November 20, 2013

Mini Mittens: Free Pattern

Every year I face the same dilemma:  what to get the kids' teachers.  (Admit it, you've been there.)  I almost always seek out unique Christmas ornaments as teacher gifts.  This year, it just seems like there's a pall over the economy and my bank account is making a loud sucking sound every time I fill the grocery cart to feed 3 growing kids. This year, we're going to be all about scaling back and giving from home and hearth.  My shop sales are about 1/3 of what they were last year at this time, so I know that I'm not the only one with these kinds of gift giving intentions.

I've decided to keep with the "tradition" of giving ornaments to teachers, but I'm going to make them this time around.  Heaven knows I have baskets full of left-overs from previous projects in just about every conceivable color and fiber combination.  After giving it some thought and doing some trial runs, I decided on Mini Mittens.  I looked and looked for the right pattern, but you know me, the best pattern is the one that I write for myself.  Any, because you know me, you know that it's going to be a pattern that can be done 2-at-a-time on a pair of circulars because why would I want the drama of DPNs and who wants to make one mini mitten at a time? Seriously.




I knit the green in some left-over Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer in Potion. I knit the tan in 100% undyed extra fine baby alpaca. That yarn was actually a sport weight, so it was a little thicker to work with, but the mittens still came out in the same size as the green mittens did. Each pair took a little over an hour to make and, voila! Two teacher gifts finished!  Zero monetary investment.  I estimate that a pair takes about 25 yards in the pattern directions, but I can whip out a pair of these mini mittens with about 15 yards including the 4-inch braid to tie them together.  In the first 12 hours of posting this pattern to Ravelry, there were 111 downloads, so I must not be the only one to think this is a cute pattern, right?

In case you suffer from a similar dilemma, I am sharing my pattern in time for last-minute holiday knitting.  You are always welcome to print it and use for yourself, but you are not allowed to reproduce it or sell the products from it. If you are thinking that this is something that might also fit an 18-inch doll, like say your daughter's American Doll, you and I are thinking alike.  If you get the gauge in the pattern, you will have a pair of mittens that fit this size of doll.

You can access my Mini Mittens pattern via Ravelry.  Happy holiday knitting!

November 18, 2013

Knit Picks Bulky Collection Giveaway!!!!

The holiday season is upon us, as is our lengthy list of knitted gifts that we are rushing to finish.  It's during this time that I think all of us think wistfully about the knitting we'd like to be doing for ourselves. Okay, well at least I'm thinking about the knitting that I'd like to be doing for myself.

In that spirit, I have this little gem to give away:  A PRINTED copy of the 2013 FallKnit Picks Bulky Collection pattern book.


My Everdene Wrap is on pgs. 22-25.




Here are the rules:  

1.  Since Zibeline Knits is going to become Cedar Hill Farm Co. Yarn & Fiber in January, let's get a head start on some FB presence.  To be qualified for this giveaway, you must LIKE my new FB page: Cedar Hill Farm Co.

2.  You must also leave a comment for this post about which of the patterns (it's okay if Everdene isn't your absolute favorite) you most want to knit and why.

3. If you'd like an extra entry, go ahead tweet this post and let me know in a second comment that you've done so.

You can check out the pattern collection here: 2014 Bulky Collection.

I will post the name of the winner on Monday, Dec. 2nd.  You will need to contact me one either FB or by email so that I can get your mailing address.

This giveaway is open to all U.S. and Canadian residents from today, Nov. 18th until Sunday, Dec. 1st.  

November 15, 2013

In Transition

I've mentioned before that I am going to be changing the name of my yarn company to be in line with our new farm company in January, and I'm glad that we've decided to wait until then to make it official.  I didn't realize when I said, "Sure, Honey, no problem" that there would be so many things to do.  Over three years, I've just done things a little at a time as my business has grown, so I guess that is why I misled myself into thinking this would be no trouble at all.  Over the course of a few days, I've built a website for the farm (Cedar Hill Farm Company), and on it is a link to my yarns in my Etsy shop for the time being.  The Etsy shop is still Zibeline Knits, and that won't change before the end of the year so don't panic. We have a FB page for the farm, also, but that is under construction, as well.  You are, of course, welcome to transfer your "like" from my Zibeline Knits page to my Cedar Hill Farm Company page if you like.  Actually, it would be appreciated.  We have a Twitter account, too: @cedarhillfarmco, and yesterday we got our first follower and he's a farmer in Germany. (That's not weird at all.)

And I tell you all of this because, well, when you come to the fiber festivals at which I will be A) vending or B) vending and teaching, Zibeline Knits won't be there; Cedar Hill Farm Company Hand Painted Yarn & Fiber will be there instead.

