Rhinebeck Meetup: darkmatterknits (aka Elizabeth Green Musselman)

I’m thinking this will be my final Rhinebeck meetup post. I certainly chatted with a lot of interesting people at Rhinebeck, and there are still more that I haven’t talked about. I’ll find a way to introduce you to some of them soon.

Today I want to tell you about Dark Matter Knits (Elizabeth Green Musselman). She was at the Cooperative Press both at Rhinebeck on the Saturday selling and signing her unique book for boys: Kung Fu Knits.

This fun book is part story, part very cool patterns that boys in your life might just beg you to knit. I think the illustrations would really be attractive to kids. I haven’t tested this theory on my 7 year old boy yet because I don’t have the spare knitting time to make him Nunchucks or a Gi Jacket at the moment!

Nunchuks from Kung Fu Knits by Elizabeth Green Musselman

(c) Elizabeth Green Musselman

As Elizabeth says on her designer page, she likes to work on designs for boys and men. Her thesis is:

  • that guys’ taste in clothing is not nearly as dull as the ready-to-wear market would have you think and
  • that if you knit people what they want, they will wear (or use) it

Elizabeth also hosts a biweekly video podcast that is fantastic. I really like the thought she puts into choosing a theme for each show that relates to knitting (and usually life as well).

And just for pretty, here’s Langstroth, Sr., a great sweater for guys with a geeky historical explanation. It’s an upsized version of Langstroth (for boys).

Langstroth Sr. by Elizabeth Green Musselman (Dark Matter Knits)

(c) Elizabeth Green Musselman

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Rhinebeck meetup: Just Jussi – aka Justine Turner

Before I get into the meat of this post, I’ll remind you all that the Indie Designer Gift Along (coupon code giftalong2014ends tomorrow, November 21, 2014. I’ve got 8 patterns in the sale.

One of the special surprises about this year’s Rhinebeck was meeting up with Justine Turner, who Ravelers may know better as Just Jussi. For those who like to “hear” the correct pronunciation when they read, Jussi rhymes with fussy.

It was a treat to meet Justine at Rhinebeck because she lives in New Zealand. A group of us ended up having a lovely, but perhaps strange to overhear conversation what with Justine (Kiwi accent), Simone (Swiss accent), Andi (British accent) and me (Canadian accent).

Even if the Just Jussi name doesn’t ring a bell, you’ve likely seen Justine’s work. Her fantastic free Aviatrix hat (multi-sized and written for different yarn weights) has thousands of projects on Ravelry. And why wouldn’t you want to make one after seeing this cute example?

Aviatrix by Just Jussi (Justine Turner)

(c) Just Jussi

And for those who already love this pattern, you’ll be interested to hear that Justine’s hard at work on a book of cute adaptations of this pattern (think insects, animals & birds).

Justine’s got all kinds of cute kiddie patterns, so I’d advise you to have a look at her full design catalog. One of my favourites is Japonica.

Japonica by Just Jussi (Justine Turner)

(c) Just Jussi

Right at the moment Justine’s been very busy with a photography course. She’s shifted her knitting design focus to quarterly collections. Her next design collection is coming soon. Justine tells me:

It is called “Little land girls” and is based on a set of tops with a British wartime aesthetic, along with some “mend and make do” style accessories. I am planning the photo shoot for mid December (summer here in NZ) and have been gathering clothing and other items to make the styling as cute as possible!

I’m looking forward to seeing the new collection. Justine’s designer page lists all kinds of ways that you can stay in touch with her on social media, as well as a newsletter you can sign up for to make sure you hear about her new projects.

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Winner, Indie Gift-Along and OwlCat Designs

First off, I’ve got a prize to award. The winner of Andi Smith’s Synchronicity e-book is….. Maureen Foulds. Congratulations! And for those who didn’t know it, Mo’s a great designer and lovely fellow Ontarian.

Next, I need to let you know about the Indie Designer Gift-Along. This is an event that starts tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 13th, 2014) and runs  through the end of the year. It has 2 parts:

1) A week-long 25% off sale, beginning on Nov. 13th at 8pm EST. The 293 participating designers each have between 4 and 20 participating patterns. I’ve got 8 patterns in this sale.

