing decorative details.This is a feeble attempt to capture some of them. By this time, Taiu and Kersti of Koigu fame had arrived, so I got to spend some time catching up with them. I got to see some of my all-time favorite knitting people, like Fiona Ellis and Catherine Lowe, say hi to some new favorites like Ysolda Teague, and met some new lovelies, too. We had so much fun, but I was good and went to bed at a reasonable hour so I could be fresh for class the next morning. Saturday I had another amazing batch of students, and then ended up hanging out with Kersti for part of the afternoon.I got to see the Koigu fashion show, which was full of amazing garments, many of which will be featured in the new Magazine (numbe[...]

Happy National Coming Out Day


Every year, I post on this day, National Coming Out Day, to send love and support to my dear friends who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered. It takes a great deal of courage to be who you are in this world; it takes a great deal more courage to be yourself when so many in society respond with hate and bigotry.

So to my friends out there who are gay, lesbian, bi, transgendered, I salute you. I salute your determination to be who you are. I salute your courage in living openly and bravely in a world that all too often tries to deny you your civil rights and your very humanity. I love you and stand with you.

Blog tour, giveaways, and a near miss


Even though it hasn't been that long since I last blogged, it seems like months ago. Not only have there been deadlines galore, I've been busy with lots of exciting promotional work relating to the new book. All of that got interrupted, though, when I had a scary health issue flare up. (I promise I won't go into too graphic detail, nor will I post close-up photographs of any suppurating wounds since who wants to look at that?)The abridged version (sanitized for your protection):  Last weekend I thought I was coming down with a stomach bug or food poisoning, but the main symptom I had was serious abdominal pain. By midnight I realized I needed to go to the ER. After some testing, and a PA who wanted to send me home under the middle-aged-white-lady-hysterical theory, an ER doc sent me for a CT scan. Diagnosis: allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420">Diverticulitis.My aunt has this, so I guess maybe it runs in the family. There was some scary talk about whether I would need surgery, but we decided to wait and thankfully my body started to heal itself before that became necessary. I spent a week in the hospital, and was released Friday. Now I am very happy to be at home, although I am grappling with that exhaustion and frustration that comes from a health scare and lack of sleep, taking it all in and figuring out what's next in terms of lifestyle changes.All of this is by way of explanation why I haven't posted already about the Official Sock Yarn Studio Blog Tour,which began this past week.  I was pretty loopy on painkillers but my dear friends stepped up to the plate and helped me out.Our friends at the Lark blog posted my full schedule of stops. This week, we got off to a great start with Kristin Ohmdahl at her gorgeous Styled By Kristin site... (Thanks, Kristin, for being such a rock and doing such a great job in my absence!)The next stop will be Tuesday, when Wendy Johnson, designer of the adorable Kitteh Mittens from the book, will check in with us at Wendy Knits.(Rumor has it there will be another giveaway!)If you're impatient, then you can download the free project available at the Lark blog. Cintaya Long CowlWe crammed the book so full of projects that a few that had to be cut (oh! the agony!) and the Cintaya lace cowl was one of them. But it was way too good to keep hidden, so go here and find the PDF download link. The long cowl can be worn as a single long loop or doubled as shown in the photograph above. It takes one skein (about 400 yds) of fingering-weight sock yarn -- like the BBF yarn shown in the photo.I'll be checking in over the course of the next days and weeks with links to the stops on the tour. I may be a little quieter than normal otherwise, since, all joking aside, I do have some serious recuperating to do.Thanks, everyone![...]

