Category Archives: Yarn

Simple Love Spot Blog Tour

Today I’ve been invited by Kathy of Bliss Beyond Naptime to share a spot in my home that I have lovingly lavished a simple, less cluttered serenity to.

A spot that I love because of its simplicity and its reflection of a feeling I cherish.

That feeling?

Potential.

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I love things that remind me of a place in time, a mood, a person. Being transported back in time by a color, shape, or scent of an object is a magical gift, and one I hold dear.  I don’t keep a lot of extra objects around my home, but each piece that is there speaks to a cherished memory.

Everything is  here for a reason.

When I look at what I lovingly refer to as my Stash Cabinet, I am reminded of a time where life was pretty simple.

This cabinet reminds me of a carefree drive up the New England coast with my sweetie. We were living in Connecticut at the time, and loved to explore the area on day trips.

We were meandering along, checking out beaches, fried fish stands, and flea markets when we stumbled upon a promising craftsman. He was selling furniture pieces made from rehabed doors, windows, and other architectural remnants. I had never thought about needing an entire piece of furniture devoted to my yarn, but as soon as I saw this, I knew I would soon have one.

It seemed extravagant, optimistic, and unneccessary.  And yet I knew it was right for a number of reasons.

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Buying this piece of furniture was an outward commitment that honored my creative self and my love affair with knitting. I now had a dedicated space for those treasures I had been collecting.

Wherever we go, I know my yarn has a home, and my heart has a place to daydream.

There’s almost nothing happier to me than a skein of yarn; all that unwound potential just sitting there, waiting to become whatever you dream.

Each skein of yarn in my Stash Cabinet has a story to tell.  Precious skeins picked up on vacation.  Yarn bought when I was celebrating something or consoling myself during a difficult time.  There’s yarn I’ve received as gifts, in swaps, and in yarn clubs.  I remember the story behind each skein, and that is only the beginning.

Once I choose a yarn to work with, its potential is unwound and worked up into a new piece that will have its own story to tell. And because I have this lovely Stash Cabinet, I have a place to store all that potential.  A place that also reminds me of our time spent living in New England.  Of the days when my stash fit into a shoe box.

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Kathy is the Mama Bliss Coach and Simplicity Parenting Group Leader over at Bliss Beyond Naptime. She offers online Simplicity Parenting workshops for each of the four levels of simplifying found in this epic, must-have parenting book: the Environment, Rhythm, Scheduling and Filtering. 

Starting September 16th, Kathy’s offering a group study of the environment module so you too can design a home that echoes your carefully chosen values while exuding peace and harmony.

Kathy is also thrilled to offer one our readers a copy of the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, because really, it’s a must-have. This book blew her Mama mind in a good way and she hopes the same thing happens to yours! Simply leave a comment on this blog post by Friday 9/20/13 and you’re entered to win.

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Filed under Books/Patterns, Knitting, Stash Knitting, Yarn

Making & Mothering :: Sonia Ruyts

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IMG_3024It’s 8:30 pm and I’m just sitting down at the end of a long day.  The couch has been whispering to me for hours, but the energy of dinner prep, cleanup, after dinner playtime, bath and bedtime have kept me moving.  By now my daughter is sleeping soundly in her bed, and the rest of the night is mine.  Unfortunately for me, I have always leaned toward an early bedtime which means I now have an hour and a half at most before I’m asleep with a book on my face.  These 90 minutes are precious.  This cannot be the only time I give myself out of a total of 24 hours.   I need this block of uninterrupted adult time to focus on my knitting, my wife, and a good movie (or a bad one.  I’m not really that particular these days).

That said, I’m finding that it’s important to fit in small pockets of time throughout the day to create.  To connect. To feel inspired.  I have to take breaks at work to play with the yarn, to make a new display, take a few photos, move a table.

These moments of creating something, beautifying the space around me, or of feeling connected to my creativity are critical.  Without them I would be a frazzled shell of myself.  Without them, I would not be happy.  So why do we sometimes feel that these moments come last in the hierarchy of care?  Why do some of us put our personal needs after everyone else (even the dog’s)?

