Category Archives: Knitting

The Wool Gathering Festival 2017

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It’s been a couple years since I’ve been to this show and its grown even more!  The Wool Gathering is near Yellow Springs, Ohio and is held in middle September of each year. The show runs Saturday and Sunday and there are no classes due to space limitations. It is on the grounds of a dairy farm and vendors are set up under tents. WARNING: Picture heavy post.

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I went with several friends and we got there right about the time it opened on Sunday at 10am.  By noon it was crowded and hot (hot being almost 90 degrees in mid-September).  We shopped, ate, then shopped some more.  I had a couple items I was on the hunt for but otherwise wanted to spend time looking at yarns from vendors I hadn’t seen in a while.

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The non-fibery stuff:

  • Chocolate Cherry Lip Balm from Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium.  This stuff is like dessert for your lips, minus any calories.  Goes on smooth.  Go check out her website for some amazing photography and cool products.
  • For Feet Sake by BarMaids in the Peppermint Plus scent – This stuff is amazing for your feet, especially if your dry feet tear up your knee high hose (yes, I wear knee high hose with my dress shoes).  I like that you apply it like a stick of deodorant, leaving your hands mess free.
  • Lotion from Amazing Grace Farms – I love this stuff.  It is by far my favorite lotion.  No dyes and its very hypoallergenic.  The proceeds go to support her animal rescue, which makes it all the better.  Please check out her website and consider ordering.  The peppermint and lavender are my two favorites.  I bought one bottle of apple cider and have two more bottles of the peppermint cream coming to me via mail.
  • Pattern for Rookwood by Mindy Wilkes.  Ravelry pattern page is here.

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One of my favorite vendors (of many favorites) at the show was Destination Yarns.  I met the owner, Jeanne, at Stitches Midwest the first year I went and love her saturated dyeing.  She also uses the most scrumptious yarn bases.

  • (left side) Suitcase base (a worsted weight merino yarn that I swear feels like it cashmere in it) in the colorway Underneath the Christmas Tree
  • (top) One skein each of her Note base in the Miracle and Stormy Skies colorways.  This is aiming to be a two-color shawl such as Quicksilver or Blackbird.
  • (right) A mini-skein set on the Postcard base in fall colors.  It’s a merino yarn and each mini (there are eight) has 92 yards.  This, and a solid, will become the Take It All shawl.
  • You might also notice I got a couple bags, including a Game of Thrones themed drawstring and a Destination Yarn tote.  I’ll just keep telling myself one can never have too many bags.

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Long-time favorite dyer – Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns.  She was really one of the first doing gradient yarns (as mini-skein sets) and I used to see her every year at The Fiber Event in Greencastle.  She has a background in chemistry and has a very good eye for color.

  • (upper left) Two skeins of her Kashmir yarn (merino/cashmere/nylon base) in Citron and Wicked Good.  This bright of colors is wayyy outside of my norm, which was my goal.  This is likely to become either the Cypri shawl or the Fallston shawl.
  • (lower right) A mini-skein set on the Footnotes base in the colorway Fire and Ice and a full skein of Footnotes in the colorway Ft. Knox.  I tried matching the mini-skein set with a gray but could not find a combo that made my heart sing.  The gold one did though.   This is for the On the Spice Market shawl.

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A new to me dyer – Ewetopia, out of Wisconsin.  The yarn base is called Pashm and is merino/cashmere/nylon and the colorway is Country Fair.  Given the cashmere content this will become fingerless mitts.

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A second new to me dyer – Betwitched Pigments.  I’m a sucker for tonals and her’s have a lot of depth.  I actually got an aran weight yarn (I know, not my norm) in the colorway Surprise!  These are pretty springy and soft so I’m hoping they will make good legwarmers.

