On the Needles | West Coast Cardigan (#1)

I'm on vacation. Really, I'm ON VACATION! Well... technically, it's more of a 'staycation' but it's still pretty fabulous and I'm enjoying myself. As I'm a little past the halfway point of my time off, I've been spending time getting caught up around the house, cooking A LOT (food adventures are coming soon), knitting and I've been doing a little work - including what I'm sharing today, but it hardly seems like work. 

A year ago, Jane Richmond was experimenting with a Cowichan-inspired sweater in a super-bulky roving yarn and my needles were itching to cast on as soon as she started posting photos of her WIP prototype. In September of 2016 the West Coast Cardigan pattern came to life and the final version blew me away. Just look at this gorgeous sweater... 

© Jane Richmond

© Jane Richmond

As I was wiping the drool off, I purchased and read through the pattern and, well... my wheels began turning because my inner knitting-geek (well, really, my knitting-geek is pretty much front and center) was TOTALLY geeking out with the techniques Jane has packed into this single design. As you may know, I LOVE technique, so as I was planning the winter class schedule at Firefly Fibers I knew I wanted the West Coast Cardigan on the schedule because I *needed* to share all of the fun techniques with other knitters. But... planning a class isn't just deciding on a project, one of the first tasks is to decide on the class yarn and this proved to be quite challenging.

I really didn't want to bring in a new yarn line at the shop *just* for one sweater, so I tried to find a suitable substitution... my available options were going to be costly for a super-bulky project requiring so much yardage and one of the things I appreciate about Jane is her use of affordable yarn and that just wasn't happening. Also, the yarn in her designs is (generally) easily substituted, but after running numbers (spreadsheets and all that nerdiness) to compare cost and the overall weight of the sweater (because pencil roving is light and airy, so it therefore weighs less and no one needs a 10lb sweater), I decided to reach out to Jane...

After much discussion and enthusiasm on both our parts (many thanks to Jane for taking the time to brainstorm with me), it became clear that the Briggs & Little Country Roving is a unique yarn and perfect for Jane's sweater because of cost, the physical weight, and it's just quite lovely in its sheepy goodness. I contacted Briggs & Little and they are lovely folks at a small mill in Canada that's been operating for 100+ years and I'm so happy to be working with them. As soon as the yarn arrived, I understood why the math was telling me that I wasn't going to find a suitable substitute - there are other yarns that *will* work, but in this case, I strongly feel that the yarn and design go hand-in-hand. Now, I'm smitten with the Country Roving and I can't wait to try it in other projects, but for now... it's all about the project that introduced me to Country Roving and here's mine in progress:


I'm wrapping up my West Coast Cardigan #1 this weekend and getting ready to cast on #2 because clearly, Firefly Fibers can't be the only one to enjoy a new sweater this winter (besides, it's been in the negative and single digits here in Wisconsin and that's COLD). This first one (in Sheep's Grey and Dark Grey) was intended to be a shop sample, but I think it will be for me. So, I *have* to knit a second one. This sweater has been so much fun to knit that I'm excited to knit another version and I hope you're inspired to knit your own West Coast Cardigan.

As luck would have it... Jane is hosting a KAL for the West Coast Cardigan! Woot! AND... Jane is offering 25% OFF the West Coast Cardigan pattern now through the cast on date of January 10th with code 'WCCKAL' on Ravelry! Full details are on Jane's blog right here. I hope you'll join the fun!

Need yarn? As I'm sure you can guess, I highly recommend the Briggs & Little Country Roving and we'll be placing an order at Firefly Fibers this next week. If you want to make sure you get the colors you want, you can special order from our online shop through Monday, January 9th at noon CST. We anticipate the yarn will arrive on Saturday, Jan 14th or Mon or Tues of the following week and we'll ship orders out as soon as it arrives (really, we'll have it out the door super fast) so you can cast on. Yes, it will be a week or so after the cast on date, but this sweater knits up quickly, so there's plenty of time and it will be worth the wait. And the yarn ships to us like this, and this is pretty cool:

So... are you in? I hope so! 


On the Needles | Spring Knits...

