Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's New? Glad You Asked!

Well, I braved the Saturday crowds on SoCo yesterday, and went on down to my Happy Place, aka the shop (aka Hill Country Weavers-- wait, did I need to spell that out?). Boy was it hopping down there. Nonetheless, Lindsay managed to take me on a mini-tour of some of the new stuff, and boy is it delicious. Lots of great colors. Plenty of nice lightweight choices for Spring and Summer projects.

Wait, did I just say Spring and Summer? Okay, I did. Look, I know it feels like about six degrees out there. And, true confession, today I am definitely letting the temperature inspire me to use wool, wool, wool. But let us remember, this is Texas, people. Which means that, in about five minutes, we all know it's going to be about 130 degrees for at least ninety days running. So really, it's not too soon to start planning those projects for next season, so you can get them done in time to wear them before our two week (but still too cold) winter rolls around yet again.

So, what've we got? Well, at the top of this post, you're looking at some really lovely new Blue Sky multi-colored cotton. I felt drawn to this bright pink/orange combo. There's also some nice green and blue available, too. And here (to the left) we have a mighty fine line of Sublime Bamboo & Pearl (a nice 70/30 blend of bamboo/viscose). Next up (image below right) check out the sherbet-y sweetness of this new batch of 100% Egyptian cotton yarn from Katia:

And from Prism (images below) there's color galore-- in fact, there's lots of colors in every skein of both the 1/4" rayon ribbon and the Calypso line-- an 80/20 cotton/rayon blend. Both of these feel very, very good, and they knit up quick on big needles

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pizza Party TONIGHT, People: RSVP ASAP!

Hey Y'all,
Am posting this on Friday, January 29th. There's a Pizza Party happening TONIGHT at KnitBuzz, which is in the blue house, right behind Hill Country Weavers. We'd love for you to join us-- we're starting at 6:30 pm-- but we need you to RSVP by 3pm-- so, like, you have two hours (as of this posting) to give us a call at 512-707-7396, and let us know what kind of pizza you want. This is a "dutch treat" so be sure to bring your knitting projects and a little dough (the green kind) for the pizza. Even if you can't make the party, check out the Free Pattern for Knitted Pizza pictured above.
Hope to see you tonight!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Extending a Hand to Haiti


Dear Austin Fiber Community

It is impossible to witness the horror and devastation brought upon the people of Haiti and not be moved to extend a hand.

Knitting Fever and their affiliates have generously pledged to match dollar for dollar up to $50,000, all contributions made by you to any of the charities listed below. As and added incentive we will match a portion of your contribution to further increase its impact!

You can make your cash donation, or write your check out directly to the charity you choose through February 14th. We will then forward your donations to KFI, who will make the contributions in the name of our collective fiber community and your good names.


Please help in the measure of your heart and your pocketbook!

Sue Ellen, Old Oaks Ranch
Susan, Yarnorama
Stacy, The Knitting Nest
Suzanne, Hill Country Weavers
Karli and Allison, Gauge

Friday, January 22, 2010

Time to Get Your Class in Gear: Knit, Weave, Spin!

By applause, how many of you made a New Year's Resolution to take a HCW class to learn a new skill or improve an existing one? Well you have LOTS of opportunities coming right up to follow through on your promise, a promise way more fun to keep than some of those other resolutions (organize your office, stop eating Oreos, go to the gym at least four times a day). Check out the descriptions below and call the shop to reserve your spot: 512-707-7396.

Below find info on the following classes: Magic Loop Socks (1/24/10 AND 1/31/10-- two part class), Flower Basket Shawl (1/30/10), Spin Express -- Spinning Wheel (1/30/10), and Learn to Weave with Suzanne (1/30/10 AND 1/31/10 -- two part class).

Knitting Socks on One Needle
January 24/31
9:45 - 12:45

The Magic Loop style of knitting utilizes one circular needle to knit one entire sock in the round. In this 2 part class Deb will introduce you to the technique of using one needle to knit small circumferences and then guide you through the process of sock knitting from cuff to toe utilizing the MAGIC LOOP style.

After mastering the technique, you'll find several ways to use it such as cuffs, sleeves, mittens, hats, and even KNITTING TWO SOCKS AT A TIME!!

