09
Dec

Op-Art Socks Giveaway!

Written by Sarah. Posted in art, books, giveaway, holiday, knits, socks

Happy Monday!

As we count down the days to Christmas, I have been talking a lot about gifting. Today I’d like to offer the chance for one of you to get a little gift. You deserve it, don’t you? Interweave Press would like to give a copy of Op-Art Socks by Stephanie van der Linden to one lucky reader!

Op-Art Socks - jacket art

I am a sock lover so obviously I’m really excited for this book. There is a ton of colorwork and a lot of fun construction. As I’ve mentioned before, socks are a really fun place to play around with techniques and motifs and this book is kind of a living embodiment of that idea. The book also includes swatches of all of the colorwork in black and white so you can really get a good idea of what’s going on without the wild colors. So useful!

Op-Art socks 2

Enter to win a copy of Op-Art socks by leaving a comment below with your favorite pattern from the book. (US residents only, sorry!) I’ll pick a winner next Monday. Thanks, Interweave!

So, which pattern are you dying to get on your needles?

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05
Dec

How to Impress Your Friends With A Quick Gift that Doesn’t Break the Bank

Written by Sarah. Posted in cooking, DIY, food, gift, holiday, party, recipe

Holiday gifts are such a challenge for crafters. It seems like a no-brainer to make a gift but in the end it’s an expensive, time-consuming, soul-crushing experience. Sobs between sips of heavily-spiked eggnog, fingers crooked and bleeding after hours and hours of work. It’s not worth it. Sorry, family and friends. You’re all lovely people and you deserve great gifts but it’s just not possible.

My mom’s family is diverse and pretty large. I can’t afford to buy the kind of presents that they deserve for each and every one of them and I like to think that, since they are all grown adults, they buy themselves the things that they really want. I try to give everyone the same gift (so it’s equal) which presents another challenge. It’s really difficult to find something that they would all like and use or put in their homes. I refuse to give weird pieces of crap also known as “decorations” or “tchotchkies” because I don’t think I’d like to receive any. We don’t have the same taste and that’s ok, let’s just not pretend that we do.

So I like to gift them with food. Everybody likes to eat and generally everyone cooks or bakes at least enough to get by. Buying food gifts can get expensive (gift baskets, fancy chocolates, liquor) so I try to keep everything DIY. I’ll be the first person to tell you that DIY gifts do not mean free or cheap but when it comes to food, you can keep it relatively inexpensive while staying fun and thoughtful. Besides, DIY gifts are like a present for the gifter as much as they are the giftee. Making gifts is fun and rewarding even when it’s exhausting and all of your hair has fallen out.

hot chocolate mug

Last year I put together these hot chocolate mugs. They were really fun and adorable and probably cost less than $5 for each mug. If you cut the marshmallows as I suggest below (using a biscuit cutter that’s just slightly smaller than the opening of the mug), you’ll be able to sip the cocoa through the marshmallow the way you would with whipped cream. It’ll be like a cloud keeping it hot and yummy. This is my favorite part.

While packaging everything up in this “I thought of you and hope you enjoy a cozy evening courtesy of me!” kind of way is lovely and gifty, the key to this present is the marshmallows. People that have never made marshmallows before think that they are witchcraft. They’ve never given any thought to where marshmallows come from (marshmallow trees?). They will be very impressed with you.

hot cocoa gift

Here’s how to do it!

What you will need:
Cute mug*
Cellophane gift bag
Ribbon
Gift tag
Biscuit cutter (that is just a little smaller than the opening of the mug)
Peppermint marshmallows
Hot cocoa mix

Directions
1. Make your marshmallows. While they’re setting up, put together the hot chocolate mix.
2. Line the mug with one of the little gift bags. Pour in hot chocolate mix to fill about 3/4 of the mug.
3. Now that the marshmallows have set, use the biscuit cutter to cut them into circles. Dust them lightly in confectioners sugar and place two or three over the hot chocolate mix. Close the bag and secure with ribbon.
4. Add a gift tag with instructions for the cocoa mix and maybe even include a recipe in case they want more.

Ta da! Merry Christmas!

Next week, I’ll be sharing a few more quick and inexpensive DIY gifts so stay tuned!

What’s your favorite DIY gift to give? How do you gift food?

* The mugs are the most expensive part of the gift. You can pick up adorable Christmas themed mugs at the dollar store or you can go all out and buy a hand-thrown piece on Etsy. Let your budget be your guide. (I used these CB2 mugs because I loved that they came with a little spoon. I believe they’ve been discontinued but here they are on ebay. $3 per mug! ) But this mug will become your relative’s new hot chocolate mug and when you see them next Christmas they will say, “Every time I drink hot chocolate in that mug I think of you!” Awww! Choose wisely.

