Sunday, January 25, 2015

Trending Like Crazy !!

We all have yarn and most of us have even acquired serious stash. My Mom and I will often compare our stashes against each other knowing that in reality, either one of us could shop the others stash for anything at any point in time and be totally happy with the outcome. Our stashes are similar in content. We both love Tosh, Malabrigo, recently got turned onto Zen Garden, our tastes are similar. You're bound to find different colorways in hers than in mine. And lets face it, she's been doing it longer than I have so she simply has more of it. Her stash occupies a different part of the house than mine does. Hers has even spilled over into the garage. Mine is mostly contained in my bedroom and in a giant cedar chest not 5 feet from me here in the living room. Though I have to say, for only knitting for 8 years now I have acquired some pretty serious stash. Enough that I decided last fall to organize it by color. Though I think I'm going to have to rethink that. The lace weight section of my stash is all okay. Primarily because I don't use it all that often and haven't in a couple of years. Since I really started designing I started doing it with fingering weight yarns. I have a few lace weight patterns but most are fingering. It's because of this that I really started boosting my fingering weight stash section. I didn't really have much when I started designing. So, you see, I had to have it. Maybe I'll redo my stash again sometime soon, thinking about it, I really need to. I have a tendency to put all the new purchases in the cedar chest when they should be going to their respective bins. Then again, I know where all the new stuff is and if I move it I wont be able to find it. I know. Laugh all you want. Its sort of a system that works. And if I can find what I'm looking for there's always Mom's stash. 

One thing that I need a new fresh plastic bin for yarn that Mom doesn't have....GRADIENT YARN. Oh Lord the gradient yarns are trending like a mutha right now. Everyone is coming out with them. Give it time and even Tosh will have some. I am going bananas over the gradient yarns that are out there right now. However, there is one slight problem with them. Yardage. Many do not put enough yardage in there for one to make a decent sized shawl with. There are some that are being called "mini skeins" which are in gradient colors and are about 400 yards total. Mini is an accurate description.There is a designer on Ravelry, her name is Mindy Ross, she designs specifically for yarns like Wolle's Color Changing Cotton which is a cotton gradient yarn coming in at 480 yards. 2 patterns that I can think of that she designed specifically for this yarn is Early Morning Rain and Reverse Psychology. But I don't worry about yardage really with this yarn because there are patterns that have been designed specifically for it. This yarn, if you are ever so lucky to own some, is so beautiful. Its unlike any gradient I've seen and you probably have a better chance of getting your hands on kryptonite as to acquire some of this yarn. It.Is.Difficult.To.Get.Some. She makes them in small batches to begin with and they are all done by hand. It is a 4 ply yarn and each ply is cut and another color added, then the next ply cut and the color added, until its has morphed completely into what the ending color is. And its all done by hand. So there's that. You have to join her Ravelry Group and she posts there when she will be opening up a time where people can order. Its usually like, 4am our time, and you are not guaranteed any yarn until you get a confirmation. So many people are lined up at their computers waiting for it to open up, no matter the time, so keep that in mind. its difficult to get. I have the pleasure of having Dilshani be SOOO talented at having this process down to a tee that we've gotten some on 2 shipments now. The ones I have are Kermit and Autumnal II. Here is a picture of Kermit...


...and here is Autumnal II...


They are truly amazing. It's sort of been on my radar to design a cowl. Perfect for Spring. Maybe that's what I'll do with these. I don't know. I'm just very fortunate to have them in my possession to do whatever I please with them! 

Etsy is a terrible, horrible, wonderful thing. If you are not familiar with Etsy, go there and search for just about anything and see what you come up with. It is a place where indie artisans can sell their goods. I have bought jewelry, cards, cardstock, and yes, yarn. There is LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF YARN ON ETSY. Just ask and you'll see. About a month ago I was searching specifically for gradient yarns. Holy crap. I'm serious guys and gals. This was how Kismet Fibers and I met. Kismet Fiber Works is run by Stephanie and Angie and Leslie who is their social media maven. I ordered their 'Larc's Song' gradient kit. Ok, first, let me tell you that from what I know about in the USA, this is the best gradient kit out there right now. You get 5 skeins of color, each skein containing 231 yards. EACH SKEIN HAS 231 YARDS. That's half of their full skein of sock yarn. And you get 5 skeins. Do the math people. That's over 1100 yards for, get this $55.00. Let me repeat that. That's Fifty-five US dollars. No, I am not making this up. This is so much yarn and plenty for me to design a shawl with. I felt like I hit the lottery with this purchase. (Disclaimer: Dear Kismet Fibers, I have borrowed your photograph because I do not own a white box in which to take pics of my yarn. Therefore, the pic I took of your yarn sucked. So I borrowed yours. Please contact me directly if this is a problem. I just really, really, really wanted people to know what I got so that perhaps, just perhaps, it may send you some business! Thanks in advance - Claudia)  
Here is Larc's Song...