PREREQUISITES: Student must be proficient in basic knitting skills. This is a good prerequisite for the 2 Socks, 1 Needle class.
KERSTI by KOIGU - 2 skeins
US # 5 circular needle, 36" or longer
KNIT-COL by ADRIAFIL - 2 skeins
US #4 circular needle, 36" or longer
(keep your needle receipt in case you need to change sizes)
Stitch markers
Tape measure
Instructor: Deb Marvin
Fee: 60.00 (patterns included)

January 30

Would you like to create a bit of spring early this year? Then you will love knitting this graceful shawl designed by Evelyn Clark. Knit from the center back down, the lace flowers into a simple, scalloped edging. This shawl can be worked in a variety of sizes because the edging is worked at the end of any 10 row lace repeat.

Students will learn:
Chart reading
Managing unbalanced lace repeats
Organizing your knitting
Blocking a scalloped edge shawl

Fee: $50 plus pattern

Material List : This shawl can be worked in a variety of sizes because the edging is worked at the end of any ro row lace repeat. Please refer to the pattern for needle size and yardage. There will be a list of suggested yarns at the desk.
Students will need to bring a crochet hook, stitch markers and stitch gauge to class.

Prerequisites: This class is designed for the advanced beginner that has experience knitting lace.

IMPORTANT : please purchase and wind yarn into balls prior to start of class.

January 30
FEE: 25.00

Don't have time for the full meal deal?? Sign up for an express class!!!
Have questions about your spinning wheel, then this is the class for you.
PREREQUISITES: need to able to spin on a spindle a continuous yarn. It doesn't have to be great yarn.



January 30 10-4
January 31 9 -1
2 day class

Learn how to plan a basic weaving project and weave a project on a four-harness table-loom. This two-day class is offered on a Saturday and Sunday and will introduce the student to basic weaving concepts as well as allow them to experience the weaving process.

Fees: $70.00 + materials
Instructor: Suzanne Middlebrooks

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

FOUND! (But Not in Translation)

Great News! The orders Suzanne placed at Market are beginning to arrive. Just in are two products to please and excite you. These are:

Japanese pattern books from Select Yarn. We had a great time talking to the Select Yarn folks. And for my part, I am a huge fan of Japanese design. (I'm also a huge fan of the Japanese concept wabi-sabi, which, as I understand it, is about seeing beauty even in the flaws-- that's how I can appreciate some of my less-than-perfect projects**.) Though these books are not translated into English, they are based on charts, with clear explanations on what symbol indicates which stitch so you won't have any trouble understanding them. You should visit the shop soon if you want to get your pick of the litter.

And, on the super soft front, we also got a shipment of cashmere from Jade Sapphire. I'm hoping to educate myself a bit this year on types of yarn. If you, too, care to join me, here's a link to our first lesson about this very soft yarn brought to us by Kashmir goats. Admittedly, that link takes you to some pretty dryly delivered info, so if you want something slightly more lively, check out this link.

As for those **above, you know I like to share my personal knitting tales here, so here's a short one. For the past couple of weeks I've been working with some yarn I picked up in France, using a design I adapted from a pattern for a hat I made last year. I found myself getting increasingly cranky with the whole thing, dropping stitches, getting lost in the hairiness of the yarn, and realizing that my despair was leading me to avoid my knitting. One part of my head argued for continuing as part of my effort to get better and better. Another part chimed in that old advice about life being too short, and didn't I take up knitting for fun? So I put down that scarf, picked up some sample yarn I'd gotten at Market, and dove into making a pair of very basic socks. The yarn is fabulous, the pattern super easy, and the result is I am a happy knitter once again.

I really do plan to learn some new patterns this year, and tackle at least one really tricky project. But there's something to be said for right-time-right-place. Am wondering if any of y'all are on the fence re: current projects that you're wrestling with. Do tell.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Be Sweet: Fiber That Feels Good (In More Than One Way)

Hey Y'all,
As promised, I am now ready to start telling you about some of the amazing people I met and some of the outstanding products I saw last week at Market. A word, first, about my personal fiber choices. I am, for the most part, a creature of habit. Which is why you can find me again and again dipping into the Manos (original and silk blend) or hurling myself against the Noro wall (I am the self-proclaimed Whore-o for Noro). I’m not averse to other products—witness my stash which features plenty of other options. But the Manos and Noro are, for me, my comfort yarns.

A big thing I realized at Market is just what an impact Meeting Your Maker can have. Well, okay, not “meeting your maker” in the traditional sense of the phrase. But as I encountered the folks behind one product line or another, and as I chatted with them, admired their displays, and learned about their companies, I had a desire to broaden my palette some and try out what they had to offer. Suzanne and I talked a lot about how story makes a difference -- when you know what's up behind-the-scenes it can make a difference.