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25
Nov

Knitter’s Gift Guide

Written by Sarah. Posted in gift, holiday

Shopping for knitters is simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing to do. We love yarn but we’re very particular. We could always use more needles but interchangeable sets aren’t cheap. We’re always searching for new patterns but with the enormous variety of books out there, it’s tough to pinpoint which might be right.

I tend to advise against buying a knitter yarn (unless they ask for it) as a gift. Usually, we’re all on yarn diets. Of course, no one has ever given me a skein of yarn that I’ve refused. And it’s easy for non-knitters to become sheepish, dizzy, and dumbfounded at a LYS. But around this time of year I like to put together a guide for what knitters really want, those little things that will let them know that you really thought hard about them.

 

holiday

1. Yarn Pyramid print from Fringe Supply Co.
2. Pebble tape measures from Leif
3. Knitter’s Graph Paper Journal
4. Wrapper tool pouch from Fringe Supply Co.
5. Dovetail Alpaca from Areawear

And, don’t forget, knitters always appreciate gifts that are handmade, local, and/or independent!

What gifts would you love to get this holiday?

ps. Last years gift guides here and here! And gifts to knit (if you dare)!

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21
Nov

Thankful

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, life, long reads

knitting againI’m knitting again!

I’m a sentimental person but I hate the obligatory “What are you thankful for?” that happens this time of year. I’m not really spiritual so I don’t know who I’m thanking for some coincidences in my life. At the same time, I’m well aware that I can’t take credit for all of the happiness that’s come to me. I really like to refer to the way I feel as lucky. Somehow the stars have aligned and things are good. That being said, giving up knitting last week was really difficult for me. By Thursday, I was having dreams about binding off intricate and gorgeous color work sweaters. Reading blogs or looking through knitting books made my heart heavy. But at the same time, sacrificing a little bit made me think about a lot of things and, in the spirit of the season, I am pretty thankful.

First of all, I’m thankful that knitting is in my life. I’m not sure I’d have the little sanity left in my without it. After I picked up knitting ten years ago, I went back and forth, sometimes not making anything for long periods of time. Over the past three or four years, knitting has become a huge part of who I am. I know I kept returning to it because I’ve always loved making things, be it with pen and paper or words or lights and film, I’m a maker. This is the best way I can make things and I’m so grateful that I’ve found it.

I’m thankful for how amazing and supportive everyone is. That means you lovely readers and all of my knitting friends. I’ve been complaining up a storm on Twitter (sorry, I’m Jewish. If something hurts, you’re going to hear about it) and not only has everyone tolerated me but they’ve given great advice. It really feels amazing that people I haven’t met in real life are asking how I’m feeling. You’re all fab. Of course, my family is always making sure that I’m not pushing it and Jon has been really strict so I don’t re-injure myself. As much as it’s driven me crazy, I’m grateful for that too.

And, as always, I’m grateful for my health. I’ve got plenty of issues when it comes to health but I’m really glad things aren’t worse. I’m so thankful that I’m not still having to take a knitting break. And if my wrists were still bad, if I had to get surgery or something (oh lord, knock on wood times a million), I’m thankful that I have healthcare and all of those things above.

I’d really be lost without my needles. And, as always, when times get tough, I know my friends will be there to help me through! I love the knitting community and I if it weren’t for you, I’d just be a crazy lady complaining about socks.

What’re you thankful for? (I mean, I have to ask.)

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31
Oct

Rhinebeck 2013: The Goods

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, holiday, knits, life, Rhinebeck, yarn

Alright, I’ve held out on you long enough. It’s time to show you what I snagged at Rhinebeck!

I was a really good girl this year. I think that looking my stash directly in the face (that’s for another post) the week before Rhinebeck along with the pressure of numerous deadlines really helped me put things into perspective. I really love yarn. But I seriously need to be careful about what I’m purchasing lest things get more out of hand. (I’d also had my hopes that I was getting a big bonus at work the Friday before but that got postponed so my budget was a little tighter. Probably for the best! Custom couches don’t just pay for themselves, you know.) On top of it all, I felt like I was chatting and catching up so much on Saturday that I hardly had time to shop. Shopping was not the goal for the weekend, as I mentioned before, I felt super pumped after spending the day with all of my friends. I was literally still browsing through what was left at Into the Whirled when they announced that the fairgrounds were closed and I didn’t have to go home but I couldn’t shop for more yarn here. So I only bought two skeins of yarn for myself!

