My big summer knitting project

When my daughter went off to college, I made her a blanket for the dorm. We got together and talked about colors but the rest was left to me. I love surprises, and wanted to make it special in a way she wouldn’t expect. So I decided to knit a message into the blanket with shadow knitting. You can see some of the words here. “No place like home is where the heart is.” There’s also a K in one corner, a U in another- she went to KU- and a heart in still another.

shadow knitting: no place like home
no place like home shadow knit blanket

So fast forward another few years and my son is now leaving for college. I asked him what kind of blanket he’d like and he was very specific. He has a store-bought gray knit blanket for his bed now that he likes, so he modeled it (size-wise) off that one. He wanted a black and white one originally, which changed to black and gray, then finally to black, medium gray, and light gray.

We got together and talked about the design. All along I just assumed I’d do it in shadow knitting and he would be so “wowed” – but no, he’s got his own aesthetic and is pretty creative himself.

I showed him a whole book of Barbara Walker’s mosaics, which he carefully pondered. I know he liked the geometric quality, but everything was just a little off in his mind. I told him to think about it and draw something for me later. I was already beginning to feel this project was going to take on proportions I hadn’t expected. This is what he sent me when he got home:



OK. Intarsia, right? Just couldn’t be anything else.

I ordered the yarn and took one skein of each color with me as one of my to-do projects last month in France. I swatched and sent photos to him for his approval. With one change, this was the final swatch:


His correction: The t’s (crosses) I had made inside the medium gray should really be + signs instead.

I felt charged and ready to go. I wanted to be ready to cast on as soon as I got home, so I needed to know the size. So I texted him…

Imagine my surprise…


Wow. Again, OK.


ray's blanket
after week one
two weeks later
two weeks later

Lucky I love intarsia.


Yoth Yarns

Yoth Yarns

At Stitches South this year, I discovered a booth that touched me to the core! Yoth Yarns. Their display was so “clean”- simple, beautiful, like an Anthropologie display.  What I especially responded to was the color- or maybe it was the lack of it. All the yarns were neutrals and greens, blues. I couldn’t help but think,  in a room full of explosive color “Now that’s just plain gutsy!”

From reading their website, I discovered they began with Raw Palette, in neutrals. Then added on the Fresh palette, in earthy blues and greens. Anyone that knows me, can understand why I was so drawn to this color range. They do, however, have plans to add two more palettes, over time: in their own words, “Juicy Palette, the golden sunlit yellows and oranges that mom adores, and Roots Palette, the ravishing reds, purples and pinks that every collection needs.”

And wait, it just gets better and better. Read their story; they tell it much better than I can here. In essence, it’s a sister (Veronka) and brother (Danny) team – with the whole family involved in different aspects of the business.  The yarns are offered in 2 weights: Little Brother in fingering and Big Sister in dk.

Of course, I just couldn’t pass it up. For the first time in over 20 years I paid retail for yarn- but I just had to have these colors in Little Brother. And part of me is still wishing I’d picked up some Big Sister, too. Ah well…one at a time… can’t wait to design with this combo!

yoth yarn colors

Fiber Content: 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon

Big Sister: DK weight, Approximately 231 yds

Little Brother: Fingering weight, Approximately 435 yds

And here’s what they say on their (also beautifully done – by Veronka’s husband) website:

“Our yarns are lovingly dyed in small batches at our dye house in Maine to mimic the look of hand dyed yarns. Some colors may have more variegation than others and we recommend alternating skeins on larger projects as you would with a hand dyed yarn.”

They also have wonderful notions. Below are the pieces I couldn’t pass up. I mean, you can never have enough finishing needles, stitch markers, or safety pins, right? And they’re so darling in the packaging. I don’t have a photo of their careful wrapping because I couldn’t wait to get to what was inside- but just know that all the little glass jars were individually wrapped in brown paper and taped with their masking tape stamped with their logo. It’s the attention to detail like this that endears this company to me even more.

yoth markers

And just look at this masking tape! How cool is that? I had to buy one of each, of course, if for no other reason than to adorn my studio. The note cards are very sweet, too. I was lucky enough to snag the last one, so not the only one that appreciated this booth!

yoth yarns notions


UDesignItYarns!; not just custom yarn dyeing

Wow, April has been a whirlwind of events and knitting for me; not to mention lots of road time, too. How about you? I met a lot of you at Yarn Fest in Colorado and Stitches South in Nashville. Did you increase your stash? Always room for more, right? Especially if you can design your own!

One aspect I’ve really enjoyed at the shows is meeting the other vendors. At Yarn Fest, I was thrilled to see Sally Brandon from Phillipsburg, KS. I’ve known her for quite some time; even designed some beginner projects when she first began the mill. Since then I’ve heard from visitors and clients all over how great her mill is. I was thrilled to see her exhibiting at Yarn Fest and get a chance to talk to her a bit about her new endeavor: UDesignitYarns, an online yarn designer!


UDesignItYarns is exciting! It gives anyone the opportunity to create their own unique yarn- and how cool is that? You enter the website and click on the green “get started now” tab which takes you to a page of choices for your own custom yarn dyeing- and creating. So many choices!

You’ll see a screen with a basket and fiber content selections along the left side. You first choose the fiber content (nylon, bamboo, tencel, merino, silk, alpaca to name a few!) and color. Pick the percentage under the basket and drag and drop into the basket. Decide on the spin style and weight: fingering to bulky in single ply, 2 ply or 3. You can even tweak it a bit with texture: click on special ply and choose from crepe, barber pole, loop spiral, metallic, or none.

The minimum order is 8 ounces. As you fill your basket, the price is automatically adjusted. And she stands behind her product. Read the guarantee. I admit I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m very fascinated. Kristi Traffas, from Unwind, my LYS owner, has though, and she was thrilled with the results. Here’s what she had to say:

“Sally asked me to test the web site and design a yarn when she first introduced this idea. I made 5 hanks of yarn to weave a poncho with. The yarn turned out great, the site is user friendly, and turn around time was fast. Perfect for when you can’t quite find that particular yarn you have in mind.”

So give it a try!

I’m planning on it. Just as soon as I can narrow down my choices!


knitting retreat: painting on knits and vest design

I met a great group of knitters earlier this month at the Riverwools Winter Retreat where I taught 2 workshops: painting on knits and vest design.



The event was held at a quilting retreat center in Danville, Illinois. Attached to a beautiful quilt shop, the facilities included 3 well-equipped kitchens and large work areas with cutting boards and walls to pin projects on. In a former life, the building was a nursing home, so provided the perfect set up for overnight stays. It seemed to be a very popular place. There were people working away at all hours of the night! Definitely check this place out if you’re looking for a place to hold a retreat of your own. The staff was very gracious, too.


Painting on Knits was our ice-breaker- as if this group needed one! As they sipped their after dinner wine, they dipped their brushes into fabric inks and worked with stencils on their swatches. I immediately recognized them to be a creative group of knitters! Even simple stencil designs came alive with their imagination. More than one tried their hand at free-hand and came out with some amazing results.


Next morning, we dove into vest design. It was an intense day of planning and swatching. There were some very accomplished knitters in the group that incorporated complex cable designs. While most had an idea of what they wanted to tackle before they came, others quickly discovered the most important features to them and began to work those into a design. I’ve asked them to keep me posted on their progress and hope to show that here.

It’s always a lot of fun to get a group of like-minded people together for a length of time. I loved seeing the energy and creativity that came from the weekend. Designing Knitwear is one of my favorite subjects to teach. I’ll be scheduling the 2015 workshops at the studio soon, so stay posted on sign up for the newsletter!