We've decided to start the Christmas Eve Cast-On tradition at The Artful Yarn - we just love the idea so much and feel that so many holiday traditions have been lost in the modern rush that this one seems really doable. You can check out our Ravelry thread where we are beginning to post knit and crochet patterns that would be fun to start on Christmas Eve. And we're asking you to post your suggestions too. The only criteria is that the project has to be fun, fairly easy and that you include the weight of yarn used. No specific yarn names unless it's something people can find at The Artful Yarn. That's fair, right? You know, it's okay to take a few minutes on Christmas Eve to sit down and reflect on the holiday, enjoy the smell of the tree, look at the lights and pretty packages, eat a cookie or two and start a fun little project! Here's to tradition!
Right after the MollyGirl Trunk show, we looked for more fun patterns for Glamour Lite, a pretty fingering yarn with just a glint of shine if you really look for it. We ran across a pattern for Vintage Fairy Lights Socks by Helen Stewart. We are just so enchanted with the story and tradition behind these sweet socks. According to her pattern notes, Vintage Fairy Lights socks were created from a collaboration with Dani from the wonderful Little Bobbins podcast, and Jane from Hedgerow Yarns. Every year Dani hosts a Christmas Eve Cast On, a sweet and simple tradition to cast on a pair of socks every Christmas Eve. These socks are intended to evoke a feeling of comfort and joy. There’s an easy textured pattern on the top which brings to mind those old-fashioned Christmas lights, with a straightforward rib on the leg: something easy to relax you as you sit knitting and waiting for Santa. Perhaps you'll start a new holiday tradition too! We believe a skein of MollyGirl Glamour Lite (75% superwash merino/25% nylon) would be perfect - with just a dash of fairy glint, these socks would be truly magical!
The other day a great customer friend came in looking for yarn for a baby blanket. (One of our favorite things!) Once she chose her colors, she said I like to provide moms with information on how to take care of the blanket. Can I wash it? What about drying? We checked out the labels and, although it was the same yarn, the skeins had different care symbols from each other. Okay! We're savvy women! We looked it up! Seems that one label said not to put the project in the dryer and the other said you could throw it in the dryer. Ok! We're savvy women! We called the yarn company. Seems the newer labels for this yarn indicate that projects can be placed in a dryer at a lower setting. Then we got curious! What DO all those little symbols mean?? Here's a handy guide from the Craft Yarn Council that tells all. We found it especially enlightening to see all the washing symbols together - and they make total sense now! With holiday fibering upon us, it's nice to know what those symbols mean and what to share with gift recipients.
Looking forward to seeing you in the shop soon!
This time of year I like to organize the jumble of needles I create every year. Doing it now means I actually get it done and then I know what my needle situation is as I queue up holiday gift projects to knit. First I start by making groups by type of needle: straights, circular and DPNs. Maybe you are better at keeping the packaging for your needles, but these disappear on me. So I like to sit down with my handy Knit Chek and size up all my needles.
Here are some organizing ideas that I have used in the past:
Smaller shipping-type envelopes: I like the ones that open on the short end. I cut off the adhesive flap. I have written the needle sizes on them with a fun marker, tacked them to a bulletin board and then placed my needles inside the envelope. Generally, I keep straights and circulars separate.
Paper Towel Cores: Another thing that I have done is take a bunch of paper towel tubes and stuff them into a smaller shelf cubby that I have, label them and slide straight needles into those.
Old Knitted Scarf: I have been known to thread my circular needles through an old scarf, pinning a paper tag next to them that labels the length and the size. I should really hang that scarf up with the needles but I confess it lays over the back of a loveseat in my home "office." I have tried the soft organizers with clear plastic sleeves, but there are never enough pages and they get too bulky for me. I know I could have multiples of those for different lengths of needles, but I just haven't done it. Our shop sells a great circular needle organizer that I LOVE and it velcros around a coat hanger. It's the best solution out there in my opinion.
I don't have that many DPNs and for the ones I do have, miraculously, I have kept the little cardboard holders for them. I have seen cute organizing ideas like pretty, antique salt and pepper shakers (tops off, or course), travel toothbrush cases - there are tons of great ideas.
However you store your needles, protect the tips! It's so easy to drop needles into jars or vases. Over time the tips might splinter, become blunted or damaged in other ways. Early on in my yarn coveting years, I crammed a ball of yarn down into my needle jar and gently poked my needles into that rather than banging them down into the exposed bottom of my jar. It's an idea!
October is a great month to organize your needles! As we get closer to Thanksgiving and year-end holidays, the time and mental focus on this task just isn't always there. And by January, who wants to do this?! We're too deep into new fun projects to bother with it!
Looking forward to seeing you in the shop soon!
