Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ben & Buddy ~ new pattern release!

Photo by Pam Allen for Quince & Co.

Hi, Knitters,
Yesterday was an exciting day because I have new patterns released by Quince & Co.! That is always a thrill. Ben & Buddy is a small pattern collection I designed as an extension of the Mary, Millie & Morgan ebook released last spring, which is a girl doll pattern with clothes to fit. 

By the way, the Mary, Millie & Morgan ebook was and is one of the proudest moments in my knitting career for so many reasons. It was the culmination of timing and many years of knit toy designing. The set of dolls and clothes turned out even better than I could ever have imagined. These dolls are something I had wanted to design for years and it finally happened.

Photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge for Quince & Co.

I am teaching a doll workshop using the Mary, Millie & Morgan collection for the first time at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago in this coming October (click here for more information!).

Right after the collection of girls came out I began receiving requests to design a boy doll as well. The good folks at Quince & Co. agreed and so this summer I set out to design a boy doll and a few clothing items to fit. The Ben & Buddy set and the Mary, Millie & Morgan set go together so well. The dolls are designed to be together with a traditional look and appeal but also with a slightly modern twist for today's children. 

I started thinking that instead of knitting more samples of the boy in different color selections that a sidekick might be a better use of my time. And really what could be better than a boy and his dog? Not much in my eyes. This storybook pairing can now come to life through your knitting. 

Plus, you can pick the colors for you boy and dog on your own! That makes it even more fun. If you need suggestions for yarn color choices just check out Mary, Millie & Morgan for some great color combinations in Quince yarns for skin, hair and clothing colorways.

Here are the important links for Ben & Buddy:

Ben & Buddy pattern and yarn information on Quince & Co.

Ben & Buddy pattern information on Ravelry (the pattern will be in my pattern shop in 3 months, it is now in the Quince & Co. pattern shop).

Mary, Millie & Morgan ebook ~ the girl doll version!

Now let's talk about construction.

Photo by Pam Allen for Quince & Co.

Both the boy and girl sets are worked completely seamlessly, all of the items, not just the dolls. The boy has some very different shaping and slightly different measurements to make him, well.... more boyish. And obviously the hair is different than the girl's as well. The boy's hair was definitely the most well-thought out and challenging aspect of this new toy design. I worked very hard to get it exactly how it should be and I am so pleased with the end result. The boy's hair is both knit in and finished with a little duplicate stitch. It is pretty perfect.

Photo by Pam Allen for Quince & Co.

The shoes are like the icing on the cake. I LOVE those little brown shoes with the white laces. There is something really sweet about the combination. I also love the boy's knit in t-shirt and shorts. He already has a great play outfit when you finish knitting that last stitch on the toe.

Photo by Pam Allen for Quince & Co.

The boy's wardrobe is simple, clean and functional. The colors in the Quince Chickadee sport weight yarn gives you so many options for the clothes. For my sample version I thought there was nothing better than a red cap, blue jeans and a sweatshirt gray sweater with a tiny bit of Fair Isle at the bottom edge. The clothes are so playful and again, boyish!

All of the clothes are seamlessly knit as well as the doll and the dog! These are a few slick and fun projects to knit.

Photo by Pam Allen for Quince & Co.

The final piece of the set is Ben's loyal pup Buddy. This little guy is knit seamlessly from the bottom up with a very interesting technique I devised when you get to the neck. I have used this neck and head technique on other toys and have taught it in workshops. It is a total winner for looks, effectiveness, and simplicity. I think you will love it.

Buddy the dog sort of pulled the entire set together. This dog packs in so much personality. I am so proud of the expressiveness of his face. He is one lovable little puppy. Buddy is a plus for the set but he is also a great stand-alone piece for any child or dog lover out there.

Photo by Pam Allen for Quince & Co.

I hope you will enjoy this wonderful little 5-piece collection I pulled together and lovingly designed for one of the best yarn companies out there, Quince & Co. I love working with Quince so much and I hope our partnership continues for years to come.