As spring arrives, the pace of life changes just a bit and I can feel the hustle and bustle let up just a wee bit. We had a nice warm spell about a week ago and it was perfect for remembering how much I enjoy our front porch - hubby and I were even able to spend an entire evening out there last weekend. Things cooled down (again) this last week, but I'm still remaining optimistic that I'll be able to wash and retire my thick wool sweaters within the next week or two. My fingers are crossed. 

After giving myself a reality check with cataloging my WIPs last week, I'm happy to report that I have 2 projects fresh off the needles, so I decided I could cast on a new one and I've taken full advantage of that as you can see here with my morning coffee...

Morning knitting

"What is it?" you ask. I'm (happily) knitting this lovely tank... 

© Quince & Co.

© Quince & Co.

Togue Pond is knit in Quince & Co. Kestrel that's a new arrival at Firefly Fibers. I'm really loving knitting with aran weight linen and this is the first of two summer tops I have planned for Very Shannon's Tops, Tanks & Tees Knitalong that runs through May 27th. I do have to say (because I've been asked a few times at the shop) that this yarn doesn't look the best while knitting/pre-blocking, but after a good wash and block, it's super soft and has amazing drape.

If you want to try some linen yarn and join Shannon's KAL, we have both Sparrow and Kestrel at our brick-and-mortar shop along with a variety of patterns, so either visit us or contact the shop by phone or email and we'll help you get everything you need to cast on - FYI, Quince & Co. stockists can only sell Quince yarns via their brick-and-mortar shops, but we are able to do mail/phone orders if you want to reach out to us. 

The next Simply Handmade-along project will be coming your way very soon *squee*, I'm just waiting for the arrival of some new goodies at the shop and then we'll be on our way! Stay tuned...

As for the rest of my weekend... I'm going to get back at the knitting, record a podcast with Mr. Yarnista and either cook supper or throw some leftovers together. 



SIMPLY HANDMADE-along | Baa-ble Love!

Are you ready for a new Simply Handmade-along project? Do you like sheep? I hope the answer is an enthusiastic "YES" to both!

Since February is the month of love with Valentine's Day, it seems fitting to knit a project that I think everyone will love - say "hello" to Baa-ble!


© Donna Smith

© Donna Smith

It seems that everyone fell in love with these wee sheep hats last year and they're still going strong. Donna's original version is knit in an aran (heavy worsted) weight yarn at a dense gauge of 23 sts/4", so a slightly lighter weight yarn can easily be substituted. I previously shared that I fell head-over-heels in love with this version Courtney Kelley of Kelbourne Woolens knit up in Cumbria and that had me not only casting on in October...

but, it also had me assembling Baa-ble Hat Kits for the shop. Have you ever made kits? They're a lot of work. Like, A LOT. But these are very much worth the effort and they've been getting gobbled up. Maybe you have a kit from the shop and haven't knit it yet... here's the perfect incentive!

Are you new to colorwork? Colorwork is a lot of fun and very addictive, but it can be intimidating. This project would definitely be easier if you're familiar with colorwork, but if you're feeling courageous, just dive on in - after all, it's only yarn. Also, there is time, so if you want to baby-step into this, we use (and love) the Clayoquot Toque for our beginning colorwork class at the shop and the Tin Can Knits ladies have a great blog post here with some helpful colorwork tips.

After knitting the first version above for our shop sample and kit model, I was anxious to try a different, and less traditional, color combination. So, this last weekend, I cast on with some new colors... 

Again, this is Cumbria and the new combo uses Cowberry and Buttermere - I'm loving knitting this one! This is another for Firefly Fibers (I'm still on the fence about adding the pom this time around) and I'll share FO pics when it's off the needles and had a good bath. 

So, what do you think? Is this a project that you'd like to knit? Like I said, I love the worsted weight yarn for a slightly less dense hat - no matter what yarn you choose, just check your gauge.

What do you need? The pattern is available for free via Shetland Wool Week right here, and you'll need 4 colors of yarn... if you want to stash dive, a safe estimate is 50gr of each main color, 30gr for the sheep body and about 10gr for the sheep legs/faces (this includes the pom and allows for plenty of wiggle room). 

I hope you'll join the fun this month and if you have questions about or haven't signed up for the Simply Handmade-along, you can do that right here!