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Before my daughter was born, I could knit pretty much whenever I wanted, for as long as I wanted.  I made her dozens of things, things I could make while she was around, then plop onto her as soon as they were off the needles.  When she was a small baby, I still got in a lot of time with my yarn and needles; she was a great napper!  But as time has passed and she’s grown and our work lives have changed, that isn’t possible in the same way.

I keep my knitting out and work on it throughout our time at home.  I bring it with me in the car, and to work.  And when knitting isn’t possible, I’m creating in other ways: writing, cooking, taking photos, rearranging the mantle…

Making something with my hands every day is a priority.

How do you make time for your creative pursuits? Do you treat yourself after your family has been cared for? Do you fit bursts of making in throughout your day?

To help answer this question, we have invited some other women who have been down this same road as mothers and makers.  Once a month we will be sharing this space and having a conversation about what it means to be a creative person, how we find creative bliss in a busy day, and how we incorporate (or don’t) our little ones into the making. Our first interview is with knitter + mother Susan B. Anderson and comes with a book giveaway!  Be sure to stay tuned to this space.

Some of the best conversation happens in the comments, so please feel free to share what has and hasn’t worked for you. We’re all doing the best that we can, and to hear support and ideas from one another is invaluable.

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Filed under Baby Knits, Interviews, Knitting, Making & Mothering Series, Yarn

WIP Management :: A Peek Inside How We Knit

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Last week we talked about our different perspectives on knitting.  It’s amazing how many different perspectives there are when it comes to how we approach this beloved activity.

Just as we all think of our knitting journey differently, we all seem to have our own approach regarding the handing of wips (works-in-progress). We each work at different paces and in different ways.

Some of us work steadfastly on one project at a time, stoically suppressing all urges to cast on the shiny new patterns with that springy new yarn.  We want to give our full attention to the task at hand and bask in the feeling of accomplishe=ment once it is complete.  Only then may we line up the next project.

Others cast on with abandon, eagerly gobbling up new inspiration and churning out more wips.  Why deny yourself the pleasure of that thrill that comes when you cast on for a new project?!  We enjoy knitting for the process, and may or may not be bothered by the fact that finished objects are few and far between.

A lot of us fall somewhere in between, working on projects until something more interesting comes along.  Then we eventually start slogging through the older projects because we want that finished sweater before it’s summer, dang it!

Want to know how the Stash Enhancers handle wips?  We’d love to share.

Sydney

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I have the ideal WIP line up at the moment. A lace project, a light fair isle project, and an auto-pilot project. I have a sweater going that is currently only miles of stockinette, so it’s been great when I need a grab and go project that I don’t need to concentrate on. Some of you know I’ve been on a sock kick, so I have a sock going that is just the right amount of lace where I will stay entertained, but don’t need to consult a chart for every row. And my final WIP is a 1940’s fair isle beret. There are only a handful of rows with fair isle; I’m knitting this to prep myself for an upcoming fair isle sweater, so the small bits of color work are perfect.

Liz

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I like to have several types of projects going. Typically one complicated-ish project, one mindless project that I can pick up and still have a conversation, and possibly another project or two. Currently I have 4 projects on-the-needles including my shop project. The first and most complicated is a sweater for me that has cables on both the front and back. Sonia and I are doing a Happy Street KAL together, so my Happy Street is perfect for just picking up and mindlessly knitting garter stitch (though, whoa, those rows are getting long!). I also have a baby sweater going as a gift for a friend’s baby.
Some days I work on all my WIPs and other days or sometimes several days in a row I get obsessed with making a big dent in a certain project and the others are ignored for a bit. The only time my WIPs make me a little crazy is if I have deadline knitting (holiday knitting, I’m looking at you…).

