Friday, June 27, 2014

Julie Turjoman's - Knits that Breathe Giveaway!

One of our designer friends, Julie Turjoman (author of Brave New Knits) recently released her second book called Knits That Breathe, and we couldn't be more thrilled for her! We met Julie, by way of Sandy, one of our long-time employees. They used to work together at a yarn shop in the bay area back in the day and are longtime buddies. When Julie released Brave New Knits back in 2010, she came over to Reno to do a book signing and trunk show display at our shop. What a fun event that was! 

We are so excited to share Knits that Breath with you, which just came out in print last week and uses tons of great summery yarns including some of our favorites, Shibui Linen and Lorna's Laces Sportmate. We just love this collection of light and summery designs, so we did a quick interview with Julie to find out more about the making of the book. Here is what she had to say:


Knits That Breathe
1. Can you give us a super quick history of Knits that Breathe for our readers who might be new to your work?

All 12 garments in the book are designed with cool fibers that drape beautifully, and have moisture-wicking or breathable properties that help keep the wearer cool and comfortable. Some of the fibers will be unfamiliar to knitters, such as Outlast, SeaCell, milk and soy protein fiber - and others are warm-weather staples such as cotton, linen, and bamboo. All are well worth trying! Sizing ranges from XS to 4XL in some cases to flatter a wide range of figures.


Splash Cardigan
2. What was the inspiration for the book?

At Stitches last year, I overhead several knitters complaining that they could no longer wear their warm, woolly sweaters because they were always too hot, or too itchy. Having suffered from the same problem myself and being equally frustrated by the pile of sweaters languishing in my closet, I was inspired to take up the challenge and come up with solutions. I researched alternative and plant-derived fibers and then designed a collection of tunics, cardigans, tees, and more to give knitters some new options for wearing knitted garments.


Pochette

A little behind the scenes...

3. Do you have a favorite design (or designs) from the book that you’d like to highlight for us? What makes this design(s) your favorite?

The Pacific Coast Tunic (on the cover) was the first project I designed for the book, and it remains one of my favorites. It has wonderful movement and drape, and a flattering A-line shape with raised seams and pleats that make it special. I often wear it with a light tee shirt underneath, and get compliments on it every time. The Tencel Tape yarn from Prism was lovely to work with, and was new to me. Part of the joy of this book was experimenting with new-to-me fibers and blends to discover their cooling characteristics. I also really enjoy wearing the Zephyr tunic made from Lorna's Laces Pearl yarn. The yarn has a beautiful shimmer from the silk blend, and drapes softly. I enjoy designing top-down sweaters because they are nearly seamless, as well as including practical pockets in my designs - so this project is among my favorites because it has both of these features.


Pacific Coast Tunic
Zephyr Tunic

4. What kind of knitter would you recommend this book to?

Knits That Breathe is for every knitter who lives in a hot climate, or is sensitive to wool and other animal fibers, or who has an unreliable internal thermostat (i.e. hot flashes). My theory that "it's always summer someplace" is strengthened every time I get messages from knitters in Texas, Florida, Arizona and other hot parts of the country to tell me that they love the book. Of course, I also get great feedback from knitters who simply run hot, or whose hot flashes make it uncomfortable for them to wear designs made from wool, alpaca, or other heat-retaining fibers.


Still Waters

Iced Frappuccino

Flutterby Silk Tunic

5. What future projects are on the horizon for you?

I'm very excited about my next book, which is in production now. It will be released in late fall, in plenty of time for holiday gift-knitting. It's still in "secret" mode, but I can tell you that it's a collection of accessories with a fun and very stylish vintage theme.

Julie now lives in Chicago and spends her time knitting and designing. You can find out more about Julie's work on her website: www.julieturjoman.com or on Ravelry where her username is "juliebean." 

Also, Julie is kindly offering copies of the E-book version of Knits That Breathe to two lucky readers! Please leave us a comment telling us what your favorite design from the book is along with your Ravelry name. Two winners will be chosen at random next Wednesday, July 2nd and Julie will send you a PDF copy of the book on Ravelry. Only entries that include their Ravelry contact info will be eligible.

Updated 7/2/14- This contest is now closed. The two winners (thanks to random.org) were comment #'s: 9 & 18! They will be notified via Ravelry shortly!! Thanks for reading!

