We’re Moving…

Well, sorta.

We are changing our blog address. The new address will be www.ceyarns.blogspot.com and will go live next Tuesday, July 16, 2013. You'll still be able to get to our blog via blog.classiceliteyarns.com as well as the link on the left side of the navigation on our main website.

So that you don't miss out on any new posts, please make sure to update the address on any feed readers that you use.

Knit on!

Monkeying Around

When my friend announced that she was having a baby, I was filled with glee. Not just because I was so happy for my friend and her fiancé, but because that meant I got to knit something for the wee one.

My friend is a knitter and has lots of other knitting friends, so I knew that she would be getting lots of knitted gifts for her first born son. I also knew that meant I needed to pick something that would be extra special. I thought about a blanket, but I had heard through the grapevine that she was getting a blanket as a group gift from some of the other knitters. I also thought about a sweater, but he was expected last week and it would be too hot for him to wear a sweater right off the bat. So I settled on a stuffed toy.

I had made the Monkey Jacobus by Annita Wilschut for my nephew a few years ago and it was a hit, so I knew this was the pattern I was going to knit. I absolutely LOVE this pattern. It is knit all in the round, which means no sewing of tiny parts when you are done! The thought of doing intarsia for the face in the round scared me to death, but her directions and photos make it not only crystal clear…but a snap to knit.


I use Liberty Wool Print in color 7821 Caribbean Tidepool, which is a great baby boy color. It is made up of blues and greens. It’s one of those colors that isn’t too soft or too bright. I decided to not try and match up the prints too much and just let the yarn do what it wanted to do. And I love the way that each of the monkey's appendages are different colors because of that. I think it gives the little guy a sense of whimsy. For the face and paws I used Liberty Wool Solid in 7836 Taupe. I wanted something that would coordinate well with the print, while standing out on its own. I found some scraps of a dark orange to make the mouth and some dark brown to embroider the eyes (safety first – nothing that the wee one could possibly pull off and put in his mouth). And since he is made from Liberty Wool, my friend can pop the monkey in washing machine when he gets dirty.

I really hope that the yet-to-be born little boy loves the monkey as much as I do and that they become best buds.

P.S. Wee one – you were supposed to come last week. I think your mom would appreciate it if you made an appearance soon!

It’s hip to be square!

Take it from me (or Huey Lewis), it is hip to be seen in granny squares! Especially if it is this cute tank top in Interweave Crochet designed by Theresa Schables.

Made from Firefly (one of our favorite summer yarns), the vertical squares outlined by solid squares to give the illusion of waist shaping. The linen and rayon blend gives the granny squares the perfect amount of drape and stability at the same time. Joining the squares as you go gives the tank the added bonus of having minimal finishing.

Wear with flower power jeans and wedge sandals for a bohemian look or with a pencil skirt and kitten heels for a hip city look. Either way, you are sure to be hip!

Photos courtesy of Interweave Crochet. Matt Schodorf Photography.

On a personal note

I have mentioned on the blog before that I recently moved to Massachusetts to work for Classic Elite Yarns.

The hardest part of moving, whether you are 5, 15, 25 or even older…is making new friends and leaving your old ones behind. Some of the best friends I had made in NYC (and even in life to date) are from my knitting group. Of course the common bond was knitting and yarn, but our friendships grew from there. Talk quickly turned from yarn to jobs, families and even romance. We also looked forward to seeing each other once a week to get updates on projects, as well as catching up with each others' lives.

A tradition in our group was that when someone moved away or had a major life event (such as a wedding or a new baby) we would get together and coordinate a group project - usually a blanket. When I moved, I was so busy with everything, it didn't occur to me that I hadn't gotten a blanket. Although I had been planning on moving away from the city for quite awhile, the amount of time from when I started interviewing for this job to my actual move date was quite brief.  So even if they had wanted to make a blanket for me, they wouldn't have had the time.

One of the ladies from our group was passing through Massachusetts last week and stopped by for a visit. One of the first things she did was hand me a box. It was wrapped in simple brown paper with yarn wrapped around it. I KNEW what this was. (Full disclosure – I went back to NYC for a good friend’s wedding 2 months ago and they had presented me with a card explaining that they were working on the blanket). I would like to say that I was a picture of patience as I opened the box, but I was more like a little kid at his/her birthday and just ripped into that paper. My wonderful friends had made me a blanket!