On sale at last


I hope you aren't sick of hearing about it yet, but today is a red-letter day.  My new book, Sock Yarn Studio: Hats, Garments, and Other Projects Designed for Sock Yarn, is as of this writing in stock and ready to ship at first envisioned this project three or more years ago, right after I finished my previous book. Things don't always move fast in the publishing world, but the big day is finally here. And it was worth the wait.I'm really proud of this book, in particular, because of the three books I've worked on, this one has the most me in it. For example, there's a technical section that talks about sock yarns and how to work with them, and I've always liked giving people information and insight that they can use to make their knitting more enjoyable.There are several patterns knit in my own Black Bunny Fibers yarn, including this fabulous stranded pillow cover, designed by Barb Brown:Cushington Square, designed by Barb Brownand this short cowl that I designed.Lisatra Short Cowl, designed by Carol SulcoskiSeveral of my very dear friends contributed patterns, like the aforementioned Barb Brown, Veronik Avery,Nuit Blanche, scarf version, designed by Veronik AveryFranklin Habit,Roselein Hat, designed by Franklin Habitand Laura Grutzeck, and I could go on and on, but I'd run out of space.Chambourcin Halter, designed by Laura GrutzeckI was able to do some things I think are fun, but aren't always done for practical reasons in books, like show a few patterns in alternate colorways, like the Compostela Scarf:Compostela Scarf, knit in two colorways, designed by Carol Sulcoskiwhich is shown in a solid version and a version knit in a slow self-striping yarn. I think it can be really helpful for knitters to get a feel for how different types of yarn can affect the finished project.Of course my lovely, hilarious daughter is one of the models, and you can imagine how that warms my heart:Lizalu Blanket, designed by Carol SulcoskiI got to use yarn from companies I love, like Koigu (and Regia, and Lorna's Laces, and Quince & Co., and Swan Island, and ......)Anu Baby Hat, desigend by Carol SulcoskiI was able to guide the selection of the photographer, and I simply could not be happier with the breathtaking photographs Carrie Bostick Hoge took -- which you'll see throughout this post.  (I'm also very pleased to have had a chance to meet her and call her friend, and to know that her bee-yoo-tiful baby girl is also a model in the book -- see the baby cap photo above!)Flipping through the book I see so many intangible "footnotes" -- a colorway named after one dear friend (waves to piggeh), a pattern named for another, help from unexpected quarters in thinking up pattern names when my creative well was running dry, the knowledge that still other friends helped knit and finish some of the items, seeing quilts used in the photography that were loaned by my friends at Spool -- that make me so happy when I think of them.Kitteh Mittens, designed by Wendy JohnsonIt's here.  I love it. I am so grateful for all the help I had from my wonderful friends, old and new, in making it happen.  I hope you love it, too.All photographs reproduced with permission from Sock Yarn Studio by Carol J. Sulcoski, copyright 2012 Lark Crafts, an imprint of Sterling Publishing, Inc.[...]

Check out some photos


of projects from Sock Yarn Studio on the Lark Crafts blog here.

No-Bull Book Review: Indie Socks by Chrissy Gardiner


I am embarrassed that it has taken me so long to write up this review of Chrissy Gardiner's new book, partly because she sent it to me at the beginning of the summer, but also because, joy of joys, it also features a sock in Black Bunny Fibers yarn. So with abject apologies for being so slow, let's finally take a look at Indie Socks: Knitting Patterns and Dyer Profiles Featuring Hand-Dyed Yarns (Sydwillow Press 2012; MSRP $28.95).Gardiner -- owner of Gardiner Yarn Works, with an extensive collection of patterns sold on-line and in yarn shops -- has focused on 24 dyers, large and small, well-known and not as well-known, readily available and available less widely. She designed a sock pattern for each individual yarn, and presented it, along with a profile of the indie dyer. Fans of well-crafted sock patterns, in particular, those knit in handdyed and handpainted yarns, rejoice! It's a great collection of patterns and you may also find yourself intrigued by some new (or new-to-you) handdyers to augment your stash.Gardiner begins with a brief section on selecting handdyed yarns, and a description of what she means by "indie dyer." She then divides the 24 patterns of the book into three sections based on the coloring of the yarn:  Mild, Flavorful and Spicy.The Mild section highlights semisolid and nearly solid yarns, and therefore uses more intricate patterning.  Hard to pick favorites in this section of 14 good-looking patterns, but I was particularly taken with the following:Spyglass Socks (yarn by Alpha B Yarn)the Spyglass Socks, with a wool/silk yarn by Alpha B Yarn in a dreamy lilac;the Calpurnias, with Schaefer Nichole yarn; andthe Natsa Sukka socks, which use 6 different shades of a more rustic shetland-type yarn (dyed by Elemental Affects).The Flavorful section includes what I would term "muted multicolors," yarns with a bit more going on with them than a semi-solid, but not the really crazy color combinations of the most zany handdyes.  Here's where you'll find Nami, the lovely pattern in a feather-and-fan pattern with simple wavy cuff:These are knit in Black Bunny Fibers Superwash Merino Classic in Kathy's Cape (the blue color reminded Chrissy of the ocean too; "Nami" is the Japanese word for "wave").Other lovely patterns in this section includeFlamethrower (yarn by the Unique Sheep);Owenburger (yarn by Lavender Sheep);Deux Tourbillions (yarn by Mountain Colors; Crazyfoot base);Rippleside (yarn is Pagewood Farms Alyeska); andand Gelato, featuring Iris Schreier's Artyarns yummy Cashmere Sock yarn base.Last up is the Spicy category, with 7 patterns designed for the wildest of your handpaints. Check out Archery, in Abstract Fiber's Supersock:Seesaw (yarn by Cephalopod):Muir Woods (yarn by Blue Ridge Yarns):and Soda Fountain (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock):There are lots of photographs, including close-up shots of details; charts where necessary; detailed patterns; and a glossary of techniques (many with clear photographs walking the knitter through them). After the pattern section is a profile of each dyer (done by Donna Armey), with a closer look at their dyeing process, inspiration and so on.I'm always happy to see patterns designed especially with handpaints in mind, and this is a well-presented, versatile collection of terrific sock patterns to help you use up those beauties in your stash. You can purchase the book at, download it via Ravelry or order a signed copy directly from Chrissy here.[...]