Within my first fifteen minutes, I’d already gotten a lovely compliment on my sweater (oh, Rhinebeck, you always know how to make a girl happy) and fallen deeply in love with this skein of DK BFL dyed by Jan Marek Raczkowski. It’s a gorgeous pink with just a little bit of red. I didn’t want to buy anything until I’d made my rounds so I waited until the end of the day to pick this up but I was thinking about it all day. It’s soft and squishy and the color has me swooning. I’m planning on making the Hierro mitts from Pom Pom’s Autumn 2013 issue and I had my eye out for the right yarn. This is it.

Jan Marek Raczkowski

 

I’m really excited to start those mitts and I’m already thinking that I want to get more yarn from Jan Marek Raczkowski. Apparently he only sells at shows, nothing online! Although a little birdie did tell me that I could email him to order. I’ll definitely be thinking about that!

into the whirled

 

The other skein I bought is by Into the Whirled. Now, I was a little bad. After going through my stash, I realized that I have enough sock yarn to last me a hundred winters (possible slight exaggeration but it’s serious). I’ve said again and again that I love buying sock yarn because it’s a great way to purchase yarn without worrying about having the right quantity for a random project- one skein of sock yarn is enough for a pair of socks. I love knitting socks! But, alas, I’ve seemed to have followed my own advice  a little too closely and now I have a billion skeins and zero minutes to cast on socks. Then Lisa showed me these yarns and there was just no turning back.

But when I saw this color way, I just really couldn’t say no. It’s Inara and it’s in the SW merino/nylon base. It’s just so pretty. I might make socks for Jon with it. I think that is what I say every time I buy a skein of sock yarn. And he only has one pair of socks that I ever knit him. Poor thing.

The more I think about it, the more I’m regretting not also picking up a skein of Bigger on the Inside because the colors are just gorgeous and who doesn’t want Doctor Who-themed socks?! Maybe next time. I really was trying to be good!

Did I do good? Or should I have really broken the bank this time? What did you buy?

ps. Happy Halloween! I’ve been so busy, I’ve forgotten to be festive. Last year I wrote this Halloween poem so check that out.

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22
Oct

Rhinebeck 2013 Mischief Managed

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, instagram, knits, life, Rhinebeck, travel

At the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (in the film, at least, it’s been ages since I’ve read the book!), as the three heroes board the Hogwarts Express after defeating evil for the first time, winning the House Cup, and hugging Hagrid goodbye, Hermione says, “Feels strange to be going home, doesn’t it?” With a bit of schmaltz, Harry replies, “I’m not going home. Not really, anyway.” When I headed for the parking lot at Rhinebeck, after it had been announced that the fair grounds were closed, that’s exactly how I felt. Although I could only come out for one day (I’m not sure if I have the stamina for the whole shebang but I’d love to stay the weekend next year), I was really touched by the magic of the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival this time around.

rhinebeck 2013

I always get butterflies before arriving at shows like this. I get really overwhelmed (Sorry if we talked about meeting up but it didn’t happen! I literally ate two apple cider doughnuts for lunch I was so busy!) and shy (Sorry if we made eye contact and then I didn’t say hello. I’m awful at these things!) and I never know where to start (Sorry if you’re an alpaca! I started with the sheep). I hardly took any photos, a combination of forgetting the memory card for the camera I schlepped all the way up there and being too frantic to stop for pictures. After wandering around the sheep and goats, I went to the Ravelry meet up to try and find some familiar faces. It always amazes me the shear amount of people that show up to the festival. I found myself creeping around the edges of the crowd, sheepishly looking for my friends until the lovely Bristol Ivy saved me from complete awkwardness. I got to have a solid chat with her, Maria of Subway Knits, Dana, AshleyThreadpanda, Redhead Knits, and even Amy Christoffers (I’m probably forgetting some wonderful ladies, too!) Later I had a meeting with Roman Hills and Vo0lenvine (we have big semi-secret plans).

rhinebeck alpaca

I bought some yarn (that’s for another post) but this year was really about connecting with my friends. It really felt magical being surrounded by people that are all so talented and supportive of eachother. It’s not to say that my non-knitter friends aren’t those things, it’s just that after long stretches of time surrounded by muggles, it’s really invigorating to talk with people that know what you’re saying. On top of everything else, I got to meet some readers (Hello! You know who you are!) which just basically made my whole life. I feel like Saturday was just full of love!