They made me a 64 Crayons using Liberty Wool. Apparently there was some discussion as soon as I accepted the job that they knew they wanted to make me a blanket and they wanted to use Classic Elite Yarns. The ironic thing was that we had just finished making a 64 crayons for our friend (whose wedding I went back for). I can only imagine how difficult it was for the people who were working on both blankets to not spill the beans to either of us!

There are so many great things about this blanket. The first, of course, is that it was made with love by people I love. I am sure it will keep me warm on cold New England winter days, but also warm my heart during those times when I am feeling lonely for my friends.

I also really love that they used Liberty Wool. Not only is it a tribute to my decision to work for CEY, it is a great yarn for a blanket. Liberty Wool is machine washable, so when a messy life moment happens, I don't have to worry about how to clean it. I can just throw it into the washing machine.

Another great thing about the use of Liberty Wool in combination with this blanket is that it will always go with whatever my décor is. There are so many colors, that they all work together, just like a great quilt would. For the time being, the blanket will be in my living room, but I feel that if I want to put it in the bedroom at some point, it would go with whatever is in there.

I know that this is an heirloom piece for me. And one I will forever more treasure! Thank you to my NYC knitting friends. It means more to me than you will ever know.

A Light in the Window

We all know that the fiber community is ...well…a tight-knit group. There is something about seeing another person knitting or crocheting, that we feel the need to introduce ourselves as a fellow fiber enthusiast and tell them what we are working on, even if we don't speak the same language. Fiber is the great common denominator that becomes a universal language.

So when there is a loss in the fiber world, it is one that we all feel personally. I am sure you have by now heard about the loss of our fiber friend, Kathreen Ricketson. She and her husband recently passed away, leaving behind two small children.

Our good friends, Kay and Ann at Mason Dixon Knitting have released a pattern called A Light in the Window. The pattern is free for a limited time (from now until June 3, 2013) and Ann and Kay ask that you consider making a donation to the Education Fund for Otijillo and Orlando Shugg (Kathreen’s children).

Originally designed as a knit-along for Ann’s book Bowling Avenue, the blanket is made from Liberty Wool and Chesapeake using mitered squares and garter stitch trim. This is one of those pieces that will become an instant classic. With lots of colors to choose from, your options are limitless. 

Nova Cardigan

How many times have you looked at a picture on a knitting pattern and thought "I wonder what the back looks like?" only to find yourself disappointed? This is NOT the case with the Nova Cardigan by Sarah Fama in the Summer 2013 Interweave Knits. The focal point on this cardigan is the back.

The triangles meeting in the center back give the cardigan an optical illusion that is flattering to most shapes. And I love the way Sarah incorporated the waist shaping into the eyelet detail - very clever! The i-cord detail on the seed stitch collar gives the cardigan a polished feeling - perfect for the office yet casual enough that it would be really cute over a sundress or with a pair of jeans.

The Nova Cardigan is made from Firefly, one of our favorite summer yarns. Made from linen and rayon, Firefly is a great choice for warm weather knits. It makes great layering pieces and has just the right amount of sheen with a slight thin/thick texture. This is one of those yarns that gets better and better the more you wash it!

The hardest part thing about this cardigan? Picking a color.

Photos courtesy of Interweave Knits. Photographer Joe Hancock.

Squam Art Workshops

There are three little words that so many crafters love to hear—Squam Art Workshops. Known simply as Squam to many of us, it is a retreat for adults featuring classes in many creative endeavors including knitting, crochet, embroidery, drawing, woodworking, sewing, creative writing,  photography, jewelry making and more. And it all takes place in beautiful Holderness, NH on Squam Lake.

This year Ravelry is hosting a party - the Ravelry Reverly - and it sounds like it is going to be a lot of fun! Classic Elite Yarns is very excited (and proud) to be a sponsor of this year's event.