Summer travels


I know there is a common perception (i.e. in the mind of, say, various of my family members) that I basically spend my days sitting around knitting and surfing on the computer.  Well, I do some of that, but lately, the days have been so jam-packed and busy that before I knew it, I realized it had been quite a while since my last blog post.One reason the month of August seemed like a whirlwind for me was traveling. In between shore trips with my family, I flew out to Chicago to teach at Stitches Midwest. Whenever I go on teaching trips, I am lugging so much stuff I don't take my good camera. So you'll have to put up with photos from my cell phone, like this one of the view from my hotel room:One of the things that freaked me out at first about the room was this:It's a screen that is somehow built into the mirror of the bathroom. It shows whatever is on the TV, or if you don't have the TV on, it shows the events that are going on at the hotel. (In fact, if you look really hard, you can see that it is advertising a talk by Nicky Epstein.)  Very Big Brother but also kind of cool....unless it comes on while you are using the toilet, in which case, better tip the chambermaid well.I had a wonderful time: good students, lots of fun knitting friends to catch up with (waves to Shannon Okey), and Brooke Nico (lace designer extraordinaire and co-owner of the Kirkwood Knittery, in St. Louis) was my most charming roommate.Brooke participated in a designer challenge on the first day of Stitches involving knitted skirts, and you can see her wonderful design next to her, along with some of the others.As usual with a Stitches event, there is a preview of the vendor's marketplace the night before the marketplace is open to the public  Here is what the line looked like Friday morning:When I got to the show floor, I wasted no time meeting and greeting some of my favorite people. I promised that I would stop by Lost City Knits to meet the lovely Denise:This is us at the Lost City booth.  (Wow, I already look tired and this was taken Friday!)Of course I visited my pals at WEBS, and got to check out the two newest yarns from WEBS.  This is Buckman, a gorgeous chainette wool-silk blend:I was also tempted by the new sportweight wool, too.....nom nom nom. All too soon, the weekend flew by and I was back at O'Hare:I love this underground walkway with all sorts of cosmic lighting effects....or maybe it was fatigue and yarn fumes that made the walls look wavy?Now all the summer travel is done and we are getting ready for the kids to go back to school and for the big fall knitting season. Late summer is a cruel joke for people in the industry because there is so much to get ready for, and at the same time as vacations are planned, weather is nice, and the kids are underfoot. We've already been shopping for school supplies: allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="420">while Elvis just started the dreaded Band Camp....Hmmm. This post sounds a bit more disjointed than usual, so I'll sign off. I do have some more book reviews in the pipeline, and very soon we'll begin the Sock Yarn Studio-a-palooza, with a blog tour, giveaways and all sorts of merriment. Enjoy the last few days of summer, and I'll be back in rare form soon.[...]

Spinning and a winner


When I was last at the beach, I toyed with the idea of bringing along my sewing machine. I decided against it, even though I don't get nearly enough time playing with fabric, because I thought it would be too hard to know what to bring with me in terms of fabric and thread. Instead, I opted for my handy-dandy spinning wheel, an Ashford Traveler, which is really designed for portability.  I popped a few extra bobbins and some roving in a bag, and I was good to go.

I haven't been spinning much lately and I really enjoyed getting in the groove of making yarn. One of the rovings I played with happened to be a roving that I dyed a few weeks ago. It was a gray-brown fleece and I played with adding some color to it, while preserving a good bit of the natural color.

I was pleased with the way it came out, and am trying to figure out what it wants to be knit into. I suspect it will knit at around aran-to-chunky gauge, so scarf or hat or mittens, maybe.

If you're interested in playing around with some similar rovings, with some of the natural color peeking through the dyed colors, I've got four batches up in my Art Fire Studio.

Two are shetland wool; two are coopworth. And for the next four days, use the code "FRIDAY10" for ten percent off your order (one time per customer).


My last post was a review and giveaway of Hunter Hammersen's new book, The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet. The random number generator selected Bonnie C., of Indiana, as the winner.  I've sent you an email, Bonnie, so make sure it doesn't get caught in your spam filter.)  Congrats to Bonnie and thanks to Hunter for making the giveaway possible!

