Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yarn Review: Mosaic

Bernat Mosaic in "Medusa"
Rating: **** 4 stars  (out of 5)

Bernat Mosaic
Content: 100% Acrylic
Weight: Worsted weight
Yardage: 209 yards
Grams: 100 gram ball
Care: Machine wash and dry
Knitting Gauge: 18 sts & 24 rows = 4"
Recommended Needle Size: US 8 / 5mm
Crochet Gauge: N/A
Recommended Hook Size: H
Current Number of Colors: 16
Price: $5.99 (at Michaels)



Manufacturer’s Description: Self patterning for amazing effects. Beautiful shade range - perfect for garments or home decor. Easy to work with, easy care

General Intro: Ok, so this yarn was a complete impulse buy. I was in Michaels looking for something not at all yarn related and just couldn't resist strolling over to the yarn section. (Of course. I mean, yarn. Come on.) I don't label myself a yarn snob. Occasionally I like getting a Lion Brand or bernat yarn from a big box store. Acrylic is fine with me as long as it's done right. I do shudder thinking of the huge skeins of crunchy Red Heart acrylic, although Red Heart does actually make a few yarns that aren't so bad. It's been probably at least a year since I browsed Michaels, so I saw a bunch of new stuff and colors. The Mosaic was one of them. It was at the end of the aisle and I hadn't been too tempted by anything I'd seen up to that point. . .

First Impression: Color. I was immediately attracted to the shelf that held the Medusa colorway (shown). I picked up a skein, put it down, browsed the next aisle, came back, picked up Medusa again, and then considered a few other color combinations. There were a few I liked, but something about this one really attracted me. I don't do pink very often, however, being paired with the black, red, and orange gold made it ok. Different than the earthy tones I normally go for. (Every so often I try and make a point of selecting more colorful "crazy" yarns and accessories. Gotta branch out a little. Experiment. Try new things. All that cool stuff.)

When I first picked up the skein I thought it felt pretty sot. I checked out the label and noticed it said 100% acrylic. For a split second I considered putting it back because of that. Then I thought, what for? Am I really going to be a snob about this. Nope.

Shawl in progress using Bernat Mosaic

Knitting with Mosaic: The recommended stitch gauge is 4.5 stitches per inch using size 8/5mm needles. I know I generally knit loose, so I started knitting using size 7/4.5mm needles. It was going ok, but I decided I wanted something with a little more drape since I'd settled on knitting a shawl (and since this is acrylic there will be no blocking to open and stretch the stitches). Being the bad knitter that I am, I didn't actually measure my gauge on the size 7 needles. On the size 8 needles I'm getting 4 stitches per inch, which is a whole half a stitch less per inch than the manufacturer says. The fabric is nice for a shawl, cowl, or stole. If I was knitting a sweater or something that required a little more structure I'd probably go down a needle size or two in order to get that 4.5 stitch.

I'm not getting the crunchy squeakiness from Mosaic that you can sometimes get from 100% acrylic yarns. It could be due to the loose gauge I'm working at, or it could be that this yarn just doesn't crunch. Can't say for sure.

I like the way the yarn feels to knit. It's not springy like wool yarn, but not as unforgiving as cotton.

Designing with Mosaic: Coming up with ideas for a yarn with long color repeats is much easier than variegated yarns. I had a hard time deciding whether I wanted to make a scarf, shrug, or shawl. Finally I settled on a shawl. I had several ideas, but finally settled on something simple and relatively mindless. Once I finish there will be a free pattern. (I'll announce it on the blog when it's ready.)

Ending Thoughts: I like it. It's fun. Worth the $5.99 to play with some cool colors. I'd consider using it again for another project.


*This yarn was purchased by the reviewer. It was not supplied by a store or company.