Each sponsor will have an activity booth on Saturday June 8 from 1-5 PM. For our activity booth, we decided that we wanted to do something fun, and good for our community at the same time. We will be teaming up with Warm Up America to make blankets for those in need. We'll have squares on hand for people to join together to make blankets, as well as yarn and needles/hooks for people to make additional squares in our booth. We'll also be hosting races to see who can knit* a 7” by 9” square the fastest. There will be several ‘heats’ starting every half hour on the half hour. A basic pattern and some CEY yarn will be provided for you to use; we'll also have some needles and hooks available, but if you'd like to bring your own, please bring size 6 or 7 needles or size G-H hooks. The person with the fastest time at the end of the day will win a certificate that entitles them to a copy of our entire fall 2013 pattern collection!

If you are unable to attend Squam, but still want to participate…you can! You can make a 7” by 9” square and mail it to us and we will happily join them into one of our Warm Up America blankets. Please mail them to us by June 5 (address below), and be sure to include your contact information.

Classic Elite Yarns
16 Esquire Road, Unit 2
North Billerica, MA 01862

And the fun doesn't end there! Each year, Squam Art Workshops ends the retreat with an Art Fair, on Saturday evening from 7:30 - 10 PM, focusing on fiber arts. We'll be having a table at the fair with lots of CEY goodies, including some that are unique to the Fair (I REALLY wish I could give you a sneak peak, but I am sworn to secrecy). The Fair is open to the public, so if you live in the Holderness area and aren't attending the workshops, you can still come down and check out all the fibery goodness.

We hope to see you at Squam. Stop by and say ‘hello!’
*Please note that while we encourage crocheted squares as well as knitted for the overall project, the contest is for knitted squares only. 

Lots and lots of crayons!

One of my first thoughts when I find out someone I know is pregnant is "what I am going to knit for her?" This is true for close friends and family, as well as people I hardly know…like my dental hygienist. I know it's partly because I love to knit, but also because I love babies. And I feel strongly that every baby should have at least one hand knit item to welcome them into the world. It's possible that the baby won’t have anyone in the family who knits (shocking, I know), and I am happy to step up to the plate and work my needles for any little bundle of joy.

When Classic Elite Yarns found out that our good friend Katarina, Director of MillaMia, was going to have a baby, we decided to make a group blanket. I have long been a fan of 64 Crayons by Amy Swenson. Designed specifically for yarns that have long color repeats, I knew Liberty Wool Print would be the perfect choice. Not only did it have the necessary color repeats, but an added bonus is that it's machine washable, perfect for all the little incidents that babies are known for having.

Since this was a baby blanket, we adjusted the pattern to make it a little shorter and with fewer stripes in it to make it a little smaller. We also decided to use garter stitch, which was a great choice because we could work on it during meetings and lunch.

We grabbed a few skeins and set to work. Each of us was responsible for knitting a stripe and then we put them together to create the blanket. It didn’t take long for us to finish the blanket, and we all love the way it turned out. The colors all work really well together, and because we didn't choose traditional soft baby colors, her son will be able to use this blanket for quite a while.

We got an email from Katarina last week that she had received the blanket and loves it! She told us that she will send some pictures of her son with the new blanket shortly. And I plan on holding her to that!

Have you used Liberty Wool or Liberty Wool Light for any baby projects? We would love to see them! Send your pictures to blog@classiceliteyarns.com along with the pattern information and Ravelry link (if possible), so we can share with everyone.

Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally here in New England. And I for one couldn't be happier! But it does present one time-consuming chore no one likes to do - but we must.

Before I put away my sweaters and take out the tanks, I need to wash them. This is good for the health of any sweater. So much time goes into knitting a sweater; I want to make sure that I care for them so they can last as long as possible. Washing sweaters before putting them away will help deter any little critters from getting into them over the summer months.

I like to wash each sweater individually by hand, using a product like Eucalan or Soak, which are no-rinse products. I have a special bucket that I like to use. It is an oversized plastic tub that I got at a discount store and I use only for washing my hand knits. That way I am sure no chemicals accidentally get into my knits.

I begin by filling the tub with lukewarm water and some of the washing agent (read the label for specific amounts). I then gently submerge the garment in the tub and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. I check on it every few minutes and give it a gentle massage.

