Sunday, April 6, 2014

Yarn Review: Stitchjones Pai Mei Lace

© Stitchjones

This "lace weight yarn" feels more like a light fingering weight, which has nice drape as well as a beautiful brightness to it. It worked up very well, no splitting, and it was consistent in quality and smooth.

The best part about it, though, besides the jewel-like depth of color, was the blocking factor - it blocked out aggressively and easily, creating a gorgeous lacy look that is extremely light and airy. I would definitely recommend it for any project that you want to show off the stitches, and add elegance.
-     Monica Lowe, Craftwich Creations
Crocheter, Spinner, and
Hook-Carver Extraordinaire

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hooked On Hand Dyed: My Official Yarn Reviewer

With each of my Hooked On Hand Dyed patterns, I plan to include a little review and description of the yarn I used. I still have much to learn myself about these yarns, so I have called on my friend Monica Lowe of Craftwich Creations to be my official "Yarn Reviewer". Monica is an avid crocheter, spinner, and crochet hook carver. She spent time working in a mill spinning yarn and even owns her own alpaca!

Whenever I have had the pleasure of shopping for yarns with Monica, I see her pick up a hank or ball of yarn, give it a gentle squeeze, and she begins describing the qualities of the fibers, the twist of the spin, and how it might work up. I learn so much just from hanging out with her, so I asked her to help me with reviews of the yarns I am getting to use for the Hooked On Hand Dyed project. She especially loves crocheting shawls, and actually made the shawl sample for the Forget-Me-Knot Shawl.

I first met Monica at the Crochet Liberation Front Retreat 2 1/2 years ago, just as I was beginning my new career as a crochet designer, and she was learning the craft of carving wood into unique crochet hooks (go check out her one of a kind hooks on her Etsy shop!). Since then we have watched and helped each other's new businesses grow. She has come down to visit me for the Rose City Yarn Crawl a of couple years, and I stay with her when I go to Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle. We even went to Camp PluckyFluff (an art yarn spinning retreat) a couple of years ago. We suspect if actually lived in the same town, we'd be in trouble, as we would never stop creating together (which our kids and husbands might not appreciate).

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hooked On Hand Dyed: Forget-Me-Knot Shawl

Like a spring breeze through new blossoms, the Forget-Me-Knot Shawl is an airy kiss of color around your shoulders. Stitched from lace-weight merino/bamboo, it is the perfect pick-me-up after hefty winter woolens.  
I am excited to present the first design in my new Hooked On Hand Dyed Collection. This delicate lace shawl is unbelievably lightweight, the perfect wrap for a cool spring day. Worked from the center top out, this shawl is crocheted in Stitchjones Pai Mei Lace in a gorgeous deep blue on an H hook. The open lace stitches block like a dream in this 80% merino/20% bamboo yarn, showing off the simple but delicate pattern.

The pattern is now available on Ravelry, and includes all Pattern Details, Additional Design Ideas, and a Yarn Review from my yarn expert (and sample maker for this project), Monica Lowe of Craftwich Creations.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dyers In Their Studios: Sharon of Stitchjones

Welcome to Dyers In Their Studios, a new monthly feature here on, profiling local Hand Dyed Yarn makers, their yarn, their process, and where they draw inspiration.

Along with getting to know these awesome creative women, I get the pleasure of designing with their yarns! Check back tomorrow for details on the first design in my Hooked On Hand Dyed Collection, using Stitchjones' Pai Mei Lace, merino and bamboo lace weight (scroll down for a little preview).

Sharon Spence of Stitchjones
  How long have you been dyeing yarn?  For about six years. 
   How did you get started dyeing?  Intrigued by the whole process of making gorgeous hand dyed yarn, I dyed up a skein of natural colored wool with some packets of Kool-Aid in my microwave.  I became fascinated with the possibilities in “real” (aka acid reactive) dyes for natural fibers, and my color experimentation took off from there with help from guidelines and tips available online.
   What is your professional/education background?   Clerical/admin/customer service
   Any special experience with art or science that influences your dyeing?  My appreciation of Asian art, textiles and crafts has on occasion inspired me to create colors (for example the colors of an apprentice geisha’s kimono, or the celadon blue-green of pottery from the imperial dynasties of China) 
My Yarn
   What makes my yarn special or unique?  Three things:  color, color and color!  ;)  I specialize in bold, intense hues (I use a lot of dye) and high contrast variegated colorways.  Subtlety is in my repertoire as well; it’s just that big color is what my yarn is best known for.
    What is something interesting about my dye process that non-dyers might not know?  The time and care it actually takes to produce a beautifully dyed skein from start to finish, the skill and imagination that goes into creating color on fiber that’s deliberately yet subtly nuanced to enhance stitch work.  
    How do you choose your colors and name your yarns?  We’re a musical household; my husband is the guitarist in a band and our daughter sings.  At the time when I was getting started as a dyer, she loved the “hair metal” bands of the 70s and 80s (such as KISS, Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella).  It all sounded good to me – I’d missed a lot of that fun music the first time around!  I started doing wild neon combos on sock yarn and giving them musical names.  Music and popular culture still influence my color choices, as well as nature, and naming my yarn bases is a lot of fun.  For example, when I began dyeing merino-bamboo blend sock yarn, I wanted a cool name for it.  It was my daughter who came up with the suggestion “Pai Mei” (meaning “White Eyebrow”, a reference fans of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2 will recognize).  In fact, the slogan on my original yarn labels “Color Goes To Eleven” is a twist on a line from the hard rock satire movie This Is Spinal Tap. 
    Where do you find inspiration?  From nature, especially forests and gardens.  Pinterest and are also great resources for colors and palettes. 
Yarnegeddon Sock Club goodies from December 2014 box!
Just the Facts
   How many colorways do you have?  I’ve created hundreds of colorways over the years, and nearly all are repeatable.  I keep adding new ones as well. 
   Do you create seasonal or special order colors?  Absolutely.  I’ve dyed for several sock yarn clubs, and my own club (Yarnageddon by Stitchjones, founded 2012 ;) features colorways influenced by the change of seasons.  I also offer sparkle sock yarn (Glam Sock) in holiday season colors, usually during November and December.
   How many and what types of bases do you use?  At present I carry nine different bases, ranging from laceweight to worsted/Aran weight.  (The current lineup:  Pai Mei Lace, Merino Sock, Goodfoot Nylon Sock, Pai Mei Sock, Glam Sock, Bluefaced Leicester DK, Tribute Merino Superwash DK, Dyepot Worsted, and Merino-Silk Worsted Single.) 
   Where do your yarn bases come from?   A local wholesaler (Ashland Bay) plus two others in the United States (Kraemer Textiles and Wool2Dye4)
   Where can we find your yarns?  Locally:  Yarntastic! Fiber Arts and The Naked SheepKnit Shop in Portland,  NitroKnitters in Beaverton (eta April-May 2014).  In Texas: The Tinsmith’s Wife in Comfort.  Online:
   What are your favorite colors?  I especially love jewel tones, rich purples, pinks and greens. 
   Favorite fibers?  Merino wool and blends, and alpaca.
    Do you crochet, knit or spin? Which came first?  I learned to knit when I was in my teens.  I’ve taken crochet and spinning lessons, and will occasionally break out my Turkish spindle and some fiber.  I love the look of my knit garments edged in crochet. 
    Anything else you would like to share?  I love seeing all the great projects made in Stitchjones yarn on Ravelry.   I think of undyed yarn as a canvas; my hand dyes are for the needle & hook artist to transform into their own works of art! 