Which brings me to Nadine Curtis, founder of Be Sweet. Nadine started the company in 2003 when she was living in Cape Town, South Africa. She had the idea that she could connect poor artisans and their funky fiber art with consumers wanting products that were both fashionable and had a good social/environmental conscience. Her plan worked. These days you can find the Be Sweet line at shops around the world including, of course, Hill Country Weavers. Over 200 artists in South Africa make mohair, organic cotton, and bamboo yarns. They also make accessories and items for around the home. Be Sweet provides these artists—mostly women—with a livelihood. And the company turns around and donates some of its proceeds to a school in the Eastern Cape (a lot of the kids of the artists go here).

Besides creating a business with a soul, Nadine also happens to create one heckuva booth to show off her wares at Market. Sticking with the theme of the company’s name, she had plenty of candy dishes out (I ate about six pounds of salt water taffy). Some of her yarn was displayed on tiered cake plates. Some of it was wound so that the bird’s eye view looked like those hard candies with circle-within-a-circle stripes. I especially liked those. I also liked the bright pink balls that appeared to be embellished with mini-marshmallows.

Suzanne had an excellent time selecting yarn and
bags from the Be Sweet line to bring back to the shop. For my part, besides all that salt water taffy eating, I kept following Nadine around, intrigued by the sweater she was wearing, which her mother designed. It went so far beyond my imagination—its chunky, bumpy texture and its color—that I was more than a little inspired.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Swag Hag!

Hey Y'all,
Well I was the luckiest girl in the world-- Suzanne took me to TNNA (aka market) this past weekend in Long Beach, California. This is a twice-annual event where wholesalers display their new yarns and gadgets and tools so retailers can take a look and buy for the coming season. My head is still spinning from being around all that fiber and all those knitters. I've been to all sorts of conferences and festivals in my life, but never one targeted at needleworkers and I have to say it was an eye-opening experience. I learned so much about the business (the main one being how much I don't know about the business) that I told Suzanne I feel like the kid who gets pulled aside by the magician and shown how the tricks work. But while some of the mystery of yarn stores has gone away, the void was instantly filled with a slew of insider knowledge.

I gathered enough stories and pictures on the trip that it's going to take me weeks-- more likely months-- to share it all here. I'm hoping to introduce you to the people and companies that provide all the lovely stuff you buy down at the shop. For now, I only have enough energy to post a couple of pictures as teaser. At the top of this post what you see is my stunning collection of swag-- I wasn't shy about asking folks for samples and they weren't shy about heaping upon me t-shirts, bags, markers, yarn, needles, books, and magazines. I am officially a Swag Hag.

Hard to pinpoint just one or two favorite moments of TNNA, but I will say I am in love with the t-shirt I got from the Trendsetter Yarns booth, featuring a knitting kangaroo. Also, I scored some square knitting needles from Kollage, which I plan to test drive soon, as they are reported to relieve carpal tunnel. The yarn I'm going to use for my first test project is some beautiful dark brown and deep turquoise Juniper I picked up at the Alchemy Booth. I am so psyched I got to meet and hang out with Gina and Austin Wilde, who own Alchemy, and find out about their process. See below for a peek at the t-shirt, the needles, and the Alchemy Yarn. Once I'm rested, I'll start giving you the detailed report. What a show!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

In Honor of My Birthday...

Click here for the free pattern for the knitted birthday cake pictured above.

Hey Y'all,
In honor of my birthday, all of the merchants on South Congress have decided to throw a big party TODAY. It's actually starting in a few hours. I know, I know, a lot of people are going to confuse it with First Thursday, but I'm telling you, it's all about me, me, me.

Naturally, my favorite shop on SoCo-- Hill Country Weavers (do I really need to spell this out?)-- is celebrating in a very big way by offering a very nice special discount on some very warm yarn. If you got the email note telling you that this sale was in honor of the Longhorns' game tonight, please know that was just a trick. I repeat: This is all about me, me, me.