Giveaway & No-Bull Book Review: The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, by Hunter Hammersen


What do you get when you combine botany, vintage prints from natural history texts and knitting?  You get The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet: 20 Patterns Inspired by Vintage Botanical Illustrations, by Hunter Hammersen (Pantsville Press 2012; MSRP $26.95 through the link above). Hunter contributed a wonderful pattern to my upcoming book, and so, knowing how talented she is, I was delighted to receive a review copy of her brand-new book.Having consulted that eminent source, the interwebs (Wikipedia to be precise), I discovered that a curiosity cabinet wasan encyclopedic collection in Renaissance Europe of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. They were also known by various names such as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer ("art-room") or Wunderkammer ("wonder-room"). Modern terminology would categorize the objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings) and antiquities.It's a fascinating idea, and a perfect theme for a designer who has collected knitterly things--edgings, lace patterns, twisted stitches and cables--and used them to great effect in her patterns.Speaking of which, let's take a closer at those patterns. Exactly half (ten) are sock patterns, while the other half are coordinating accessories. It's fun to see the same botanical inspiration used in two slightly different ways. For example,the Crocus vernus socks use a gently-arching lace motif that echoes the lines of the crocus flower. The Crocus Vernus mitts use a slightly thicker yarn and a lace motif that reflects the shape of the leaves of the plant:In another example of patterns that coordinate stylistically without appearing matchy-matchy, the Linaria bipartita socks feature a lattice-like petal shapein a divine handdyed yarn colorway called Chocoberry, while the Linaria shawl is done in petal pink, with long vertical elements and a center motif.Other lovely socks that caught my eye are the Polypodium vulgare:the Rubus suberectus (with "erectus" in the name, how could I not love them?):the Loasa lateritia:and the Narcissus pseudo-narcissus.I also was quite taken with the Polypodum cowl (love that handdye, too, with all those subtle gradations of color)the Rosa mitts:the Pinus silvestris cap:and the floaty Loasa cowl:The book is a softcover, with tons of gorgeous color photos (taken by Brett Yacovella of Making the Moment), and all the amenities one would expect in patterns of this nature -- charts, close-ups of design details, tips, definitions of the stitches/symbols used, and reproductions of the lovely botanical prints that inspired the patterns prefacing them.It's exciting to see relatively new designers putting out such high quality products, and it's fascinating to see how self-published books like this one are really raising the bar for all of us who publish patterns, regardless of medium.  This is a beautiful book full of appealing patterns, and if you are a knitter interested in:sock knittingaccessory knittingsmall portable projectsgreat uses for handpainted yarnbotanical prints and flowerslace and lace motifsthen you will want to check out this book. Note that it is available in printed form, but also in electronic download format (for $18.95) and if you buy the print book via Hunter's website (linky link here), you will get a free Ravelry download of the patterns along with your purchase.And bless Hunter's heart, she's offering a free copy of the book to a reader of this blog! Please leave a comment and make sure that there is a way for me to reach you (either via your Blogger profile or by leaving an email in the commen[...]

There's no place like home


I woke up early yesterday, packed some very large bins of yarn and roving into the carand the kids and I were off. We headed upstate for a combination Nana visit and trunk show.Until about two years ago, there was no local yarn shop in my hometown or its environs.  Isn't that sad? If you ran out of yarn or needed a needle or tool, you were pretty much stuck. At some point, some big box craft stores opened, so at least there was a way to get a needle or stitch marker if you were in dire need. Then, two years ago, something magical happened:The skies parted, and Gosh Yarn It was born.Gosh Yarn It is a beautiful yarn shop full of lovely yarns like Debbie Bliss, Noro, Berroco, Classic Elite, Dream in Color, Madeline Tosh, Lorna's Laces, Cascade, Universal and many more.  There are tons of gorgeous sample garments; lots of patterns and books and booklets; all sorts of tools; and really nice people to help you out.When Jill and Ann asked me to come back for a trunk show, I was delighted.I spent yesterday afternoon there, selling yarn and hanging out with the delightful customers. Since I grew up there, there were all sorts of connections that made me feel right at home. We reminisced, compared projects, and generally had a fabulous time. (This is me, waving to Alison and Bonnie and Cathy and Caroline and Stephanie and everybody!)I was especially glad to encounter Caroline,who is a fabulous designer. Her gorgeous cowl was featured in KnitScene's Accessories magazine (you can see it in the lower right-hand corner of the magazine she's holding) and she's also had a great cowl pattern published by Quince and Co.It was a thrill for me to see the gorgeous Daybreak shawl that Ann made from two Black Bunny skeins:We decided that we were having too much for this to be only an occasional thing, so we are going to try to have quarterly Black Bunny trunk shows at Gosh Yarn It.  Next one will be in December.If you are in the Wilkes-Barre/Kingston area, do try to stop by Gosh Yarn It. You will have a lot of fun and probably leave with a lot of yarn!And while I was creating all that mayhem in Kingston, my kids were having a wonderful visit with Uncle Mike (not shown) and Nana.  Win-win, for sure.[...]