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Last one, I promise.  A third new to me dyer – The Fibre Art Studio at Yarns to Dye For. This was the last yarn I bought, even though I had been looking for a bright rainbow gradient with over 500 yards of yardage.  The base is Fifty Shades of Gradient (funny pun) in the United colorway.  This and some black will become my Lambton Panes shawl which I’ve been lusting over since Sarah of Yarn Geek Fibers finished hers.

 

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Musings on Interchangeable versus Fixed Circular Needles

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I recently went through all my interchangeable and fixed circular needles to list and organize what I had (I feel like I’m always buying more US 4 fixed circular needles).  Doing so got me thinking about under what circumstances I reach for fixed circular needles rather than my case of interchangeable needles.  Here’s the quick version: when I’m knitting lace, cables and/or knitting with thinner yarn, I reach for my circular needles.  Most other times I reach for my set of interchangeables.

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I started knitting in July of 2010 and during that year all the yarn I used was DK weight or heavier and I didn’t knit any lace or cables (thank you Ravelry for the trip down memory lane).  At that time I was using a few fixed circular needles (mostly for hats), some straights and some DPNs.  In October I ordered a try it set of interchangeable needles from Knit Picks (where you’d get 3 sets of tips and 1 cord) and in January of the following year I ordered my first set of interchangeable needles.  During that year I was mostly using my set of interchangeables for lace knitting.  From 2012 through 2015 though I gradually transitioned from using my interchangeables for lace and cables (and anything fingering weight or thinner) to using fixed circulars.

Note: If you’re looking into which brand of fixed circular needles is right for you, check out my comparison review here.

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Retrospectively, I’ve done this for a few reasons:

  • Having had a set of interchangeable Knit Picks needles come apart at the join, I am somewhat fearful of this happening with lace or cables.  While I know how to fix dropped stitches in lace and cables it is still a major pain and time suck.  If it happens on garter stitch or with thicker yarn, it’s not that big of a deal but with lace it is.  And by far I mostly knit lace.  I do use the little key to tighten my cords to the tips but I still sometimes find the cables start to come loose.  I sold most of my Knit Picks interchangeable needles in favor of my Chiagoo sets but even those require tightening.
  • I mainly knit lace shawls and cowls out of fingering weight yarn which means I tend to need to the same size needles in the same lengths for many projects.  So, I’m not having to buy a ton of fixed circular needles for my knitting (although in the interest of full disclosure I have a fair amount of fixed circular needles).
  • I find less snags at the join on my fixed circular needles than my interchangeables (because on the interchangeables it can snag at the cord to tip join and at the tip base to stalk screw together join.
  • I like being able to grab the one or two needles I need, toss it in the project bag and go.  I don’t need to carry around my interchangeble set on a regular basis.
  • On a per basis, the fixed circulars are usually cheaper than buying an interchangeable cord and tip (at least for Chiaogoos).

So, it appears that for my primary knitting, I’ve just found fixed circulars to be the best fit.  I DO use my interchangeable needles for more simple (no lace, no cables) projects, especially those that have a thicker weight yarn.

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I think interchangeable sets are great when you start knitting because it allows you to buy the least amount of needles until you settle into your “normal” knitting.  That comes with the caveat though to ALWAYS tighten your tip to your cord (assuming the brand you use joins in that manner).  As you progress as a knitter (especially if you have problems with joins and/or needles separating), it’s not a bad idea to try some fixed circular needles in the size(s) you use most often.

What types of needles do you reach for? Does it depend on the project or yarn? I would love to hear what your experience has been.

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Who Doesn’t Love Vacation Yarn?

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I’m back from my vacation to Jekyll Island, Georgia, where I found some vacation yarn.  I went to a lovely yarn shop called The Stitchery of St. Simons, which is on St. Simons island, and had a nice chat with the owner about my Sybil Ludington shawl, which I was wearing.  I bought a couple different yarns- very hard to select the ones I did – they have a lot of beautiful yarns!