I then remove the garment from the tub and very gently squeeze it to release as much water as possible. Next I will roll the garment in some clean dry towels, to remove even more water from it.

Then I lay the garment flat to dry and pin it (if necessary) to the measurements I want it to be, to ensure that it dries to that shape and size. Don't leave the garment to dry in the sunlight, otherwise the front of your garment will be a different color than the back (I speak from experience on this one - please don’t make the same mistakes I have).

The last step is to wait for the garment to dry fully. You want to make sure it's completely dry before you tuck it way. There are several factors that will determine how long it takes to dry – how big the sweater is, the humidity on the day you wash it, your altitude, etc.  You can also put a fan on it make it dry a little more quickly.

I store all of my out-of-season clothes in a cedar chest, which is a natural moth repellent. But I also throw in a few lavender pouches (another natural moth repellent with an added bonus of smelling nice). I know quite a few people who use rubber bins to store their sweaters and some who even go as far as taping down the lid. The important thing is for you to find something that works for you.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Mother’s Day is coming…and sooner than you think

Somehow, despite my best efforts, I am usually late with my Mother’s Day gifts. Often it is because my mother loves hand knit socks and while I can make a pair of plain socks in a few days if I put my mind to it, I am easily distracted when it comes to knitting (my internal dialog goes something like this - ohhh…I like that cardigan, I need to cast on. But wait, what about that cute top you have been looking at for months? Now is a good time to start working on that. Socks, you need to work on those socks. But I really do need a new afghan. This probably sounds familiar to many of you). I may have given her a sock with the needles still in it one year for Christmas and as soon as she opened the box, I asked for the sock back so I could finish it (full disclosure, it was only the second sock that wasn't done. And I was staying with her the days leading up to the holiday, so I felt I couldn't work on them in front of her).

But this year if different! Not only was I on time for Mom’s Day…my mother has already received her gift!

A few weeks ago I was on the phone with my mother. She said she wanted a new knitting project. My mom is the knitter who will make a scarf and then put down her needles for months on end (this is so not the type of knitter I am. I can't go a day without knitting.) She also likes small quick projects. I began asking her what it is she wanted to knit.

Me: A scarf?
Mom:  No.
Me: How about a hat?
Mom: Ummmm no.
Me: How about a bag?
Mom: No…not really my style.

I could see this was going to be a challenge.

The next day at the lunch table I was telling one of my co-workers about my quandary. I wanted to help find my mom something to knit. But she had shot down all of my immediate ideas. We came up with the idea of her making dishcloths  My mother is no stranger to making dishcloths  In fact when she taught me to knit when I was a kid, she taught me to make the garter stitch dishcloth that is a square, knit on the diagonal starting with 3 stitches. This is still her go-to pattern. She has made it so many times, she has it memorized (it’s a really easy pattern…you can find several versions on Ravelry).

I decided to give her some Seedling for making the dish clothes. I chose 3 different colors that I knew would go with her kitchen and pulled 2 skeins of each of the colors. My colleague suggested that I find some free dishcloth patterns on Ravelry and print them out. I downloaded a bunch of patterns and put them in a folder for her. I found a cute little knitting bag to put everything in, so she could keep it all nice and tidy.

The other day I received a phone call from my mom. She had received her package in the mail and was so excited. It was a win-win for her. Not only did she get her Mother’s Day gift early…she now had something to knit. She said she really liked the idea of getting a project to do. She loved the yarn that I picked for her, only said she was afraid it might be too nice for her kitchen - and I have to say that I agree with her. So instead she is going to use the yarn to make wash cloths for her bathroom. Luckily she used the same colors in her bathroom as she did in the kitchen.

I can't wait to see her FOs.I told her she had to take some pictures and I will share them with you when she does.

This year Mother's day in the United States is on May 12th. Are you giving your mom (or grandmother, aunt or other mother type figures) yarn for Mother’s Day? How about knitting her (or him) something special to show you care? Time is running low, but if you set your mind to it (and don't get distracted like I do), you can do it!