Our week in Cape May is, alas, over. We had a terrific time, including some amazingly good weather (also some amazingly hot weather). Right now, I'm getting ready for a trunk show in my hometown:  I'll have all sorts of handdyed yarns and fibers this coming Saturday, August 4, from 12 to 4 pm, at the lovely Gosh Yarn It, in Kingston, PA. I'll also have my single preview copy of my new book, so if you promise that your hands are clean, you can get a sneak peek! I've been busily dyeing (I was very low on inventory and had to get back on track) and you can see all sorts of goodies, like these:and a whole bunch of others I haven't photographed yet!In the meantime, here are some photos I took while wandering around Cape May with my camera. It may not surprise you to hear that Victorian Cape May is considered a national historic landmark given its fine collection of Victorian architecture....I love seeing all the details that go into making the houses so special, like a pane of glass or gingerbread trim:Enjoy these hazy days of summer!  And hey, do me a favor?  Will you click on this link,to help me possibly win some buckeroos at Stitches Midwest?  (Still some spots in some of my classes open......)[...]

Alpaca Sur Mer


We are in the midst of our second vacation week. Ideally, we'd have spaced them out a bit more, but we had some scheduling conflicts, so there you go. Yesterday I took a little detour, and went to visit the Bay Springs Alpaca Farm in Cape May. You might not necessarily expect to find an alpaca farm only ten minutes from the beach, but there it is.....past a bunch of new construction, and the road turns more rural. A quick left onto a rutted lane and you are there.  It's a small farm and very informal, which adds to its charm. There are big fenced-in yards for the alpaca, with boys on the right and girls on the left.We saw alpaca in just about every color imaginable, including some multicolors. It was pretty hot for them, and they tended to stay near the sheds (one of the owners told us there were fans inside for them).We stopped by the shop in the back of the owners' house, and I brought home this lovely skein of alpaca made with fiber from the flock. ("Mommy, why is the weird lady in the house next door taking a picture of yarn on her front porch?")It's super soft and I love the natural alpaca color.We even got to see a bunny nibbling on some of the plants in the yard.On our way out, we stopped back at the alpaca field to say good-bye when all hell broke loose. The boy alpacas were fighting, and making this chirrupping noise at each other. Then they started chasing each other around the field, trying to nip each other. There was spitting and galloping and all sorts of alpaca mayhem. The owners said that the male alpacas had their really sharp biting teeth removed so they couldn't hurt each other, but if they kept it up, he would turn the hose on them. Which might have been their ultimate goal, since it was so hot out.Thus endeth our visit to the sweet little alpaca farm. It's free and a quick stop, and well worth it for lovers of our fibery camelid friends.  In just a few minutes we were back and packing up for the beach, where we had a lovely afternoon building sand castles --and in Boy Twin's case, building himself a sand Barcalounger, customized to fit his own self. (He added a hole with a sandmold and water in it for a drink holder/cooler, too.)[...]

Heads up


Heads up for Black Bunny Fibers customers:  remember when I told you I was working on a website update? Things are moving along, and as part of the changes, I am now going to be selling my yarns and fibers via ArtFire. You can go here to see my ArtFire studio. Early reports are that it's easy and convenient to use. If you're on Facebook, please "like" the Black Bunny Fibers page. I'm going to be using it more and more to post photos of products, special offers and other information, and it also has a direct link to my ArtFire shop to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for. One thing I love about the new site is that I can show nice big photos, with multiple shots of the same item. Here are some of the new items I listed this week:Pick up Line: Falkland SoftSilkExotic: Custom blend 100% woolBlazer: Falkland SilksockPunkin Pah: Plump Wool Nylon SockP.S. Registration for VK Live: Chicago is now open, and you can sign up for my classes (including 2 new selections -- Mitten Mojo, and an introduction to the law designed especially for knitters and designers). I'd love to see you there![...]

The new Rowan Magazine is here!