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Ella Rae Camelsoft in a dark green colorway.  Camelsoft is an aran weight blend of merino (75%) and camel (25%).  I’d never seen this yarn before but decided to give it a try since it was on clearance.  I wish they’d had more balls to purchase!

 

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Done Rovings Yarns Frolicking Feet Mini Gradients in the “Winter Sky” gradient colorway. 600 yards total of fingering weight merino.  Even though it’s called winter sky, it reminds me of the beach (where I spent a lot of time on vacation).

 

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Knitting Fever Luxury Collection Angora Merino in the a blue/gray/green colorway.  This is an aran weight blend of merino (40%) and angora (60%).  The three skeins total 588 yards and I plan to make something scrumptious!

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Stitches Midwest 2017

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I know what you’re thinking – Courtney, you didn’t go to Stitches Midwest this year, how do you have goodies from Stitches.  Well, my wonderful friend Erika (and her sister) offered to do a little personal shopping for me. I’ve linked to each vendor, just in case you’d like to check them out.

Some Non-Yarn Goodies

From Erin Lane Bags – one of her new Sheeple prints, Larry.  I’m also planning to get the Dr. Who prints/

From KnitBaahPurl – a shirt that says “I’m Only Fluffy on the Outside”

The YARN! Sorry I didn’t take the yarn out of the bags for the pictures.

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From Dragonfly Fibers – A gradient set of DK weight Traveller (100% superwash merino) in the colorway Starry Night.  The set consists of six 2-ounce skeins for a total of 840 yards.

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From A Hundred Ravens – A set of Yarn Poppers, which are small mini-skeins of coordinating colors on the Aesir (DK weight merino) base.  There’s a total of 75 grams in the one set.

 

 

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Malabrigo Knitting Pattern Release: Bryce Canyon Cowl

I hinted last winter I was up to something with one of my favorite yarn companies.  I’m happy to announce today that I’m designing some knitting patterns for Malabrigo Yarns.  My first design for them was just released, a cowl called the Bryce Canyon Cowl. It features a fun texture created by slipping stitches up multiple rows.  The cowl uses one 100 gram skein of fingering weight yarn such as Malabrigo Sock or Malabrigo Mechita.  This was my first time working with Mechita (a single spun yarn) and it was a true delight.

Bryce Canyon Cowl

The pattern is offered for sale by Malabrigo on Ravelry.  You can read more and buy the pattern here

The Bryce Canyon cowl is knit in the round and uses one skein of sock yarn, perfect for that single skein you can’t decide how to use. You can wear your cowl as a single looped long scarf, double looped as a casual mid-chest cowl or triple looped for a snugly neck warmer. The slipped stitch texture plays well with highly variegated yarns as it shows off the color changes.

Bryce Canyon Cowl

Yarn

    • Approximately 375-400 yards/343-366 meters fingering weight yarn. Sample shown in Malabrigo Sock  (100% merino, 440 yards/402 meters, 3.53oz/100g) in the coloway Diana.
  • Needles
    • Size US 4 (3.5mm) circular needle in a length of 24″/60 cm or 32″/81 cm, or size needed to obtain gauge.
  • Other Materials
    • 1 stitch marker (additional stitch markers to notate repeats optional)
    • Tapestry needle
    • Blocking pins

Malabrigo sample knit using Malabrigo Mechita in the Aniversario colorway. Photo Credit: Malabrigo Yarns

  • Finished Measurements
    • After Blocking
      • 58″/147 cm circumference
      • 7″/18 cm height
  • Gauge (all over 4”/10cm)
    • After Blocking:
      • Pattern: 20-22 stitches & 60 rounds

The cowl is blocked aggressively width-wise. Meeting exact gauge is not crucial but may affect the final dimensions. Stockinette gauge is provided to assist with determining an appropriate needle size for you.

 

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On The Needles – July 2017

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What’s on my needles right now!

Lots of changes in the line-up.  Luckily I have some serious knitting time coming up next month (hellloooo vacation!)