Catching up with MillaMia

I have long admired the patterns for MillaMia, but don’t have many children to knit for. So when they introduced their current lines of patterns I was really happy.

I recently had a chance to ask Katarina, the Director of MillaMia a little about knitting and MillaMia’s vision.

CEY: How long have you been knitting?
Katarina: I have been knitting since I was 6 years old. My grandmother taught me to knit when we used to spend our summers at our countryhouse in Sweden – on a rainy day there was not a lot to do as it was quite remote, and knitting became a favorite pastime. I then had a long break from knitting, coming back to it again when I first became a mother 7 years ago.

CEY: What is your favorite type of project to knit?
KR: With three young children (2 months, 4 and 6 years old) I obviously love to knit kids’ stuff. I love how you can be really bold and adventurous in your color choices, and above all I love how ‘do-able’ these projects are due to their smaller size. The feeling of achievement when you finish a piece of knitting is a real buzz and keeps me hooked on the craft!


CEY: Who is your biggest knitting inspiration?
KR: My grandmother was obviously an important early influence, but at this moment I would have to say Max – a friend who is now a colleague and has been helping us with MillaMia for the past year (managing our MillaMia blog amongst other things). Max is so passionate about knitting that it is really infectious – and her skills (she is by far the best knitter I know from a technical perspective) and willingness to help others makes all of us in her environment braver about the knitting we chose to try.

CEY: What made you want to start a yarn company?
KR: I loved knitting when pregnant with my first born 7 years ago.  But I quickly found that I had exhausted all the patterns that I wanted to knit and was struggling to find modern, stylish designs that I would both enjoy knitting but more importantly also enjoy her wearing. Luckily I have a sister who is a fashion designer by trade and so we started creating our own patterns. And so MillaMia was started…

CEY: In the past, you have focused on children’s patterns. In your new books Country Escape, Colour Coded and the upcoming High Society you have adapted many of your patterns for adults. Can you tell us about that?
KR: As you say as a company we are pretty much known for our children’s patterns. However a constant request that we would get by email and face to face at both trade and retail shows was for us to also create our designs for adults. The number of times we had people look at one of our samples and say ‘ I would wear that’ meant that in the end we felt we really had to listen to this feedback. In creating our adult collections we have taken this customer feedback at face value – adapting some of our most popular children’s designs directly to adult sizing and shaping, other designs are an evolution from our children’s styles and still more are completely fresh and new. It felt like a risk but the response has been phenomenal – it really has opened MillaMia up to a new audience of knitters which feels great.


CEY: Do you have plans for any more children’s patterns?
KR: Of course! We love designing for children and with my 7 week old son now available to join the MillaMia modeling stable expect some more stuff for babies too!

CEY: Any other plans for MillaMia that you are willing to share with our readers?
KR: We are thrilled to be launching some new Naturally Soft Merino yarn colors – 3 new colors in our core collection and 2 exciting shades as seasonal colors. This will be in the Fall. And of course we need to make sure we have fantastic pattern support for these new colors too.

CEY: I know you are a new mom; do you still have time to knit?
KR: I have to be honest and say juggling 2 school kids, a new baby and a business is a challenge – there were never enough hours in the day even before Johan (my new son) came along, and now with the demands of nursing and sleepless nights there seem to be even fewer! However – even if it is just a few rows that I manage – there is nothing as relaxing as knitting, so it tends to be my treat when all three are finally asleep at the same time.

You can see all of MillaMia’s designs and the colors of their Naturally Soft Merino on our website. 

Color Grid

Gail Callahan (aka the Kangaroo Dyer) developed The Color Grid after her book, Hand Dying Yarn and Fleece, was published as a tool to help people pick colors with confidence.

This is a great tool for dying yarns and picking yarns to use in color work. And it’s also great for anything else you are picking colors for…quilting, floral designs, decorating your living room and much more!

Ask to see the Color Grid at your favorite local yarn shop!

Changing Lanes

As you may know, we are having a Shawls, Wraps and Scarves KnitAlong.  I had planned on making the Cream& Sugar Wrap in Vail. But something wasn’t quite right for me when I started. I really like the pattern and I love the yarn, but I got about 3 inches into the wrap and it just wasn’t speaking to me. So I decided that I wanted to do something a little different.