Let me know what you think about Ben & Buddy! I'd love to hear about your thoughts and for whom you will be knitting the dolls. Will you make the set to go along with Mary, Millie & Morgan or will you knit Ben & Buddy without the girls? I am really curious about how the boy version will do in comparison with the girl set.

I often hear a lot of knitters say there isn't enough out there for boys as far as knitting patterns are concerned. Well, here is a chance to knit something specifically boyish for little boys. Little girls will love the boy doll, too, no doubt. The imaginative play will expand so much with these two new characters added to the bunch.

I'd especially like to thank Pam Allen for the ongoing support and for her beautiful photography. What an honor to have Pam photograph my work. All of the good people at Quince are wonderful to work with and I am sending them a very deserving and heartfelt thank you!

I hope you are all having a super week so far.

Go forth and knit toys!
xo ~ susan

Friday, August 22, 2014

Project Sweater Chest


Hi, Knitters,
As it may reach 90 degrees with high humidity today of course I am sorting out heavy wool sweaters in my cedar chest. Doesn't that make sense? I knew you'd understand.

My lovely mother bought this cedar chest for me well over 20 years ago, maybe even closer to 30 years ago. I love it so much. I have stored my handknit wool sweaters in here ever since. But I  have come to the end of my storage space as you can see. I can barely shut the lid. I have no idea how many handknit sweaters and cardigans are in the chest, layer after layer. It is a deep chest.

The cedar chest clearly needs some clearing out, sorting, repurposing. I have gotten rid of some of my handknit sweaters and cardigans throughout the years, but there are some I just can't part with. No matter how dated the style and goofy my knitting was at the time there is something endearing about those old and early handknits. What to do?

I am going to embark on some sort of Project Sweater Chest but I have no idea exactly what that will entail at this point. I need more handknit sweaters and cardigans that are current and that I wear day in and day out. I have about 7 or 8 favorites at this point. (And believe me I have had many flops throughout the years.) Being in the cold, harsh winter climate that Wisconsin offers 7 sweaters is about a week's worth of wear. I think if I had about a dozen cozy sweaters in rotation it would be ideal. Or maybe 14 handknit sweaters, two weeks worth, would be perfect. Yes.

Does a baker's dozen sound like too much? Does it sound greedy? I think in my frozen winter climate that might be a reasonable number of cozy sweaters to have on-hand. I am the queen of wearing the same thing over and over and over again. My kids always ask me, "Didn't you wear that yesterday?" And I always respond, "Why yes I did and probably the day before that, too." I get favorites and I'll wash and wear those favorites to death. I wear handknits like this, too. 

In fact, I don't have a big wardrobe in general. If you have met me teaching a workshop or two or have seen me in photos teaching you will notice that I most often wear a black t-shirt, jeans (sometimes a skirt), clogs, handknit socks if it's cold, and some sort of cardigan either a thin one from the Gap if it's warm or a handknit cardigan or sweater in colder months. This makes packing super quick and simple, necessary for the survival of the traveling teacher.

Anyway, let me know what you think about Project Sweater Chest. I'd love to hear any sweater-knitting plans you have in store.


One last thing, I changed the header on my blog this week. It is now a sweet little water color I painted awhile back. I think it is a refreshing change. It is simple with lots of white space. 


Have a lovely weekend, Knitters. Here's to handknit sweater dreaming.....
xo ~ susan

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hudson Bay Socks


Hi, Knitters,
Yesterday I got a bit of a start on the cuff of my self-titled Hudson Bay Socks out of the Fishknits Yarn, Canadiana. I am pretty excited about the look of the sock so far. What a nice knit. The yarn is wonderful and the dyeing is top-notch. I purchased this yarn a little while ago so I am happy to finally get it going.

Needles: US size 1/2.25mm dpns, 6-inch length, by Signature Needle Arts
Project Bag: Little Skein on Etsy
Pattern: My free How I Make My Socks recipe

If you don't know what a Hudson Bay wool blanket looks like click here to find out!