Before I tell you the splendid details of the sale, let me just tell you one more birthday related item. See, my ACTUAL birthday is Sunday. And where will I be? Why I will be AT MARKET WITH SUZANNE! Yes, that's right, finally, after years of going to quilting conferences to report on them, at long last I am going to a knitting extravaganza. And yes, I'll be blogging while we're out there to let you know all the cool new stuff companies are trotting out for Spring and Summer. You know, I thought it was so cool that the SoCo merchants were honoring me, but when I found out that TNNA (the folks that host the knitting extravaganza) had actually planned their event to land on my birthday...and that they picked Sunny California for the event (knowing my feelings about the cold)... well, well, well, I don't know what to say.

I hope y'all enjoy my birthday and stay warm. Better knit yourself up something cozy right quick. Here's info on the big sale to inspire you:


well HCW does too! ! (except for one unnamed Sooner)

To honor our HORNS and keep our Kiesters warm in the record breaking cold..............

(any percentage)!

want more??


and some very important information:


Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year of Knitting Resolutions

Hope y'all had a swell time ringing in the New Year. I was sound asleep by 7 on New Year's Eve, courtesy of jet lag, which is a very particular brand of kooky. In the three or four days it took me to readjust to Texas time, I was waking up at all sorts of odd hours, and alternating between huge energy bursts and sudden crashes. I took advantage of the former and whipped through the house like a human Shop Vac. Wound up purging around eight boxes of stuff that I toted to the thrift store. And, at least as importantly, I organized my stash.

Well, okay, "organized" might be too big of a word for it. But I did go through my basket and take stock of what I have. One thing I realized is that, with so many little odds and ends, it's high time for me to take a Cricket Loom class, which I hope to do soon. I also herded all of my knit books and magazines into two locations (couldn't fit them all into one), so they are no longer scattered about.

Next, I thought about my knit accomplishments (and gaffs) of 2009 and thought about goals for 2010. I guess for some folks setting knitting goals might feel the opposite of relaxing. But for me it's exciting to think about all of the possibilities. I'm really thrilled I took Fran's sweater workshop a full year ago, which led me to complete not one but two sweaters that were really complicated for me. I think, at long last, I might be approaching intermediate status, though I'm sure the new year will hold lots of humbling lessons for me.

As far as 2010 goes, I've got some UFO's I think I really will try to finish. I'm still trying to convince myself to try out a "mixed media" project-- by which I mean incorporate different types of yarn (weight, color, content) into one project. I lean toward monochromatic for sweaters, and often leave any color work to the magic of variegated yarn. Need to get over whatever fear or inside-the-box thinking that keeps prompting me to seek uniformity.

If you've been wanting to bump up your skill set, and if part of that includes learning how to make a sweater, Deb is teaching a workshop starting this Sunday, which, hint, hint, is MY BIRTHDAY! I'll actually be in California with Suzanne at The National NeedleArts Association Winter Trade Show so I won't be in Deb's class. But you really should check it out. And Deb's offering the option of knitting a kid's sweater, so for those of you who find the prospect of a sweater wildly daunting, knitting something smaller could be a good way around that. Here are the details for her class:

January 10/17 9:45 - 12:45
February 7/21 10:45 - 12:45
March 7 10:45 -12:45

Adult, Child, or Baby sizes
Fee: $90.00 plus materials
Instructor: Debbie Marvin

**NEW!!For those of you who may not have time to knit an adult size sweater, you can now choose to do a child or baby size!

From Cast On To Bind off, join Deb for this 5 session series! In this weekly workshop, Deb takes the knitter from yarn and pattern selection, through the sequence of sweater construction, to seaming and blocking a completed garment . The first half of each class is devoted to learning specific skills related to knitting your sweater. The second half is devoted to getting help with your project. Students choose their own pattern from a notebook of recommended pullover and cardigan patterns and work at their own pace throughout the 5 session course.

Prerequisites: students should know how to knit and purl, cast on and bind off, increase and / decrease, and should have completed 2 or 3 small projects.
Students should bring their needles and knitting gear to the first class

IMPORTANT purchase and wind at least one skein of yarn prior to start of class.



Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! It's Time for the BIG SALE!

Hey Y'all,
Happy, Happy, Happy New Year! I am back from Paris and even though it was sad to leave, knowing I was coming home to Austin, TX and the best knit shop in the world did much to ease my pain. I'm happy to tell you that it's time for the annual BIG SALE-- so get ready to build that stash up for 2010. Here are the details:

january 2, 10-6
january 3, 11-5
january 4, 10-7


SAVE 20% on ALL YARN PURCHASES up to $100.99!
SAVE 25% on ALL YARN PURCHASES $101.00 - $299.99!!

** no extra discount on already marked-down yarn.

See ya at the store,