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.



It's April, already. I'm ready for spring - we woke up to snow and ice again this morning - and I'm busy dreaming of warm weather knits and this could be why I'm about to cast on a new linen sweater, even though I still have 2 on the needles from last summer.

When thinking of the perfect warm weather accessory, I think of open fabric with drape and Janina Kallio is one of my favorite designers for shawls and scarves. Janina has an amazing selection of one-skein projects and keeping with our theme of something simple and quick'ish... for our April Simply Handmade-along project, we'll be knitting Orbit - a dk-weight scarf. 


© JaninaKallio

© JaninaKallio

"Sweet and simple scarf with just one skein of DK weight yarn. So fun & quick to knit you may find yourself making one for everyone you know." ~ Janina Kallio
© JaninaKallio

© JaninaKallio

Isn't Orbit lovely? If you're new to lace knitting or want a quick'ish knit with a special skein of dk yarn, here ya go!

As you know, I love Julie Asselin's yarn and her Leizu DK is not only gorgeous, but wears really well, making it extra perfect for Orbit as a warm weather accessory and I have my eye on a skein of Birch for my version...

So, you want to join the Simply Handmade-along fun this month? We'll be having a wee giveaway later (details coming soon), so be sure you're "officially" signed up and you could win a goodie later this month. 

The pattern for Oribit is available here on Ravelry and a new delivery of Leizu DK just arrived at Firefly Fibers (including several skeins of that lovely Birch), but it would also be lovely in Tosh DK or another dk weight yarn. I really don't think you can go wrong. 



Simple Knits | Jars in June

It's no secret that I have a bit of an obsession with canning jars. I really LOVE them. I always have. I grew up in the Colorado mountains and I have some beautiful vintage jars from there - I don't recall if they were found in our house, our "barn" (previously the town distillery/brewery), or from the random rubble I loved to scavenge in the forest - and my collection has only grown since then. 

The humble Mason Jar has a daily presence at our house - from beverages to divvying food servings to making cold-brew coffee to vases (especially the beautiful vintage blue glass). We've also been known to (on occasion) use canning jars for... canning. *wink*

Because of my jar love (aka obsession), when I first discovered Cuppow Drinking Lids, I was over the moon and had to find a way to carry them at Firefly Fibers, so I decided to design a... Canning Jar Sweater.

Silly? Maybe. Fun? FOR SURE!

Sadly, my current jar sweater needs to be retired (badly and some fellow knitters shot down my idea of darning it), so I'll be knitting a new one and I thought you might like to join me with this fast and fun project! 

The Canning Jar Sweater uses 35-60 yards of worsted weight yarn (it's a super fast knit) and the favorite shop yarn for this project is Spud & Chloe Sweater - the cotton in this yarn is perfect for absorbing a bit of extra moisture and ideal for warm weather. When it comes down to trying to choose a color, it might actually take less time to knit the project.

So... are you in? 

If so, if you don't have the pattern yet, for the next 2 weeks (through Saturday, June 20th) you can get the PDF pattern for the special price of $2 ($1 OFF) in two places:

  • :: the pattern is already on sale, so all you need to do is add it to your cart and check out - we even have Cuppow Drinking Lids in stock.
  • :: add the pattern to your cart and enter discount code 'SIMPLEKNITSKAL' for the $1 OFF.

I hope you'll join me this month in knitting some sweaters for your canning jars!



PS - I did finish May's project, Reminisce by Truly Myrtle, a couple weeks back and it's lovely! I'll share this FO and others soon!