 Sonia

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Fun fact: I currently have just 1 wip, a rare occurrence! Oh wait, I do have a shop sample on the needles, but that’s been going for 4 months give or take.  Does that count?  Usually I have 2-3 projects on my needles at any given time.  Like the others I tend to have some auto-pilot project going alongside a larger or more involved pattern.  Add that to anything that’s serving time in exile or needs finishing, and the number is realistically 3-4.  After that I tend to actually feel a bit distracted and stressed by the unfinished-ness of too many projects.  And because I wholeheartedly believe knitting should be Fun, I will rip or slog through things to get back down to a comfortable number.

With only 1 project on the needles, I am spending a lot of time daydreaming about a Fall Sweater.  I have the yarn all picked out, and am stalking multiple patterns.  One day I will wake up and have that undeniable, gotta-cast-on-right-now moments, and then I’ll commit to a pattern.  Until then, I’m enjoying the novelty of being a monogamous knitter.

All of this is to say that we knitters are some interesting folks. We take something that is joy and function, art and craft wrapped into one cozy package, and we create a set of expectations  around it.  And that’s perfectly alright, whatever gets and keeps you excited about your projects.

Because without the thrill of discovering a new pattern and matching it to the perfect yarn, of stumbling through a complicated pattern and figuring out, and without creating something tangible from raw materials, what’s the point? You might as well go watch tv.

But while you’re at it, pick up some knitting, why don’t you?  You even have our permission to cast on something new for the occasion.

Everything’s better with a little knitting in your hands.

How do you handle your WIPs?

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Filed under Knitting, Stash Knitting, Yarn

It’s Back to {Yarn} School Time!

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I still get excited about school supplies.  The smell of freshly sharpened pencils, a new notebook, and the sense of a new beginning always get me feeling ambitious. Like clean the house, bake a pie, learn a new language and cast on 5 new sweaters ambitious.  While doing laundry and writing a blog post!

When you’re a grown up, there’s not always a chance to experience the thrill of going back to school. Sure, we get to feel the bittersweet and enchanting end of summer as it rolls over into the beginning of sweater season.  As knitters, the beginning of cooler weather is very exciting indeed.  It’s also a great time to treat yourself to the gift of going back to school.  Yarn school, that is!

September is the start of knitting season, just as it’s the start of a new school year for many.  We’ve loaded our calendar with classes and events just to be sure you get the chance to go back to school, too.

Following that theme, we had a blast creating our Back to Yarn School window display.  Vintage knitting patterns folded into paper airplanes.  A knit apple and paper.  Yarn-wrapped letters. The anatomy of a sock. It all helped get us in the mood for a shiny new season of knitting.  Of casting on for cabled sweaters, cozy hats, and endless eternity cowls.

Whether you’re able to get back to yarn school or not, we urge you to embrace the spirit of the season.  Indulge in some new yarn.  Cast on a flurry of new projects.  Study a new-to-you technique.  Try something you’ve never done before (in knitting or in life). If not now, when?

What gets you excited this time of year? 

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Filed under Classes, Crafty Times, Knitting, Stash, Stash Knitting, Window Displays, Yarn

Meet the Samples :: Mix No. 24

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DSC_0542When there are so many amazing new patterns sprouting up, we ask you this: why knit the same old beanie this fall?

A playful bonnet may be just the thing to wake up your winter coat, make someone smile on the slopes, or simply warm your noggin’ with whimsy.  And who could resist those braided ties with pom poms?!

DSC_0541The Deets

  • Pattern: Shibui Mix No. 24 by Alex Tinsley
  • Yarn: Shibui Merino Alpaca in Jumpsuit + Shibui Baby Alpaca in Jumpsuit, 1 skein each (or
  • Project notes: available on our Ravelry project page.

This zesty little bonnet was a juicy piece of knitting. Two strands of different yarn are held together throughout: one is an aran weight merino alpaca blend, the other a 100% baby merino dk weight. They combine to make an ultra squishy, slightly haloed fabric that is heavenly against the skin.