Ever since I posted this skein on Instagram a few days ago Fishknits has been having a great run on the Canadiana Strong Heart sock yarn. Skein after skein is flying out of the shop. I gave Jo Dee Fish, the owner, a heads up that I would be posting more about her fabulous and fun sock yarn on my blog this week. Jo Dee said she would be dyeing up a bunch more of this unique colorway in case any more of you are interested.

Here is the information and history from Fishknits Yarn on Etsy about Canadiana:

This yarn is available for special order only. It can take up to 3 weeks until it is shipped.

A Fishtastic yarn called Canadiana made with our Strong Heart base: 
20 rows Natural
8 rows Deep Blue
6 rows Natural
8 rows Golden Yellow
6 rows Natural
8 rows Deep Red
6 rows Natural
8 rows Deep Green
~240 rows Natural
8 rows Deep Green
6 rows Natural
8 rows Deep Red
6 rows Natural
8 rows Golden Yellow
6 rows Natural
8 rows Deep Blue
20 rows Natural

Designed to look like the famous Hudson Bay blankets, indigenous to Canada;-) Each skein is dyed so that the knitter can knit a pair of natural colored socks with a stripe of Deep Blue, Golden Yellow, Deep Red, and Deep Green, just like the blankets, with a narrower stripe of natural between each stripe. It has been dyed with the stripes occurring at each end of the skein, with lots and lots of natural colored yarn in between. If you divide the skein in half you will two equal balls, one for each sock:-)

This colorway was designed and originally sold by Everything Old Crafts, here on Etsy. She has graciously given me the rights to sell this awesome colorway. We can all thank her for this awesome colorway.

Strong Heart: 80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon 2-ply high twist. 400 yards, 100 grams. The two plies in this yarn plump together making this yarn is so soft. It includes a touch of nylon which makes it very strong, perfect for socks, mittens, hats.

The test sock was a plain vanilla sock pattern knit on US 1 needles over 64 stitches. Your stitch size may be different than mine so the stripes may be slightly narrower or wider than mine.

~400 yds, 100 grams
7-8 stitches = 1 inch on US 1-3

Well, there you go! I divided the skein in two 50 gram balls. I am knitting the socks from the cuff down so I have to rewind the second ball so the striped section is at the beginning of the ball and not tucked away inside. If you are knitting toe-up socks you will need to have the stripes at the inside of the ball if you are hand-winding. I will definitely make the pair match this time. With the bold stripes it will be very easy to do.

The first sock seems to be zooming right along! I need a little fun and mindless project on the side right about now. I hope your Monday is going well and that your week is off to a good start.
xo ~ susan

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Patchwork Finale


Hi, Knitters,
I have thoroughly enjoyed knitting my Quaere Fibre socks in the Patchwork colorway. They are finished. Hooray! These socks boast a 10-color stripe repeat. I think this is one of my most favorite pair of hand knit socks to date. The yarn is wonderful, both the dyeing and the base. The yarn is a 2-ply and has a slight texture. I want to knit more socks with Quaere sock yarn for sure.


The Patchwork colorway (Note: I had around a 400 yard skein, some of the skeins are 600 yards) is made up of 10 1/4" stripes of the following colors when knit at 8"/64sts on a US1:
Dark Purple
Lilac
Orange
Grey
Grass Green
White
Light Blue
Navy
Gold
Grey 

This yarn incorporates all the goodness of a 2 ply with the strength of nylon. It is super soft and has a round, cabled appearance. 

I see that the Quaere shop has this colorway up for pre-order now and again. You could contact the Janel, the owner, and ask if you are interested in the yarn.

I have posted about this pair of socks quite a bit in all states of finishing, here are some of the links to see the socks in progress:


I used my Signature Needles dpns, 6 -inch length, US size 1/2.25mm and my free How I make my socks pattern. The cuff is 6-inches long and I did 12 rounds of 2x2 rib. 

