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Archive for the ‘Project Inspiration’ Category

Ombre knitting with Simply Fine

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Last week we shared some beautiful project ideas for the Spinnery’s hand painted skeins of Simply Fine on our Facebook page.  We have found that many of us are drawn to work on smaller accessory projects with lightweight yarn while summer’s heat still lingers.

This fingering weight single ply yarn is a wonderfully soft blend of 60% Fine wool and 40% premium kid mohair.  Our friend Melissa Johnson who dyes these skeins for us has made each one a work of art.  And the beauty of this yarn lends itself perfectly to delicate shawls, scarves and cowls.

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While browsing through Ravelry, enjoying the photos of finished projects we found created with Simply Fine, we found a stunning collection of projects that were created with the variegated skeins of the Simply Fine. These undyed skeins are naturally “painted” by blending the different  fibers in the carding process so that the yarn is softly striated with a spectrum of tones from brown, taupe, to grey.

© heidelblogknits

© heidelblogknits

This soft ombre effect can be just as dramatic as a pop of pure bright color.  We thought that we’d share some of our favorite photos with you this week, so that you could also enjoy the effects of this special yarn.

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© emiliewilliams

This is our Ravelry friend Emilie’s Holden Shawl.  This lacey design by Mindy Wilkes can be created with one to two skeins of Simply Fine depending on the size of the finished shawl you’d prefer.  We have a sample of this eye-catching shawl in our shop and it continually steals the show.

© heidelblogknits

© heidelblogknits

Those beautiful striations of natural color make our friend Christine’s version of Stephen West’s Boneyard Shawl a real stunner.  We love how the simple stripes of purl stitch texture pairs with the changes of color.  This FREE pattern can be knit up with just a single skein as you see here.  Or a larger version can be made with an additional skein to provide more depth to snuggle into.

© ewoll

© ewoll

Our Ravelry friend Elizabeth has used the yarn for a couple of projects.  First, is Katharina Nopp’s FREE pattern for the Wurm hat. This slouchy welted hat has a folded brim for extra warmth for your ears.  Elizabeth made some pattern modifications to adjust the pattern for her gauge, since the pattern calls for a sport weight yarn.

LessIsMoreP1050496_medium2

© ewoll

Next is the FREE Less is More Shawl designed by maanel.  This version was created with roughly a skein and a half of the variegated Simply Fine.  This slightly asymmetrical shawl is knits sideways, and the pattern allows for size adjustments to fit your preference.

© MaryDenise

© MaryDenise

Last but certainly not least, is Mary’s version of Lisa Mutch’s Nimbus Shawl.  The sections of the shawl drape beautifully around one’s shoulders making a flattering accessory with stunning drape and an unusual overall shape.  The garter stitch texture provides more substance to the design rendering it more plush. Mary used a single skein for her project.

We have a few more projects to share with you that will be featured on our Facebook page.  We hope that you’ve enjoyed the selection and that these lovely photos might inspire your next project.

Thank you to all of the knitters who so generously shared their photos with all of us.

A new shop sample

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

A new shop sample joined our collection this week: the Walnut Vest for Men designed by Mary Beth Temple.

© Hooked for Life LLC

© Hooked for Life LLC

 

This vest was created with three colors of Spinnery Alpaca Elegance in the natural un-dyed range from Cream to Dark Roast.  The butter soft yarn makes a wonderful fabric that is warm and very fluid to the touch.

Mary Beth says that she “was inspired by classic menswear patterns — (she) wanted to create a crochet pattern that men would actually want to wear, rather than focusing on what the stitcher might want to stitch! Tunisian crochet with a DK weight yarn is perfect for classic pieces — it retains its shape but isn’t stiff or bulky.”

The decorative panel of basket weave pattern created with a combination of Tunisian Knit and Tunisian purl stitches is a great touch that adds visual interest, and draws the eye towards the broadest part of the chest to flatter the wearer.

vest 02b

We hope that you can pop into the Spinnery shop if you are in the neighborhood, or passing through this month.  Seeing a sample up close and in person can make all the difference.  This vest might be a perfect choice for a holiday gift for a well-dressed someone on your list!

We are getting excited about brioche

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

November is quickly approaching, and we are starting to get excited about this fall’s Knitter’s Weekend.  It is the perfect time of year to be in New England enjoying the fall color and the crisp air.  The golden light is magical and we hope that you can come and experience it for yourself.

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Nancy Marchant will be joining us in Putney, Vermont  the weekend of November 7th-9th to teach the brioche stitch.  This is a great opportunity to add luscious texture and stunning, reversible patterns to your knitting.  For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the brioche stitch you can learn the basics in the video below.