Urgent notice about yarn for the Minerva KAL

IMPORTANT! If you haven't joined the Minerva KAL, but want to then read this:

Soli yarn went out of stock yesterday. BUT and emergency order just came in at my supplier...
This is a real long shot, but if 20 people were to order a yarn kit for Minerva TODAY (Feb 28) (so you'd have to buy at least 2 skeins) I could place an order to cover those 20 people. If more people get in out it that's fine too, but I'd need to meet the 20 people minimum (40 skeins)

My supplier has a very limited number of skeins that I use for Soli left in stock. Once they're gone I won't be able to place an order for it for about 3 months.

Want to try for it? Got to my website, make your purchase, then come back here and say you did so, but would like Soli. If I don't meet the minimum, or the yarn is gone before I can grab it I'll give you the choice of using the substitute yarn or having your money refunded.

Get yarn here: http://www.fiddleknits.com/minerva_shawl.html


Link will direct you to a page with all the information about the Minerva mystery shawl as well as the purchase option.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Favorite Things: Polka Yarn

Polka Yarn in a one-of-a-kind colorway

Maybe it's tacky to list one of my own products as a favorite thing, but I really love this yarn. Folks that have been following my designs for a while can probably guess it's one of my favorite fingering weight yarns since I have several shawl patterns worked in it (see list below).

Polka is a 100% superwash merino fingering weight yarn. It comes in 100 gram / 400 yard skeins. When most people see "fingering weight" they think "sock yarn." However, for the sake of being honest and thorough I have to admit that I've never knit socks from this yarn. The reason for this is that I simply don't enjoy sock knitting. (I feel like a terrible knitter every time I admit that...) If I was going to knit a pair of socks I'm not sure if I would pick this yarn since it doesn't have any nylon or other fiber content that is usually in yarns specific to socks to make the material more durable. For sock knitting I'm probably lean toward my Dye-A-Tonic yarn which is a classic 75% superwash merino / 25% nylon fingering weight.

What Polka is great for is shawls or other lace work projects like scarves and cowls. It has a springy 2-ply construction. This yarn has great elasticity and blocks out like a dream. A shawl knit in Polka will block out larger than a shawl knit in another yarn at the same gauge and having the same size before blocking. It's amazing. I remember being completely taken aback the first time I blocked a shawl in Polka. I had to put down extra blocking squares to accommodate it.

Obviously I'm a big fan of the yarn for shawls, but what else could it be used for? I would suggest Polka for shawls, scarves, cowls, fingerless mitts, mittens, gloves, legwarmers, hats, lightweight sweaters, and some baby wear (booties, socks, hats, sweaters).

Patterns using Polka yarn:




Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 Pattern Collections


I'm spilling the beans. :-D
This year there will be two new Fiddle Knits collections. One will be released starting in late August or early September. (One pattern pre week until they're all released. Will be available for preorder as well.) The other I haven't figured out the timing on.

So what will they be? Both are as of yet unnamed, but the themes are all planned out. The collection being released in late Summer/early Fall is going to be geometric. I'm pretty certain that everything in this one will be unisex. There will be projects for the home (blankets and potentially a pillow), shawls, cowls, hats, etc. Every project will use at least 2 colors. No stranded knitting or fairisle. The colorwork here will be in the form of stripes or color blocks. I want to do color, but I only want to work with one color/strand of yarn in each row. Sound good?

The second collection will be another Tolkien based project. This one will be inspired by event and characters in The Fellowship of the Ring. Most of the projects I have planned out now for it are feminine, but there may be a few things considered unisex as well.

I'm hoping to arrange KALS for both collections. Potentially a mystery KAL for each. Further plotting and planning is required. I'll keep ya posted!

Hoping for anything particular to appear in one of these collections? Let me know!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Knitting a Mystery

Response to the Minerva mystery KAL has been great! I'm so excited! I'm scheduled to get a shipment of my base yarn (for Soli) on Monday and will then begin dyeing yarn for the folks who have already joined and purchased yarn. The shipment should have been here already, but was a bit delayed thanks to the lovely winter storm Nemo we had last weekend. 

