Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Two little needle cases are currently making their way(s) to Nova Scotia and Hawaii - (funny right, one on each side of the coast?).  So, it's time to share with you the next item I scored in the Lantern Moon warehouse to give away.   I just loved these zippered felted needle pouches that you can pretty much use for anything - scissors, measuring tape, needles, stitch markers, keys, or maybe your bottle opener for outdoor knitting in a park as the weather gets warm.   So handy.

Tell me what you'd put in one of these (in the comments) and again, two lucky winners will get these awesome pouches.  Be sure to include a Ravelry Name or email or I won't be able to find you!

So that's for you guys.  I'll give it a couple of days and pick two winners.

For me, I splurged on a different item in the Warehouse.  I had heard all about Lantern Moon's beautiful needles in the past, and there had been much debate on the trip about who prefers which kind of wood for what.  So I created a sampler pack to find out.  And sorry guys, but I'm not giving these away -  I'll be checking out for myself what the difference is between Rosewood, Blondewood and Ebony as I knit my next few projects.  And I'm excited to use these and see what they are like, compared to my motley collection of Addis, Takumis, and hand-me-downs.  I may get spoiled.

Especially since I'll be using them on these yarns!  From L to R - Bare Naked Wool's Confection in Nougat,  Plucky Knitter's brand-new Scholar in Technicolor Teal, and Shalimar's Breathless DK in Byzantium.  I never do know how these things are going to go, but in my head... so far, this is what September will look like. 

Before that, this is what the summer will look like.  It's all Plucky. 

So stay tuned - and don't forget to comment below to win one of those adorable pouches!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Congrats to Kathy (bigblueice) in Hawaii and to Lyn in Nova Scotia (lyn41) who will be getting the lovely little Lantern Moon cases!  (I'll contact you via Rav for your actual addresses)

And to everybody else, don't worry - I have a few more things to give away from my giant basket of Lantern Moon goodies. 

For now though, I need to get this finished, so blogging will have to wait.  You guys know I've been playing with scarf construction, and this is my first tip to tip pattern.  It's fun and I love the way it's turning out but I'm knitting the scarf after writing the pattern for the first time ever, and it makes me so uneasy that I really, really need to finish the scarf before sending the pattern on its way this Wednedsay.  

So, these two hours I have before we are off to meet our friends up in Rockport will be used to finish! (My worst fear is that I've estimated the yarn wrong and will not have enough to complete the piece.  Once I am done, I'll feel all kinds of better.)

Cool leaves, though.  I'm not worried about them. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

First, a word about the Lantern Moon folks because I was just SO bowled over by them.  Pictured below - from left to right - are Shannon, Sharon, Cathy and Kelsey (I think Joel ducked out and made this an all-gals shot, but he deserves a mention too.)  And these guys care so deeply about everything they do, whether it's running a company focused on maintaining opportunity and stability for villages and families they have come to love in faraway lands - or planning a thoughtful and welcoming weekend retreat.  Their commitment to craft and community and tradition really shines through.  Plus, they are just such nice people and so much fun to be around.

With the spirit of a crafting retreat in mind, they chose the Timberline Lodge as our destination.  Built in the 1930s, and featuring a thousand examples of handwork - including woodcraft, ironwork, mosaics, painting, masonry and fabric arts, this was an inspiring and beautiful spot to spend a few craft-focused days in.  We began our weekend with a history lecture, where we found that ALL the curtains, cushions, and pillows in the Lodge were worked by hand, and in the 1970s when they renovated the hotel, a group of women spent over 3 years recreating the sofa cushions and drapes in the main areas alone.  (No feet on couches!)

It's the same hotel used in the outdoor shots of Steven King's The Shining, so that roofline full of snow was kind of foreboding to drive up to (and the REDRUM jokes never did stop).  As you can see above, the snow was HIGH - taller than the bus in the parking lot high.  And, my room fell under the snowline on that roof, which was very cool and kind of creepy at the same time. 

There were 37 retreat participants, the Lantern Moon gals, and two teachers for the weekend - myself and Gudrun Johnston.   And what a lovely bunch of ladies.  I loved meeting every one of them.  And I may just be plotting with a few on another teaching and traveling trip --

There were many drinks, great meals, a ton of Instagram photos, a snowy hike on the mountain, a swim in an outdoor pool and hot tub surrounded by snow, probably too many Jack Nicholson/Shining jokes, and a beer pong game in which Sonia (above in my Blackberry Bramble cowl) and I may have been hustled into knitting mittens for our bartender.  (If we'd won, we'd have gotten free drinks.  However, that wasn't in the cards.)

I finally met Glenna in person, who I've "known" for years through Ravelry, and I had the pleasure of traveling from East to West with Gudrun, who was an awesome travel partner.  Gudrun and I taught both Saturday and Sunday mornings (those are my busy students below) - and we also gave a talk together about top down design on Sunday afternoon.  Again, so much fun.  This retreat thing=good.