I was thrilled to be contacted out of the blue  this week by the organizer for the Festival of Alabama Fiber Arts in Montgomery, Alabama.  She invited me to teach a knitting class, and I cannot wait!  I'll be teaching Mastering Magic Loop, with a project option of 2-at-a-time socks, 2-at-a-time fingerless gloves, or a beret.  Yes, all of the patterns for the class will be mine.  You're welcome to sign up NOW because I only have a 2-hour block of time for a 9-person class. This is a new transition for me, as well, as my teaching has never really gone on the road like this.

I also have a confession to make. I'm working my way through a very large pair of man socks (Christmas pair #1) in Malabrigo Chocolate Amargo using my Ribbed Socks for Impatient Knitters pattern (see Free Stuff in the side bar for the pattern).


and a pair of fingerless gloves in Zibeline Knits Mission Sock Lakeside using my Sportswoman pattern (there will be few modifications),


and I have 3 more pair of man socks to make in the next 42 days, plus a sweater that I ripped back that I wanted to be done with by now but which will have to wait until after Christmas, and a semi-circular shawl design in the initial test-knit phase that I have half-way knit through on the needles and stares at me expectantly from the end table next to my knitting chair, and a SLEW of unfinished projects hibernating in the closet under the stairs, some almost a year old. That said, I desperately want to cast on for a new shawl that, truth be told, I probably won't even wear and a new pair of socks for me.  I've even been shopping for the yarn …for a week I have closed the cart every time before I've pulled out a credit card … but I couldn't hold out forever and I just broke down and ordered a new hank last night for that elusive pair of socks for me.  I think I have a disorder. It's a very self-defeating disorder common to all hard-core knitters and crocheters.  I have a feeling that you know what I'm talking about and are right there with me. I'm going to feel guilty about it for about 3 days--that's how long it will take for the yarn to arrive--and then I will, of course, forget all about how I probably shouldn't have ordered it.  It will be too awesome for regrets.

I haven't cast on for any of these new projects for me, but that doesn't mean that I haven't had moments of total distraction from my planned projects.  As a matter of a fact, there will be a new free pattern for your last minute (Holy Cow I forget to a get a gift for the bus driver!  What do you mean we're exchanging gifts at knitting club tomorrow?!) Christmas gift giving desperation.  It will be a cute surprise so check back.  Oh, and I'm starting that Knit Picks Bulky Collection print copy giveaway next week, too.  You will definitely want to get in on that!

And now I must go and knit in circles some more by the fire. It's in the low 40s and rainy this morning, which is a definite improvement from the 19 and 21 degrees F. mornings we've had all week, and who can think of house work on a day like this--though I did throw in a load of laundry earlier and that's my big accomplishment on the home front so far.  I think I am going to need to order more yarn to finish these man socks …

November 13, 2013

A little spinning

Did I show this off?  I meant to if I didn't.  This is one gorgeous hank of bfl/silk called Sun & Sea.






This hank is in my Etsy shop if you would like further details or to make it your own.

November 11, 2013

Let the Christmas knitting begin!

Here's an interesting and somewhat ironic tidbit to begin this post:  I'm beginning my slew of Christmas knitting projects and my studio is simultaneously being INVADED by lady bugs. It's November; we've had a string of 72 degrees and sunny days lately.  The chickens and the dogs aren't sure whether to bulk up or shed.  The cherry trees are in bloom but the hardwoods have lost almost all of their leaves. Does any of this seem a bit off?  So does my relationship with anything fiber related today.  Can't get in the groove today, so you get a new post to read.

First, second, third, and fourth up:  socks.  Fifth, gloves. The next four weeks are going to be a sock-knitting frenzy, and I think my best plan is going to be to work on two projects at once.  The last time I did that, I finished two pair at relatively the same time and it seemed that I knitted through them a bit faster having another pair to work on when I grew bored with the one in hand. I'll be updating and showing off my progress, but I won't tell who the socks and gloves are for (so you can just keep hoping that it's you, right?).




I cast on this pair last Friday.  I'm about four inches into them in the pictures.  My knitting model … that's Mittens.  She was just checking to see if I needed any help ripping back. She's big on ripping back whether it's needed or not.