Nothing gets me in the mood for fall like a new Rowan Magazine. After taking a look at the patterns in the just-released Fall/Winter Magazine (Number 52), I am even more ready for cooler weather. My wonderful friends at Rowan sent me a review copy of the brand-new magazine, and I am delighted to give you a look at the beauties inside.I was excited when I saw the cover of Number 52: to me, the lovely model with the English rose complexion boded a wealth of classic British designs. Sure enough, the first story is titled "Hebridean," filmed on the grounds of a Scottish castle overlooking the firth, and featuring gorgeous stranded knits inspired by the north.For starters, take a look at Marie Wallin's Harris, combining Celtic intarsia motifs with a striped background;Julie Frank riffs on a plaid-like pattern in the Kirkwall Wrap:and my bestie Martin Storey opts for intricate overall motifs in Tiree.At the top of my list is the luscious Bute sweater, women's version, by Lisa Richardson, with a delightful muted palette mixing Colourspun and Felted Tweed.  Wow.I think I would skip the elbow pads, which are shown in some of the other photos, because it would kill me to sew something over that gorgeous stitchwork.Bute is rivaled only by Kintyre, by Marie Wallin, in whichWool Cotton, Kidsilk Haze and Pure Wool DK create this beautiful meshing of multiple motifs, with simple lines,and Orkney, also by Wallin, with traditional motifs in a brighter set of colours.Okay, I also really love Uist, a cardigan with textured sleeves and colorwork body, by Jennie Atkinson,and the Tobermory vest, by Marie Wallin. Hurrah for stranded knitting!There are some other men's garments in this story, too, like Martin Storey's Mull, another riff on plaid, knit in Rowan Fine Tweed (left, below), and Brandon Mably's fabulous vest Skye (on the right):The second story is called "North Sea," inspired by the Scottish coast and traditional fishermen's knits. That minx Josh Bennett is back, saucily mixing traditional stitch patterns in the wonderful Fastnet:The gorgeous Sarah Hatton gives him a run for his money in the terrific guy sweater department with Plymouth, knit in Pure Wool Aran:Men will also want to check out Martin Storey's cabled Fisherand cardigan Viking;Marie Wallin's Lundy, knit in the scrumptious Cocoon, comes in a men's and women's version (women's version is left, below) and Lisa Richardson uses the favorite Creative Focus Worsted in the clever colorshifting Fitzroy (right):Ladies, do not be worried, there are plenty of cabled and textured goodies for you, too, like the cover sweater, by Ruth Green (right below), as well as Wallin's Shannon, knit in Kid Classic (which is a wonderful yarn that I think people sometimes overlook simply because it isn't brand-new):Sarah Hatton's Utsire, also knit in Kid Classic (I might keep going on that one, in order to cover my belly button with a longer length, but I am way older than sweet Sarah);and Amanda Crawford's Dover, which would knit up in a jiffy given its cut-out front neckline.By the way, the gorgeous background for this photo shoot was Fife, Scotland.Last, the Essentials feature is back, showing "key shapes and textures on trend," helping people figure out which designs and styles are the must-have looks for the fall season. This is a fun feature, as the sweaters are shown in a less styled manner, and several of them aim for a more trend-conscious look, rather than a classic style.  You'll find a chunky fisherman's rib tunic:Ruby, designed by Marie Wallina highly-textured turtleneck pullover (left, below)[...]

Summer Vacation


It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.It was family vacation.It's an experience that has taken on a mythology all its own in our culture: sun-kissed children frolicking in the waves (or the snow, or at the themepark), loading up the station wagon (or minivan or SUV), togetherness, memories that will last a lifetime.As with childbirth -- an experience which likewise has taken on its own mythology -- we find ourselves, when the ordeal is done, looking at photos of our adorable children and smiling wistfully.  Forgetting all the bloody, painful trauma, the hurled recriminations, the vows (made in the thick of things) to never, ever do it again.We rented the same lovely little house we've rented for the past few years. It's close to the beach and full of charm, and even bunny-friendly.Seduced by the idea of sun, shore and seafood, I was looking forward to the trip. I'd forgotten that familiarity breeds contempt, and after four weeks at home since school let out for the summer, my family would be both excessively familiar and excessively contemptuous with me.Of course we had fun, but there were times when all that family togetherness seemed like too much.  (I mean, how many times in a week can two tweeners and a teen roll their eyes? Apparently in excess of five hundred.  Each.)So next time I shall endeavor to remember the importance of going out on my own for at least one or two expeditions during the week; getting in more solo walks, whether around the neighborhood or on the beach; bringing my headphones to better tune out the exasperated chorus of "Mo-om!"Most importantly, I shall remember that just an instant ago, they looked like thisand thisand because of all this family togetherness (or perhaps "despite all this family togetherness") family vacations are indeed some of the most special times of our lives.[...]



The UPS man brought me an especially exciting package today: a preview copy of Sock Yarn Studio:(image)

It's not an exaggeration to say that this is a project I've been working on for several years, so to be able to hold the finished book in my hands is thrilling. We all love sock yarns so much and they can do so many things in addition to making great socks. This book has 28 patterns for things to make with sock yarn other than socks, and this book is extremely special to me because there is so much of me and my friends and my family and my passions in it. So many of my dear fiber friends contributed patterns; several items are knit in Black Bunny Fibers yarns; my daughter modeled some of the patterns; and I was able to sit in on the photo shoots and watch talented photographer Carrie Hoge bring the garments to life on beautiful models in Portland, Maine.