If you order yarn for the KAL do remember that I'm dyeing it to order for you. You will get it in time for the May 3 cast on even it seems like a bit of time has gone by since you ordered. If I feel like there might not be enough time to dye any more yarn I'll close registration. That won't happen this month (February), though. If you're worried sooner is always better for getting your order in. Especially if you live over seas and especially if you're in Germany. Shipments seem to take much longer to get there than they do for anywhere else.

I'm still knitting my sample shawl. By next weekend I expect to be done and have it blocked. It's a fun design and not nearly as intricate or fussy as the Fantasia shawl I did last Summer as a mystery KAL. I was aiming for something pretty, feminine, fun to knit, but still simple enough to use variegated yarn and not wonder whether the pattern will be visible or not. I think I did a pretty good job meeting that goal. [Reaching over to pat myself on the back.]

This yarn and knit-along are open to yarn shops. If you own a shop or frequent a shop that would be interested in participating let me know! (Email me: Erica@FiddleKnits.com ) Want to see what the design looks like before you offer it to your customers? Photos will be available by request for shop owners only next weekend (February 23, 2013).
Businesses with a valid tax ID number may contact me for wholesale prices and/or my full yarn catalog. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Yarn Review: Billow



Billow in Gosling & Tea Rose
Rating: **** 4 stars  (out of 5)
Knit Picks Billow
Content: 100% Pima Cotton
Weight: Bulky weight
Yardage: 120 yards
Grams: 100 gram hank
Care: Hand Wash, Dry flat
Knitting Gauge: 3 – 3.75 sts = 1"
Recommended Needle Size: US10 – 11 needles (6mm–8mm)
Crochet Gauge: 8–11 sc = 4''
Recommended Hook Size: K–M hooks (6.5mm – 9mm)
Current Number of Colors: 16
Price: $5.99



Manufacturer’s Description: Billow is all about creature comforts: oversized cowls and wraps, lazy weekend pullovers, and cozy blankets that hug you back. Eight plies of super soft pima cotton create a slightly thick and thin texture for a feel that is both rustic and modern all at once. A bulky weight yarn, Billow works up quickly while the luxuriously soft feel makes it the perfect treat for those with sensitive skin. With a contemporary and sophisticated palette that spans 16 stunning colors, Billow’s cloud-like softness is sure to tempt your needles and hooks to cast on your next project right away.

Billow Yarn Review: I don't knit with cotton very often. It hurts my hands and since it has no elasticity I feel like it limits the number of things you can make with it. When I was told about Billow I wasn't as excited about it as I should be about a new yarn, but I decided to try it out and keep an open mind.

First Impression: When I opened the packaged and touched the yarn my first thought was OMG soft! And the colors.... I love the muted tones. So very pretty. I decided to wind the yarn right away. Now this is really minute, but something I loved was how the yarn was skeined. I opened the skein and put it on my swift and looked around for a scissor to cut the ties that are always on a skein to hold it in the looped form. I couldn't find the scissors and I was too lazy to search the house, so I decided to attack the knots with my fingers. I found the place where the yarn was tied and noticed that a simple pull untied the knot. And the part I really loved? The yarn was tied with itself and only in that once place, so as soon as that knot was undone I could start immediately winding. Not cutting several ties or looking for ends. Untie, pull, wind. So simple. All of the three skeins I received were the same. No tangles, no breaks, no knots.

Simply Striped Shrug in Billow
Designing with Billow: I wanted to design something in this new yarn right away. Normally if I only get a small amount of a yarn my first choice is a hat. Since this is cotton I new that wasn't going to be happening. I toyed with the idea of a cowl and started one, but I decided that if I knit a cowl in Billow I wanted a nice oversized one in a single color and since I only had one skein each of three different colors I wasn't going to get exactly what I wanted. (Eventually I will make that cowl. The yarn is too soft not to want to wear around my neck.) I settled on the idea of a shrug. I knit halfway through, realized my gauge was larger than I thought, ripped it out, and started again. When I was finally done I decided to wash the shrug and see how it held up. I hand washed it and then threw it into the dryer on the delicate cycle. It shrunk ever so slightly. Barely even noticeably. Technically the washing instructions for Billow are hand wash and dry flat, so if you use the machine it's at your own risk. For me it worked fine and that makes me happy because heavy cotton takes so long to air dry. The photos of the shrug were taken after it was washed and dried.