Photo rights belong to Kismet Fiber Works

People. If you want a gradient kit. Go to their Etsy shop and buy buy buy. Although I've been told as recently as this morning that they wont be able to update their gradient kits for another week since their return from Vogue Knitting Live. Give them time, you wont be sorry. I do believe they may have some in stock, I'm not sure. But to see all the colors you will need to wait. I have special ordered, and have been waiting and waiting and waiting for their kit called Skein Cocaine. It is a gradient kit of light grays moving into dark grays. I want it so bad I could hop in my car and drive to Michigan to go get it. But I'll wait. *sigh* because I know they know I want it. So it will come. When I first ordered Larc's Song, Etsy said there was one in stock but there wasn't so I had to wait for them to dye it up personally for me. They stuck an extra skein of yarn in my bag for the delay. Such nice folks over there. Its only my impatience getting the best of me about the Skein Cocaine I want so bad!

I stumbled across another company while on Etsy also doing gradients. Oh.My.Word. Wollelfe is a company out of Austria. They have wonderful blends of fiber, good prices and the dye jobs are SPECTACULAR. To say the least. The beauty is you can choose your yardage too! What a concept! I picked the merino/cashmere 80/20 blend at 875 yards or 200 grams, in the colorway Denim. I paid 62.00 US dollars. This is a good price for this fiber people. That included shipping. And I also got a discount for ordering from their website as opposed to ordering from Etsy. Here is there website and here is there Etsy site. I had to sign for it when it got here so I had to go to the post office to pick it up. I must've looked like a mad woman ripping this box open in the parking lot but that's exactly what I did. Seeing it was like an emotional experience. Was the same for Mom too...when I came home and showed her she cried. She wept tears of beauty and joy....


It is a thing of beauty to behold. Really it is. Send them some love too. It'll take about 3 weeks to make it to you but you NOT regret it I promise you. If you do, let me know and I will buy it off of you. They have a gray to dark gray and if they had it available in merino/cashmere I'd probably but it instead of the Skein Cocaine. I don't know if they take specialty orders or not.

The last gradient kit, or most recent gradient kit I picked up was just last week. Actually, Mom picked it up for me since I've been sick and have been at home for like, well over a week. Its called Wonderland Yarns hand-dyed by Frabjous Fibers - all done in the US. I could resist the colors. I really should get a white box to photograph my yarn in....pics would be so much better. My colorway is called "Lime to Turquoise Shadow #33"....


 Pic doesn't do it justice, the colors are so much richer than they appear...


 Its a total of 640 yards and I can work with that. Its the 400 that I cannot. Or rather, cannot do a shawl. Its possible to design a cowl, I'm sure. This was obtained through my LYS so I don't know if they wholesale only or what. I poked around on the net and found this....their website which looks like they are wholesale only. But you can click on the where to buy and maybe that will lead you somewhere. Gradients are trending people. If you don't have any, go out and get some! So far, I think, for US based companies, Kismet Fiber Works is the best deal around and their colorways are incredible. 

If you've been following my feed in Facebook then you all know that I am sick and have been for a while now. Making progress and trying to finish this shawl has been difficult. I did make some significant progress on it yesterday. I put about 8 inches on the border and made it passed the center spine. The rest should be a breeze. Ha!

 

I cant wait to get it released. It will be nice to be able to get on to the next project which is the MJ Yarns shawl already in progress. And on to other designing ventures for the year!

I hope you are all well and staying warm wherever you may be. And healthy, Lord stay healthy, this has been a bitch trying to get over this whatever it is. I hope that this info has been helpful for you all and you'll give some of these companies some love. Until next time...Knit On!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Making Progress ...