If you'd prefer a hard copy of Knits that Breathe instead of an E-book, you can purchase them on our website here

Happy summer knitting!
Kristen


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Crafty Blog Inspiration - Posie Gets Cozy

I've been a big blog reader for years, but there are only a few that I've followed since the beginning. Posie Gets Cozy is one of those blogs. I love Portland, OR-based Alicia Paulson's crafty aesthetic (and she's a knitter & crocheter too!) but her hand-stitched embroidery and stuffed animal designs are probably my favorites. 

My mom and I snagged one of the Maggie Rabbit kits last fall (before I even knew I was expecting!) as a someday project for my little one. And how cute is it that she has a hand-knit cape to wear?!?! 


Maggie Rabbit
Each of Alicia's animal softie kits and patterns, which also include a doe, a fox, a cat, and mouse, has a hand knit accessory of some kind which only adds to their charm. I'll be sure to share a photo when we finally get around to making Maggie (hopefully soon.) Truth be told, I'll probably have to grab a Doe and a Fox as well to go in the woodland-themed nursery we are creating.


Juniper Kitty

Phyllis Mouse

Dandelion Doe

Basil Fox

Alicia has also created a series of mini-knit patterns to fit her menagerie, like a cute little hooded garter stitch sweater, a top-down raglan cardigan, and a knit dress. These are perfect for using up little bits of sock yarn in your stash. I know I have plenty of that lying around! 


Knitted Dress

Hooded Sweater


Raglan Sweater

And for the crocheters out there, check out the Sunshine Day Baby Afghan. My mom just finished one for my baby girl who is due next month, and loved making this pattern! She had tons of fun crocheting all the little flower squares on her latest vacation and said it was a really easy project once she got going. The main yarn in this pattern is the super delicious Cascade Eco Alpaca yarn which makes it a true heirloom item.  


Sunshine Day - Alicia's Version

My little one's Sunshine Day in progress.

I was also lucky enough to snag a kit to make this Daisy Chain ABC Sampler (which I fully intend to make someday, I swear!) The kits seem to be unavailable at the moment, but the patterns are currently still available on her site. 


ABC Crewelwork Sampler
Can you tell I am just a little obsessed with Alicia's style? I was just perusing some of her older blog posts the other day looking for some baby knits ideas (seriously check out her Ravelry page-- her daughter is one of the best dressed babies I've ever seen!) and thought it would be so fun to share her work with you here. I hope you'll find as much inspiration in her blog as I do. 

Happy crafting!
Kristen


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mrs. Crosby and I go to Europe!

Leanne recently went on a trip to Europe. Just before she left, some samples of the new Mrs. Crosby yarns arrived here at the shop. We thought it would be fun to make Mrs. Crosby her travel companion (given the fun and spunky character that she is) and Leanne quickly agreed! The bonus was that Mrs. Crosby fits easily into a carry on...Here is Leanne's account of their adventure!

Hi, Leanne here! 

I first met Mrs. Crosby (a new line of hand dyed decadence from the makers of Lorna’s Laces) a few days before leaving on a whirlwind tour of Western Europe. We knew we were kindred spirits from the moment our hands met, and I couldn’t help but invite her to come travel with me… of course she said, “Yes!”

Our trip began at the Reno/Tahoe Airport. We arrived early and stayed late. So late in fact (our connecting flight from Reno to LAX was delayed), that we missed the plane to London, the first stop on our trip. Never ones to begrudge a unexpected opportunity for adventure, Mrs. Crosby and I stayed the night in star-studded Los Angeles, took in a movie, and enjoyed a few glasses of wine at the hotel bar before turning in for the night.

Tucked in, in LA!

Mrs. Crosby ready for take-off! 

Thankfully, trading a day in LA for a day in London was the only inconvenience in an otherwise trouble-free vacation. Our journey resumed the next afternoon without a hitch, and we landed at Heathrow the following morning. With less than 24 hours available before catching a train to Paris, we had a lot of sight-seeing to accomplish. No matter, Mrs. Crosby is a pro at making memories even with jetlag and a tight timeline. The moment our bags hit the floor of our hotel, we jumped on the tube, walked through Trafalgar Square, did a drive-by of Big Ben and Westminster Abby, strolled through a park to see Buckingham Palace, and ended our night with a dinner of fish and chips and a show in the West End where they served ice cream at intermission. Of course Mrs. Crosby and I indulged in this unanticipated treat!