Inspired by Nancy’s imminent visit, Maureen has been working on a new brioche infinity cowl.  We had a mini fashion show at the shop this morning.  This deliciously soft and stretchy infinity cowl can be worn in all kinds of ways.  Just the thing to keep you snug on a snowy morning or to throw over your shoulders as a little shrug.

Brioche 01Brioche 02

 

Brioche 03

Brioche 04

 

We’ll be publishing a pattern shortly.  In the meantime, you may want to peruse the hundreds of FREE brioche patterns available on Ravelry.  You will be stunned by the beauty and versatility of this stitch.

We hope that you will consider adding the brioche stitch to your knitting repertoire.  It is a wonderful technique that could provide you with a winter season full of fun new projects that will keep you extra warm with squishably soft ribs of beautiful color that will fly off your needles.

 

 

Queen Anne’s Lace and Circular Shawls

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

There is a bumper crop of gorgeous flowers growing by the side of the road at the Spinnery this week.  These blossoms have us thinking of circular lace shawls that might mimic their delicate finery.

 

queen anne

 

One of the most widely knit circular shawl is the Pi Shawl from Elizabeth Zimmerman.  Over 2,100 Ravelers have cast on for this pattern.  From the pages of her Knitter’s Almanac, Elizabeth describes the project:

“When you set out on the annual family trip naturally you have to take your knitting; something has to keep you sane in face of the possibly quite ferocious situations you will be up against in the next two weeks.

Try a shawl.

I have a circular shawl for you which starts at the center, has absolutely no pattern, and only six shaping-rounds in the whole thing.”

What could be simpler?  And the stunning variety of the projects on Ravelry clearly show how this simple recipe can create a unique shawl that like a snowflake or a flower has a breathtaking grace.  Using Spinnery Simply Fine yarn might be a perfect choice.  Selecting the variegated color will add another level of complexity to your project.

For those of you feeling more ambitious, you may want to try one of a pair of circular shawls designed by Audry Nicklin that portray the stars in the night sky oriented from either the north or south poles.  The lacework of this shawl is combined with beads for a bit of extra sparkle.

© Jane Heller

© Jane Heller

 

This stunning shawl Celestarium uses eyelets and beads as stars with the center representing Polaris.  We can’t think of a more beautiful way to capture memories of summer evenings spent stargazing.  Our Spinnery Sock Art Forest or Meadow might be a perfect yarn for this project, requiring just three skeins to complete.

Eric has a stunning circular shawl on the needles right now.  We can’t share project details or photos yet, in part because we haven’t yet released the yarn she’s using, and in part because she is eager to block out her work so that it looks its very best.  We hope to show you those photos in upcoming weeks.

In the meantime, you may want to take a look at some of the other 274 circular lace shawl patterns that are available on Ravelry. Let us know if we can help you find the perfect Spinnery yarn for an end of summer project that will capture the fleeting beauty of a summer bouquet.

 

Dress up

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

One of our favorite things about going to shows and festivals is giving folks a chance to try on our samples.  We have found that getting a chance to try a garment on can totally change your mind about what to knit.

We all have ideas about what kinds of garments flatter our figures, making the most of the aspects that we want to show off, and hiding those pesky areas that we are not so eager to highlight.  And knitwear is usually no exception.  We gravitate towards patterns that look like what we like; sometimes knitting the same sweater pattern in various colors because we know “it works”.

But occasionally it can be worthwhile to try on something new and change your mind just a bit about what to knit.  New styles and designers may all of a sudden hold fresh interest.  For example, Maureen found a series of videos last month that has changed her mind about working with Norah Gaughan patterns.

 

 

The What to Knit video series features various models of differing body types trying on a variety of  sweaters in various sizes to find shapes and ease that work best for them.  These videos also show the sweaters styled with different outfits from more formal to casual so that you can more easily imagine the true versatility of a sweater beyond the few photos that are provided in a pattern.

It’s almost as good as trying the sweaters on yourself.

We’d like to invite you to the Spinnery to check out our generous collection of samples.  Virtually every pattern that the Spinnery has published is represented in our shop, and they are all available for you to try on.  You could bring a few outfits and make a morning or afternoon of it.

Getting a chance to experience these pieces in person is valuable.  Getting a chance to try them on, check sizing, and see how they flatter you, is priceless.

Another Knit Along to jump start our Fall knits

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Joji Locatelli’s most recently published Grandpa Cardigan looks as though it will be a very interesting pattern to work on.  She has created a top-down, seamless, set-in sleeve cardigan that looks appealing for folks of all knitting abilities.  And who wouldn’t be tempted to make a comfy cardigan to snuggle into this Fall?

© Joji

© Joji

“Worked from the shoulders down completely seamlessly, Grandpa features a different set of cables for every size, making it look complex and sophisticated as any seamed garment, but without any finishing required.