For someone who is more the instant gratification type (me), making progress can seem to take FOREVER. Thankfully, the process of knitting makes this much easier to deal with. Like all of you, I love the process of knitting. Not just the finished products but the process itself. Although when it comes to new designs I'm working on, I find myself trying to knit faster and faster because I cannot WAIT to see the finished product. I have it all finished and pictured in my mind but one can only knit so fast. I find myself taking lots of pictures. Not only to share with you, but I want to get as close as possible to that finished look from wherever I'm at in my knitting. As you know from my last blog entry, this is the year of collaborations for me. I may be willing to take on a 7th but its risky. I never know if I'm going to end up in the hospital for something which has a tendency to steal valuable knitting time! Six month ago when I was in the hospital for almost a month, I did very little knitting, I just didn't feel like it, I was very sick. But I digress. So, I am making progress on two shawls now. I started the edging to one of the shawls that just sat while I did Christmas knitting. I am super excited about this shawl and cannot wait to see it done and blocked. I've shared a few of these photos on my Facebook Group page so you may have already seen some of these. Others I just took today showing my progress over the past day and a half. Just starting out it looked like this...


The yarn is Dream In Color Everlasting Sock which is an 8 ply sock yarn. The color is wonderful and vibrant (although not in this picture) and perfectly tonal which I love to work with. I don't like to work with anything that may hide the design. Unless, of course, I have designed something specifically for a nice variegated yarn like Effortless. Effortless has a very simple lace border that is not obscured by a beautiful variegated yarn. Aside from its occasional splitting because of the 8 plies, this Dream In Color Everlasting Sock is wonderful to work with...


I cannot remember if I shared this above photo on Facebook or not. At any rate, this is the closest to the actual color of the yarn. Isn't it scrumptious?! I just love it. I made a lot of progress yesterday so I photographed today in the sun to get good color but there are some shadows so I apologize...


I am hoping to be able to release this by Feb 1st so we'll see...


Shown here in comparison to the spine of the shawl. I cannot wait to block this one. It will breathe so much life into the design when its finished. It will be one of my larger crescent shaped shawls using probably close to 775 yds. I don't think I'll go over 800 yds. Here's a closeup shot of the edging...


Confident that I had at least gotten the edging started on the above shawl, I began work and cast on for the shawl using MJ Yarns Opulent Fingering Weight yarn. First thing I noticed is that it is indeed opulent! It's so fantastic, it's rather like velvet in the hands. And the color! My God the color. The colorway I chose to work with is called Fire Dragon. It's like a bright mauve/fuchsia color and its fabulous...


It is another perfectly tonal yarn to work with. I believe I shared these photos in my Facebook Group but I will indulge you once again here....


You can almost see the velvet like hand this yarn has to it. The yarn is a merino/cashmere/nylon blend. I don't know why or how some are so different than others but they are, they truly are. This 80/10/10 blend is like velvet and yet others I've worked with before are simply not. I don't know if its something that happens at the mills, or the particular mill that is used or what. All I can say is if you can get your hands on some of MJ Yarns Opulent Fingering, you too will be singing their praises!


I can already visualize the finished shawl here. I know exactly where I'm going with it and now, it's all about execution. Confident with the start I have on the MJ Yarns project I am now focusing my efforts back on the green shawl above with the hope that I'll be able to get it released by the 1st of February. 

I finally made my first Zen Garden Serenity Sock yarn purchase at my LYS. They haven't been carrying it long but as soon as they did it was like locusts had hit the building. I seem to be into a gray phase now when it comes to purchasing yarns. I posted a photo of this yarn on Facebook but because I took the pic at night it made the yarn look brownish. Here's what it really looks like...

 
There are some hints of brown in the yarn but this is exactly what it looks like. The colorway is called "Wrought Iron." It also came in a version that had stellina in it and I almost got that, but decided that the yarn itself could stand alone just fine. Cant wait to do something with this. But then again, I have SO MUCH yarn and I seem to say that about all of them. I have some yarn on hold for me at my LYS Village Wools and its tough to know where to begin. Waiting for me are 2 skeins of Malabrigo sock in the colorway Zarzamora (which I have already in silkpaca lace just not sock yarn so I HAD to have it) 4 skeins of Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Teal Feather. I have been wanting to design a DK weight shawl and I think I already know what I want to do with this and this quite possibly could be shawl #7 for the year. Also waiting is a gradient kit of 640 yards in shade of greens that might be difficult to stay away from. (Just so you know, I will be doing an post in the near future on gradient kits! I'm waiting for something to arrive in the mail!)  Mom bought some of the Zen Garden Serenity Sock and came home and cast it on immediately and knit this beauty up in about 2 weeks....


