Sunday, November 29, 2009

Red Scarf Project and Contest

Stephanie wrote:

Every year I try to knit a few things for charitable organizations. A few days ago I was taking stock of my charity knitting and couldn't think of one thing I had knit for charity during the last year. Not good. I vowed to knit something for charity before the end of the year.

Along comes Anne with her Red Scarf KAL (Ravelry link). Anne is knitting a scarf and hosting a KAL for the Red Scarf Project. This project, spearheaded by Norma, donates red scarves to foster kids in college who no longer have a family support network. This year the Project is behind schedule in collecting donations. I've knit for this unique, worthwhile cause in the past and am on board to knit again.

You might want to check out the KAL - there's a prize involved. Pick up your needles, red yarn and get to work. The deadline is December 15.

My knitting progress has been piecemeal. I always envision hours of uninterrupted knitting time over a long holiday weekend, but it never happens.

I did manage to dump my stash and choose a selection of yarns that will make their way into holiday gifts. And I found red yarn for a scarf. While my list of holiday knitting may seem daunting, I find it reassuring to at least know what I'm up against.

I have given Bittersweet some attention.

I'm ready to turn the heel and get on with it.

It's that time of year when we think of knitting gifts. Since I'm always looking for new project ideas, I've decided to run a contest. Leave a comment with what's on your list for holiday knitting. If you don't knit for the holidays, mention what you're currently working on. The winner, chosen at random, will receive the winter installment of our mitten club. The contest closes on Sunday, December 6.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Enter To Win

Stephanie wrote:

In case you missed them, I want to clue you in to a couple of contests running right now.

First up Wendy Johnson has a contest to name a mitten pattern. The mitten is the winter installment of our Four Seasons Mitten Club. Pop on over and check out the design. If you have an idea for a name, be sure to post it to Wendy's comments. If your suggestion is selected, you win a kit for the mittens. The deadline for entries is noon EST on Sunday, November 29.

Next is a contest being run by Susan Gibbs and Juniper Moon Farm. Susan offers a Shepherding Camp at her farm in Virginia. Shepherding Camp is an opportunity to hang out on the farm and see what shepherding life is like. Susan is giving away a Shepherding Camp Weekend for two. Go here to read all the details and enter to win. But hurry - Susan will be picking the winner this Thursday.

Time for a project update.

Waffle Rib Socks almost ready for the heel flap. Since this picture was taken the flap has been knit, the heel turned and stitches picked up.

From the dye pot.

Celestial in an array of seasonal colors.

Be sure to stay tuned as we'll be running a contest of our own in the near future.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Club News

Stephanie wrote:

We've been cooking up a little something here at Dye Dreams and have expanded our Four Seasons concept to include mittens. Announcing the Four Seasons Mitten Club.

Every quarter members will receive the yarn and pattern for a pair of mittens. The pattern designers are Wendy D. Johnson, Janel Laidman, Beth Brown-Reinsel and Donna Kay.

We are very excited about this project. We've been working with the designers to select the yarn and an exclusive colorway for each pattern. The designers will offer interesting, varied patterns. Like socks, mittens make a great portable project. It will be lots of fun.

Speaking of clubs we've also opened up our Four Seasons Sock Club for 2010. The designers for the Sock Club include Anne Hanson, Ann Budd and JC Briar. Again, there will be a variety of fibers with an exclusive colorway. These designers are sure to provide a nice selection of sock patterns.

News from the needles . . . I'm cruising along on the foot of my Bittersweet Socks, watching the twists and turns unfold. I had lots of unexpected waiting time the last few days so I also made progress on my Waffle Rib Socks (Ravelry link). Sorry I don't have pictures of either - those will have to wait until next time.

Last month I was at Fruitlands Museum. In addition to an interesting program on Shakers, Transcendentalists and Native Americans we got to view an exhibit of Joseph Wheelwright's Tree Figures entitled Branching Out.

In motion, ready to swoop down and grab you.