I knew I wanted a lightweight shawl (although I tend to wear them more like loose oversized scarves than shawls), and something that was an intuitive pattern.  I have had my eye on the Eyelet-Swirl Stole for a while now and thought it would be a good choice.

I dug through my stash to find some Silky Alpaca Lace to swatch with. In the past I have shied away from lace weight yarn, feeling it's too small to work with. But I decided to give it a try anyway. I happen to have a lace needle in the correct size in my needle collection and cast on for a swatch. Wow! Working with lace yarn with a pointy tip, even with mostly stockinette stitch, makes a HUGE difference.

Yesterday during lunch I cast on for my Eyelet-Swirl Stole in the Beach Glass color of Silky Alpaca lace and I couldn't be happier with my choice. I see this future FO being something that I can wear with everything – sweaters, cardigans, tees and jeans, under my coat in the fall and as a lightweight layer later in the spring (when a coat is too much, but you can't quite get away without an extra layer in the morning).

I really love the fact that this knit-along has so many options. If you are looking for a layering piece for the summer, you can choose one of the wraps and make it in a lighter weight yarn. Or maybe you want to get a jump start on your holiday knitting (or finally start that piece that you gave an IOU for this past holiday season). There are 60 projects in the book to choose from and you can use any CEY yarn. It’s not too late to join us. You can read all the rules here and follow along in our Ravelry Group here.

So…will you join us?

Meg's Rocky Pond

On one of my first days in the office at Classic Elite Yarns, I was given a sneak peek into the spring line. We weren't ready to introduce it to the world yet, but it was almost ready to show to yarns stores. There were so many things that I couldn't wait to put into my queue. One of which was Rocky Pond.

One of the women in our office was going to California in February and wanted to wear something hand knit.  She wanted something that was simple, not too boring to knit, and only about two weeks work from start to finish. Rocky Pond was a perfect choice! The lace pattern in the top is intuitive, and can be easily memorized, eliminating the need to look at a chart every few stitches.

Meg used Provence, a 100% Mercerized Cotton in a DK weight, in the color of the year – Emerald (the official Provence color name is Laurel).

I love the boat neck on this top, a flattering look for most women.

Knit in two pieces with minimal finishing, it was a quick knit for Meg. She managed to finish it in just under her deadline (I understand that she may have been weaving in ends on the plane and blocking in the hotel room, but she finished it before her event – which is all that really matters).

Now that spring is here – and hopefully to stay (fingers crossed) – I suspect that I'll be seeing this pretty top around the office quite a bit.

I have plans for my own Rocky Pond, but I'm planning on using Soft Linen. There is a lovely shade of green called New Fern that I can’t wait to cast on. I have a few things in my queue that I need to work on first (including my Sugar and Cream Lace Wrap for the Shawls,Wraps and Scarves Knit-Along that we will be starting shortly.), but I'm not sure if I can wait.

Are you planning on making a Rocky Pond top – or have you finished one already? We would love to see it!

New Knitscene

I admit it - I'm kind of a girly-girl. Pink is my favorite color, I love skirts/dresses and I can’t help but oohh and ahhh over anything with a ruffle on it.

So when the new issue of knitscene arrived on my desk, I just about passed out. Right there on the cover was a super cute tank top with ruffles! The best part? The ruffles are on the back of the racer-back tank, so you don’t feel like an overgrown doll.

The Mackinac Tank by Danille Chalson is knit with Firefly, a linen and rayon blend, perfect for summer layering pieces. The ruffles are knit as part of the back and are made with simple decreases and a clever use of joining-as-you-go to reduce finishing.  

I also really love the Lindell Tee by Cassie Castillo.

Knit in Classic Silk, it's a short sleeved tee with a deep scoop neck and a slightly flared peplum, highlighted by a garter band at the waist. The body of the tee is knit in the round, so it's sure to be a fast and flattering knit. With its classic style and simple construction, this tee will take you from early spring to late fall.

At some point I'm going to have to learn to knit in my sleep, so I can make all the great designs that keep being published!