Knitting with Billow: In the manufacturer's description one of the things it mentions using Billow for is "lazy weekend pullovers." In theory this seems like a good idea. I wouldn't mind snuggling with this yarn. However, it's a bulky weight cotton and it's heavy. Not heavy like it's going to make you sweat, but heavy like it weighs a lot. But if you like a sweater with a lot of weight behind it then go ahead and give it a whirl. Just remember that cotton also has a tendency to sag over time.

I would use Billow for a shrug or bolero, cowl, scarf, stole/shawl, or blanket. A shrug or bolero in a heavy cotton yarn remains manageable because of it's smaller size. Cowls, scarves, wraps, and blankets all make good choices since they don't necessarily need to retain their original size.

Overall I really enjoyed my experience with Billow. It did make my wrists hurts, but that's no surprise and no fault of this particular yarn. The thick and thin texture makes simple stockinette look great. I probably wouldn't do much more than stockinette or ribbing with this yarn. I suppose a large simple lace pattern (like a leaf or trailing vine) could look nice if you weren't too concerned about crispness of the detail. The colors are lovely and I want all of them. A cowl in each color.


*The yarn in this review was received complimentary from the manufacturer for test knitting & designing purposes. Reviewer was not otherwise paid, contracted, or obligated to review the yarn or product in this review. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's on My Needles: 2/12/13

I still have the Minerva shawl on my needles and since the mystery shawl KAL hasn't started yet I obviously still can't show you. Sorry! ;-) I really love how the design is turning out. I'm aiming to be done with knitting this piece by the end of next week. Assuming nothing unexpected creeps up, like more snow. Blasted snow storm forced my wimpy little arms to go limp from shoveling 32" inches of snow. Ugh. I really can't complain. I only shoveled for 2.5 hours and Chris did all the rest. What a man!  Friday and Saturday really looked quite pretty out. All the shoveling I did was Friday night (clearing the driveway so Chris had somewhere to park when he got home from work), so Saturday I sat and knit and enjoyed the snowy view. (I was knitting on the design I talk about below.)

Backyard: The view from my couch while knitting.



Simply Stripes Shrug - Free knitting pattern
This morning I had a new design on my needles, but now it's off my needles and the pattern is available. And it's a freebie!

I got my hands on some of the new Knit Picks Billow yarn. Billow is a thick and thin bulky weight 100% cotton yarn. I love it! I want to knit more things in this yarn. I don't know what yet. I don't use cotton very often because the lack of elasticity hurts my hands, so when I do use it I have a hard time deciding what to do. My usual hat and shawl choices are out and I'm not so sure I want a bulky cotton sweater (kinda heavy). I think the shrug was a good choice.

I had three skeins. I each of three different colors: Gosling, Ice Lily, and Tea Rose. Once I decided I wanted to knit a shrug I knew I wanted all three colors in it. At first I was going for garter stitch stipes or two rows each. After a little math I realized I wasn't going to be able to make the shrug large enough with just the skeins I had using garter since it scrunches up so much. I didn't want the stripes as wide as two rows in stockinette, though. So I went with one row stripes by knitting 2 rows (one with Tea Rose and one with Ice Lily) and then purling 2 rows. The narrow stripes combined with the nubby texture of the yarn gives the fabric a tweedy look.

My only regret is that I didn't make a smaller size. I knit the large, but I could have worn the medium or maybe even the small. I think the small width and the upper arm of the medium would have been best for me. In the pattern I give all the calculations for sizing the shrug to you. I decided to do that after mine was already knit. Live and learn. I'll just have to make another. I'm thinking Willow, Cadet, and Ash next time.




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Win Yarn for the Minerva Mystery KAL!