  • Diadem– I’m so close to being done with this it’s silly its not done – all that’s left is the knitted on border.  Unfortunately, I’m not happy with it.  I’ve barely used any of the yarn and it is a very small shawl.  So it might yet get ripped out and restarted as another shawl.  Brief reminder – this is the shawl I’m knitting for my friend Patty in exchange for a pair of handknit socks.  Yarn is from Zen Garden (I think Serenity Silk – the light fingering weight one) and the pattern is Diadem by Ruth Greenwald. PS – the photo color doesn’t do it justice at all.  It’s actually a deep midnight blue with a lot of sheen.

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  • Alpaca Cape – A big, heavy, warm, snuggly cape, that’s what I want(ed).  My yarny Christmas present to myself was several skeins of Cascade Yarn Baby Alpaca Chunky for a cape, which I promptly started over the Christmas holiday.  I’m two skeins in, with a couple more left.  I still plan to finish it (and before the fall) but it’s just not my “hot project” right now.  I don’t have a pattern for it – I’m just knitting it like a top down raglan without ever dividing off for sleeves.  I plan to knit until I’m into the last skein and then stop to do a nice wide button band.  The yarn is amazing and squishy – and very warm!

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  • Wicked Mormorio – One of my social-knitting (aka don’t have to pay attention to) projects.  Pattern is Mormorio by Heather Zoppetti and costs $6 on Ravelry.  The pattern uses two colors of yarn, both fingering weight.  The first I’ve used is Another Crafty Girl‘s Strong Sock in the colorway Numerical Vampire and the second I’ve used is Dyeabolical Yarns Tenacious Sock int the colorway Ever After.

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  • Golden Rapunzel – This is very much NOT brain-dead knitting.  Lace (both right and wrong side) with beads.  The other fun part of this pattern is its knit bottom up (so from the large edge of the shawl up to the neck).  Pattern is Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair by Lily Go and costs $5 on Ravelry.  Heads up – it is not a beginner friendly pattern.  Yarn is Iachos from A Hundred Ravens in the colorway Apollo.

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  • Slipped Stitch Shawl – Well, sneaky, sneaky, this is a new design I’m working on so no details quite yet.  It will use two skeins of fingering weight yarn and include mesh and slipped stitches.  If you’re interested in test knitting, please email or message me on social media.  Sample yarn is Fresh from the Cauldron Schoodic Sock in the colorway Poe’s Absinthe Induced Dream.

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  • Starry Whovian Socks – I am still loving knitting on this tiny circular needle.  I’ve made just a bit of progress since the last time I posted, mostly because I don’t work on it very often.  It’s become my current “brainless knitting” project that I can do anywhere, anytime.  These are plain socks with ribbing across the top, knit toe-up with an after-thought heel.  I’m using Quaere Fibre Sparkle Sock in the colorway Dr. Who Vincent and the Doctor.

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  • Caprica Socks – More socks.  This has gone into hibernation.  I might pull them out after my Whovian socks and keep knitting or I might rip them out.  Yarn is Knit Picks Felici, a super soft merino/nylon blend, in the colorway Caprica.

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Work in Progress – Sock Yarn Blanket

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I think I’ve lost what few marbles I have – I’m knitting a blanket.  Since this is a perpetual project, and I’ve had some questions on Instagram, I wanted to write about it now, rather than waiting until the end.  It’s a mitered square blanket with black borders for a stained glass effect.  I’ve completed 19 squares so far.  My calculations indicate I will need about 300 squares to make a throw sized blanket.

Moving on.  My Rav project page is here.