We love how Shibui is playing with texture and gauge in their Mix pattern collections. Two seemingly disparate yarns can come together to create an entirely new fabric, one that is often more interesting that its individual parts.

Here are some other favorites from the Shibui Fall/Winter collection, all available in the store now.

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There’s a Mix No. 19 on the needles as we speak… keep your eyes peeled for a new sample shortly!

Which pattern is a must have for your fall knitting queue?

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Filed under Books/Patterns, Knitting, Meet the Samples, Products, Stash Knitting, Yarn

Crafty Times:: Pom Poms

We have a bit of a love affair with the humble pom pom. Plush, bouncy, and playful, the pom pom is a yarny symbol of happiness.  I dare you to try not to smile while holding one.  Impossible.

They make whimsical additions to knits, finish off a gift with a flourish, or make flouncy cat toys.  We also like to hang them wherever we can at the shop (have you seen our awning lately?).  Did I mention you can make them using leftover yarn to bust stash like a boss?

Our favorite method (and we’ve tried quite a few) is using these funny little gadgets by Clover (available at Stash, of course).  They are a little tricky looking at first, but after your first go at pom pom making, you’ll be a pro.

>>> Pom Pom Pictorial <<<

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Pro tips:  

  • Use a lot of yarn.  The more densly you wrap each arm of the pom pom maker, the more plump your pom will be.
  • Have fun with it!  Hold multiple colors/textures of yarn together.  Wrap each side in a different color.  See what happens!
  • Triple tie the center so it’s nice and tight.  You don’t want your pom to start shedding its fringe at an awkward moment.

Now it’s your turn!  What you’re favorite way to use a pom pom?

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Filed under Crafty Times, Tutorials, Yarn

On & Off the Needles: Recent Stash Enhancer Knits

Here ths Stash Enhancers share a little of what we’ve been knitting (and finishing) this summer.  No matter the weather, we are always clicking our needles.  Some of us finish things faster than others, but that just keeps the rest of us motivated!

The minute our last shipment of Hazel Knits DK arrived, I snatched up the colorway Heartthrob to CO for Neon. Featuring an all over lace pattern, Neon keeps the knitting interesting, but not too complicated. I don’t want to wish away summer, but I can’t wait to start wearing this cheerful cardigan this fall!

It doesn’t look like much yet, but hopefully this sweet little summer top will be finished in time to get some wear this summer! The Riverine Pullover is from the most recent Pom Pom Quarterly and I’m knitting it some top-secret yarn that will be hitting the shelves at Stash this fall!

~Liz

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The summer heat hit with full force this year, so I have stuck to small fingering weight  projects until I can shut myself in a dark, air-conditioned room and pretend it’s winter in Iceland. This pair of socks is knit from a beautiful hand-dyed merino yarn that our very own Kathryn dyed! The pattern is from Knitting Vintage Socks and is the first of many that I will knit from this book.

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As far as works in progress, I have a few vintage blouses going at the moment that all seem to be at a stopping point. This one, knit in Knitted Wit fingering, is one of those oops-I-should-have-bought-more-yarn projects. I’m currently awaiting a skein of white fingering weight to use as a contrast color so I can get it finished!

~Sydney

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I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but… I haven’t finished any knitting projects this summer.  Yet!

These two projects are so close to being finished.  I just need to spend some quality knitting time with each of them and we’ll be in good shape.  I especially want to finish this red Lobelia cardigan.  It’s been on my needles since April!  I started it intending to layer over dresses and skirts, so the sooner I finish the more wear it will get.

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This little number is the Sweet Bunting cardigan.  I just joined the sleeves to the yoke and am poised to being knitting some sweet pink bunting flags.  I am loving working with the slightly rustic texture of this very luxurious yarn from The Fibre Company.

So, that’s what’s on and off our needles!  Now it’s your turn.  What have you been knitting (and finishing) this summer?

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Filed under Baby Knits, Books/Patterns, Knitting, Stash, Stash Knitting, Yarn