2) A knit-along of all patterns by the participating designers and associated games. Lots of prizes are up to be won, and you can make progress on your gift knitting. Projects must be cast on after 8pm EST on Nov. 13th and finished by the end of the year (same time zone).

Interested in playing along? Head on over to the Indie Designer GAL group and join in the fun!

One of the other 292 participating designers in the GAL this year is Simone Kereit (aka OwlCat Designs). I met up with Simone at Rhinebeck this year after being in touch with her online for a while. You’ve already seen a picture of Simone in my recent post about Andi Smith.

Simone’s had some great designs come out quite recently. Have a look at On The Forest Floor. This 3-colour shawl has a little bit of lace and applique crochet accents that really make it shine:

On The Forest Floor by Simone Kereit (OwlCat Designs)

Simone also has a new recent double knit hat design that I’m in love with. Odonata is a double knit hat with dragonflies. Reversible and beautiful!

Odonata by Simone Kereit (OwlCat Designs)

Finally, Simone’s Rhinebeck sweater this year made her very easy to find. Fox Crossing is a lovely cardigan, especially if you’re fond of little foxes (yes I am!).

Fox Crossing by Simone Kereit (OwlCat Designs)

I asked Simone to tell me a little about her history with knitting and how she got started. Here’s her story:
When I learned to knit back in Switzerland as a little girl, the way you would learn to make a sweater was very different. There weren’t many patterns available and the way I learned to make a sweater went something like this: After deciding to make a sweater, you’d go look at yarn, find yarn you like figure out the approx. yardage needed. Then you’d take your lovely bag of yarn home and swatch. Block and measure the swatch, measure yourself (if the sweater was going to be for you) and do the math. So when I moved to the US, that’s what I still did. The transition to doing this professionally came pretty naturally after that.

I tend to get bored easily, and designing lace shawls and doing complex chart math for sweaters keeps me excited about a project. I know to some this might sound odd, but yes, I do enjoy the math and logic that goes on behind the scenes of a knitting pattern.

I tend to do a lot of different things design wise, there is just so much to knitting, why limit yourself? A unifying force behind all that variation is probably that my inspiration tends to come from the outdoors. i love to go hiking and backcountry camping, I just recharge being outdoors!

My ebook collection ‘over mossy stones…‘ is inspired by woodland creatures and shady walks in the forest. And currently I am working on a Shawl Club for next year, it’s not out yet, coming soon.

Thanks, Simone, for sharing your beginning & your inspirations with me. You can sign up for Simone’s newsletter to stay up to date with her releases!

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Sunday spinning update

It’s been a wonderful weekend for me. I spent a relaxing and fun time at the Needler’s Retreat in Gananoque. I spent about half of the week preparing to go, it seems, so I didn’t quite have enough time to spin up a full skein of yarn. I am working my way through one of the beautiful batts that I got at the Into The Whirled booth at Rhinebeck.

The Cat's Pyjamas batt in progress (from Into The Whirled)

This one is called The Cat’s Pyjamas. I’ve already made the transition from light purple to dark purple to dark green. I’ve just got to get through this green shading into light teal, and the singles will be done.

And now I’m going to head for bed to recover from all the fun and excitement of retreat. More soon!

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Rhinebeck meetup: Andi Smith

When Andi Smith isn’t tech editing or teaching, she’s working on beautiful designs of her own. Andi (aka knitbrit) had a bit of an exciting lead up to Rhinebeck because she did a quick last minute bit on Knitting Daily. Here I am at Rhinebeck  with (from left to right) Simone Kereit (OwlCat Designs), and Justine Turner (Just Jussi) and Andi (of the colourful hair)Simone Kereit (OwlCat Designs), Justine Turner (Just Jussi), Andi Smith (knitbrit), Natalie Servant

Andi is the author of Big Foot Knits: a great book that can be used by everyone to figure out how best to customize socks to fit. My favourite pattern from the book is Pavarti:

Pavarti socks by Andi Smith (in Big Foot Knits)

(c) Andi Smith

Earlier this year Andi released Synchronicity: a beautiful e-book of two-colour cable patterns. I bought it, not because I was under any particular delusion that I’d have time to knit anything from it right away, but because it was gorgeous and inspirational. I love the Salt Hill scarf:

Salt Hill scarf by Andi Smith (in Synchronicity e-book)

(c) Andi Smith

And check out the Black Bunny cowl.