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Pattern – I actually am using a recipe from PrairieGirlDanie (of the Prairie Girls podcast).  The closest Ravelry pattern is the Sock Yarn Blanket from Shelly Kang (which is free on Ravelry).  I am knitting mine in individual pieces and will seam them together when I am done (for portability purposes).  My recipe is as follows and I’m doing all the same sized squares:

  1. Cast on 44 stitches in black
  2. Knit 22, make 1 (and knit through the back loop of the made stitch), knit 22
  3. Knit 21, slip 2 stitches knitwise, knit 1, pass slipped stitches over, knit 21
  4. Knit the return row
  5. Repeat rows 3 and 4 in black
  6. Switch to color and knit rows 3 and 4 until one stitch remains.

Yarn –  All yarn used is fingering weight (generally sock yarn) and most if merino or some blend thereof.  Each square takes about 3.5 grams of the colored yarn.  For the small black border I’m using Knit Picks Stroll.  So far my scraps have included yarn from Zen Garden, Fibernymph, Wandering Wool, Happy Go Lucky and Dream in Color.  The picture below is of my next several scraps.  I plan to make up several samples to swap if anyone is interested in swapping.

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Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival 2017

Second fiber festival of the year is in the books! I spent most of my time teaching, a little socializing, and a little shopping.  I was slowed down, just a bit, by my broken foot and made an effort to keep it elevated as much as possible.

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I had three wonderful classes with some smart and fantastic (and returning!) students.   Unfortunately, I was so focused on the classes I didn’t take any pictures. So here’s a sheep from the day.

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On Friday I taught Beaded Wire Bracelet and DIY Stitchmarkers and on Saturday I taught Cables 101.  One of my Cables class students from April took the Beaded Wire Bracelet class and I got to see two cabled handbands (a pattern exclusive to the Cables 101 class) she made. Saturday morning I got to Franklin early so I picked up my mini-rug hooking kit and sat at the edge of a friend’s booth working on that.

Of course, I did a little shopping. Yarny goodness:

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  • (Upper left) This actually just came – I loved the colorway but requested it on a different base (superwash merino rather than a merino bamboo mix) and they dyed it up this week.  It is a “shawl ball” from Brenda and Heather Yarns (aka BAH Yarns), a local dyer. This is 645 yards of fingering weight in a single gradient colorway called Sunset. 
  • (Upper right) Yet another large gradient, this time Arial Evolution (100% merino) from Twisted Fiber Art.  This is a new to me dyer so I’m excited to start on this soon.  Colorway is Downten.
  • (Lower left) This was a dyer I specifically wanted to buy something from this year as I’ve never tried her yarns.  This is sportweight 100% merino (superwash) in the Plum Drum Weekend colorway from Oink Pigments.  It’s actually not the softest merino but it feels like a very sturdy merino that won’t fuzz or felt so I’m planning to use it for socks.
  • (Lower right) Another yarn from Brenda and Heather Yarns but this is a self striping DK yarn.  I love self-striping for socks but given I’m a crazy slow sock knitter, DK weight yarn is perfect for me.  Colorway is Sunshine on a Cloudy Day (or as I call it, Grellow).

 

 

 

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Finished Object – Chomatic Cowl

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I actually finished my first brioche knitting project.  I’ve had learning brioche as a goal for about two years now and tried learning via YouTube with no success.  So, when a brioche class was offered the day before the Knitting Pipeline retreat started, I jumped at chance.  Once I got the rhythm of brioche down it was actually an easy and fun knit.  Only reason it took two months was because I had to stop in between and work on knitting for classes.  But it’s done!

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My Rav project page is here.

Pattern – Chromatic Cowl (Ravelry pattern here) by Amy Detjen (who taught the class).  It’s worked in the round with two colors.  I think its important to note that the pattern itself doesn’t teach you how to do brioche – it assumes you know this.  You use a solid color to start and end with a curled border.  Normally I dislike edges curling as an intended border but on this it works out well.  Pattern is free on Ravelry.