Photos courtesy of Interweave Knits. Photographer Nathan Rega of Harper Point Photography.

Knit along with us!

We are so excited to announce that we are going to be doing a knit-along from the Shawls, Wraps & Scarves book.

Rules for the Shawls,Wraps & Scarves Knit-A-Long
  1. Item must be made from CEY yarn and from the Shawls, Wraps & Scarves book.
  2. Open to US and Canadian residents only.
  3. Cast on date for knit-a-long is April 15, bind off date is June 15. You may do a gauge swatch and any other prep work (i.e. winding your yarn, getting copies of your charts, etc.) prior to the cast on date.
  4. To be considered for the knit-a-long, your project must be listed on Ravelry with the tag SWSKAL. You may enter your project on Ravelry prior to April 15, but please no casting on until then (I know it will be difficult).
  5. You must upload at least one in-progress photos and a FO photo to be eligible for the prize.
  6. By entering the knit-a-long, you give permission to Classic Elite Yarns to use your photos, first name and Ravelry project links on their social media sites (Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest).
  7. There will be 2 categories to enter – Shawl/Wrap (over 600 yards) and Scarf/Cowl (0-600 yards).
  8. Prizes will be enough yarn (current CEY) to make another project of your choosing from the Shawls, Wraps & Scarves book in the same category you entered.
  9. Winner will be drawn at random.
  10. Void where prohibited by law.

There are so many great pieces from Shawls, Wraps &Scarves, the hardest part of this knit-a-long might just be choosing your project. It was a difficult decision for me, but I have settled on making the Cream & Sugar Lace Wrap (of course, I am not eligible to win, but I thought it would be fun to knit-a-long with you guys).  I decided to use Vail in Parchment.  I am sure this will become an instant classic and something that I reach for time and time again.

What are you going to make?

And the winner is...

I am overwhelmed by the response we got to the giveaway for Kristin Nicholas’ book and yarn. We got almost 400 entries. All I can say is “wow!”

Everyone’s name and email address was printed out and put into a ‘hat’ (I didn't have a structured hat nearby that would have worked …so I used a knitting basket instead.)

We had Betsy draw a name from the basket (with a little help from Heather) -

And the winner is...drumroll…

Anita from WY! Congratulations! Your book and yarn will arrive shortly. We would love to see your finished sunflowers - send some pictures!

Zigzag Tank

There are two things that I have been enamored of lately...stripes and mitered squares. So you can only guess how excited I was when I saw this tank from Susan Mills in the new knit.wear.

Susan used a new spring yarn, Canyon. It is a sport weight yarn made from pima cotton with a hint of alpaca, which makes a smooth and silky summer blend.

Normally, to get a zigzag look, you would need to do color work or a chevron stitch pattern. But Susan was very clever and  used the combination of mitered squares with stripes to achieve this look. 

She was also able to construct the garment by picking up and knitting along the edges of some of the squares, which means less finishing (always a good thing!).

Tanks are always a great addition to any spring/summer wardrobe. I can envision this one under a jacket, or just as is with jeans or a long skirt. 

knit.wear is available now as a digital download here and will be on newsstands April 2nd.

Photos courtesy of Interweave Press, photographer Joe Hancock.

50 Sunflowers to knit, crochet & felt Give-away

We are so excited about Kristin Nicholas’ new book, 50 Sunflowers to knit, crochet & felt. Inspired by her farm in Western Massachusetts, Kristin designed lots of different varieties of sunflowers and even some friendly critters that help tend to the garden.

We are also happy to announce that we will be giving away a copy of Kristin's book and three skeins of her yarn. Read the interview below to find out lots of tidbits about Kristin and answer a question at the end to enter the give-away.

CEY: How did your new book 50 Sunflowers to knit, crochet & felt come about?

Kristin: My family and I have grown a field of sunflowers at our farm for several years. We grow over 15 varieties in all different colors and sizes. From late August to October, the vases in our house are overflowing with gorgeous blooms.

A couple years ago during the dormant growing season, I began designing knitted and crochet flowers and began decorating everything in my house with handmade flowers – pillows, garlands above the windows, potholders, napkin rings, even one of our sheep. I wrote the patterns up and began selling them on my website. I discovered I loved making little things that could be useful and also make nice presents for friends and family.