The majority of the copies of the book are on a slow boat to the U.S. from wherever they were printed -- Lark had just a few copies shipped via air, which is how I got mine -- and the book is scheduled for official release on October 2d.

A huge thank-you to everyone who contributed to making the book happen, especially my lovely editor, Thom O'Hearn.

No-Bull Book Review: Knit Red by Laura Zander


I am working on a post giving you my recap of TNNA, the yarn and needlepoint industry's trade show, but in the meantime, let's take a look at a lovely book that was featured at the show. Knit Red: Stitching for Women's Heart Health (Sixth and Spring 2012; hardcover; 130 pages; MSRP $19.95 but available for $12.49 through the link) is a great knitting book for a great cause. Last year, I was wandering around the TNNA show floor when I ran into Laura Zander, proprietress of the amazing Jimmy Bean's Wool. Laura was talking about writing a book that would help raise money and awareness of women's heart health. I thought it was a fantastic idea then and now, just a year later, with the gorgeous book in my hands, I still think it's a fantastic idea. The statistics on women's heart health are astonishing: for example, more women have fatal heart attacks than men. One in four women who die in the U.S. each year die due to heart disease. Yet so many of us envision heart disease as something men are more likely to have.Knit Red aims to combat those statistics, enticing us with lovely knitting patterns, but also informing us about the dangers of heart disease and suggesting simple, do-able changes we can make to lower our risk. Let's start with the fun stuff, first, and take a look at some of the patterns.There are so many gorgeous projects in this book, and among my favorites are Iris Schreier's capelet, above. I also am grooving on this delicate lace stole by Kieran Foley, below: I love the flirty eyelet socks by MMO: Norah Gaughan's cabled cardigan: and Deborah Newton's beautifully-designed tunic.Many other of my favorite designers are featured here, such as my BFF Martin Storey, who designed a great cardigan with seed stitch panels and heart motifs, with a cute cropped fit:my love Sarah Hatton, who contributed an easy-to-knit twist-front top reminiscent of a ballet wrap:Maie Landra contributed this amazing modular dress (this is really an exquisite piece of knitwear, with modern lines but a vintage feel -- and I'm not just saying that because I heart Koigu so much):Another nice thing about the book is that it includes both easier and more advanced designs. Cecily Glowik MacDonald's cardigan is stylish but uses only stockinette and garter stitches, and is knit in one piece to minimize finishing:and Diane Soucy's hooded cardigan has simple elegance (knit in Universal's Cashmere Fleur de Lys) while Andrea Jurgrau's lace shawl is a bit more challenging, with its fantastic beaded edging,but no matter what you're looking for, there are options.  Like cables? Try Brooklyn Tweed's lovely mittens:In the mood to use some luxurious yarns? Check out Daniela Johannsenova's Mondrian-like tunic, using several different yarns and multiple shades of red (and purple!).Want to let some skin peek through? Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton allows you to channel your inner minx with her off-the-shoulder mesh top:If you want to embellish, look no further than Nicky Epstein's chenille shrug, with roses around the collar:Feel like a home dec item?  Michelle Rose Orne has designed a lovely linen-stitch blanket:For my statisticians, the books contains 31 patterns, in the following categories:5 pullover sweaters; 4 cardigans; and 1 button-front vest, all for women1 dress2 cowls1 tote2 hats (one beret, one earflap style)1 shrug4 stoles/shawls1 blanket3 sets of handgear (1 mitten, 2 fingerless gloves)a spa set (washcloth and suchlike)2 pair of socks1 cape.All[...]

On my way....


It's that time of year again: time for TNNA, the trade show for the knitting and needlepoint industry--or as my kids call it, "the yarn convention." I love being able to have so many of my favorite fiber people collected together in one place, and I love seeing all the amazing new yarns and patterns coming out this fall. I'll take copious notes and give you a full report when I get back.