I cant remember the name of the colorway that she bought and I'm gonna check Ravelry real quick to see if I can come up with the pattern name for you...

 
The pattern is called Early Morning Rain...


Isn't it just fabulous?!


I hope you are all doing well and not suffering too badly through this January. We've had a few days of really cold weather and a couple days when we woke up to snow. But our snow generally melts by noon and all is well. Today it was 61 degrees outside. We'll take that, thank you very much! Every afternoon Miss Audrey Grace comes out of her nap so she can sun herself in the patches of sun on the floor. She so graciously allowed me to take this picture of her....


Would love to know what you are all working on, in the comments below, now that the Holidays are over!  And Dilshani, we need to pull out your Persian Crescent and do some stitch counting or whatever to get you back on track! Be kind to one another and pay it forward when you can...and until next time...Knit On!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A New Year, Birthdays to Celebrate, and News to Share !!

New Years Day 2015. What a day it was here at Chez Donnelly. I have a few photos from my phone that I took and a few from Dilshani's camera so I'll share those with you. Not only was it New Years Day, it was Anika's 13th birthday. Dilshani's' 40th is on the 6th so we celebrated them together today. I will tell you what we did but it is more to tell you what it meant to all of us. I knew, just knew, that this Holiday Season, the inaugural Holiday Season of our two families spending them together, would be something really special. Having the kids here, every time someone yelled "Aunt Claudia!" or "Granny Kay!" just melted me. We are as cemented as two families could possibly be. I love each one of those kids so much. And my adoptive brother Dan. Just like my brother Dennis, a great smile, silly jokes, funny sense of humor and a wicked laugh to top it all off. And Dilshani. I don't know that I am able to write how much I love her in a single blog post so that it comes off authentic enough to really mean something so I wont try. Suffice to say she is the best friend I have ever had. She allows me to be me, there  is no judgement, there is only pure acceptance for who each one of us is. I pause between writing these sentences, think about the day and the entire family, and I just smile. I smiled the smile of someone who is the only person in the world that knows the punch line. With that being said, let me get to the details of the day...

Dan, Dilshani and the kids got here to our place around 9:30 this morning. She had most of the food already done, just one of the dishes needed to be cooked. We ate a late breakfast of traditional Sri Lankan food around 11am. I don't know the names of the dishes we had so I will simply describe them....we had milk rice (rice cooked with coconut milk) and sprinkled with sugar..VERY GOOD. Along side that we had onions that had been cooked in a chili paste and spices of I have no idea. To this was added whole hard boiled eggs. This too was very, very good. Although spicy, very good! We loved it all. The house smelled so good because on the stove simmering was a huge pot of Dal (lentils) and chicken curry which was all for later. We had a chance to relax for a few before it was time to take pictures. Every time the younger kids are here there are pictures taken. No one wants to miss a moment. And we captured a lot of them. The best ones were taken outside against the wall of our house. They all came out so good. Lets start with a Momma and her kids...



There is another one in here like this with Michael but it just hasn't been processed yet. Dan and Dilshani are one of the most photogenic couples I know...


I took this from the side when Dilshani was behind the lens. I love this picture...left to right is Kamal, Nate, Dan, Anika and Michael...


 Somewhere, somehow, Kamal got this next one which will be a treasured picture for everyone for a very long time...


Along with it being New Years Day, Anika's birthday, Dilshani's celebrated birthday, it was also the day of the Sugar Bowl....Ohio State Buckeyes were taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide for a spot in the first ever playoff to the BCS Championship Game. We all had on Buckeye gear (except for when the Tyson clan took their photos). We played around and got some fun shots and some fun selfies too...


It was such a fun afternoon! Doug, Debbie, and Shanlynn came over to celebrate the birthdays with us. They are wonderful people and good friends of Dan and Dilshani's. I look forward to getting to know them all better!! They are a lot of fun to have around!!