Black Bunny cowl by Andi Smith (in Synchronicity e-book)

(c) Andi Smith

While I haven’t knit from this e-book yet, I do have the Volkerding pattern printed and in a project bag with needles and yarn so I’m ready to make the next needed baby gift. Soon, perhaps!

Volkerding hat by Andi Smith (in Synchronicity e-book)

(c) Andi Smith

Andi’s got lots of plans up her sleeve for the new year. Apart from refreshing her web presence, she says:

The main thing I have planned for the new year is a new book. Cables and cardigans with a twist and writing about the whole process as it happens. I think knitters would be interested to know about the whole process from design and knitting to production.

I’ll be sure to pass on the word when this launches! Andi has generously offered a copy of Synchronicity to one of my blog readers. To win, just tell us in the comments email natalie@natalieservant.ca which of Andi’s designs you’d put on the needles first by Nov. 10, 2014, at 10am Eastern.

(comments seem to be a little broken at the moment)

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Saturday spinning update: yarn!

At long last I finished spinning up the Briar Rose BFL yarn. I filled the 3 bobbins and plied them together using my wonderful smooth TravelKate.

Briar Rose Fibers BFL on bobbins

The result is about 370 yards in 175g. As usual, I’ve got no particular plan for it, but it’s a wonderful colour and I’ve got plenty of it.

Briar Rose Fibers BFL - handspun 3 ply, 175g, 370yds

After such a long spin, I decided to take a break and spin up a small 50g amount of BFL from Fleece Artist in beautiful greens. This seemed to want to be thicker, so I’ve ended up with a 2-ply yarn that is about 80 yards in 58g. It’s nice and light and fluffy – perfect for a hat or something like that.

Fleece Artist BFL

Fleece Artist BFL handspun, 58g, 80yds

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Rhinebeck meetup: Laura Nelkin

This is the first in a series of blog posts about some of the wonderful designers and creators that I met at Rhinebeck. Today I’m going to talk about Laura Nelkin, who I finally got the guts to say hello to this year. And you know what? She’s lovely, of course. Here we are (I’m on the left, Laura’s in the middle) with Simone Kereit (more on Simone later, I promise).

Natalie Servant, Laura Nelkin, Simone Kereit

I’m sure that for many of you, Laura Nelkin needs no introduction. Laura is a talented designer and teacher who loves to work with lace and beads. She’s also got 4 (!) Craftsy classes available for those who aren’t able to learn from her in person.

Laura really grabbed my attention when she did her Adorn e-book. It’s filled with clever little patterns to use yummy yarn and beads to create knitting as jewelry. I really like the Butin Collar:

Butin Collar pattern by Laura Nelkin

(c) Laura Nelkin

Laura also runs mystery knit-alongs complete with kits. A previous neighbour of mine has been on the receiving ends of these packages, and it’s always fun to see what the beautiful yarn & beads turn into. Sign-ups for her “M Club” are still open at the moment. This Mystery Kit club is a series of 4 Knit-Alongs complete with kits, beads, tools & goodies.

Laura’s also got a new book out this fall: Knockout Knits. It is a set of accessory patterns, and they introduce the reader to lace, wrapped stitches, and working with beads. I’m very fond of the Quadro Shrug, which starts with a square and becomes a rectangle that can be worn as a shrug:

Quadro Shrug by Laura Nelkin (Knockout Knits)

© Lauren Volo Photography

And the Cha-Ching Mitts that grace the cover of the book (and also have a matching tam) look like fun:

Cha-Ching Mitts by Laura Nelkin (Knockout Knits)

© Lauren Volo Photography

I hope that you enjoyed this very brief introduction to Laura Nelkin’s work. I’m looking forward to telling you more about some of the other folks I chatted with at Rhinebeck.

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Felting with Maggie Glossop

Thanks to a wonderful friend, I had the opportunity to attend a felting workshop right after I returned from Rhinebeck. I neglected my housework for yet another day and off I went for a new adventure.