All the instructions are charted out, so there is no guessing with this sweater. Just enjoy watching all the pieces come together to create this beautiful timeless cardi.  Even if you have never knitted a cabled sweater before, you’ll find Grandpa’s instructions clear and easy to follow, making it a great choice for your first challenging project. ”

Joji has incorporated a contiguous shoulder into her pattern to create set-in sleeves, so there should be some interesting fun for more experienced knitters who haven’t yet had a chance to try this technique.

More fun can be had if you join the Ravelry KAL.  You’ll have a chance to win prizes, and have the gratification of seeing and reading about other knitters’ progress.  The group will be casting on August 1st with a goal of finishing the sweater in three months.  This gives you plenty of time to pick your yarn.

Some of the girls at the Spinnery started plotting out our selections this morning, and this is what we came up with.

grandpa

Alpaca Elegance was the most popular choice!  From left to right you have Rachel’s choice: Earl Grey, Maureen’s selection: Sencha, and Kate’s preference: Rosehip.  Larisa opted for the New Mexico Organic yarn in grey.  We know that these yarns will all perfectly highlight the beautiful cables.

What Spinnery yarn would you be tempted to cast on with?

The Spring Art Fair at Squam

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Maureen and I piled into the car last weekend and headed to New Hampshire to join the fun of the Squam Art Fair and the Ravelry Revelry.  It was wonderful fun to mingle with crafters who had been at the camp all weekend taking workshops, making friends, finding fresh inspiration, and glowing with new skills.

This video should give you a good sense of what a magical place and experience the Squam Art Workshops can be.

We joined the stream of folks heading into the Fair and were charmed by twinkling lights and blocks of ice illuminated by candles.  The video that you’ll find here should give you a good sense of what a magical place and experience these art retreats are.

© BEEZ in the belfry

© BEEZ in the belfry

Once inside, we were met with a room full of beautiful creativity; and both of us fell speechless at the workmanship of all of the talented vendors.  “The Squam Art Fair is a whirlwind of inspiration. Mix together the magic of a vintage shop feel, one of a kind goodies, and the creative spirits of all in attendance and you’ve got yourself a memorable evening at the lake.”

We are very proud to be one of the sponsors of this evening.

© Squam Art Workshops

© Squam Art Workshops

Among some of the delightful items that captured our interest as we browsed through the room were the beautiful samples from Amirisu’s Spring 2014 magazine.  Maureen was quite taken with two of the sweaters: Mokoshi designed by nest-design laboratory, and Whispers by Veera Välimäki.  (You may have already seen photos on our Facebook page).

We were able to meet up with some familiar faces and old friends, and check out beautiful hand knits modeled by knitters from all across the country.  We even got to see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee in her finished Adriana.  The story behind this lovely vest is a wonderful read; but it’s even better when Stephanie tells it in person.  Maureen and I were in stitches.

We couldn’t resist indulging in a bit of shopping.  Maureen was drawn to a beautiful waxed canvas tote; and I came home with a linen apron that will be perfect wearing in the shop.  (It has a pocket for a measuring tape!)  You can find a bag just like Maureen’s here and you can find an apron just like mine, here.

There are a couple of Squam Art workshops coming up later this year that you may want to look into.  The Fall retreat will be in early September and Squam is headed to Providence, RI for an urban experience towards the end of that month.  You find find more details about both retreats here.

We hope that you find a bit of inspiration in all of this, as we did last Saturday!

You’re invited!

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

All of us can agree that when it comes to buying yarn, there is no substitute for getting to see and touch the skeins in person.  Brochures and computer monitors rarely do the colors justice.  And getting a true sense of the feel of the yarn is essential.

We think that the same can be said of knitted samples.  You can learn far more about a sweater by trying it on than you might imagine.  You can assess its sizing and length, if it is flattering to your figure, and if you’d prefer the sweater with some ease and how much.

With all of this in mind, we have a fun event to invite you to!

14 Green Mountain TeaWritten Words Bookstore is sponsoring a deliciously fun event at Stockbridge’s Gourmet Cheesecakes and Cafe (located at 509 Howe Ave. in Shelton, CT).  On Sunday June 22nd Maureen will be “setting up shop” at the southern end of I91 giving those of you in that area a unique opportunity to have Spinnery yarn and samples brought to you!

She is going to be bringing copies of our very popular book: 99 Yarns and Counting.  She’ll also be bringing samples from the book, and mini skeins of some of our favorite yarns so that you can knit a swatch or two that afternoon.  If you find the perfect pattern and yarn to start it with, she may have just the skeins you need.  (Since she won’t be able to transport our entire shop we may have to send your selection to you on Monday when she returns).

You’ll want to get your tickets ahead of time as they won’t be available at the door.  You can secure your spot at our fun afternoon by calling 203-362-9114.  

We hope to see you there!

