Saturday, July 20, 2013

Free Pattern: Bizet Purls Cap

A few weeks ago, Friends and Fiberworks donated a few really sweet goodie bags to the Asheville Tourists Stitch 'n' Pitch that included a skein of Laines du Nord Bizet - an interesting yarn with bumps of different color fiber along the base yarn.  It's bulky yarn that will make a great super quick one skein wonder.  Again an easy pattern (so easy, it's a little embarrassing to call it a pattern), but the FOs are showing up on Ravelry, so here it is! 

Bizet Purls Cap

Materials:  One skein Laines du Nord Bizet yarn, or any yarn that knits to the same gauge. 

Needles:  Size 11 16” circular needles & one set double pointed needles; Yarn needle.

Size:  20 inches

Gauge: 3.5 stitches per inch


Using circular needle, cast on 48 stitches.  Join into a ring, being careful not to twist stitches.  Knit 4 rows.  Purl one row.  Continue knitting in stockinette stitch, changing to 3-4 purl stitches when the yarn changes to a bulkier colorful section.  Knit until the hat measures 6 inches from cast on edge.

Begin decreases.

Knit 4; knit 2 together (K2T). Repeat around (40 stitches).  Knit one round plain.

Knit 3; K2T. Repeat around (32 stitches).  Knit one round plain.

Continue to knit these 2 rows, decreasing 8 stitches every other row, until 8 stitches remain, changing to double pointed needles when necessary.

Cut yarn, leaving a 6” tail. Thread yarn through stitches and weave in the tail as well as the cast on end.

Enjoy your knitting!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Knitting along

Beginning in May, I'll be hosting a knit-along at my favorite yarn shop, Friends & Fiberworks ( FFW). The pattern that I've chosen is Berroco's Seabrook, a simple drapey  vest - almost embarrassingly easy.  The pattern was written for Captiva, but I''ve chosen Lago instead.

I wanted a fabric and color that went with a lot of summer things, but wasn't beige. So it's kind of a denim blue.  The yarn is a linen-viscose blend with a matte finish and a bit of texture.

With a pattern name like Seabrook and a yarn called Lago (Spanish for lake), I need a name that suggests water, but reflects my landlocked status.  Mountain stream?  Nolichucky? French Broad?  Both of those are rivers in this area.  Let's keep it simple: Blue Water.

Bad phone picture of Mount Vernon
It's been travel knitting for short jaunt. As I am on the advisory board for my grant, we get together a couple times a year to help with decision making. As some 'interesting'  changes are coming up, our feedback was rather important.  The meeting was in Alexandria, so instead of going across the river to DC to do my usual museum tour, I spent my time in this interesting city, both historic and modern.  I had a good time even with drizzly weather. Our meetings were at Mount Vernon,  but we got only a tiny bit of free time. My colleagues and I got to the outbuildings,  but not the main house.  Overheard a dad to his kid: "All you have to do is find a rich widow with lots of land."  Sounds like good advice, by the upkeep is tough. All the way around.

The first KAL session was last evening with my Knitters-along and a few people who were just there to sit and knit.  Everyone's Seabrook was getting off to a fine start.  And we've all decided to stick with garter stitch rather than seed stitch.  Too many purls!

This weekend coming up?  The 3rd annual Asheville Yarn Crawl. I'll probably get to a few - mostly to make sure my fiber is nicely stocked - and maybe to check out Echoview Fiber Mill. Although kind of a schlep, I've been wanting to visit so perhaps now is the time. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Going Analog

Although the blog is quiet, the world headquarters of Smoky Mountain Fibers has been a flurry of color.  I dyed lots of fiber for a felting class and even more fiber for my retail business.  I am a contributing member of a local yarn shop here in Asheville (NC), Friends & Fiberworks (aka FFW).  As one of the friends, I work at the shop several hours a month and they carry an array of my patterns and fibers.  The shop participates in a number of fiber festivals and knitting and crochet shows, so my fiber travels in the booth.  If you were at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival in March or Stitches South in Atlanta a few weeks ago, you may have seen my work.  They'll be at the Kentucky Sheep &Fiber Festival in May, so my fiber will be a large part of the shop's display.

So in the interest of all this retail business, I've been keeping the dyepots warm.  I try to dye around the spectrum, so this weekend I concentrated on the reds.  Rosy golds, rusty oranges, fiery reds.  Last week it was all about the greens - blue-greens, olives, froggy, grassy, emerald, chartreuse, every green I can make - even one that was a rather poisonous neon green seldom found in nature.

But with all this dyeing, why am I ignoring my Etsy shop (and my blog)?  I say that it's my lack of a decent camera.  I tell myself that it is the time factor.  I am right on both counts.  I don't have a decent camera, though I could buy one.  The camera built into my phone is better than any stand-alone camera that I own.  Not bad as you can see here.  Not fabulous, but not bad.  I think that researching the perfect camera (and they keep changing) is standing in the way.  My essential cheapness is an issue too.  The perfect camera is scary expensive. 