Over the past year, I’ve been trying out a lot of new things and it really feels like it’s paid off. But I know I wouldn’t have even dared to try stepping out of my comfort zone if it weren’t for the amazing ladies that have encouraged me all along and helped me in so many ways. It’s crazy to think that last year at Rhinebeck I met Amy Christoffers for the first time and just a few days ago she was fluffing the shoulders on my first published sweater pattern.

I’ve probably babbled enough but, long story short, I’m still dreaming of sheep and yarn and hanging out with my fantastic friends. I’m already ready to get back to Rhinebeck because there’s a little piece of us there all year round, isn’t there?

What was your favorite part of Rhinebeck this year? How often do you get to hug your knitting friends?

Promise a post with my spoils soon!

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08
Oct

Twas the Night Before Rhinebeck

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, knits, Rhinebeck, that gif post, travel

rhinebeck kate lemmers

Rhinebeck is swiftly approaching (can you believe it?!) so I wrote you this poem about knitter’s Christmas.

TWAS THE KNIT BEFORE RHINEBECK

Twas the night before Rhinebeck, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring not even a moth.
The yarn was all packed by the front door with care,
in hopes that at the Sheep and Wool Festival, we’d soon be there.

The knitters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of alpaca fleeces danced in their heads.
And mama in her seamless top down Icelandic yoke sweater and I in my wool’s itch,
had just settled our hands from a long winter’s stitch-and-bitch.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Only after taking care to check on my stash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen leaves
gave the look of undyed wools all sat on the eaves.
when, what to my wondering eyes should I peep,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny sheep!

With a little old driver, a scarf ’round her neck,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Rhinebeck.
More rapid than eagles her coursers they came,
And she whistled and shouted and called them by name!

“Now Shearer! now, Spinner! now, Cashmere and Cables!
On, Fair Isle! On, Gusset! On on, Intarsia and Laces!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now swift away! Swift away! Swift away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the sheepies they flew,
with the sleigh full of yarn and St. Rhinebeck too!

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Rhinebeck came with abound.

She was dressed all in wool, from hat on her head to sock on her foot,
And her handknits were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of skeins she had flung on her back,
And she looked like a LYS, just opening her pack.

Her fun fur, how it twinkled! Her merino, how merry!
Her cottons were beautiful in colors of berries!
Her superwash skeins were wrapped up in a bow,
And the fluffy undyed fiber was as white as the snow.

A set of circular needles she held tight in her hand,
And cast on the most beautiful sweater in the land.
Her cables were perfect and stitches so soft,
Before I could blink, she’d already bound off.

Then she spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
And left yarn presents, then turned with a jerk.
And laying her finger aside of her nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney she rose!

She went to her flock, they rose up in the air,
And away they all flew like the down of mohair.
But I heard her exclaim, ‘ere she drove out of sight,
“Happy knitting to all, and to all a good-night!”

photo via Kate Lemmers

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30
Sep

WIP: Holiday Knitting Already!

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, gift, holiday, knits, socks, WIP, yarn

I don’t have big plans for holiday making this year. I know that I just don’t have the time for it. But I did want to make one or two gifts. I mean, come on, what’s the point of being a knitter if you don’t make a gift? I figured a few gifts would be manageable (Christmas is still a few months away, right?) until I found out that Chanukah is the same week as Thanksgiving this year.

So now I’m a little stressed out. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines!

I feel like hand knit socks are amazing gifts. They’re warm and lovely and they look really complicated like you spent a long time on them but they’re actually pretty quick. Something about giving a gift to keep your toes warm makes me really happy.

Luckily, socks make great car knitting and there will be plenty of opportunities for that in the near future (Rhinebeck!). Also luckily, Jon got me a subscription to Yarnbox for my birthday so last week I received some beautiful of Candy Skein yarn. Everything about this yarn is perfect for socks.

fruit loop socks

I love solid colored fingering weight yarns! Especially for cables. I was trying to find a pattern slightly more challenging than Hermione yet easy enough that I could put down for a few days and not get lost. Also a big must was doing a pdf or web-based pattern because I need something I can carry around on my phone. I don’t like fumbling around with books while I’m in the car.

When I went over my Ravelry queue, I found the Froot Loop pattern by Kristi Geraci. I can’t believe I haven’t knit this pattern sooner. It’s really really easy without being boring but it looks really gorgeous and the cables are super satisfying. It doesn’t require a cable needle so it’s the best for knitting on the fly. (I’ve knit cabled socks on the subway before. It gets messy.) It’s basically just exactly what you’d want in a sock.