Maggie Glossop is a richly experienced spinner, weaver, and textile artist. Her beautiful felt artwork has been in many exhibitions and is inspired by Canadian landscapes. First up, Maggie gave us a bit of her fibre history and explained the basic process she uses to make felt:

Fibre artist Maggie Glossop explains the basics of making felt landscapes

Then we all went into the kitchen and used a small amount of white wool to lay out a base. Maggie gave us each a rainbow of coloured wool to play with. I decided to put colour on both sides of the work, but to try different things. Here’s the before:

small felt sample, side 1, pre-felting small felt sample, side 2, pre-felting

And here’s the after:

small felt sample, side 1, post-felting small felt sample, side 2, post-felting

That was fun! Then we were given a bit more fibre and Maggie used her samples to inspire us and demonstrated some techniques she uses to create her landscapes. Time was not on my side at this point, because I had to leave early to get the kids from school. I used only the smallest fraction of her advice to create the impression of trees with a bit of a fall feel:

fall felt-scape before felting

And after felting, I was pretty pleased with the results. My kids were even able to figure out what it was supposed to be, so I consider this a success.

fall felt-scape after felting

When I told the kids that we could all do this, they were very eager. I’ve just got to pick some supplies and we’ll all be playing at making felt together. I’ll be sure to show you what we get up to. It’s fun to use fibre in a new way.

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Rhinebeck 2014

I’ve been going to Rhinebeck for 5 years now. At some point in that time, my goals have changed from it being a yarn and fiber acquisition trip to mostly visiting with people. Don’t get me wrong, I still spend money, but I’ve got a large stash and much of my knitting time for the next few months is already planned out. That tends to mellow my need for new and pretty things.

On Saturday morning we only showed up about 30 minutes before opening, which was just in time to benefit from the line being split into two.

Lining up for day 1 of Rhinebeck 2014

I already knew that I wasn’t planning on wrestling through long lineups (like at Miss Babs or Jennie the Potter), but I had a goal. I snapped up a couple of beautiful Falkland batts from Into The Whirled. I’ve already spun a few of these, but they’re fun and people seem to like the gradient yarn that they become.

Falkland Batts from Into The Whirled

At the Ravelry meet up I met a whole pile of interesting people and then went to lunch with a bunch more. I’ll tell you a bit more about them over the next few weeks & introduce some of their designs to you on the chance that you don’t already know about them. Here are some pictures of Ravelry friends zuzusunshine (Heather/aka the Cupcake Lady wearing her Peloton shawl in Briar Rose Fibers Sea Pearl) and Annimol (whose husband Thayer makes the very lovely TravelKates):

Nat & Heather Annie & Nat

The foliage was beautiful and I kept wishing that I had a real camera to capture it, but this will have to do:

On Sunday I bought some beautiful fingering weight yarn from the O-Wool booth. I had a heck of a time making a decision. First I had to choose a base. In the end I went with a nice 2-ply fingering weight yarn with the thought of making mittens.

O-Wool O-Wash Fingering in Black Bear and Paw Paw

When I went to tell you more about it, I ran into a problem. O-Wash Fingering isn’t listed on the web site yet. There is O-Wash Sport, which sounds similar. I looked at my ball bands: Lot 1. Aha! It’s a new base. A quick look at the O-Wool Instagram page confirmed this theory.

I took a long time choosing colours, but I thought that the bright, almost neon yellow of Paw Paw would be wonderful with Black Bear. I’m not sure when I’m going to get to knit with it, but I’ll be dreaming about it.

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Giftable Cowl

The Giftable Cowl was something I made up as I went along. I had some handspun yarn. I wanted a reversible cowl and I wanted to use as much of the yarn as possible. I was taking a break from pattern-writing to work on something simpler. I make more handspun than I’ll ever use, and this was a chance to use it:

The Giftable Cowl that started it all

Friends at my LYS suggested that it needed to be made into a pattern, so I re-knit it in some Cascade 220. It’s a combination of 2×2 ribbing and garter stitch and it’s a very quick knit. I’ve made 4 now (including 3 from handspun). It’s a very satisfying thing to work on in between larger projects, and I think it makes the perfect gift. Everyone’s got a neck, right?

Giftable Cowl

To celebrate gifts & gift-giving, I’m encouraging you to make a gift. Gift the Giftable Cowl to someone else on Ravelry and I’ll gift it to you as well. Enjoy it with a friend! It’s a small simple pattern, so it’s only $2 USD.

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