What?! You already bought yarn?! No problem. You may still enter to win. If you've already purchased yarn for the KAL and you win the contest you will be given the choice of a refund for the price of the 2 purchased skeins, or you may choose to receive another 2 skeins. Whichever you prefer. Contest is open to everyone! (US and international)

The contest is open NOW through Sunday, MARCH 3, 2013. I will select the winner on Monday, March 4, 2013.

For every task you complete your name will be entered into a drawing to win two skeins of Soli yarn for the Minerva mystery KAL. Skeins will be dyed in the colorway of your choice (both skeins the same color).

Invite a friend to the Ravelry group for the Minerva KAL – To do this go to the group page. In the upper right corner there's a button that says invite a friend. Click it and enter your friend's Ravelry name in the box. Then go to the Welcome thread, say hello, and "earburn" the person you invited (otherwise I won't know you completed this task!) To earburn someone write this: [Ravelryname](person). So to earburn me you would write [FiddleKnitsDesign](person) . Example, Hi! My name is ___ I just invited [FiddleKnitsDesign](person) because she really enjoys knitting shawls and I think she'd like this mystery KAL. Ravelry group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/minerva-mystery-shawl-kal

Tweet It! – Write a tweet about the Minerva KAL. Make sure you mention me so I know you posted! On Twitter I am: @FiddleKnits. For example: "Just joined the Minerva mystery shawl KAL with @FiddleKnits http://www.fiddleknits.com/mystery_kal.html" (Feel free to copy the example and use it as is.)

Instagram It! – Show off a finished object of a Fiddle Knits Design, a project knit in a Fiddle Knits yarn, or just a photo of a Fiddle Knits yarn you own, but haven't knit yet. Post the photo on Instagram. Tag me so I know you posted it! On Instagram I'm @FiddleKnits

Facebook KAL Mention – Post a status update saying you joined the Minerva mystery shawl KAL with Fiddle Knits Designs. Make sure you tag me so I know you posted! Tag Fiddle Knits Designs NOT Erica Jackofsky! Can't make the tag work? Place a link in your status to the Fiddle Knits Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/FiddleKnits

Facebook Showoff – Share a photo of a finished Fiddle Knits Design you've knit, yarn you've knit, or fiber you've spun and post it. Remember to tag me! #Fiddle Knits Designs @FiddleKnits

EXTRA CREDIT! – 2 chances to win
Blog about a Fiddle Knits design or yarn – Write a blog post (or podcast) about a Fiddle Knits design you've already made or a design you'd like to try. Talking about a yarn also counts. Posts that are only a few sentences and run something like: "I really want to try knitting the Backstage shawl because it's pretty. I think I'd use the Polka yarn also" won't count. Tell me why you do (or don't!) like the design you made, what you might change, or why you want to try something.
Make sure to come back to this blog and leave a link to your post so I know you wrote it and can count you!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Favorite Things: Shawl Pins

Copper shawl pin by Cacklin' Hen Designs

I'm a huge fan of knitting shawls, so it makes sense that one of my favorite things would be shawl pins. It's all about accessorizing your accessory! 

The shawl pins featured on this page are by Cacklin' Hen Designs, which is my Mom's Etsy shop. I may have been her inspiration to start making and selling shawl pins, but I'm not 100% sure about that, so I probably shouldn't take total credit. Whatever prompted her to go ahead with it I'm glad she did. I absolutely love the pins she creates. Especially the more abstract and random spirals and swirls. Even though the design might have been planned to go in the swoops and turns that it does, I like the seemingly unplanned and fluid aspect. If you're more into sharp angles you might appreciate the Triangles & Spirals pin (featured at right).

A few years ago I didn't understand the point of a shawl pin. I thought they were just a pointless of jewelry that old ladies wore. That was before I went on a shawl designing, and thus shawl wearing, spree. Now I totally get it. The pins aren't pointless and they do save a lot of frustration of your shawl constantly unwrapping and sliding off. If you knit, or wear, shawl you should have at least one pin in your stash. 

All the pins shown here are suited for lace to sport (or maybe DK) weight shawls and scarves. However, the Cacklin' Hen does also offer heavier pins for worsted and bulky weight designs as well. For her current selection follow the link below to her Etsy shop. 