The pattern knits up so quickly, I’m not nervous at all about finishing in time for the holidays. Socks, you are the best! (Sorry, sweaters, nothing personal.) Now I just need to keep my sanity until Thanksgiving.

Have you already started your holiday knitting? Do you have big plans or are you staying small?

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18
Sep

Pumpkin Spice Yarn

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, food, holiday, knits, life, photos, Rhinebeck, want, yarn

Once the weather gets the slightest bit of chill in it, I am craving pumpkin. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin pie. From September 1st to December 1st, I am annually on a mission to ingest as much pumpkin as possible.

Maybe this season we can wrap ourselves in pumpkin-colored sweaters, too! Here are some spicy, warm, and sweet yarns in your favorite flavor!

PUMPKIN

 

1. Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Embers
2. Juniper Moon Farm Yearling in Butternut
3. Quince and Co Puffin in Nasturtium
4. Luna Grey Fiber Arts Orion in Pumpkin
5. Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk in Rust

I’d love a big cowl or maybe a pair of mittens in pumpkin. But a wooly pair of socks sound nice too! There’s just too much pumpkin and not enough time.

What’s your favorite pumpkin treat for the fall?

ps. The winners of the #kollabsockalong were announced yesterday! Congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated!

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28
Aug

WIP: #kollabsockalong

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, knit-a-long, knits, kollabora, socks, WIP, yarn

Today is my birthday! So let’s talk about socks!

Well, first I want to talk about brunch. And we will because (did I mention) it’s my birthday! I had a really lovely brunch at my place over the weekend with a bunch of my best friends to celebrate (and also as a very belated housewarming). I just felt super lucky to have so many people that I love there and FINALLY being able to have a proper party since we decorated a bit. It felt kind of grown up and lovely! My friend Holly made me a birthday cake which was so super special. I think that as long as I’m surrounded by awesome friends and family, this is going to be a great year!

birthday

Anyway, you’re here for the socks. I’m pretty happy with the way my first Hermione sock is turning out. It’s been a few months since I’ve worked on a sock, boy, I love sock knitting! Did I mention that before? I just love the tiny little needles and the shape. They’re so simple yet so complex!

Speaking of complex, I ripped out the heel flap four times before I was happy. I think that I was reading the pattern wrong but I  ended up knitting the WS on the RS (kind of wish that the pattern had specified which rows were which) a few times and then I was worried that it didn’t look right. I was thinking that it should look like a regular slipped stitch heel (so, more like a faux ribbing) than the eye of patridge (more of a dimple texture). Jill and I chatted about it and she set me straight. I was just over-complicating things.

heel

I’m not much of a top-down sock knitter. I really love my toe-up socks. But this pattern is starting to sway me. The garter stitch edge to the heel flap makes picking up gusset stitches seamless. Everything looks so neat. I absolutely love it! I will be making all of my heel flaps with garter stitch borders from now on, thank you very much.

heel2

Now, I want to talk about turning the heel. Turning a heel is just like knitting magic. It’s like turning a boring tube or a flat piece of fabric into a three dimensional object. I mean, it was always 3D, obviously, but I mean something that goes from being just a blob of stitches to being an actual recognizable garment. It’s like origami with needles. Is there any other knitting technique that is as satisfying and simple yet clever and ingenious!? I’d love to hear what you think. I don’t really know how to explain it but if you’ve done it before, you know what I mean.

The best comparison I’ve got for you (and it’s not very good but, hear me out) is that moment when building a ship in a bottle (I’ve never done this but I’ve seen it on TV) when you pull the string and the whole thing stands up and you’re like, “Yay! Look it’s a ship! Magic!” That’s what turning a heel feels like. (Yes, I Youtubed ships in bottles. It’s my birthday, you cannot judge.)

Long story short, I hope you’re all uploading your sock progress to Kollabora! I want to see more sock photos! I demand sock photos! My birthday wish is more sock photos and world peace and to eat a piece of chocolate cake for dinner. Three birthday wishes!

Also, and possibly most importantly of all! Jill is still offering free shipping to everyone in the US using code KOLLABORATION13. It is not too late to cast on a pair so check her shop out!

How are your socks coming along?

ps. Since we’re talking coupon codes, turns out Bristol Ivy and I have the same birthday! I must encourage you to buy one of her gorgeous patterns since she’s having a birthday sale! 28on28 for 28% off! Happy birthday, Bristol!

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