At Buckingham Palace

More London sightseeing!

Mrs. Crosby needed a moment to
check in with Mr. Crosby.

The breakneck pace of our journey continued, taking a high-speed train through the Chunnel and arriving in Paris for two epic days of francophone bliss (I studied French in college, and albeit cliché, Paris is one of my favorite cities). Among other things, we took an evening boat tour of the river Seine from which we watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle, visited the Louvre, ate as many pastries as we could find, and climbed up to Montmartre where we were rewarded with crepes and a breathtaking view of the city.


The Louvre.

Notre Dame.
Boat tour on the Seine.
The Eiffel Tower!
Apple tart in Paris!

 After Paris, we went on to Lucerne, Switzerland. Here breakfast was much heartier than it had been in France, and we traded our wine glasses for bottles of beer. With only a day to soak up Switzerland, we spent our morning taking in the brisk alpine air, and filled our afternoon with shopping at a local flee market. Before heading back to the hotel for dinner, we enjoyed cappuccinos on the sunny patio of a cafĂ©. As you might imagine, Mrs. Crosby is an excellent companion for people-watching, in addition to being an exceptional travel partner.

Swiss beer!

And dessert too!
Our trip ended in Munich, after a brief stop in the principality of Liechtenstein and an afternoon visit to Neuschwanstein Castle (the whimsical structure that inspired Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle). In Germany we sampled brats from street vendors, drank impossibly huge mugs of beer at the beer hall, visited the BMW museum, and concocted elaborate schemes to postpone our European adventure. We almost ended up with an extra day or two due to an airline strike, but it “conveniently” ended the night we were scheduled to depart.

In Liechtenstein!

Neuschwanstein Castle
German Beer!


BMW Museum, Mrs. Crosby likes to go fast!

If ever you are in need of a traveling companion, I would highly recommend Mrs. Crosby. This plucky lady certainly knows how to have a good time and she has a knack for turning the ordinary into the unexpected. I can only hope she will be available for my next voyage whether it be domestic or international!

Happy knitting, crocheting, and adventuring!

Leanne and Mrs. Crosby

Leanne's Mrs. Crosby companion in Europe is the Carpet Bag base in the Midnight Aubergine color. You can view this and all of the other Mrs. Crosby yarns here

Friday, May 23, 2014

Summertime Project Inspiration!

Memorial Day, along with it's honoring of our country's lost soldiers, for many represents a transition into the summer season with it's outdoor activities, BBQ's, travel, and other fun warm-weather activities. It's hard to believe that summer is almost here!

I don't know about most of you, but when this warm weather hits, the last thing I want to be knitting on is a heavy woolen sweater or blanket, which is why I thought it might be nice to put together a list of items that would be warm weather appropriate and/or easy to travel with!

First up, garments. I'm refraining from knitting any of these lovelies until after I have this baby in July (hah, as if I'll actually have time to knit after that!), but I love each and every one of them. :)

This Togue Pond Tank by Pam Allen was originally knit in Quince and Co's Kestral, but since we aren't able to carry their yarn, I've got a great substitute! Berroco just came out with a similar linen-blend yarn called Linus, which would be perfect for this simple tank. I love the easy fit combined with the dropped back hem which makes the shape that much more modern. So pretty! 



The Gemini top by Jane Richmond (free on Knitty) is a great summer-weight tee! Knit in a DK weight cotton linen blend, this one can be knit in a number of different yarns! My picks would be either the Juniper Moon Farm Zooey, which would lend the pattern a little bit of texture, or the Rowan Creative Linen for a smooth and simple linen cotton blend. Either one would be lovely for this easy yet lovely tee.



I stumbled across this Shibui "Tank" on Ravelry and I couldn't help but love the simple shape and of course the pockets. Knit in Shibui Linen, this top is lightweight, simple, and perfect for wearing all summer long. Not only that, the light weight yarn won't weigh you down in the summer heat.