Cathy Hougan, shop owner
The Yarn Discovery Tour (YDT) is just around the corner! Nineteen shops in Northeast Ohio come together to host a nearly 18-day shop-hop with new yarns, great project ideas and your opportunity to see the beauty of little towns and big cities in our corner of the state. The YDT is more than just a fun shopping experience; it's also about supporting the Shop Local movement, All of the shops on the YDT are owned by women. And what an amazing, talented and passionate group of women they are! They care about you! They share your love of fiber crafting in every possible way. Not only do they provide great yarn shopping, they help you when you need it from finding that exciting project to helping you fix mistakes. Local yarn shops also support their local communities by hiring local and supporting efforts like your high school football teams, community theater arts, Girl Scouts, first responders, women's shelters, charities of all sorts. The YDT also brings people to community restaurants and other small businesses which supports local economies. At this time of year and ALL year long, your support of local yarn shops and small retailers means so much! It's our 11th year! Please buy a passport and join the fun! Be a part of Shop Local. You might even win a prize basket! And you will definitely score beautiful yarn, great patterns, our fun souvenir tote bag and of course, pins! Looking forward to seeing you in the shop soon!
2018 Yarn Discovery Tour, September 4-22/Passports available now
You can read all about the Yarn Discovery Tour (YDT) by clicking here.
We don't mean to do it, but for some inexplicable reason, when we turn that calendar page to August, everything changes. It's not all about summer any more! Now some of us are gearing up for back-to-school. And for all of us, we start thinking that Fall is almost here. It's not really, but our minds go there after years of cunning training! And we start to ask questions like, Are you offering a Christmas stocking class soon? Or What are your sweater classes going to be? And a big influx of people who want to learn how to knit or crochet start emailing us about classes. What?! It's 90+ degrees outside! Secretly, we are thrilled - super THRILLED for Fall knitting!
You'll want to really keep an eye on our website for upcoming classes and events! They aren't all posted yet as we are still confirming instructors and dates and supplies, but you'll see a few of them already posted. And there's so much more to come! We have an exciting schedule of Trunk Shows from new vendors, yarn dyers, accessory designers and more that we'll add to the calendar soon. And new yarns will start coming into the shop over the next 3-4 weeks. And even more classes will be added. And yes! We have a Christmas Stocking class that starts in October (we've never been this organized to mention October classes in August!) and we'll be confirming our sweater classes soon. After all, it's still the summer and we need our final fling with August!
Some of us at The Artful Yarn are all up into the Shark Week nerd appeal - and to celebrate, we’ve put together a not-serious-at-all Shark Week KAL/CAL - it’s where you knit or crochet something during Shark Week and just have fun with it. We like these Shark Bite Socks by Lara Smoot!
Here’s a link to a Ravelry Bundle of knit and crochet projects that might be fun to start during Shark Week. (We think it’s been 30 years!) It is not an exhaustive list of sharky projects, but you’ll get the idea.
Or you can just knit/crochet you current project. It’s all just a shameless excuse to binge watch Shark Week shows and get your loops on!
Need some other ideas? We’ve also created our own Shark Week Chum Buckets 600 yards of fingering yarn. Check them out here on Ravelry if you would like to jump into a linen stitch scarf or cowl. We also created a fun, little guide for changing your colors for those projects which is included with our kits. All tucked together in a little sand bucket!
Here's our Shark Week game: Using up to 8 different colors
Work 1 row in Color A if someone talks in an Australian accent
Work 2 rows in Color B if they tell you how to survive a shark attack
Work 2 rows in Color C if there is a reenactment of a shark attack
Work 2 rows in Color D if a shark is caught or trapped
Work 3 rows in Color E if they play the Jaws movie theme
Work 3 rows in color F if someone is submerged in a cage
Work 4 rows in Color G if a shark jumps out of the water
So we plan to watch Shark Week shows, keep track of these show elements then knit or crochet something truly unique! Won't you join us . . . safely on shore?!
Hi there! It's Kristy from The Artful Yarn and I’m taking over the blog this week at Cathy’s request to talk a little about one of my favorite things: Podcasts!
A podcast is essentially an Internet radio program that you can listen to through your phone or computer at a time that is convenient for you. There are many podcasts available ranging from daily news to comedy to special interests and they are generally a great way to learn new information about things in which you are interested. I first discovered podcasts with “Serial” from This American Life and NPR. It was engrossing to listen to someone craft a story and I immediately became hooked. Within a day, I had finished the season and decided I wanted to explore something new. There are some really great options available, but I decided to look into Podcasts that relate to my personal interests.
Using my cell phone, I researched through the podcasts icon on my iPhone. This app has changed some since I first used it, but you can still navigate it pretty easily. If you have an Android device you will need a different app such as Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, or another similar app.
Now you can search for podcasts using the app. I simply searched using ‘knit’ and found a wide range of great programming. Some of what I found are video podcasts and others are audio; I personally prefer the audio podcasts because I can listen to them in the car on the way to work. Once you find a podcast you think you are interested in, hit subscribe so that all of the new episodes will be sent directly into your app. If you decide that you aren’t a fan, you can always unsubscribe later. I also make sure to download the program while at home so that my phone is linked to a network and not eating up my cell phone data plan. Once I’ve downloaded it, I can listen anywhere without using up all my data.