Happy Father's Day


They say that time is a great healer, and like many cliches, it's a cliche because it's so often true. It's been about 2 1/2 years since my father died, and it's become easier and easier to focus on the good memories of him. The other day, my oldest kid was playing the piano and my heart stopped for a second: it was Chopin's Raindrop Prelude, which was my father's favorite piece by his favorite composer. He used to say that because the prelude was inspired by the notion of raindrops falling on a dead person, he wanted the song played at his funeral. (He was Little Miss Sunshine, sometimes, eh?)In honor of Father's Day, here are some more of the good memories that I have of my dad--random things, in no particular order and with no intended symbolism.  Just things that have popped into my head lately:My dad knew an amazing amount about World War II. He was born in 1934, so he had vivid childhood memories of significant events in the war. He had several uncles who served in the war, which probably also helped pique his interest in the war. He very clearly remembered Pearl Harbor, and listening to FDR announce the attack on the radio. He even used to do a horrible imitation of FDR:  "Last night, the Japanese attached Pearl Harbor." (He refused to ever buy a Japanese car because of Pearl Harbor. (!) )He had a special fascination with the technology of WW2 and knew a great deal about the tanks and weapons used. He loved to read. (Obviously this is where I inherited it from.) And every once in a while, he'd slip me five or ten bucks and tell my mother to take me to the mall so I could go to the Walden's bookstore and buy books.He used to say the word "cubbyhole" like this:  COO-bee-hole. I told my kids this recently and they found it hilarious. Now it's a running joke in our family.He was born on July 1 and really was a summer kind of guy. He loved to swim and he loved baseball. The Mets were his team. He loved watermelon; fresh summer tomatoes (a tomato-and-cheese sandwich was his favorite); and could eat a bowl of cherries in a minute.He passed the entrance test to be a contestant on Jeopardy. This won't surprise anyone who knew him, as he always had an encyclopedic knowledge of random topics and trivia. He wasn't able to be on the show, though, because the network insisted that contestants spend a certain minimum amount of time in New York until the show was ready for them, and he couldn't do that.Whenever we went out to a fancy dinner and ordered wine, he insisted on putting the entire contents of the salt shaker into the ice bucket because he said it made the bottle get colder faster.He loved Star Trek, the original one with William Shatner. He never really got fascinated with any other science fiction the way he loved Star Trek, though. Some of his favorite episodes were the one with Nomad; "The Gamesters of Triskelion" and the one where Mr. Spock fights Kirk to marry the Vulcan lady. He was never a big fan of the Tribbles one, though.Happy Father's Day. I hope you have nothing but good memories of your dad, and if he's still around, and lives close by, go and make some more good memories of him. Some day you'll be glad you did.[...]

First look: Noro Magazine


I'm a big fan of Noro yarns. Yes, I know that they are softly spun, sometimes have knots, the colors don't always flow perfectly and if you yank too hard, they might break.  So what. I adore the colors, the natural fibers, the way that the colors sometimes ply a little bit around each other when they change from one segment to another, and I enjoy the rustic feel of the yarn.  So I was very excited to see that our friends at Vogue Knitting were producing a magazine devoted to Noro patterns. Noro Knitting Magazine arrived in stores and LYSs recently, so let's take a first look.The magazine begins with a wonderful article by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, who has been a Noro fan for many years and who has written several books featuring Noro yarns.  Hamilton gives some fascinating background about the founder of Noro yarns, Eisaku Noro; how the company was founded; and how the yarn is made. One-page features highlight 2012 Noro yarns; books devoted to Noro design; and resources for Noro on the web. There's a special feature on the Lizard Ridge afghan and tea cozy designer Loani Prior's creations.Next are the patterns, 35 fabulous, colorful patterns.  In the story "Konnichi Wa," you'll find smaller pieces, such as the cover design, a textured hat by Holli Yoeh:Katharine Hunt's mobiusmy checkerboard hat (!)and elegant socks by Christina Behnke.The second story is texture, including Therese Chynoweth's lovely lace cardigan;Cheryl Murray's subtle yoked pulloverand Daniela Ni's tunic with textured edging.Vintage Modern is the title of the next story, with an absolutely stunning red dress by Carolyn Noyes knit in one shade of Kureyon with a solid color Debbie Bliss yarn.Wow.Two skirts in more muted colorways are lovely, like this one byYoko Hatta:and there is a long cardigan that showcases the repeating colors of Noro by Mari Tobita.There are several shorter stories, too, including a men's story (I like this sweater by Kenny Chun)a feature devoted to Noro Karuta, a new yarn with more monochrome-ish colorways (which, coincidentally, is on sale for a limited time only at Loop -- go here):Wilma Peers designtwo striking pieces making use of stripes;Irina Poludnenko designGalina Carroll designhome designs, like this throwErica Schlueter designfelted bowlsand a tote (both by Jacquiline van Dillen).A variety of yarn weights are used, from yarn categories 1 (fingering) to 5 (chunky); sizing is generous, with most patterns going into the high 40s or low 50s-inch finished circumferences; and there are color photos, charts and schematics to make your knitting easier.I do love Noro so for me, picking up a copy of this magazine was a no-brainer. (I even found it at Wegman's!). Lots of luscious patterns and inspiration, at the bargain price of $7.99. Photos by Paul Amato for[...]