Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Little Bags

Blue Floral Project Bag
I'm introducing something new to the Fiddle Knits Fiber shop on Etsy: project bags. These bags will be just big enough to carry a single skein project, like socks! Right now I have two designs available. One is a classic drawstring pouch. Setting these apart from all the other drawstring bags out there are the handmade kumihimo braids used for the drawstrings. The other style of bag, which you can see a sample of in my shop, is more of a hobo style sling bag, but smaller. The hobo tie bags measure approximately 8 inches wide by 11" tall (15" with the handle). Each bag size will vary slightly since they're all handmade.

Right now only one bag, the blue floral print, is up in the shop, but more will be coming as the days go by. As the Holidays approach you'll also start to see complete knitting kits turn up. These will include a project bag filled with a printed Fiddle Knits pattern, a skein of hand dyed yarn to make the pattern, and any extras (like buttons, beads or stitch markers) to complete the pattern.

Have you been keeping track of all the zombies coming and going in the shop? Zombie Strippers went up and down so fast! As did Zombies Ate My Boyfriend. My current favorite zombie color is called Lovestruck Zombie. It's blood red and white and charcoal.

Lovestruck Zombie

Another color has also been added to my "When In Love" collection. This one is bright red with gold undertones and called "Lust." The photos don't do it justice in my opinion. 


Friday, October 21, 2011

Sugarbunny Yarn Review

Snow Maiden Mitts knit in Sugarbunny

Rating: 4 Stars **** (out of 5 stars)

Knit Picks’ Sugarbunny
Content: 80% Merino Wool / 20% Angora
Weight: Worsted
Yardage: 136 yds (124 m)
Grams: 50 g.
Care: Hand was / dry flat

Knitting Gauge: 4.5 - 5 stitches per inch
Recommended Needle Size: US #6/4mm – 9/5.5mm
Crochet Gauge: 2.75 - 3.5 single crochet per inch
Recommended Hook Size: I – K

Number of Colors: 12
Price: $7.99 usd

Sugarbunny is a limited time yarn!

Sugarbunny Review
Sugarbunny is the first “Special Reserve” yarn line from Knit Picks. Special Reserve yarns are limited edition offerings that are, as Knit Picks puts it, intended to “highlight extra-special fibers and unique blends.” Each Special Reserve yarn will be a unique blend. If you’re interested in trying one of these specialties don’t dawdle because once they’re gone they won’t be coming back.

Sugarbunny is a light worsted weight merino/angora blend. It’s soft to the touch and feels light enough to float away. The angora content forms a halo that surrounds two plies loosely twisted around each other. 

The color range for Sugarbunny is decent. There isn’t any yellow, orange, brown, or tan represented. The closest is Topaz, a light honey brown. (It’s actually pretty much a mix of all the colors that are missing.) I personally don’t mind the lack of these few colors since there are others that I would work with. For neutrals there’s Black, White, Platinum (a very light silver gray), and Hawk (a medium gray).

Even though there are a few guy-friendly colors available I still probably wouldn’t choose this yarn to knit for my man. To me there’s something very feminine about it. Perhaps it’s just because my skein is White and delicate looking. I asked Chris if he would wear something knit from Sugarbunny and his response was that it looked “kind of girly.”

Working With Sugarbunny
As I mentioned above, Sugarbunny is comprised of 2 plies which are loosely twisted together. Using very pointy needles you might catch only a single ply, but this happened very rarely during my test knitting, so rarely that I myself wouldn’t take it into account. However, I felt the need to mention it anyway because some knitters may be more sensitive to this. With the double pointed Brittany Birch needles used on the Snow Maiden Mitts I never had a problem splitting the plies.

When I mentioned online that I received a skein of Knit Picks’s new Sugarbunny yarn I was immediately asked if it shed due to it’s angora content. Yes, it does. It’s got angora in it! I’ve personally never met anything angora that didn’t shed. That being said, it doesn’t shed too bad. I’ve set the skein of White Sugarbunny down on my olive green corduroy couch many times and the couch is fine. There are a few strands that get left behind here and there, but nothing to write home about. When I photographed the Snow Maiden mitts the model was wearing all black clothing. By the end of the photoshoot she was mildly fuzzy.

If I had several skeins of Sugarbunny I might try knitting a shawlette. It would be airy and warm and, I think, gorgeous. In Wine, a deep burgundy red, it would be luscious. What I wouldn’t want to knit in Sugarbunny would be a sweater. I feel like it would be warm and cozy, but that the halo created by the angora would drive me crazy when wearing it. I can see it attracting fuzz and causing my pants to look like a cat had been sitting in my lap. I think I’ll skip. Hats, mitts, mittens, scarves, and cowls would all be good choices for Sugarbunny.