The copper and silver (aluminum) pins are my favorite, but the shop also offers gold toned (Merlin's gold) pins as well. The style of the designs is the same for the gold. My only reason for staying away from it is I'm not a big fan of gold or bronze tones.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review: Knit Picks Options Interchangeable Harmony Needles

Company: Knit Picks
Product: Options Harmony Wood Interchangeable Circular Needles
Price: $84.99

Product Includes:


  • Knitting needle tips in sizes 4 (3.5mm), 5 (3.75mm), 6 (4mm), 7 (4.5mm), 8 (5mm), 9 (5.5mm), 10 (6mm), 10.5 (6.5mm) & 11 (8mm)
  • Circular cables: 2 each of 24" and 32" lengths
  • Also includes: clear vinyl needle case (9" x 5"size), 8 cable end caps and 2 cable tightening keys


This item was purchased and not provided for review by the company.


Knit Pick wood needles (left-Sunstruck; right-Harmony)
Manufacturer's Description: 
These beautiful laminated birch wood needles show off waves of color so nicely in the clear vinyl carrying case. Our Harmony wood needles provide just the right amount of grip to make slick yarns manageable, plus the gradual tapered points easily slip into stitches, making complicated patterns easy. This pouch has 9 needle pockets to hold your tips and two 4 1/2" pockets on the back of the snap case to conveniently store your cables. For expanded versatility, add additional sizes to your collection with our interchangeable needle tips and cables available separately.

This set is a great starter set for any knitter, beginner or experienced. We have assembled knitting needles and cable lengths in the most popular sizes and packaged them into a clear snapped vinyl pouch. Each needle tip length is 4 3/4 ". The sizing of the Knit Picks interchangeable cables refer to the total length achieved when the needles tips are attached to the cables.

My Review:
I love my Options Harmony Wood interchangeable set. Many years ago when I started knitting (8 years ago maybe?) I was given two sets of interchangeable needles. One was metal and the other was plastic. (I think one company may have been Denise, but I can't say for sure.) I didn't like either of them. Not surprising since I'm not a fan of either metal or plastic needles in general. I swore that knitting in the round just wasn't going to happen for me. The cables on the sets were stiff and twisted in all directions I wasn't trying to go. It was nightmarish. The more I knit, though, the more I realized to make the things I wanted to make I was going to have to try knitting in the round. I started hearing about people buying the Knit Picks sets and I decided to take a look. I think the fact that they were pretty got me to actually give them a try. I went in all at once and got the full set. All turned out well because it was pretty much love at first use. I still had to master the idea of using circular needles (I remember knitting flat using circs gave me a real headache when I was first learning. had a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept!) The cables on the Knit Picks needles were just as flexible as everyone had been saying. Such a nice change from the other circulars I'd tried (interchangeable and fixed).

Over the years I've heard some people complain about different aspects of these needles. Some have problems with the cables coming loose from the ends, or the wooden tips coming out of the metal bases, or the wood splintering. I've had all these problems too. BUT, think of how many years I've been using these things, and how much use I get from them, and how much I beat them up and the problems seem very small. I ONLY use my Harmony interchangeable needles (unless I need DPNs for something). Every project I do is on these needles. They gotten dragged around the country, shoved in gig bags, chewed on by cats, pulled on by kids, sat on, and had numerous other adventures. In the 6 or so years I've had this set I had one needle splinter and 3 cables come loose from the metal ends. And none of that even happened until last year when the set was already several years old. I'd say the investment was worth it. I never bothered calling to say anything had broken with the needles, but I have heard good things about Knit Picks customer service regarding needles. If you have a needle that broke or you think was defective just let them know. Chances are they'll take care of it. 