A longtime friend of mine – BJ Berti – is a Senior Editor at St. Martin’s Press. She knew of my interest in handmade flowers and she asked my literary agent if I would like to write a book about them.

Here I am, a year later with a new book out – hoping to turn on knitters and crocheters to making beautiful blossoms to decorate their clothing and their homes with.

CEY: Kristin, you are known mostly for your knitwear design. We didn’t realize you knew how to crochet too?

Kristin: I actually learned to crochet when I was 9 before I learned to knit! The only problem was I had never written crochet instructions before. I didn’t tell the publisher that! For 50 Sunflowers to knit, crochet & felt, I designed half the projects in crochet and half in knit. It was a challenge but stretched my limits and by the end of the designing process, it was really hard to turn off the crochet hook and move on to the knitted flowers.

CEY: This is a really fun collection Kristin. We see there aren’t only flowers but also some garden critters too. What’s that all about?

Kristin: When you work in a garden you are never alone. I like that feeling – to have tiny little guys appear to help out – enriching the soil, eating the pests. There are so many pretty bugs, butterflies, moths, and birds that inhabit any garden setting. It was hard to decide which to include.

The knitted collection includes a knitted robin, honeybee, wooly bear caterpillar and swallowtail butterfly. For crocheters, I designed a ladybug and a monarch butterfly. The challenging part of the critters was finding the proper yarn to create the look I was aiming for.

CEY: Many of the flowers and critters have a 3-D quality to them. Was that hard to create and did you find any tricks you might want to share?

Kristin: All the flowers and critters are little bits of knit or crochet sculpture. To design the different flowers, I actually worked from real sunflowers – examining the folds in the petals, the shapes of the petals, the seed heads. Then I tried to re-create them in yarn and stitches. Some were more successful than others but they were super fun to make.

The critters were a different story because real critters are so tiny. The robin was the most difficult to pull off – it took me 4 days of knitting, ripping, re-knitting, and writing to get the pattern correct! For the critters, I stuffed them with odds and ends of yarn. When I used traditional stuffing, the bright white color showed through. I found this really distracting and I knew it would look good in the photos. I cut up matching colors of yarn and stuffed the projects with that.

CEY: Where does the felting come in?

Kristin: Oh – I just love to felt little projects. I find that once you subject wool to heat and water, it becomes gorgeous sculpture. If I had it my way, all the projects would have been felted. The publisher didn’t want too many felted items, so there is only a smattering. Any of the finished projects could be felted.

CEY: Is there room for any creativity on the stitcher’s part?

Kristin: All of the projects will lead the knitter and crocheter onto their own journey. The way most of the instructions are written, the designs can be modified really easily – made bigger or smaller. And of course, it isn’t necessary to follow a certain color palette. Who says there can’t be a black sunflower? I can’t wait to see what people do on their own with this book.

CEY: Besides the flowers, you have also included 15 projects featuring the sunflowers and critters.

Kristin: I find that people love to make these little kinds of projects but then they don’t know what to do with them. I give plenty of ideas of where to use the projects. I also originated some special designs like a sunflower pillow, a crochet vase for the sunflowers, a baby rattle and some more fun projects.

CEY: Sounds like this book is the ultimate choice for fiber-gifting!

Kristin: It sure is. I hope many people will buy it and then spend the summer making their own sunflower garden while sitting on a beautiful seaside beach or next to a pool!

CEY: How can our readers purchase the book?

Kristin: 50 Sunflowers to knit, crochet & felt is available in all the regular channels. Readers can also purchase a signed copy directly from me on my website. The book is also available in many other countries. So far, it has been printed in the UK, in Australia and New Zealand and I hear it will be translated into other languages too! My work has never had such reach. Who was to know these little projects would spread throughout the world.

Photo by Rikki Snyder
To enter the giveaway, send an email with the title 'Kristin' to blog@classiceliteyarns.com by Wednesday, March 27 at 5 PM EST with the answer to this question: How old was Kristin when she learned how to crochet? One winner will be selected at random for the correct answers.