Link Up
Ravelry Groups:  Jonesin’ for Stitchjones and Yarnageddon:Stitchjones Yarn, Fiber & Gift Club
Facebook:  Stitchjones Mosh Pit
Twitter:  stitchjonesyarn

Here's a little teaser of my Forget-Me-Knot Shawl
Come back tomorrow to see it all!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Classes!

This month I will begin offering Crochet Classes at Twisted Yarn Store in Portland, OR. Twisted is one of my favorite yarn stores in the area, and very crochet friendly. So I am excited to add my classes to their awesome lineup of classes offered through their store!

Hop on over to their website to sign up for my class below. In future months, I will be offering more classes, including some on Reversible Intarsia! And am currently lining up more exciting venues where I will be teaching in the Fall.  If you are in the Portland area, you should sign up today!

Beyond the Basics – Where to Stick It! with Laurinda Reddig

Have you learned the basic crochet stitches and are ready for the next step? The hardest part about learning to crochet (and read crochet patterns) is knowing where to stick your hook! There are so many options! Come learn what it means to work into just one loop, in a chain space, between the stitches, and around the stitches. You’ll even make button holes as we create a small sampler Cowl.

Monday, March 31, 2013, 6-8pm

Signup today over on the Twisted website or in the store!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

VKL - Sock Yarn and Crocheted Socks

Close-up Rosaline Shawl (RCYC MCAL)
This year I have developed a whole new appreciation for sock and fingering weight yarns. It's not just for socks anymore! When I was asked to design the RCYC MCAL Shawl (pictured in Black Trillium, Lilt Sock), they wanted me to use a sock or fingering weight yarn. I realized I hardly had enough in my stash to start swatching the lace patterns, let alone to make a practice sample.

Once I started swatching the lace, and then when I blocked the first shawl, I was enchanted with the possibilities for this light weight yarn in crochet. I also remedied this major hole in my stash in a big way last weekend at VKLive (Black Trillium was there too) and during the yarn crawl, as I picked up yarns from many of the local hand dyers I will be working with in the coming months.

There were a few skeins in my stash that I had picked up many years ago when I first tried crocheting socks. I have always loved the idea of yarny socks, but got frustrated with crochet patterns that seldom used actual sock yarn so the socks were too thick, and I often fell prey to the inevitable curse of single sock syndrome. When you get one sock done, and just never get around to the second.

If you want to crochet socks, you need to get my friend Karen Ratto-Whooley's book Crochet Rocks Socks, she is the queen of crocheted socks. Since she is based in Seattle, I got to see her this weekend at VKL too. Her patterns are so much better than the ones that were available when I tried years ago. Inspired by her grandmother's knit sock patterns, she has developed formulas for constructing truly awesome crocheted socks. Each pattern is inspired by one of Karen's favorite Rock'n'Roll songs, and uses sock yarns from Black Trillium or Knitted Wit (both local Portland-area dyers!).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

VKL - Encouraging The Next Generation

I met quite a few crocheters 
Laurinda and the Smith Girls
walking the aisles of the Vogue Knitting Live Marketplace last weekend. On Sunday afternoon, I spotted these two little girls showing of their own handywork, ponchos they had crocheted themselves.  When my friend asked if we could take a picture, they scampered off to find "nana" so we could get permission. She explained that they were her granddaughters who she had taught to both knit and crochet.

When I asked the girls how old they were, and they both said 11, I told them that I learned to crochet when I was 11 too, and now I have written 2 books on it. I encouraged them to stick with it, and who knows what they could do.

I also gave "nana" my card, and told her if she would email me an address, I would be happy to send each of the girls a copy of my first book to help them learn more stitches. I mentioned that it comes in both right- and left-handed editions, and wouldn't you know it, one of the girls is left-handed, and the other is right-handed! How cool is that? The whole experience just made my weekend complete!