Friday, April 18, 2014

VKL - Knitted Socks

A little taste of Spring had me dusting off my Birkenstocks the past couple of weeks. But the wet weather of the Pacific Northwest has returned yet again, so I'm getting to enjoy my new hand knit socks I came home with from VKLive a few weeks ago.

One of the friends I stay with when I head up to Seattle for VKL is a fiber artist who creates beautiful art quilts, knits, spins, and crochets too. The first night I was there, I ended up helping her ball up some yarn she explained she had "frogged" from one of many pairs of socks she had made for herself, before she decided that wearing wool socks is not for her (her feet get too hot, blah, blah blah, What?! You have handknit socks and don't where them?!).

I was appalled when I heard she planned to frog all of the socks she had made to repurpose the yarn. But when we discovered that we wear exactly the same size shoe, she offered me all of her knitted socks!!! She gave me some right then and there, and I cannot quite explain the feeling of delight as the soft wool slipped onto my feet for the first time.

So, in addition to yarn and books from the show, I got to come home with 5 new pairs of hand knit socks, just my size. She even mentioned that she has several more pairs in various stages of construction which she might finish now that she has someone who will wear and appreciate them (instead of frogging all that hard work. Egads!).

For years I have said that when I do get around to picking up knitting again, I want to learn to knit 2 socks at once. Although crocheted socks can be lovely, I have always figured socks was one thing I might prefer in a knit fabric. But now I don't have to make them myself!

I may never wear my boring old black socks again! Though now I do need to figure out how to wash them. At least one pair is not superwash, but I will do my best. Good thing I stocked up on Kristin Omdahl's Wrapture wool wash from Eucalan as well.

Do you wear wool socks? How do you care for them?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Girl's Ruffled Party Dress - Free Pattern!

© Red Heart

Check out the first of a bunch of designs I've done recently for Red Heart YarnsThe skirt is created using their "Sassy yarn", which is basically a strip of fabric with holes along the top. The skirt is worked in a sport weight acrylic yarn, with the loops of the fabric caught inside stitches on every few rows. 
After playing with all the various self-ruffling yarns when they first started coming out, I discovered some did not work as well in crochet on their own as they do in knitting. Because of the smaller holes, they looked better when combined with a smoother yarn, using the ruffling yarn for just one loop of a single crochet stitch (tutorials will be coming soon).

When I saw this fabric "yarn" I immediately pictured one of those ruffly girl's dresses, and was delighted when Red Heart went for the idea.  As much as I have been focusing on hand dyed yarns recently, I grew up using yarns from the big box stores and know that they always have their uses.

Easy care, durable yarns are still the way to go for making washable gifts for small kiddoes and blankets too (especially if you plan to donate them). After all, you wouldn't want to put hours or weeks of work into a project you plan to gift to someone who you know are apt to throw it in the washer on warm the first time it gets dirty!

I was really happy with the dress, and it looks so cute on the model! Now I have to make a second one for my daughter, who kept calling it her dress whenever I held it up to her to see how it would fit.

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!