November 07, 2013

New Friends to Knit With

Seems like it's been ages since I've enjoyed the company of fellow knitters and crocheters in a weekly gathering. When we moved to Commerce, I had to bid good-bye completely to the friends at Covington Knitters because the drive was too lengthy for a Saturday morning hang-out session.  I've barely been able to attend to knit with my Yarn Over friends in Monroe (that's the name of our Ravelry group and local club) because of distance and conflicting schedules. An angel must have been eavesdropping on my thoughts when I wished that I could find a group to join in Commerce and then literally minutes later saw a notice on the library marquis for Hooks & Needles, which meets at 10:30 on Monday mornings.  A week later I found myself amid a fun, welcoming group of crafters of all ages.  This week's attendance was so plentiful that, for a while there, every few minutes we were having to bring in another table to accommodate everyone.  I'm very excited to have joined such a great group of ladies!  They have a FB page, if you are in my area and want to look them up: Hooks & Needles.  As a matter of a fact, when I went to the page to get the link for you, I discovered that Whitney had snuck a photo of this week's Monday get-together and there I am, over on the left.


It was nice to show up for only my second meeting to find that the ladies still remembered my name. I am always so self-conscious about meeting new people, especially a room full of them, and it never helps that I can't remember the names of others right off the bat.  My former students and colleagues wouldn't believe this, but I'm rather shy around groups of strangers.  What makes this group additionally great is that many of the women are both avid crocheters and avid knitters with a wide range of experience, but they help the newbies without a second thought and with absolute patient attention.  I've known many a veteran who has been less than patient with the novice knitter or crocheter, that's for sure.  Stories of their off-color behavior have become legendary among my close friends, often involving hilarious re-enactments when remembered. (I know, that's really caddy.)

During this week's meeting, I was pleased to introduce someone who had never knit a stitch to the art of knitting.  By the time we left the library, she had the knit stitch down and was still excited about the experience. If you've ever taught someone to knit, you know that's sometimes not the case. I hope that she practices this week, as I've promised to teach her the purl stitch next week.  There just may be a dish cloth in her future, yet!  It's true what they say about knitting … everyone learns from a sister or a girlfriend.

This week was also this knitting of my last FO for myself, I fear, before Christmas.  I started this pair of Urbanista fingerless gloves on Sunday at the Royal Alpaca Challenge, brought it to knitting club on Monday, and finally worked the thumbs last night, giving me a new pair of fingerless gloves in Hound, a variation of the Flock 225 colorway.  I expect to have it available next week in my Rocket Sock Medium line.  I'm always a fan of a good spiral stripe!




I love making new friends through knitting, don't you?

November 04, 2013

New Horizons

This past weekend was spent, mostly in my booth, at the Royal Alpaca Challenge.  It was great fun to spend time with new and old alpaca friends while entertaining new and old customers and knitting club friends, as well.  I met many new people who, I hope, will continue to be in love with my patterns and my yarns long after the end of this show.  I certainly took time to coo over the too-cute-for-words alpaca in the pens in the arena, but didn't have my wits about me, apparently, and ended up taking no pictures of the animals this year at all.  Some friends were disappointed with the showing of their animals, some were thrilled, and some were over the moon!  I confess the photos of the fiber room were an afterthought, as I had forgotten my camera, so they lack the afternoon crowds and I had to take them on my Iphone.




Now that this last show of the year for me is over, it's time to concentrate on dying some new sock yarns for the upcoming holiday season.  It's also time to start planning for 2014.

In 2014 there will be a few changes around here.  The name of my company will change, for one.  Zibeline Knits will, effective January 1st, 2014, become Cedar Hill Yarns.  This coincides with the name of the farm (Cedar Hill Farm) that we are in the process of establishing. Nothing about my yarns and fibers will change except the labels and the shop name.  The fun thing is that my Honey and I are currently in negotiations for the opening of a yarn shop.  It will likely be located on the farm, but since we're just a side step off of a major interstate, that probably won't be an issue.  We also intend to offer farm-related products, like beeswax-based lip balms and body butters and fiber, as well as spinning and maybe quilting supplies.  There isn't a craft store within 50 miles of us, and I know that the women of my new knitting group aren't the only ones who have yarny needs. Since we also plan to sell fruits and veggies at the farmers' markets in our area, those would be available at the store, too.  On the horizon is also the raising of sheep and a twin set of alpaca, so there will be plenty of fiber available from our very own pastures.

So far I've set up the blog and the email for the farm/yarn shop (cedarhillyarns@gmail.com), and that leaves the web domain and the licensing to take care of.  There will still be an Etsy shop that offers my hand paints, patterns, and roving.  It will just have a new name.  If you follow me on FB or Twitter, you'll get a link to the new Etsy shop and FB page in January.  I hope you will follow me over to the new digs.

The first show I'll be attending, then, will probably be the Souther Select alpaca show near Sevierville, TN.  We'll see how the new year begins before deciding for sure. I'm also hoping to attend the Festival of Alabama Fiber Arts in Montgomery, Alabama at the end of April, but I'm on the waiting list so you never know.

And that's how my first week of November is beginning … full of dreams and expectations for the months ahead.

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