The time factor is more telling.  Even though I have a demanding day job that requires considerable travel,  I work most Saturdays and an evening every week in the yarn shop.  I design workshops and teach classes as part of my day job, but I also write patterns and knit samples for the yarn shop and it's fun! I've also taught a number of classes and hosted a knit-along or two.  I'm also doing a good bit of knitting for myself.  This winter I completed 5 sweaters, although 3 were in timeout since the previous spring.  (I couldn't help it.  Spring came in February, 2012.  Who wants to knit on a wool sweater when it's 70 degrees out? I have another one on the needles, but need to figure out what I want to do for the closures, so that will likely marinate until next fall.  Hmmm...maybe a zipper?   I've already started a cotton top.  See what I mean?). 

I think the real 'problem' is that I'm involved in a strong, lively, in-person fiber community, so the pull of digital is not so strong.  I get positive feedback from my colleagues at the yarn shop, for my customers in the shop and the felting teachers who purchase my fibers.  I'm teaching knitting and dyeing classes.  People seek out my help with knitting problems, they want my advice in choosing yarns for projects.  Cyberspace is a wonderful place to visit and indeed I go there everyday, but it is not my main sense of community. 

As I make choices about how I spend my time, I am liking the present time and space.  Yesterday I spent my time doing what I love to do:  I took a walk. I cooked.  I dyed fiber. I worked played in the garden.  I even packaged fiber for the upcoming KY show, but I didn't post a one of those luscious rovings to my Etsy shop!

This doesn't mean I'm going offline - not at all.  I'm getting ready to host an online knit-along on the FFW Ravelry group & Facebook page.  I'm back on the blog.  Watch for some new patterns!  But I'm living in the real world as well as the digital.  They're both good. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Not as Bleak as it Looks

Although at first glance it looks like the roving on my clothes line is the only color in the February. landscape, but that seems not tot be true.  Here in western. North Carolina, the early spring and winter are in competition.  I took a walk around my yard and found many more shades of green.

When I look closely there are lots of tiny splashes of color. But looking closer is the key.  When I take a moment, I can admire the snow drops. These tiny flowers that are a reminder that spring can't be far away.  They  are so cute, even without any snow to help them show off.

It won't be long before the daffodils are blooming . With our frequent warm spells, these bulbs take advantage of sunny days to get a head start. And with Mardi Gras just a few days away, the Lenten Rose has begun to begun to bloom.

Today was chilly and breezy but with the moist feeling that feels like spring is coming soon.  Last year I was so late getting the early spring veggies in, that I didn't even bother with peas and spinach.  That won't happen this year.  The bed is already prepped and waiting.

The recent dye activity is to fill a good sized order for an upcoming felting class.  I want to be sure that the students have plenty of choices and I don't mind having extra dyed fiber around. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What a Sweet Gift

A lovely surprise came in the mail the other day.  For a few years I have been a member of a fiber marketing initiative called 'Phat Fiber.'  Indie fiber producers contribute to a sampler box and each month these are made available for purchase.  If people like your yarn or roving or stitch markers, they might buy from your online shop.

Along with this, a community has formed along with the fiber exchange.  We decided this year to move the gift exchanges away from the traditional holiday season to a less busy time.  After all, who need more to do during the holidays?  We decided to move it to early February - a time that can be a bit quiet both in the fiber business and people's lives.  Although I don't always join in gift exchanges, thought this one might be fun. 

When I got home from work the other evening, a decorated box was waiting for me. It's from Melissa at Hello Purl.

When I opened it  up, there was a note...

And it was full of goodies...

Jammed full...

I found a fabulous art batt in Hello Purl's 'Fire Pit' colorway, hand dyed silk hankies, an ounce of charcoal grey Lincoln locks, 2 hand made walnut buttons, a box of Tazo tea and a package of way cute chocolate truffles in the shape of bears! With lots of cool stuff in her Etsy shop, Hello Purl's work is fun and creative.  I can't wait to Spin up the art batt the mix of fibers, colors and textures is so rich!

Thanks Melissa!  I am happy to be part of this amazing group!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Random Thursday Bits

Well, it seems that the only way to blog more is more. So, a few bits of blog...

1. Current knitting is a basic vest of my own design - hand dyed, handspun BFL in my rusty red colorway.  I'm knitting it in one piece to the underarms, then I'll separate the fronts and back.  Deep vee cardi. I'm very close to the separation point

2. I've been spinning a good bit lately, both the red BFL above and it's blue green cousin.  Also, even if the singles have been on the bobbin for and unconscionable time, you can still ply them.  Who knew?  That adds some lovely medium brown and creamy white to the stash.

3. I'm on my second round of sock classes with 2 fine students.  Since I knit along with them, I have (or will have) lots of new socks. Making a serious dent in the sock yarn stash, which is a fine thing.

4. Next weekend is the Winter Retreat at Friends & Fiberworks in Asheville.  Classes, vendors, yarn party all around.  Kind of hoping one of my classes doesn't make so I can take one.

5. Just got a big honkin' order for dyed mohair locks.  Kind of like these...

That's about all we have time for today.  Back to work (lunch hour blogging!  I like it!); then time for the little red Car-Car to get new tires.  Car-Car needs a new pair of shoes!