Have a lovely weekend.
xo ~ susan

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Worth it.


Hi, Knitters,
I have been working up a storm lately. And by working I mean knitting and writing. I finished the lovely shawl I talked about in my last podcast episode. I am pretty much crazy over it. It is long, long, long. Long enough to wrap around yourself in so many different ways. More to come on this one soon.

After I cast the one shawl off I immediately hand-wound a new skein of yarn and cast on the next shawl I am working on for a different little company. I already had a plan in my head but I have started and restarted this one many times at this point to get it exactly right. I like to design and create news things directly on the needles with only a sketchy loose plan in mind before I start. This means that I'll usually have to start several times before I figure things out to my liking.

The photos today are of this new shawl design in progress. The photos are in black and white because it is an exclusive colorway dyed up by a dreamy (and hard to get your hands on) independent yarn company. It is all very hush-hush and downright fun. I think most of you, or at least I hope, will be very excited when all is revealed. I suggested the color and it turned out better than I could have imagined.


So I sit and knit and write notes in pencil in my hand-bound notebook and sip ice water and snack now and again, and get up and stretch my hands, arms and legs. And then I repeat for hours on end. It takes stamina.

I get asked a lot how I find time to get things done. To finish the last shawl I awoke at 2am the other night and started the coffee pot and began working to get it done. I worked straight through the next day with only a few breaks. Sometimes I have to resort to this type of schedule with the way my life is right now. I only get little tiny bits of broken up time throughout the day to get my work done. At times you simply need a long chunk of time to accomplish something big.

It was worth it.


I am feeling quite confident this next shawl design is going to rock. It's really all about numbers when designing. Numbers mean everything. 

My love to you all. I hope your week is less work-filled than mine. I don't have much personal knitting to show due to the heavy workload but I wouldn't want it any other way. I love what I get to do. The other work I am doing at the same time as the shawl knitting is writing a new book. I have a gigantic deadline due to my publisher on August 21st. I am starting to see another 2am rising time or two on the near horizon.

On top of all of the work right now, it's such a busy and somewhat bittersweet season for families with kids, isn't it? Summer's over, the kids get a grade older, changes come, a few things remain the same, new locations are found, and adjustments are made over time. In the end everything works out as it should. 

And life goes on. We are lucky that way.

I'll be back soon with more....
xo ~ susan

Monday, August 11, 2014

Northwoods Version: Susan B. Anderson Podcast Episode 9



Hi, Knitters,
Yesterday I uploaded the wrong file (it was waaaay too big) for the iTunes/podcatcher watchers out there. Please delete the episode and upload again. I apologize for any inconvenience. It is corrected now. If you are interested in watching/subscribing through iTunes click here for more information.

For email subscribers you can watch the video right here on YouTube: click here!

Now for the blog post!

I am back from vacation with my family. Last week we spent some fantastic family-time in northern Wisconsin in a not-so-rustic log cabin nestled on a lake called Lower Twin Lakes near Hayward, Wisconsin. The weather was beautiful, the setting was gorgeous, the lake was smooth, the mosquitoes were  aggressive, the food was very northern Wisconsin-like, and fun was had by all.

One morning I took the camera down to the pier and filmed a podcast for about 20 minutes. Listed below are the links for the things I talk about in the episode.

Miss Molly's Projects:
Louise Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge
Osprey yarn by Quince & Co.
Knitter's Pride interchangeable wooden needles
Knit Picks Felici sock yarn in the Spooky colorway (yarn is discontinued)
Signature Needles US size 2 dpns, 6-inch

My projects:
Upcoming shawl design:
Infinite Twist Helix yarn in the Clear Water colorway
Signature Needles, 24-inch circular US 7s

Socks:
Quaere Fibres socks in the Patchwork colorway
Signature Needles US size 1 dpns, 6-inch

Books
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
How to Catch a Frog by Heather Ross

Scoop by Jeff Miller
West's Hayward Dairy

Here are some photos from the trip for you to enjoy!











Tipped canoe!









It feels good to go away and then good to be home! Back to work for me and back to sports and school for the kids. There are lots of getting ready for school type things going on right now, lots of hustle and bustle.

I hope you are all having a wonderful August.

I'll be back soon with more.
xo, susan

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Teaching Schedule


Hi, Knitters,
This post will be linked on the sidebar of my blog for future reference. I will update it often.

This is not a complete list. I have more venues but they haven't been formally announced yet. I will announce them on this list as soon as I am able. 

Here are some of my upcoming workshops for the fall season:

September 11-14, 2014 ~ The Fall Fling by The Loopy Ewe  in Fort Collins, Colorado

September 21-25, 2014 ~ The Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat in Kennebunk, Maine

October 11-12, 2014 ~ WEBS, America's Yarn Store in Northampton, Massachusetts 

Oct. 26th, 2014 ~ Vogue Knitting Live at the Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois

November 6-9, 2014 ~ Knitter's Review Retreat in Canandaigua, New York

January 16-19th, 2015 ~ Vogue Knitting Live NYC 

January 22-24, 2015 ~ Sun Valley January Thaw in Madison, Wisconsin

April 11-12th, 2015 ~ Washington DC Stitch 'n Bitch Retreat, Solomons, MD on Cheseapeake Bay

April 17-19th, 2015 ~ Vogue Knitting Live Pasadena

July 2015 ~ Super Summer Knitogether or SSK in Nashville, Tennessee 

There are more teaching dates on my calendar but I think these are the only dates formally announced at this time. I will come back and add more to the list as it grows and changes. I am already getting bookings for 2016 if you can believe that. It seems so far away.


I've been working on a new workshop that will debut at The Loopy Ewe Fall Fling. It is a design your Fair Isle Mitts class. This is the first sample set I have worked up for the class.


I am teaching tons of technique and tips for achieving stunning two-handed two strand knitting within these fingerless mitts but I want my students to delve into a little designing themselves. I am giving the students a bare-bones plain fingerless mitt pattern/recipe in three sizes, and then I am providing loads of options for colorwork charts to plug in, and different cuff ideas to boot. Every mitt will most likely be different than the next, sometimes even in the same pair. 

Sounds like good fun to me!


The class will include instruction and tips on Latvian Braids, corrugated rib, reading colorwork charts, floats and how they work best, weaving in ends, blocking, adding in new colors, catching or weaving in floats as you work over long repeats, and more.

The fun thing is that students can design their mitts with as many colors and patterns as their heart desires or they can go the more subtle path and use only two colors and one stitch pattern for the entire mitt. It's the student's choice. Anything goes!

I am on to making a more subdued pair of matching mitts next for a different type of sample. Though in my heart my favorite is always the mismatched colorful route. Knitting with lots of color like this is always fun and entertaining and cute to wear. 

The yarn I used in these mitts is Quince & Co. Lark. It is a worsted weight wool knit at 5 stitches per inch on US size 7 double-pointed needles. I have a big bag of left overs from various projects so I just keep pulling out random colors and putting them together. It's like a grab bag of color.

For this particular Fair Isle Mitt Workshop the students can work on double-pointed needles as I do, or they can work on circular needles using the Magic Loop technique or some other variation. However, the main requirement is that students are completely self-sufficient at whatever technique they are using for working in the round on a small number of stitches. These classes are not the place to learn how to knit in the round on dpns or how to do Magic Loop, we start out assuming these skills are already mastered. For all of my toy-knitting workshops I prefer that students are able to work on double-pointed needles as the patterns are written specifically for dpns. 

Let me know if you are able to join me at any of these venues. Many of the retreats fill up very quickly and are already closed with waiting lists but it's always worth checking into if you are interested. The bigger venues sometimes have spaces left often right up to when the class starts.

Hope to see you in class.
xo ~ susan