One item I don't often consider knitting is a skirt. I'm not really sure why, but I think I'm more worried about ruining a skirt than any other garment, so I don't think about putting the work into that large of a project. That said, the Amaranthus Skirt knit in Juniper Moon Farm Findley and Findley Dappled makes me want to change my tune. Isn't this thing stunning!?!? Two gauzy layers of lace, one solid and one variegated with a lace pattern, and this thing really swings.  



Last up in the garments category is Janna's Tunic by Grace Akhrem. This feminine tank features some cute neckline pleating and button details at the hip that make it truly unique. Classic Elite's Firefly or Bella Lino yarns would be perfect for this design which calls for a sport weight linen blend yarn. If you want a solid color, the Firefly is a good bet, whereas the Bella Lino provides some gentle self-striping throughout.



Now onto some smaller projects, perfect for weekend getaways, longer travel, camping trips, and just about anything else you can think of! 

If you are anything like me, you've got about a thousand single skeins of fingering weight yarn just lying around in your knitting stash. (Ok, well maybe not a thousand, but certainly a lot.) The Multnomah Shawlette, free on Ravelry, is the perfect one-skein shawl project that can help to knock out some of those single skeins. It takes about 412 yds, and is a simple project that you can easily do while hanging with friends or doing any other activity that doesn't require a lot of concentration. It also makes a great gift...just in case you are so inclined to begin working on some holiday knitting.

Don't have a lot of fingering weight in your stash? Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, Manos del Urugury Alegria, Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock, and Cascade Heritage Silk Paints are all great options for this shawl!



Prefer knitting socks, but find your normal wool socks are too much for your summer shoes? Then these cute little knit peds - or called Skimmer Socks are perfect for wearing with all of your summer shoes! (Sandals more your thing? Check out this designer's other sock patterns. She's got plenty of toeless options to choose from too!) There is no project more portable than socks, and these are quick and easy. Plus, since you need less yarn, you can get away with just about 50 grams of sock yarn like 1 skein of Koigu KPPPM or Spud & Chloe Fine!




Lastly, a blanket project that can be knit square by square is another great summertime travel project. Since one little square doesn't weigh you down, you can knit them throughout the season and then sew the whole thing together when the weather gets cool again. I just love the Vivid Blanket from Tin Can Knits. The pattern is in the Handmade in the UK book, but it's also available for single PDF download on Ravelry as well. What is great about this blanket (aside from how stunning it is), is that the pattern includes yardage requirements and measurements for 3 different weights of yarn so you can configure your blanket based on a weight you like to work with (or what you might have plenty of in your stash.) Personally, I like DK weights for summer knitting and also as a nice lighter weight for a throw. The HiKoo Simplicity is perfect for this design because it's just the right amount of yardage per skein to one square in the pattern, is machine washable, and comes in TONS of gorgeous colors. 


I hope these projects provide you with a little summertime knitting inspiration! I know I've got my work cut out for me. :) In the meantime, enjoy your holiday weekend and happy knitting, crocheting, or crafting of your choice!

-Kristen

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Terry's Ripple Effect Conundrum Solved! Sort of...

You all gave such wonderful advice about colors! Thank you so much! 

I have narrowed my choices down to six finalists! True, some of my choices weren't among the original combinations but were colors that came together while I was helping in store customers select colors. And these will actually go with my wardrobe better. Working here is really hard sometimes! Too many ideas, not enough time to do everything I have ideas to do!

Because I can't really choose I've decided to go with all six combinations. One or two will become Ripple Effect shawls (by Unraveled Designs) while the remainder will be stashed for other multicolored shawls! I've recently become enamored with Brian Smith's designs (aka ravelryguy) and I have lots of Romi Hill's patterns in my queue so I have no end of ideas of what to do with all these colors. Not to mention if I was left on a desert island and could only choose one yarn brand it would be Madelinetosh!



The six finalists starting on upper row left to right:
Antique Lace, Thrift Shop Dress Shirt & Denim
Leaf, Plaid Blanket, &  Glazed Pecan
Antler, Whitewash, & Denim

Lower row left to right:
Nectar, Mimosa, & Moorland
Seasalt, Parchment, & Alabaster
Nutmeg, Turtle, & Mineral

I think the last, Nutmeg, Turtle & Mineral, will be the first Ripple Effect shawl I start on.




Happy Knitting!
Terry