Star Rating
The reason I gave Sugarbunny 4 stars instead of 5 is that I wasn’t completely bowled over by it. Sure, it’s a nice yarn, however, it’s not exquisite. It’s an affordable luxury yarn, which, I think, is a hard thing to be. I give Knit Picks kudos for doing it as well as they did. 

Sugarbunny is lovely to work with. The yarn felt good slipping through my fingers and even better when worn as a fingerless mitt. I’d knit with this yarn again and would recommend trying a skein or two for an accessory project.

Patterns in Sugarbunny Yarn:

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Zombies Are In!

Every season I plan on offering a limited time colorway collection in the Fiddle Knits Fiber Shop. This season I'm going zombies! I figured it was appropriate considering we're currently approaching Halloween. Naming the colors has been a blast.
Here's some show and tell:

Zombie Strippers


Zombies Ate My Boyfriend

Mutant Zombie 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Yarn and Pattern Club!

So I had this idea....
Now that I'm dying yarn I want to start putting the dying and designing together. My first idea was kits. I'll still get to that, but I had another idea that I'm really excited about:

A shawlette and yarn club!

What do you think? You'll be able to buy a spot in the club via my Etsy shop. Subscriptions will be for 3 or 6 months. Each shipment will include 1 skein of an exclusive hand dyed colorway and a full color printed shawlette pattern from Fiddle Knits Designs. The yarn will be dyed on a wool or wool blend base and will have enough yardage to complete the shawlette design for that month. Colorways will be available to club members only. (Designs will be available to the public after club members receive their shipment.)

I'll be offering a choice of color tones so you get yarns you love! When checking out (via Etsy) you can leave a message to seller. In this message box I'd like you to tell me whether you would like to receive cool or warm tones colorways. Warm tones will revolve around the main colors of red, orange, yellow, and brown. Cool tones will include greens, blues, purples, and gray/black. Also in this message box you'll be able to let me know if you'd like your yarn prewound into a cake so you can get knitting right away.

Before I open sign ups there are a few details I'll have to figure out (like exact pricing and shipping costs). I'd also like to get the shawls designed so they can get test knit and perfected before going out to subscribers. Taking all this into consideration I'd say I could open club subscriptions at the end of this year and beginning sending shipments out in mid January. What's everyone's thought on this? Would signups be too close to the holidays? So you wouldn't want to spend the money on yourself? Or is this good and you coud tell a friend or spouse to buy you a subscription as a gift? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Take It As A Compliment

I've heard rumors of knitters being offended when nonknitters remark that something they've made looks store bought. When I first started knitting I jumped on the bandwagon and said "how could they compare what I did to what you find in a store?!" I don't think I ever really believed it was bad, though. I just kinda thought I was supposed to say it. Really, I don't understand. We're talking about nonknitters here. They don't know how much the yarn costs, the techniques involved, or the time it takes. All they know is that sweater looks nice, they'd wear it, and they could never make it because they don't possess the necessary skills. So why be offended when this nonknitter notices your latest creation and states, "really you *made* that?! It looks storebought!" Take it how they intended it, as a compliment to your great and mysterious knitting skills.

I bring all this up now because I just finished knitting a hat for my sister as a birthday gift. The hat, Lydian, is intended for my upcoming hat collection called In The Mode. It's knit from Karabella Aurora 4, a sport weight extrafine merino yarn. Everything knit from this yarn has a professional polished quality to it. When Annalee put the hat on her head my first thought was, "wow, that looks like I bought it." How do ya like that, huh? A couple days later I found out that one of Annalee's friends commented that it looked like it was purchased and not handmade. I don't know about you, but I'm going to take it as a compliment and run with it.

Karabella Aurora 4

Rating: 5 stars *****
Content: 100% extrafine merino wool
Yardage: 197
Ball Weight: 50 grams
Gauge: Sport weight / 6.5 stitches per inch
Needle Size: 3/3.25mm – 4/3.5mm
Texture: Plied, smooth
Available Colors: 24
Price: $9.85 (approx.)

I’m going to put this out there right up front. I love Karabella Aurora yarns – 4 (sport), 8 (worsted), and bulky. All three make me squirm a little when I get to knit with them. Aurora 4 is a very light sport weight. I’d say it sits on the border between fingering and sport and depending on the stitch pattern of your project you could use it equally well for designs calling for either weight. 