Why do I love these needles? (Other than looks) They're smooth. Oh so smooth. I have yet to meet a yarn that doesn't knit well on these needles. I've used them for merino, alpaca, camel, angora, bamboo, cotton, linen, hemp, and any other fibers I've ever tried. Never had a problem with any of them. The finish is slick enough that fuzzier yarns don't stick, but not so slippery as to make knitting with smooth yarn awkward. And the tips! I love how pointy the ends of these needles are. With splitty yarns the tips can get caught, but at this point I'm used to it. I've found that the very pointy ends can actually help solve this problem (even though they would seem to be part of it) because it's easier to poke the slim tips through the smaller space at the base of the stitch instead of trying to just stab through alongside the needle and getting caught. And then of course there's the flexible purple cables. The raving about the cables was why I initially gave these things a try, remember? And they are good. Occasionally they still get twisty, especially if left for very long periods coiled and unused, or when they're brand new. After you use one of the cables for a while it "warms up" and becomes more flexible. My more used cables lengths (24 and 32") lay in a very gentle curve when I put them down because they's become so soft with use. 

If you haven't already guessed, I really like this needle set and would definitely recommend them to someone looking for interchangeable needles. When I taught my Mom to knit last Fall (2012) I got her started on some Brittany Birch straight needles. She struggled with them (I find the points very dull and the finish kind of sticky myself), but when I switched her over to the Harmony needles she started enjoying knitting a whole lot more because she didn't feel like she was fighting with the needles. For Christmas I got her a set of the Knit Picks Options Interchangeable Sunstruck Wood needles. They're the same deal as the Harmony Interchangeable set, but instead of the rainbow color laminated birch the Starstruck ones are blond wood (natural light colored wood). I figured these would suit her style better and also make it easier for her to see darker yarns since she's new to knitting. I'm not sure if it's a difference in that her Sunstuck needles are new and my Harmony needles are older, but I do definitely notice that the Sunstrucks aren't as slick as the Harmony. They are still smooth and the yarn glides nicely, but I feel a difference. Maybe it's because my set has been so well used. I don't know. Either way, I like both sets and would suggest either.

Don't want to spring for the $85 of the entire set right off the bat? Needle tips and cables may be purchased separately. However, by purchasing the entire set you save 19% off the price (all the pieces purchased individually would cost $104.87). My advice would be to try one of the needle sizes not included in the kit (13, 15, and 17) or a size that you use very often and wouldn't mind two of. The same for the cable lengths.


*This product was purchased by me. It was not provided for review.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's on My Needles: 2/6/13

Berry Latte Yoga Socks
This week I've got a whole lot of nothing to share. I do have one pattern that's on and off the needles and will be released on Friday. It's the 3rd pattern of month 5 in the Pick Your Poison collection. Yoga socks! I named the pattern Berry Latte since the drink recipe it comes with is a raspberry mocha latte. Annalee took photos of me wearing the socks on Sunday. Boy were my toes cold! You can't tell from this photo since I'm standing right outside the door on a covered deck, but there was snow on the ground and it was well below freezing. Brrrrrr!

Most of my knitting time has been taken up by work on the mystery KAL. I've finished charting the design and am into the second section (clue 2) in the knitting. It's going well and I'm loving the new yarn. (Soli, a 100% superwash merino single spun fingering weight.) It's soft and yummy. It's fun to be working on a mystery shawl KAL that uses variegated yarn. (If you don't like variegated yarn then a solid would still be fine. All patterns look good in solid colors, if you want my opinion.)

On Friday (2/8/13) I'll be opening registration for the mystery KAL. Cast on isn't until May, but I'm opening sign ups now in order to dye yarn for anyone that want to try Soli. The shawl (which really needs a name) takes 2 skeins. Each skein is normally $23 (so $46 for both skeins), but I'm discounting the cost to $18 each ($36 total) and including the pattern for anyone that orders the yarn in February. (Shipping costs will still apply.) After February the yarn goes back up to full price. (Pattern only registration will be $4.)

I'm also going to be running a contest to win 2 skeins of Soli and the KAL pattern. The contest will run for 2 weeks starting on Friday. Even if you purchase yarn you can still enter the contest. If your name is chosen and you've already purchased yarn you'll be able to either A) have your money refunded or B) receive another 2 skeins of Soli in your choice of color. The contest will be open to US and international residents.