Before we left for the mountain on Friday, Lantern Moon hosted us for lunch and some private shopping time in their Portland warehouse, where I picked up a few goodies.  I don't know about you, but I am a such a sucker for things that will organize me, and I LOVE these little silk needle cases.

You can see I bought a few, and I thought I'd have a contest so that maybe some of you who don't know Lantern Moon's products could see them.  These are perfect for darning or cable needles, which I always lose - and the silk is dyed in such pretty colors.  When closed, little magnets in the circle parts keep the cases closed.  Which is way better than the old-school film canister I used to have for mine.

(By the way, do you see the genius little notches on their cable needles??  I am in love with them.)

Tell me what you keep your needles in now if you'd like one of these for yourself!

I'll pick 2 winners out of the comments to get new needle cases (and yes, I am keeping the third one!)

I have a few more things to give away soon.  Keep your eyes peeled for Contest #2.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Introducing Blackberry Bramble, a cozy cowl that's a great excuse to match up some colors and play.  I knit this in Plucky Knitter Primo Aran, pairing Webster Grove with Miniature Lilacs - and then adding just a shot of Princess Phone for fun.  With Sarah's colors, the possibilities for color combos are kind of endless...

It's a simple design with just a few tweaks.  I worked the length of the colorwork sections off-kilter so they don't match exactly if lined up, and I alternated the colors in the solid sections to add a little contrast as well.  Plus, a little row of unexpected dots adds a pop of surprise color on one side, which I love.

The motif I used for the colorwork is from MaryJane Mucklestone's directory of 150 Scandinavian Motifs, and it's absolutely addictive.  I love how it's round and geometric at the same time, and it is has a nice rhythm to it, so once you begin, its very easy to knit up.  The repeat reminds me a little of Moorish tile, and I love how it looked in two shades of the same color (purple).  MaryJane's books are so much fun to go through, and a great resource for anybody who likes to play with color -  so, if you don't have one of them already, and you like this stuff, you should grab one.  

The pattern is available for $5.00 on Ravelry, or soon - on the pattern page here on my blog. A few details about the cowl are below, and the rest of the details can be found on the Ravelry page.  

Although I knit this in Sarah's Primo Aran, you can easily make one out of Scholar, or Primo Worsted, or Trusty, or Traveler, or almost any of the other Sport-Worsted-Aran bases in the Plucky family.  It is easy to adjust the math in this design for another weight yarn, and directions are given in the pattern. 

Yarn:  600/800 yards Plucky Knitter Primo Aran.  Shown in Minature Lilacs, Webster Grove and Princess Phone.  (2 skeins each color, plus just a bit of the third accent color)

Sizes:  16" x 43.75 (51.25)" Directions are given to modify for other bases or weights of yarn. 

Gauge:  more detailed info is in pattern,  5 st/7 rows per 1", and again, easy to modify. 

Needles:  US #7/4.5mm and US #8/5mm circular needles, or size to match gauge.


These lovely photos were taken last weekend, while at Lantern Moon's Second Annual Retreat.  Gudrun Johnston and I were lucky enough to be invited up to teach for for a few days at the Timberline Lodge, which is a gorgeous ski lodge on the top of Mt. Hood.  Think giant fireplaces, lots of wooden beams and carvings, big cozy chairs, and snow. So much snow.  I'll go into the whole weekend in another post, but for now, know that the charming models for this design are a few of the amazing knitters that I got to spend my weekend with.

Sonia (in the yellow sweater) owns Stash, a great yarn shop in Corvallis, OR and Shannon (the smiling blonde) is the unofficial cheerleader for the Lantern Moon team, based in Portland.  (see that yarn in her hands?  That's their new Indochine, which is just gorgeous.)  And together, they are so much fun.  Maybe not champion ping pong players, but so much fun.

I have lots more to say about Lantern Moon, and the hotel, and the weekend - plus a little giveaway for you guys.  However, I am waiting for a box to arrive so I can add the appropriate photos and I feel I've probably said almost enough for one post as it stands.  

About that drink?  We were up in the Raven's Nest bar at the lodge and had just been introduced to the Blackberry Bramble cocktail before I took these photos, so the cowl got a name.  Here's the real thing, below.  It was good and I may have ordered it more than once as the weekend went on. 

The cocktail is made from cucumber vodka, with blackberry puree, and a dash of thyme syrup.  And it's served with a slice of cucumber on top.  I need to play with the ingredients to try and recreate it, but if you are just a bit resourceful and have a muddler handy, I'm thinking you can do the same.

Or go to the Lodge.  It may just be worth the trip.

More soon!  I promise.