Fresh as a daisy

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

I had to pull over by the side of the road this week and take a photo of these beauties.  Spring arrived a little late for all of us this year, so a full bed of blossoms just took my breath away and made me stop the car!

daisies

And because I have yarn on the brain, I was immediately inspired to try to figure out how I could knit something that could in some way capture all this beauty.  The dasies’ bright fresh colors made me think of the beautiful lemon yellow hand painted skeins of Spinnery Simply Fine that we have in the shop.

Lemon

They have been calling out to me all week as the perfect choice for a little dress.  I did a bit of searching on Ravelry and found a generous selection of almost 40 patterns that could be knit up with a single 450 yard skein.  (This of course is contingent on the size of the pattern you select).

Among my favorites are two of the most popular patterns in the group:

© Tora Frøseth Design

© Tora Frøseth Design

This is Tora Frøseth’s Little Sister Dress.  The FREE pattern covers a size range from 3 to 24 months.  And the dress could work as a little tunic over tights which could extend its wearability beyond 2 years.

© cashmere junkie

And next is the Rio Dress designed by Taiga Hilliard.  It has two darling little buttons in the back so that the dress can more easily be popped over a little one’s head.  This pattern includes sizing from newborn to 3T.

I hope that you’ll share with us what has been inspiring you to cast on these days.  We have started a new discussion on our Ravelry Group page that we’d love for you to join.  Tell us what has got your creative juices flowing!

A new yarn for the Spinnery: Alashan

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

The Spinnery was founded on a commitment to providing locally sourced yarns. We wanted to connect discriminating knitters and crocheters with yarns that are created from the beautiful fleeces that are grown on small farms across the country. Our link in this locavore chain means that all of us can make more informed choices in terms of the sustainability of the fibers we love.

This passion for responsible fiber has brought us to an interesting turning point. Today we have a very special yarn to introduce to you to that comes from the other side of the world. This yarn wasn’t created from the fleeces of nearby animals, nor was it spun here at the Spinnery. However, due to the current global marketplace for fiber, this yarn impacts us and our environment.

Our friends at Ecologia drew our attention to the grasslands of Inner Mongolia with an award winning article written by Evan Osnos that was published in the Chicago Tribune.  (The article was written in 2006, but now eight years later, the facts remain undisputed and Ecologia’s connections in the area have confirmed that progress has been slow in improving the situation.  A recently published article about the True Cost of Cashmere by Melissa Mall also confirms that  the damage caused by Cashmere goats is a current issue for the area).

America’s insatiable appetite for inexpensive cashmere has wreaked havoc on the fragile ecosystem of the Alashan plateau. Shepherds there have felt the devastating results of over-grazing; and many have been forced out of the area or into other lines of work. And the goats are barely surviving on unsustainable diets of imported corn.

Even though the fragile ecosystem of the Alashan plateau is a world away, air monitors on the West Coast have been able to confirm rising pollution levels that are attributable to the loss of these rich grasslands.  Without the grass to anchor it in place, dust is blown thousands of miles away in sand storms that impact the air quality here in the US.

 

 

What may eventually save that fragile ecosystem is a revival of the local camel population. Bactrian (two hump) camels have long been a valuable animal in the Inner Mongolian ecosystem, providing wonderfully soft, warm fiber; as well as traditional transportation across the dunes that once were part of the Silk Road. These animals are well adapted to that rugged environment, and cause far less damage than goats by grazing higher up on fragile plants that are uprooted by a goat’s voracious appetite and pointy hooves.

 

alashan

 

We all have a bewildering richness of choice in the fiber marketplace these days. It is possible for almost any item to be delivered to our doorstep. And it can be startling to recognize how our purchasing decisions can impact those who live half a world away.  When we spoke with Randy at Ecologia earlier this week, he confirmed that our new Alashan yarn encourages and provides a livelihood for  the remote herdsman who are eager to see a positive change in their part of the world.

We thought that this very special yarn was worth getting involved with. Purchasing, using, and sharing the story of this yarn will change the world; just a little, but enough to be worthwhile.  You can learn more about Ecologia’s efforts to support the camel fiber industry of Inner Mongolia here.

We hope that you will check out the beautifully hand-dyed skeins that we have available while supplies last.  And a beautiful new Milan shawl pattern that Maureen designed in honor of this new arrival!  This exclusive pattern is our FREE gift to you with the purchase of Alashan.

 

milan 02

 

This yarn is perfect for luxuriously soft accessories that will become instant heirlooms.  The 350 yard skeins are more than enough for a shawl, scarf or cowl that will cradle your neck in downy warmth.  The stitch definition is terrific, and will remain crisp as the day it was knit for ages.  You may decide that it is just the thing for your special holiday gift this year.

We hope to share more photos of this lovely yarn in the future as new colors are developed and more skeins are knit up into beautiful samples.

 

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