Aurora 4 has great elasticity. When you touch it you know you’re working with a quality product. Occasionally I’ll hold a strand in my hands and pull on either end just for the pleasure of watching the yarn bounce back. Finished items in Aurora 4 have a polished professional look to them. 

I personally would use Aurora 4 for hats, mittens, mitts, gloves, arm warmers, scarves, cowls, sweaters. What I wouldn’t use it for would be socks, bags/purses, or anything felted. I’m not sure about shawls or shawlettes. I can see it going either way. The fabric would be great. The stitches would look good. However, I just don’t think it would be my first choice for shawl knitting. 

I rate this yarn 5 out of 5 stars. 

Fiddle Knits pattern in Karabella Aurora 4:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

When In Love... With Yarn

I started out this yarn dying venture aiming for all sorts of crazy colored skeins. (Groove and Better Together were some of the first.) After seeing numerous color concoctions exit the dyepot Chris asked if I was ever going to dye a solid. Well, that's no fun I thought. I've never been a fan of completely solid colors. They're too flat. Kettle dyed semi solid, however, are another story. I love tonals (and heathers and tweeds, but I can't dye those). So with that idea in my mind I set out to create a line of "as solid as I can manage" colors. At this point there are 5 colorways (definitely more to come) that I call my When In Love collection. Sappy name, huh? Sometimes I just can't help but be sentimental! 

 Watermelon pink. Sugary sweet. “Kiss” is a semi solid kettle dyed colorway. 

"Bear Hug"
This color is warm and welcoming like a great big bear hug from the one you love. It’s a blending of light and medium toned browns.

 This is the color of love denied. Muddy purple with an overtone of gray.

This color is soft and sweet like an innocent wink. The blue in this color leans toward periwinkle purple while still remaining most definitely blue. Very light blue, almost white, shines through.

"Green Eyed Monster"

We’ve all been a little green with jealousy when in love, haven’t we? This colorway is mainly chartreuse with patches of darker green and teal.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Three More in the Store

Three more skeins went up in the Fiddle Knits Fiber Shop today along with a create your own knit kit. A little show and tell:

"Gothic Purple" on Fiddle String Base
Dark and mysterious. This yarn yarn calls your name… Pulling you into it’s depths… You see purple, deep and lustrous, with hints of softer lilac peering through the dark midnight black that surrounds it. This color is regal, beautiful, and sensuous... waiting to be worked up into something lovely.

"Earth" on Dye-A-Tonic Base
Earth is a one of a kind colorway. This skein was first dyed green and then overdyed with blue. 

"Better Together" on Dye-A-Tonic Base
A melding together of royal purples and golds. This skein of Better Together is heavier on the orange/gold side than the lilac.

That's all for today folks. I've been completed stuffed up and I think it's time to call it a night. Hopefully I can get more yarn skeined up and photographed tomorrow, weather permitting.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

New Skeins in the Shop!

Three new colorways hit the Fiddle Knits Fibers shop today. One skein sold right away. (Yay!) The color that zipped in and out of the shop was Fall Fire, a blend of chestnut, gold, burnt orange, and deep red. I'll be dying the colorway again soon, but on my Swoolk base instead of Dye-A-Tonic. 

"Fall Fire" on Dye-A-Tonic Base
Soulful is probably my favorite color listed today. Potentially even my favorite color I've dyed recently. It's a lively blend of deep brown, black, and a range of turquoises. I love the contrast in the colors. Honestly, I wish I could keep this one! I think it would look stunning knit up as the Sugared Berries Shawlette.
"Soulful" on Dye-A-Tonic Base
The third skein I listed today is called Groove. It took me *forever* to think of a worthy name for this color. I wanted to list it yesterday, but I was so stumped on what to call it. Nothing seemed to stick. This skein is gold, teal, royal, lilac, turquoise, and a few colors in between. This yarn would look good in a simple sock or shawlette pattern that let the colors stand center stage.
"Groove" on Dye-A-Tonic Base
 I'm so looking forward to snagging a few of my own colorways and designing a new shawlette. I need a new accessory for myself this Fall/Winter. I wore Sugared Berries all last year and loved having a shawlette. I don't know why it took me so long to realize how fun they are to knit and how cute they are to wear! This year I think I want a blue shawl, or maybe brown.... Hmmm... Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fiddle Knits Fibers

Coming Soon! Dye-A-Tonic in "Soulful"
Hand dyed yarns are now popping up in the Fiddle Knits shop on Etsy. At this point you can find selections in both the Swoolk (fingering) and Fiddle Strings (lace) lines.

Most recently listed are "Lucky" in Swoolk base: