Get to know Robin

Robin is in the top row on the left!

We are lucky to have many fantastic teachers at My Sister Knits, and this month we are featuring Robin, our Learn to Knit Teacher! Robin has been knitting with us, baking for us and teaching us how to knit for years. Get to know her a bit by reading this interview!Year KnittingAbout 15 yearsHow did you learn to knit?I had a short lesson in college, and then didn't try again until Julie Luckasen taught my daughter how to knit at school. She started knitting and I got interested again.How did you get started at MSK?I live next door to Julie, and enjoyed spending time at MSK. As my knitting skills improved, Julie asked me to teach Beginning Knitting. I have really enjoyed it. I love meeting new knitters!What is your favorite thing to knit(Project and/or yarn)?I'm still in a cowl & shawl phase, but I have been in hat phases and sock phases, so I know something else will grab my attention eventually.Do you do other work besides teaching knitting?I work at the Lincoln Center full time. What do you like to do when you’re not knitting?I enjoy sewing, baking, cooking. I also serve on the Poudre Landmarks Foundation Board that cares for the Avery House, and work on the Historic Homes Tour every year.Tell us about your family.I have a husband and two grown children. Ken is a Technical Writer and also writes parody songs for the group The Mostlies. My son lives in Fort Collins and works for a property management company. My daughter lives in Detroit, Michigan and works as a finish carpenter. My son doesn't knit but my daughter does! Stella, the pitbull; Guiness and Marzipan the cats; round out the family.What’s your favorite thing about MSK?The warm welcoming atmosphere and the wonderful, always-changing yarns and accessories!If you were stranded somewhere other than home, where would you like to  be and what would you be knitting?I would love to be in a cozy cottage in the English countryside, knitting a complicated shawl or sweater, knowing I won't be interrupted!

Sheepy Shelter!

We would like to properly introduce Brooklyn Tweed's yarns one by one.  Today the spotlight is on Shelter, Jared Flood's first yarn!shelter-skeins-rtpIn essence, Jared Flood and Brooklyn Tweed are synonymous. In 2005 Jared Flood created the Brooklyn Tweed blog.  Brooklyn because that's where he lived at the time, before he moved to his current home in Portland, Oregon.  Tweed because that was his favorite yarn.  BT pattern designs came soon after and in 2010 his first yarn, Shelter, was created!rosebud-by-jared-flood-in-shelterShelter begins it's life in Wyoming with Targhee-Columbia sheep.  Then off to Texas to a 150 year old company for a gentle, thorough cleaning.Since no harsh chemicals are used, you may find a tiny bit of hay in your skein of yarn every now and then.  We think  this  adds to the personality of the yarn and it reminds us of how close to the sheep it is!Shelter's next step toward your needles is in Pennsylvania where it is dyed by a 5th generation family-owned company.mason-hat-shelter-newsprint-cw-jared-flood-rtpFinally it goes to a 200 year old mill in Harrisville, New Hampshire to be spun.  From there, it's a hop, skip and a jump to our Brooklyn Tweed wall and your project!bronwyn-shelter-fossil-colorway-rtpWe are thrilled to carry this yarn that is unlike anything else!  The way it's spun with a light twist creates a lofty, airy, fluff of wool that is incredibly light and warm.These wonderful features cause it to be a bit delicate while you're winding or knitting it but once your project is wet blocked the stitches form a strong fabric that wears well for years!Our samples are ready and waiting for you to try on and we can also show you a myriad of patterns created specifically for this yarn which can be knit at different gauges!  Come in a give this beauty a whirl!  

Something new

As temperatures have plummeted and snow piles have ,we'd enjoyed nothing more than snuggling into a comfortable spot with a knitting project (or two) and relaxing into our stitches.This past week of knitting has allowed us to make some great progress on our various projects and is has also inspired us to find a couple of yarny podcasts that we think that you will enjoy.static.squarespace.comPam Allen (of Quince & Co.) and Hannah Fettig (of Knitbot) have joined together to create some 14 episodes of Knit.fm.  These two talented designers share a wealth of knowledge, advice, anecdotes and experience that will improve your craft as much as it will keep you entertained.These roughly hour long podcasts cover a large variety of topics from sweater construction, button holes, to the finer points of following a pattern.  There are helpful tidbits for knitters of all experience levels and we hope that as you listen you'll gain a bit from the rich experience that Pam and Hannah share with us.Another wonderful podcast that you might like to check out is the newer Woolful.  These episodes include interviews with folks working with yarn from shearing to designing and every step along the way.  You'll find compelling introductions to members of the worldwide fiber community that are following their passion and creating yarn and patterns that you'll want to work with.  We hope that you find their stories as rich and inspiring as we have.As long as the snow continues to fly we hope that you can enjoy a few days or even weeks of quiet knitting.  Please visit us as you run out of materials or fresh ideas to work with.  We look forward to seeing what you've been working on and can't wait to hear about what you've learned!

Sneak Peek: Fiber Co.'s Knightsbridge

When Julie went to TNNA this spring, she was able to get her hands on the Fibre Co.'s newest addition to their yarn collection: Knightsbridge.  This luscious worsted weight blend of 65% baby llama, 25% merino, and 10% silk is in production this summer and will be officially released in September.In conjunction with the launch of this lovely new yarn, the Kelbourne Woolen designers have created a collection of 15 new patterns for sweaters and accessories that make the most of these skeins.  Knowing how passionate we are about creating shop samples that can give you a clear sense of how our yarns perform, Courtney and Kimberly offered to send us a few skeins to play with along with a couple of patterns from the new collection.This means that as soon as our order arrives, you'll be able to see knit samples from the collection right alongside the new yarn and patterns.  We can't wait!Kate received a little care package from the shop yesterday that held eight skeins of the Winesteeple colorway.  It is a rich heathered color that has hints of chocolate brown and a deep plum. knightsbridge1She has elected to work on Browen, a bottom-up v-neck pullover designed by Carrie Bostick Hoge. DSC_0017She cast on without delay.  These skeins are so deliciously soft it would be a crime not to knit with them.  The stitches just fly along the needle.  This fiber blend is as silky as it is soft, and even the dark color reflects light with a beautiful luster.The Knightsbridge yarn and the pattern collection to accompany it will be in the shop after Labor Day.  We look forward to inviting you to the shop to see the new collection.  In the meantime, you may want to visit our current selection of Fiber Co. yarns and Kelbourne Woolen samples.  You will become as avid a fan as we are.

Another summer linen: Anzula Breeze

When we first received Anzlua Breeze in the shop last spring we couldn’t keep out hands off of it.  All of us cast on and a large collection of stunning samples soon appeared by Mid-April. Photos of much of the collection can be found here.This yarn was an instant hit and become so popular with our customers that we couldn’t keep it in stock.  Today, we are eager for a new collection of beautiful summer knits, and we have skeins and skeins of Breeze in the shop ready for your needles. breeze 02The 65% Silk and 35% Linen blend creates a soft to the touch lace weight yarn that knits up with exquisite drape.  I love the feel of this yarn and enjoy working with it.  The soft Anzula colors make it even more appealing.Both silk and linen are known for providing luster to fiber blends and this yarn exhibits a combination that glows without an overall shine that might create a more formal feeling finished look.   It lends itself beautifully to unstructured knits. breeze closeEach 115g skein has a generous 755 yards of yarn and many scarf and shawl projects can be completed with just one skein.  Ravelry has pages of project ideas.  I was drawn to a project that has been lingering in my favorites list for ages.I knit up a slightly modified version of Purl Bee's Silken Straw Summer Sweater.  I knew I would be more comfortable in a less transparent top; so I held two strands of yarn together as I worked, and tightened my gauge by using smaller needles. ssss(Yes, that is snow in the background). The girls in the shop have copies of my notes, so you can create a similar summer top in the color of your choice. It should be ready for you to wear just as the weather warms up!

Summer knits with linen

We have long been fans of Louet's Euroflax Sport Weight linen yarn.  It is a superior quality, fine linen which is double boiled and then steamed to ensure maximum softness. It  feels stiff to the touch in the skein, then transforms almost magically when your finished project is washed and dried. Yes, it seems totally counter-intuitive, but the yarn manufacturer actually encourages machine use to soften your project.  And what a treat to have a hand knit that doesn't insist on hand washing!Some knitters wash the yarn before they knit with it in order to be able to work with it in its softer state.  I have not been brave enough, and prefer to wait to see the change after the potential for snarly tangles has passed.  So I must confess that I have struggled with the stiffness of the yarn as I work with it.  (Working almost exclusively with soft resilient wool has spoiled me for working with the less bouncy plant based fibers that have more structure.)But Dawn and Kristin love working with this yarn.  They have both made many projects with it in summers past.  Over the last couple of months they both eagerly found some stunning projects that we have on display in the shop this month that beautifully illustrate just how well linen knits up. ishbelAnd look at the amazing soft drape that is possible.  This is Ishbel, a classic shawl pattern designed by Ysolda.  Almost 13,000 Ravelers have knit this shawl since the pattern was first published, and it is easy to see why.Kristin's classic French blue version looks as though it could beautifully accessories anything from jeans and a t-shirt at the Farmers' Market to a little sundress at a more formal picnic. linen toteDawn consistently makes stunning projects with this yarn.  This Spring she cast on for the Simple Hemp Tote that she saw on the Espace Tricot blog.   It’s worked as a long rectangle with angled corners, folded in half and seamed to finish.  The FREE pattern is very well written and easy to follow.And we thought it would make a fun Knit Along.  The garter stitch knitting should make for a fun social project that will give us the freedom to chat and relax.  So, we'll be casting on for this beautiful tote on Tuesday March 26th.  We hope that you can join us for our Community Knit Night that evening so that we can all cast on.  It is always fun to see what colors other knitters gravitate towards, and to check in on each others progress in upcoming weeks.Stop on by the shop before the 26th so that we can get your yarn selected and wound for you before our KAL starts!

Product Review: Knitter's Pride Karbonz needles

Knitter’s Pride Karbonz are revolutionary needles that combine the premium quality of carbon fiber with perfectly shaped nickel plated brass tips.  The space age Carbon Fiber is ideal for knitting needles on account of its high tensile strength, light weight and a surface that offers excellent control over the stitches.  The product line offers a range of sizes (US 000 – US 10) and types including fixed circulars, single pointed needles, double pointed needles, and interchangeable circular needle sets and tips.  We stock all but the single pointed needles at the shop.All of us shop girls gave these needles a test drive over the past couple of weeks and we were all thrilled with how they felt. We all loved the spectacular flex and tensile strength of the carbon fiber that has the warm feel of wood.  The nickel tips have a nice sharp point, and make for smooth stitch transition.These needles combine the best of wood and metal needles; and so those of that have a preference for one or the other all found that we liked the feel of these needles.  Amelia and I both found that the flexible cables worked well for our preference for the magic loop.For those of you interested in giving these needles a try, you may want to experiment with your next project that calls for circular needles or double points.  If you want to take advantage of the holiday season and treat yourself to an interchangeable set, we have several in stock for you to choose from. karbonzThe limited edition Box of Joy ( $150) comes in a very elegant, black wooden box with a laser-cut design of a tree in bloom. The Karbonz needles peer through the space where the design of the tree appears. The set includes:9 needle tips sizes US 4 to US 114 Cords (to make 24", 40" & 2 of 32")1 set of cord connectorsa complimentary Shawl Pin from the new Azure Charm rangeThe Deluxe kit ($ 125.99) includes:9 needle tips sizes US 2.5 to US 104 Cords (to make 24", 40" & 2 of 32")1 Set of size markers8 End caps4 Cord keysThe Starter Kit ( $73.25) includes:5 needle tips sizes US 2.5 to US 62 Cords (to make 24" & 32")1 Set of size markers4 End caps2 Cord keysThe Midi Kit ($ 67) includes:4 needle tips sizes US 7 to US 102 Cords (to make 24" & 32")1 Set of size markers4 End caps2 Cord keysMany of us have established knitting habits and preferences; and I never thought that I would be interested in knitting with anything but Addi needles.  Trying something new was a refreshing change, and showed me that even this "old dog" could learn a new trick or two.We hope that you will consider experimenting a little; either with a new tool, a new technique, or a new color that is outside of your box.  You'll probably be very pleased with the results! 

How to

I am a girl who prefers to learn new things from a teacher.  Typically, I don’t have great success puzzling through badly produced YouTube videos, or confusing illustrations that can tie my fingers up in knots.  But occasionally I find directions online that just make sense.This week I found something that I thought worth sharing with you.  In the most recent edition of Twist Collective, there are two “how-to” articles that are clear, well written, and even better… clearly illustrated! © Twist CollectiveSandi Rosner has written a wonderful article singing the praises of blocking: Block Party.  With lovely photos, she walks us though the why but also the how!  You will be able to see exactly what the wet block process looks like, and I’m sure she’ll be able to convince you that it’s worth it.The other article that I am excited about is the second in a series.  Robin Melanson has started a three part collection of articles focused on fixing common mistakes: The Error of Our Ways. In the Spring issue, her first article covers basic mistakes. These start with remedying increase and decrease blunders and move into fixing lace.  The photos make her instructions very clear.The second article in her series focuses on fixing average mistakes such as cable repairs and color work fixes.  The photos and descriptions are so clear that I understood her instructions immediately, and I love the idea of being able to fix a reversed cable at any point without frogging.  Next quarter we'll be able to learn about how "grafting and duplicate stitching can be used to correct grave errors in construction." Yikes!I hope that if you are curious about either blocking or fixing mistakes you’ll take a couple of minutes to check these out.  I am sure that you will find them as helpful as I did.

We cannot survive on a diet of yarn alone

You could easily identify us at My Sister Knits as foodies.  My love of delicious food comes from my childhood, and has been better informed by authors like Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver.  Their books In Defense of Food and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle have inspired a love of local and fresh in me.  In a week or so, the water will be turned on at the Community Garden and our seeds will go into the ground that is just now getting warm enough to receive them.  And now that the local Farmers’ Markets are back, my access to food that has been grown close-by will increase, and the diversity available will be abundant. 

While your idea of fun may not include hours of weeding, taking the shortcut of supporting your local growers will enrich the community, and provide you with some deliciously healthy meals.  If you still aren’t inspired to get into the kitchen, you may want to take a look at Cooked

Michael Pollan has published a new book this week that I can't wait to dive into.  Mark Bittman of the New York Times recently wrote an op ed piece in which he interviews Michael about his ideas.  In a nutshell: “Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”

While Michael isn’t a cookbook author, and this book doesn’t provide recipes that will make your mouth water; it may inspire you to start looking for them on your own.  We have found some wonderful recipes online at Pinterest or surfing foodie blogs.  You may find that all you need to do is follow Julie’s lead. 

Put a bit of dressing in the bottom of a Mason jar, top with your favorite greens, and shake when you are ready to serve.  Some more fun veggie-centric recipes can be found here

We hope that websurfing can lead you to some tasty meals. And we'd would love to hear about what you've been cooking.  Stop in on one of our Community Knit Nights on Tuesday evenings from 5 to 8pm and let us know what you have found that you'd like to share.  Here is to the coming abundance of summer, may it be delicious.

Multitasking

One of my favorite Boulder knitters Helen confessed that she is able to read while knitting garter stitch projects.  I can’t manage that.  I can glance at a TV to watch movies as long as there are no subtitles.  But I love to listen to stories when I knit.  This is one multitasking habit that I hope never to break.

I have been an Audible.com member since 2006 and love their wide variety of titles.  My library of their titles includes both fiction and non-fiction.  Currently, my listening habits tend to focus on historical fiction series, as these stories provide diverting imaginary windows to very different worlds.  Some of my recent favorites have included:

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series.  Part time travel, part adventure, and all wonderfully detailed and carefully researched narrative. This series will transport you too back to the mid-1700s and I think you’ll enjoy the trip. **spoiler alert: there are some rather steamy bits which you can skip if the romance genre is not your thing.

Laurie R King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series.  These books have paired up a wonderfully quirky duo of characters giving Sherlock a new partner in a brilliant and headstrong young woman.

Suzanna Clark’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  This has sometimes been described as Harry Potter for grown-ups.  While the story does revolve around British magicians, the similarity ends there.  I found myself laughing out loud at points of the books which I found very cleverly crafted. I hope that you’ll enjoy it too.

Katie is an audio book fan as well.  Her favorite is listening to the Harry Potter Series which is sadly not among the selections available from Audible.com.  She has become a connoisseur of these stories and has a favorite production.  There are a couple of different versions of the books available on Amazon; she says that the British versions narrated by beloved British actor Steven Fry are the ones that you'll want to invest in.  His ability to provide different voices for the charachters make his version more rich, interesting and entertaining.

Tune in next week and I'll share my favorite picks for non-fiction audio!