Friday, May 18, 2012

Springing ahead

I know that technically, the first day of spring in these parts falls in March, but for me, May is when spring really seems to begin. Our neighborhood is full of gorgeous blooming flowers:  we've got yer clematis, we've got yer snowball viburnum, we've got yer lilacs....Right now we've even got a few roses about to bloom.

Spring's a good time for freshening things up, and in the next couple of weeks/months you may notice some style changes here at the blog and the BBF website. I'm giving my web presence a badly-needed update.  With the help of a wonderful graphic designer, I'll be playing around with the look of the blog, as part of a bigger effort to create a more professional and integrated website.  When it's all done, you'll find a single website that includes the blog, my on-line shop, and information about my other knitting-related endeavors (like teaching and booksigning dates, a gallery of finished patterns, and so on). I'm hoping to have the new website in place by the time Sock Yarn Studio is released this fall.

Things should stay relatively quiet here until later in June. Sock Yarn Studio is being printed or sent to the printer or on a slow boat back from the printer or on a slow boat to the printer; regardless, there's not much to do now until the book is finished and here later this year. In the meantime, spring means lots of school events, recitals, and concerts. It's also the time of year when I tend to pick up some design projects that will come out later on in the year, so there's lots and lots of knitting going on, too.

And when I need a break from knitting, there's always the fabric.....

 like these triangles, made using the excellent tutorial found on one of my favorite quilting blogs, Film in the Fridge, with Flea Market Fancy fabric from my favorite fabric shop, Spool.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Maryland Sheep & Wool: Photo Gallery

All traditions must be observed when it comes to Maryland Sheep and Wool, so here we go with the photo gallery.

Full frontal sheep


Prizewinning socks

Bartlett yarn

Rainbow of t-shirts


Historical lace society exhibit

Prizewinning weaving

Karakul sheep

Felted Ninja!
Kid's poster from prizewinner's exhibit
Prizewinning shawl

Getting a shearing

Hooked rug

Maggie's Shaving Soap
See ewe next year!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Maryland Sheep & Wool Report -- and a winner!

I"ll always have a special place in my heart for Maryland Sheep and Wool, the first outdoor fiber festival I ever attended. I can't remember exactly how many years I've been going; probably close to ten by now. This year Laura and I were joined by Jen (hooray!) but faithful traveling companion Jim was working and unable to come (boo!).  Although we had a great time, we missed Jim dreadfully.

Look how sad Laura and Jen are.....

Even Jen showing me all her tats couldn't make up for Jim not being with us....

But we soldiered on. I was not very quick on the camera, as I missed taking photos of so many of the friends that I met:  Knitty D, Marilyn, Willietattoos, the lovely Ann from Gosh Yarn It!, etc. but I did get a photo of some of the Loop girls, or "Craig's Angels," as I like to call them.

Note that I have cropped Erika's hands out of this photo.  She knows why.

It seemed to me that the show wasn't quite as crowded as it was in years past, but you can judge for yourself, for here is the traditional photo of the midway.

Although they claimed to have Philly cheesesteaks

I'm not sure I believe them.  I was, however, quite pleased with the ice cream cone I sampled....

We saw many, many fiber animals, including the just-sheared alpacas (their backs looked like velour!)

and obviously a whole lotta sheep.

I had to laugh at this particularly stubbborn ovine, who just didn't want to go into the show ring.

His poor handlers had to half-shove, half-carry him into the ring, and even then, the sheep had the last laugh because his one handler ended up flashing us, by cracky.

This is the PG-rated photo.

We all thought the weather on Saturday was hot and I got a mild sunburn, but in the afternoon, clouds rolled in, and by 2 p.m., it was overcast. No rain, just clouds.

We showed rare restraint when it came to purchasing.  Jen snapped up a gorgeous cone of magenta Bartlett's wool; Laura was tempted by some sportweight Peace Fleece; and I found some delightful handspun yarn

amid the lovely soaps of Maggie's...

These are some of the shaving soaps but the regular goat's milk kind are fabulous and now you can order online!

We left a bit early, exhausted by the sun and the fun,

and I have to say I was happy when I finally saw Philadelphia's City Hall displayed before me -- a sure sign I was almost home.

Next post will include my traditional series of photos from the prize winners' exhibit.....

Bijou Basin Giveaway winner:  The Random Number Organzier picked Kassia to win the free PDF! Kassia, I have emailed you using the email connected to your Blogger profile so look for the email.  Thanks, everyone!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Meanwhile, on a yak farm (a GIVEAWAY!)

I have started several blog posts and ran out of steam before I could finish them and hit "publish." Just when I was about to try again, I remembered that I am scheduled to be a stop on a blog tour for a new pattern collection from Kristen Ohhdahl and Bijou Basin. Better yet, there's a giveaway involved!

Bijou Basin Ranch is a Colorado farm raising Tibetan yaks and turning the fiber into lovely yarns and fibers, including a line of knitting yarns. This April, BBR released its first pattern collection:  The Complements Collection by Kristin Ohmdahl.  (You may recognize Kristin from her knit and crochet patterns,books, and appearances on Knitting Daily TV.) The Complements Collections is available as a booklet (order from the BBR website for $12.95) or e-book (you can download it on Ravelry for $9.95). It contains thirteen patterns for accessories--some knit, some crochet.

The cover pattern is called the Apple Blossom Shawl, knit in 2 natural colors of fingering-weight yarn, with a bright handdyed color in a heavier weight as accent.  The booklet contains a second knit shawl pattern, as well as a sweet knit capelet:

Crocheters need not despair, for there is the Camellia Shawl for you:

There are two patterns for "ascots," one knit and one crocheted (photo is of the latter):

For cold weather, knitters will find a unisex hat and wristers set (the only pattern for men; sorry, guys):

while crocheters can make a hat and matching scarf

or a set of wristers.

The ever-popular cowls also make an appearance, again one knit and one crocheted version (knit cowl shown).

With the exception of the cover pattern, all the patterns call for sportweight (Craft Yarn Council Category 2 -- fine) yarn and all are one size.  You'll find charts for the lace patterns and crochet stitches; no schematics since these are accessories. Best of all, each of the patterns uses no more than three skeins of yarn, so they're perfect stashbusters and excellent ways to use luxury fibers like BBF's yak blends.

Now that warmer weather is upon most of the U.S., cute accessory patterns like these are nice portable travel projects, too.  Bijou Basin Ranch was at Maryland Sheep and Wool; will be at Estes in Colorado; and you can find their full schedule of show and festival appearances here -- or visit their website for online ordering. Kristin's website is here; next stop on the blog tour, the talented Carol Feller here, on May 8th.

And now the best part:  THE GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment to this blog post and Bijou Basin will give away a PDF version of The Complements Collection to one lucky commenter.  Leave your comment no later than midnight, Wednesday, May 9th, and make sure you include an email address in the comment or use a profile with an email attached -- no email, no valid entry -- and I will use a random generator to select a lucky winner. Woo-hoo!

Note: I received a free PDF version of this pattern booklet in order to write this review.