Soon it was time to cut the cake and open presents! The fabulous cake was done by ABC Cake Company. If you are local, give them a call for your next event. Their cakes are not to be missed!



I wish there were more pictures processed of the opening of the presents, but I have a few. There was one gift that waited patiently on the table, I knew it was there. Mom knew it was there. No one else knew about it. It was for Anika. I felt that Anika's 13th birthday....she was old enough to appreciate it and have her very own. This whole time I'd been writing about how it was going to be given away as an RAK through Ravelry. It wasn't. I knew EXACTLY what I was doing with this shawl and I wanted it to be just as much as of surprise for Dilshani as it was for Anika. The shawl was going to Anika for her landmark 13th birthday. She knows and understands the value of knitted things...after all, she keeps appropriating Dilshani's things! She was so excited when she opened it....and Dilshani's jaw hit the floor. The look on Dilshani's face was just as good as the one on Anika's. The one thing I do know? She never took it off. She wore it constantly from the time she got it and everyday afterward. I love it. That's the best compliment a knitter can knit...



She got many other things too. A knitting bag from my Mom, We also gave her an embroidered pouch and inside the pouch was an Amazon Gift Certificate (she had just gotten a Kindle from her Dad)...and a shawl pin for her shawl.


Here is a closeup of the shawl I gave her....its Cinnamon Stone by VeryBusyMonkey on Ravelry...


I don't know how many other pics were processed of Dilshani opening her gifts but this is one of my favs...


Reflecting on the Holidays and all they meant to us, it couldn't have gotten any closer to perfection than it was. This family, our family, it is a good one. We are all so blessed to have one another.

I know I showed you a picture of the coffee cuff my Mom made for all of us, but here it is in action....


I love it! Everyone loves their cuffs. I wish I had thought to get a picture of all the fingerless mitts together but I forgot. I did finish another pair for my Mom....gorgeous yarn...


I am knitting another pair just like the ones above for myself. As soon as I finish its on to my plans for 2015. I am happy to share news with you now that I didn't want to share until a few more things were firmed up. I have 2 shawls that simply need their borders put on then I can release those. My hopes for 2015 were to do more collaborations with different yarn companies. So far I have 4 collaborations lined up making a 6 shawl commitment for the year. I don't want to commit to anymore than 8, I may not make it! I don't have contract knitters, I do all my own work. That makes it very time intensive. So far, Skein Yarn, MJ Yarns (whose site appears to be either down or going through an upgrade so I cannot link it), Crave Yarn, and Yarn Hollow have all committed to collaborating and we are now talking yarn. I am so excited about this I can barely stand it. I have received yarn from MJ Yarns, and Crave already. I will be working with MJ's Opulent fingering, their merino/cashmere/nylon blend in a colorway called Fire Dragon...


The Crave Yarn I will be working with is their Summit which is also a MCN blend in a gorgeous colorway called Stargazing from the Mesa....


Both of these yarns are so beautiful. I will be starting with the Fire Dragon from MJ Yarns. I'm not sure what I will be doing with it just yet, there is so much running through my mind about designs. I think there may be a couple rectangular shawls in the bunch to do!

I think good things will happen in 2015. I will finally get my knitting tattoo. That was what I wanted and ask for from my folks for Christmas. But I cant get it till April. This is a serious test of patience. APRIL PEOPLE. COME ON ORLANDO! Those of you who've stuck by me know what happened last May. I had surgery and ended up in the hospital for almost a month from severe pneumonia and pleural effusion. It was awful. The worst part was requiring a thoracentisis. I wont explain it all again. Suffice it to say, I am praying that I can stay out of the hospital and not miss my tattoo date. I cannot wait another 4 months on top of it. I know it sounds funny guys, but having Multicentric Castleman's Disease, my lymph nodes could go at anytime. They've been quiet for a couple of years now. Almost too quiet if you know what I mean. At any rate, I don't wanna miss my date. I'm hoping for some way to get in sooner while I'm still free from hospitals and IV's. Send good vibes my way!

Audrey Grace allowed me to get a couple of good pictures of her. She doesn't like having her picture taken and its hard to get shots like this with her actually looking at me...


Wherever you are, whatever you did this Holiday Season, cherish the memories. And make a few more every moment you can. A good friend of mine said "Happy New Year and while you're at it, Carpe that Diem!" I love it. Its so true. Until next time....Knit On!!!!