How I Learned...

As I look back at my recent (and terribly infrequent) posts, I’m a wee bit embarrassed. But, life around here has been, you know… life. With the arrival of spring, I’ve been making changes to lighten my responsibilities so I can have more time for myself, my family, and to also spend more time with you on Instagram, Facebook, and here on the blog. It’s slow progress, but I can feel the load lessening each day and it’s an awesome feeling. After all, I'm here with you today.

Last month I tried very hard to complete the daily April @yarnlovechallenge on Instagram. I started out strong and I was having so much fun, but later in the month, posting started slipping away a day at a time and then all of a sudden (you know, out of nowhere) May showed up. How does that happen?

So, clearly I’m not cut out for a daily challenge, but May brings a new challenge and this time there are weekly prompts - I can post once a week (which I should totally be able to do) or as much as I want during the dates for that prompt. You can join the fun, too!


As I was thinking about posting the quick answer on IG, I thought this week’s prompt #HowILearned would also be a great blog post and I hope you enjoy my extended answer below!

I learned to knit in 2001 and I had no idea how two sticks and some string would change my entire life… I was working through some pretty big “life stuff” and needed something to ground me, and I decided that “thing” was knitting. I went to my local JoAnn Fabrics and purchased the Boye I Taught Myself Knitting Kit (I think the lady with the pretty hair and big smile sold me), some size 11 circular needles (plastic with an unyeilding cord), and ONE skein of Lion Brand Chenille (because, clearly this was all I needed to knit a skirt). It's okay if you're laughing, because how could you not be? It's really funny and I'm giggling now. Thankfully, it was only a short wait for Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N Bitch Handbook (a book I still recommend for beginning knitters) and she guided me to the light with her great writing style and good tool & yarn recommendations!

I did discover the local yarn shop, but I was quite intimidated in the beginning because 1) I was self-taught, 2) the knitters in the shops seem very tight-knit (pun intended), and 3) I felt like a total newbie because the yarn and everything else was overwhelming. It was A LOT to take in and felt like I was back in high school and the knitters were the cool-kids and I again didn’t fit in. However, what I know now is that 1) many of us are self-taught and that’s awesome (you don’t have to take formal classes to be a "real" knitter), 2) knitters *are* tight-knit, but most are super friendly and LOVE to talk about knitting (I dare you to try and stop us from talking to anyone that seems like they *might* listen), and 3) I had actually developed some mad knitting skills though my self-studying (I am a researcher at heart and probably spent just as much time knitting as internetting about the knitting).

The fear of the yarn shop is one that I hear about frequently at Firefly Fibers and to that I say... get into your yarn shop, ask questions, and support your LYS so they'll be around for years to come! We are here to help and want to do what we can for you to have fun knitting. And, if you have the opportunity, visit more than one shop – most shops are run by one or two people and their personality is part of the shop and you may feel more comfortable at, or like the selection better, at a certain shop. Take a deep breath, walk through the door and get to know them!

I’d been knitting for a couple years when a co-worker told me about the Madison Knitter’s GuildWHAT?! There were actually enough knitters in the area to make a “club”?! Apparently, yes (and several times over). My friend invited me to my first meeting and my knitting universe broke wide open – there were SO many lovely knitters at the meeting and I discovered a whole new world that was full of people who loved sticks and string as much as I did. Until then, knitting was mostly a solitary activity for me and I was so happy to finally find that there was (a lot) more of my brand of freak out there and it's only grown more since then.

Here's where I date myself.... when I learned to knit 16 years ago: the internet was a baby and had very limited knitting resources, yarn was nothing like what we have now (we were coming out of a decade - or two - with A LOT of acrylic and little to no indie dyers) and Ravelry didn’t exist. This last one may be hard to believe, but it’s true. There was a time before Ravelry.

I signed up for Ravelry when there was a wait list, so I entered my email and then I waited to be granted access… I remember the day I got my email notification and signed up immediately – January 14th, 2008 and I am Raveller #64,320.  How do I know my Ravelry number and do you want to know yours? Here’s a fun little trick (you’ll have to do this on a computer):

Hold the Ctrl key and (using the arrow keys) Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A.

After doing this, your Ravelry number should appear below your “Raveler Since” date, just like this…

Pretty cool, right? If you give this a try, feel free to leave a note below with your Ravelry number. It's fun to see where everyone falls - especially since as of February of 2014 (over 3 years ago) there were 4 MILLION ravellers!

Speaking of Ravelry… many congratulations to these amazing folks on their 10-year anniversary this month! Knitting and crocheting have grown beyond what I could have hoped for, or imagined, because of Ravelry. They’ve connected knitters and crocheters all across the world with each other and created the most incredible database of patterns and yarn. Knitting and crochet has been transformed because of them.

If someone would have told me in 2001 that future-me would own a yarn shop, design patterns, teach others to knit, and knit the beautiful things I do now, I would have told them they were bonkers! After all these years, I am so very thankful for making that fateful decision to pick up that silly kit with the super-happy smiling lady on the front of the booklet, those terrible plastic circular needles, and that awful chenille (it was purple, just in case you were wondering), because it was the stepping stone to where I am today.


Simple Knits | February Fun

Simple Knits KAL
Simple Knits KAL

:: Simple Knits | A Knitalong ::

Taking — and making — time each month to knit a fabulous new something for yourself or the perfect gift for a loved one.

We've had such a mild winter in Wisconsin that I had a different plan for our February project, but then Old Man Winter delivered a snowstorm over the weekend and I realized that my hands are cold and thought yours might be, too. So... this month for the Simple Knits Knitalong, we're going to knit some mittens!

To keep in line with some of my fave designers, this month we'll have some fun with Tin Can Knits! Their patterns are so beautiful, well-written and classics that can work for just about anyone. This month I have two options for you because... (1) one mitten is one-size only and the other has a wide size-range, (2) choices are good, and (3) I really just can't make up my mind.

Mitten Option #1 - Antler Mittens:

These mittens are luxuriously soft, squishy, and warm. A single distinct cable travels from the generous long cuffs to fingertips. Knit in a gourmet alpaca blend yarn, this project is outrageously satisfying both to knit and to wear!

Knit with 2 skeins of the dreamy Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes, I can only imagine how luxurious these feel on the hands. These mittens have been on my "to knit" list for quite some time and I'm still trying to decide on the color, but they're only available in one-size and that's part of the reason I wanted to offer another option...

Mitten Option #2 - Bon Bon Mittens:

These sweet little mittens are perfect for the whole family. Put strings on them for the little ones (or maybe even for the big boys) so they won’t get lost, and then venture out into a winter wonderland with toasty, stylish hands!

Sizing from Baby-Large Adult makes the Bon Bon Mittens extra versatile for gifting - isn't the wee little version adorable? Both Malabrigo Worsted and Malabrigo Rios are listed as yarn options on the pattern page.

Both mittens use a worsted/aran weight yarn, so I'm so I'm sure I'll spend a fair amount of my time at the shop drooling over our options for both mittens - including the Blue Sky and Malabrigo yarns listed in the patterns. Once up my mind, I'll share my selection/s with you and I look forward to seeing what yarn and which mitten pattern you decide on either in person at Firefly Fibers or online in our Ravelry thread!

A huge thank you to everyone that's participating in the Simple Knits Knitalong - it's been really fun knitting along with you and seeing your projects pop up on the Ravelry thread! Remember that you can join in on the KAL any time, so even if you didn't participate in January, you can still join the fun!

Cheers and Happy Simple Knitting!