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! 

CHEERS!

SIMPLY HANDMADE-Along | Wrapping Up

With only 2 weeks left in the year and a week and a half until Christmas, the pressure is on. I'm feeling it and I'm sure you are, too. So, to wrap things up with the Simply Handmade-along, I'm focusing on 2 quick and simple projects that are fun to make and perfect for gifting. 

WRAPPING UP | THROUGH DECEMBER 31st

The first project is one of our newest additions at the shop, the popular Katrinkles Sweater Ornaments:

I adore these wee ornaments and, in addition to looking adorable hanging on a Christmas tree, they're also fabulous for dressing up gift packaging. With the hustle and bustle this time of year, I appreciate these quick projects because 1) they're pretty awesome, 2) I'm sure at least one can be completed in an evening (really, several could be stitched up if I can take a deep breath and not overthink it), and 3) they're handmade by Katy at Katrinkles and when they're stitched up with love (and some pretty floss or yarn), I'm sure they'll be well-received. 

We're stocked at Firefly Fibers here as the blank only or as a kit with a variety of 6 colors of floss and a size 24 tapestry needle (both include the cord for hanging). There have been some super fun versions posted on Instagram and one of my favorites used variegated sock yarn, so you can even stash dive for some fun bits of fingering weight yarn for stitching. Fun, right?!

I did say I had 2 projects this month, so we also have one of my all-time favorite projects from one of my all-time favorite designers... Marian by Jane Richmond:

I've knit several of these cowls over the years and several have made the rotation as a shop sample. When the new Sugar Bush Chill arrived a few weeks back, I had grand dreams of knitting Jane's new Entwine Scarf (you know, in all the free time I have), but reality set in with looming deadlines, so 2 balls of Chill and some big ol' needles seem to be just perfect for an "instant-gratification" project. 

I've got 2 balls of Chill in Grey River stashed in my knitting bag with a set of needles. Maybe I'll cast on tonight?

So... what do you think? Do you need to whip up a couple last-minute projects for gifts or do you just want to knit up a cozy, squishy, soft cowl for yourself? After all, it's cold outside now and we're expecting a BIG storm this weekend.

We love seeing your projects (and they get you chances to win), so be sure to share on social media with #HandmadeAlong and also here on Ravelry in the Firefly Fibers group. We'll have a final giveaway to officially wrap up this year's Simply Handmade-along, so be sure you're signed up here, share photos, and stay tuned for details... 

psst... you can use any yarn for Marian, but if you want to try Chill and order from the Firefly Fibers online shop on or before Sunday, December 18th, we're working hard to ship ASAP, so your order will be shipped out no later than Monday, December 19th. 

CHEERS!

SIMPLY HANDMADE-along | Scrumptious September

So, I'm not sure what happened. It was barely August, then September arrived, and now I'm looking at the calendar and we're almost halfway through the month. What the heck is going on? Have you experienced this "loss" of time, as well? I apologize for being amiss and neglecting to post a new Simply Handmade-along project for us. Without further adieu, here it is... 

SEPTEMBER | MOHAIR BIAS LOOP | THROUGH OCTOBER 10TH

photo  © Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

photo © Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

I love the classic simplicity of Churchmouse patterns and the Mohair Bias Loop is one of my all-time favorite. It's versatile as a light (but warm) capelet for the shoulders, or worn long or doubled up as a cowl. 

photo  © Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

photo © Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

I knit one up a few years back (my Ravelry project page says I knit it in a week and we have almost 4 weeks) and it was a long-term shop sample at Firefly Fibers. I used Rowan's Kidsilk Haze Glamour and the yarn has since been discontinued and I've wanted to knit another for the shop (and maybe one for myself, too). So, when this arrived a couple weeks back... 

Anatolia by Julie Asselin

Anatolia by Julie Asselin

Anatolia by Julie Asselin

Anatolia by Julie Asselin

I knew Julie Asselin's new hand dyed, lace weight mohair would be perfect!

Anatolia is a mohair and silk blend, lace weight that can be knit alone for a featherweight look, or paired with other yarns for a light halo on your favorite knits.

FIBER: 60% Kid Mohair + 40% Silk
YARDAGE: 330 yards / 300m
AMOUNT: approximately 0.90 oz / 25gr
WEIGHT: lace
GAUGE: 5 sts = 1"
NEEDLE: US 6-8 / 4-5mm

The original project uses 2 balls of Kidsilk Haze, but Anatolia has a wee bit more yardage, so I'm knitting my Mohair Bias Loop using just one skein. It was hard to choose from the colors because all 12 are stunning, but I decided on Ballerine - a soft pink with warm taupe and grey undertones - and I love it! The project uses a provisional cast on and is finished with kitchener stitch, so the finished project is a loop without a seam. If these techniques are new to you, the fabulous Tin Can Knits ladies have a great tutorial here for the provisional cast on and here for the kitchener stitch.

We have all 12 colors of Anatolia in stock at the shop if you'd like to try Julie's new yarn - based on the Ravlery yarn usage, one skein with 330yds should be enough, just make sure your gauge isn't too tight so you can get the desired length - otherwise, you'll need about 350yds of a lace weight mohair. If you have time, check out some of the projects on Ravelry for more inspiration - there are some really gorgeous versions that pair the mohair with either a lace or fingering weight yarn and that's had me thinking about pairing Anatolia with either Fino or Merletto. One step at a time though. *wink*

What do you think? Are you in? I hope so and I can't wait to see what you knit up!

CHEERS!