The lookout in a field.

A towering figure . . .

. . . with roots for hair.

Incredible works of art. However, they are not meant to last. The trees are not treated and will weather naturally. From the Fruitlands website, ". . . there is a creeping sense that when we turn our backs on them they move." And that's exactly how I felt.

Finally, this piece.

I couldn't resist this face. Or is it a mask? Blank yet expressive.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Balancing Act

Stephanie wrote:

At the end of last week I found myself without a small, portable knitting project. I had finished the Smockies fingerless mitts and didn't have a sock project underway. I felt lost. How could I leave the house without a project in my bag?

I quickly remedied the situation and cast on this sock.

This is the beginning of Bittersweet Socks, the fall installment of our Four Seasons Sock Club. Wendy Johnson designed this cable pattern of twists and turns. I've knit a bit more since taking this picture and am enjoying the design. However, this may not be the best project to carry around with me while I wait in line or at the doctor's office. The chart and needle size changes require more mental power than I usually have in those situations.

My solution - cast on a second sock project.

I can easily carry this project around and work on it without having to think. It's an embellished rib sock - perfect for kiling time while I wait.

The yarn is Dream Sox Mulled Wine, and the pattern is Waffle Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks. The color is more accurate in this picture. I like the way this is knitting up with just a bit of texture.

Now I have some balance with my sock projects. One to while away time and one to make me think.

Part of balancing everything else in my life includes keeping my family happy. Food usually does the trick.

Homemade bagels hot from the oven. Who could resist?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All Thumbs

Stephanie wrote:

The pace around here hasn't slowed down one bit. We've been busy filling orders, re-stocking inventory.

And shipping the fall edition of our Four Seasons Sock Club. Wendy Johnson designed the sock for our fall installment and recently posted about it on her blog. The colorway is all about fall, and the yarn is Luster Sox, 100% bluefaced leicester. This yarn is one of my favorites for socks, but it works up well for other projects too - neck warmers, scarves etc. We are still taking orders for the fall sock club - you can find it here.

Our website was down earlier this week but is up and running again. The situation has been dealt with and hopefully that's the end of it. One of the frustrations in life is dealing with problems that you, alone, can't fix.

Knitting progress has been slow. I'm still finishing up these fingerless mitts that will be gifted. My goal is to mail them by the end of the week.

Here is mitt the second minus the thumb. This pattern uses an Elizabeth Zimmermann thumb technique which I think is written up in Knitting Without Tears.

See the small bit of contrast yarn? First, knit a specified number of stitches (this patterns calls for 9) with contrast yarn. Return those stitches to the left hand needle. Continue knitting with working yarn as if nothing had happened. Finish mitt. Now it's time to knit the thumb.

Remove the contrast yarn and pick up the exposed stitches.

Rather than remove the contrast yarn in one fell swoop, I worked stitch by stitch and put each one on a needle right away. These stitches are small, and I didn't want them to scoot away from me. I was left with a beautiful thumb opening. All that's left is to pick up a couple of additional stitches on the ends and knit up the thumb.

The first mitt is almost complete except for the finishing details.

These mitts are worked wrong side out. Mitts are turned right side out after knitting. Now it's time for the fun part - smocking. Using beads or contrasting yarn, pull ribs together and attach. I'm working on my first column of beads here. The second column of beads will be staggered with the first to create the smocking effect.

I have fond childhood memories of smocked dresses. My aunt was an excellent seamstress and even made matching smocked doll dresses. The beads give this smocking an elegant touch.

The pattern is appropriately named Smockies; the yarn is Reynolds Whiskey, color 053 from stash. Using stash is good.

The last couple of months have been a flurry of activity - at times a blur. As I gaze out on naked trees with just a few oaks hanging on to their leaves, I recall the warmer, more colorful days of fall.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Website Down

Wahh! Our website is down and the master of such things has not been able to correct the situation. Thanks to all of you who have sent us notes to let us know. Hopefully we'll be up and running again soon.