Kristy's Knitting/Crafting/Making Podcast Faves:
Knitmore Girls Podcast – This is a multi-generational podcast led by Gigi and her daughter, Jasmin, with cameos from Jasmin’s daughter, Genevieve. These women were my gateway drug into knitting podcasts. Each episode includes what they are knitting, tips for creating and knitting, and a review, among other things. They are very honest about their strengths and challenges, which reminds us all that we can make mistakes and learn from them.
Making – Originally called Woolful, this podcast is in collaboration with Making Magazine. Ashley conducts interviews with creative people across the fiber and craft industry including artists, designers, shop owners, and farmers. Each time you listen to a Making Podcast, you will come away ready to create something beautiful.
PomCast – A once-a-month podcast that coordinates with Pom-Pom Magazine, Sophie and Lydia chat about the new designs, talk to designers, and share their excitement about knitting. It is easy to fall into the rhythm of their voices and get lost in the laughter.
Prairie Girls Knit and Spin – From the Nebraska prairie come working moms Susie and Danie, who share the laughter with their listeners. These two are great friends who support each other without judgment for their knitting mistakes. They will remind you why knitting friends are so important and make you laugh far too hard about the challenges in life.
These shows often reference other shows, which allow you to explore new podcasts that you might enjoy on your own. If you are interested in listening, but unsure how to start, stop by the shop on a Saturday and I’ll get you started.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to take our survey this past week! We heard from more people than we thought we would! Clearly speckled yarn is a hot topic! Here are the results so far:
68% of you expect to buy some speckled yarn in the next 6 months
50% of you can't get enough of speckled yarn
30% of you like speckled yarn, but need a little help navigating to the right projects for it
20% of you really don't like speckles!
67% of you like fingering yarn for your speckled passion
75% of you are knitters
21% of you are both knitters and crocheters
We are really psyched to see makers in their 20's through their 70's answering our survey! We also appreciated the great comments that most of you shared with us! The speckled yarn debate is real and for people who love it, they really love it. For people who do not like it, they really do not like it. Good stuff to know on both sides of the debate!
The survey is still live and if you would like to weigh in on speckled yarn, please access it through our previous blog post and share your opinion with us!
There's a debate inching into the yarn conversation about speckled yarn vs. non-speckled yarn. Who knew this was a thing?! Speckled yarn is very hot right now and has been for a while. At The Artful Yarn we find the conversation trending more toward "what do I do with it?" rather than an outright boycott. Recently we've been reading about yarn company closures and ran across a thread where knitters were vehemently opposing the whole speckled yarn trend as sloppy and ugly. These arguments caught us totally by surprise! Speckled yarns occur in the hand-dyed yarn world and the indie dye world has exploded with a ton of super-talented people creating awesome yarn expressions that some knitters and crocheters pursue with a passion. Some knitters are speculating that the rise of indie dyers is driving traditional yarn companies out of business. Innovation can have this effect when businesses don't move along with their market. Innovation broadens markets and we believe the current speckled yarn expression has brought more people to the knitting, crocheting, weaving and spinning tent.
As in any creative process (and the yarn world is a creative place) new and exciting expressions will most definitely appear. Some ideas will not catch on and some will capture our imaginations, hold our excitement and bring us joy. This whole thing about speckled yarn doesn't reflect our shop's "no judgement zone" vibe. If you like it, great! Go for it!
In a recent blog post of her own, Felicia Lo, creative founder of Sweet Georgia Yarn, explained why her company does not dye speckled yarn. She tells her readers that it is difficult to obtain a consistent color and speckle distribution time and again. As consistency is a core value for her company this is one reason they are not dyeing speckled yarn. We respect that. She further explains that dye powder is extremely fine and hand-dyers should use respirators to protect themselves from this fine dust. She explains that the speckled dye process scatters dry dye powder on wet yarn (rather than dissolved in a solution) placing the dyer in contact with more dye dust.
Felicia's concern is the affect of dye powder exposure for all workers in the dye house if they don't use proper safeguards. This gave us serious pause. Since our beginning, The Artful Yarn has been asking yarn vendors about fair-wage incomes for yarn workers, proper treatment of animals and ethical disposal of dyes. Now we will start asking about working conditions for employees and how those handling dye are protected from dye powder released into their work environment.
And then there are those who talk about how to use speckled yarns in their projects. Tin Can Knits shared a great blog post last year about the use of speckled yarn. They contend that there is a place for speckled yarn however you want to use them. We agree with them! Tin Can Knits suggest the full-on use of speckled yarn in anything you want to make. For those of us feeling less adventurous, they suggest including speckled yarns in stripes bounded by solids or semi-solid yarns. As cuffs, hems or pops of color anywhere in a garment or accessory. However you want to use speckled yarn, our staff can offer suggestions and explore ways that you might want to use these fun, new yarn expressions.
In the end, we believe the yarn tent is big enough for everything yarn! The next time you come in, we'll show you what we have in stock right now and rest assured, there's more coming this Fall - along with other non-speckled yarn too!
Want to weigh in on the speckled yarn conversation? Take our survey now!