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Yarn –  I bought a kit at the start of the brioche class that was designed specifically for the cowl.  The yarn is Greatest of Ease from KnitCircus Yarns and is a fingering weight 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon blend.  The kit included two 50 gram cakes, one in a solid (cream in my case) and another in a gradient (I bought the Over the Rainbow colorway).  I really liked the feel of the yarn (squishy and soft) but I did have some spots where the yarn had frayed a bit (as in it was becoming unplied).  The rainbow colors are very vibrant and it became “potato chip knitting” to get to the next color. 

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The Fiber Event at Greencastle 2017

First fiber festival of the year is in the books, as well as a three new classes!

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I taught three classes, all new.  Of the three, I think the knitted wire bracelet with beads was my favorite.  Both students finished their bracelets in class.

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I also taught a class on making stitch markers and another on beginner cables. It is so fun to teach something that results in an items the students can take home.  The same classes will be offered June 2 and 3 at Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival.  Class fee is $40 if you sign up by May 15th and you can see class descriptions here.

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After the classes on Friday I went to dinner with some friends where hijinx ensued.  One friend had dropped a skein while winding it (sans skeinwinder) and a mess bloomed.  While we waited for our meal we tried to help her untangle across the table.  No beverages were harmed in the process.

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Since I taught all day Friday and then Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon was my first chance to *really* get shopping.  Made some purchases from some long-time favorites, and some new.

The Yarn and Fiber:

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Working left to right (then the bottom)

  • The green yarn is 8oz of DK weight alpaca/merino/silk from Briar Rose Fibers
  • The blue/purple fiber batt from Stillwater Farm is a blend of merino, english angora and firestar
  • The rainbow yarn is the colorway Mr. Roy G. Biv on the Twist and Shout Base (DK weight) from BaH Yarns
  • The red yarn is the colorway Heart’s Blood on the Slightly Silky (merino/silk fingering weight) from Copper Centaur Studios
  • The fiber at the bottom is 100% nylon from Hello Purl

Notions and Accessories:

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  • The canvas and fiber is a mini rug hooking kit from Breezy Manor (aka Donna Jo Copeland aka where I got Winston).  I’ve always been intrigued but a large project is a little overwhelming.  So I got the little kit.  It will have a bunny on it and Donna Jo gave me some white fiber so I can make a white bunny like Winston.
  • The two “pouches” in the upper left of the photo are yarn keepers.  You put your yarn ball in (the bottom opens up square) and close the snap.  I’m hoping it’ll protect my yarn when it invariably hits the floor.  These two are from The Felted Garden (on Etsy as thefeltedgarden).
  • The soap is from Simple Soapworks and I buy some every year.  I love the oatmeal in the soap because it really does exfoliate.  This year I got two scents – lavender rosemary and oatmeal.
  • The pouch in the lower left is a yarn keep from a different booth.  I like this one a lot because the fabric is heavier and it has a d ring on the side.  It has strings to cinch close but I might replace those with the little plastic stoppers you squeeze.  These are made by DC Bags and she will be be opening a shop May 1 on Etsy.  She also has a lot of nice wedge project bags.
  • The white stick on the left side it a goat milk lotion bar in the lavender scent.  The maker is Gentle Meadow Goat Farm but it was sold by Midwest Fiber.  They had a lot of nice alpaca yarns and fibers as well.
  • The tubes on the top are handmade lip balms from Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium.  I got chocolate cherry and strawberry vanilla although there were many more options.  This vendor also has a podcast which I’m going to give a try very soon.
  • The odd looking contraption on the right is a ball holder.  You put the base of the V up the center off your yarn cake and the ring on your wrist/forearm so you can carry your yarn.  Usually I can clip a project bag to a belt loop but that doesn’t work for my skirt.  Hopefully this will! I bought it from Mother of Purl, although the website listed is www.barnhart-studios.com.
  • Last but not listed I found a stemless wine glass from knitbaahpurl, sold via a different vendor’s booth.  I got the one that says “Three Sheeps to the Wind” (which I have on a t-shirt already) and may order another that says “Sheep Faced.”

That’s all folks!

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