The contest is going to consist of a series of tasks. For each completed task your name will be entered once into the contest. So if you complete 4 tasks you'll have 4 chances to win. The tasks will be such things as:

  • Tweeting about the KAL and tagging me (@FiddleKnits), 
  • Posting a finished Fiddle Knits project or item made from Fiddle Knits yarn on Facebook, Twitter, Ravelry, or Instagram and tagging me (@FiddleKnits #FiddleKnits) (each different post to each location gets you a chance),
  • Taking a photo of a finished Fiddle Knits design or project using Fiddle Knits yarn, tagging it, and posting to Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.

For bonus credits (counts as 2 chances) you can write a blog about any Fiddle Knits design you've completed, Fiddle Knits yarn you've used, or a Fiddle Knits pattern or yarn you'd like to try. The post must be a full paragraph. Writing something saying "I'd really like to knit the Fantasia shawl because it's pretty. And I'd also like to use the Polka yarn." doesn't count. Tell people why you want to try it/knit it. To receive credit you'll need to send me a link to your blog post. You can send the links via email (Erica@FiddleKnits.com) by Twitter (@FiddleKnits) through my Facebook page, or by commenting on my contest blog. (Not this post! The contest blog post will be up on Friday, February 8, 2013).

Entries WILL NOT count until Friday (2/8/13) when the official contest post goes up. This post is only a preview of what's to come.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Favorite Things: Pistol Annies

I downloaded this CD, pressed play, and let it play through at least 3 times on repeat. I knew from the first 2 songs that I loved it and it had to get added to my list of favorite things. All the songs are good, but currently my top 3 favorites are Hell on Heels, Lemon Drop, and Takin' Pills. (Gotta say, I identify a bit with the lyrics from Lemon Drop, especially the bit about paying for a house that the landlord owns. Ugh.)


"I'm payin' for a house that the landlord owns
Bought a t.v on a credit card
It'll take me ten years to pay if off
But some fine day I'll be drinkin' a beer
In a big backyard I own free and clear
All I know, there's better days ahead"
– Lemon Drop, Pistol Annies

The CD, Hell on Heels, has 10 tracks. Some are rockin', some are slower, all have a good groove.

I enjoy finding new music with female vocals, especially country music because that's what my voice is suited to. I put this CD on while I'm knitting, or cooking, or cleaning and sing along at full blast. Good music makes any task more fun. And country music usually has a lot of universal motifs that can be easily identified with.

If you like rockin' country music I highly suggest following the link below to Amazon and at least previewing the songs. You might find a track or two to add to your library. You get the whole darn thing. Sometimes I end up finding that the songs I didn't think I'd like from the preview are the ones I play the most.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Mocha Berry Cowl

Mocha Berry cowl in "Mocha Berry" on Harmony DK

This cowl will look familiar to anyone following the What's on My Needles posts over the past 2 weeks. Now it's done, edited, and ready for public consumption. Mocha Berry (oh so cleverly named for the colorway I used) is a simple cowl meant to showcase the beauty of hand dyed multicolor yarns.

Hey, Mom! I know you're probably reading this. This pattern would be a good one for you. It's good practice for left and right slanting decreases as well as yarn overs. Since the pattern has line-by-line written instructions as well as a full chart you can easily compare the two and let each help you learn to read the other.


Yarn
1 Fiddle Knits Fibers, Harmony DK*
[100% superwash merino; 231 yds; 100 g; DK weight],
Color: “Mocha Berry”
*Harmony DK is available only through select retailers. May be substituted with Fiddle Knits BeBop DK.

Needles
US 4 / 3.5mm needle 16” circular,
US 5 / 3.75mm 16” circular
Adjust needle size to obtain correct gauge. 

Gauge
With smaller needles:
17 sts & 29 rnds = 4” in stockinette

Notions
1 stitch marker
Tapestry needle for weaving ends

Finished Sizes 
22” circumference
* Measurements taken after blocking