New Base Giveaway!

Happy July PALers!

I’m happy to announce a new yarn base to the Play at Life Fiber Arts’ line. Yuuka (pronounced YOO-ka) is a super squishy, 3ply, SW Merino fingering weight base with 490yd in each100g Maki. It’s perfect for those looking for a machine washable yarn with a softer feel than many tightly spun and plied sock yarns.

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I test knit this base and colorway with Tentaculum, a free pattern designed by Wollwerk by Simone Eich. My version ended up being over 6 ft long! I’m able to loop it around my neck twice for extra warmth. I love that it stays where I put it and the softly curly ends are perfect for fidgeting if I’ve been foolish enough to forget my knitting while I’m out and about. Tentaculum’s pattern repeat is short and easy to memorize, making it a great project for late night, possibly tipsy, tv knitting.

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Yuuka Maki are making their debut in the shop on Monday, July 22nd at noon.To celebrate I’m having a giveaway. Enter below for your chance to win your own Yuuka Maki in Jack’s Lament! Rules and details on how to get extra entries are below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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That 70s Club – January/February

They have arrived! The January and February shipments for That 70s club have been delivered to the club members, so I think it’s safe to show them off.

P1050601January’s shipment, There Be ‘Shrooms, was inspired by all those mushroom things that were around in the 70s. Do you remember those ceramic flour/sugar containers? Specifically this one? Someone I know had this exact set. And my grandparent’s furniture matched it perfectly. I think they still have that furniture!

February’s shipment, Corduroy, is a deep, red/brown coordinating semisolid. This will definitely become a regular colorway! I can’t wait to knit myself some colorwork socks with these two.

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Knitterly Resolutions

541755_4674793841208_48625760_nI don’t really make big resolutions. BUT, I do like to have some crafting goals and last night I had a good reason to add one to this year’s list. I broke a needle!

My husband bought me this set of Denise Interchangeables when I first learned how to knit. At that point, I had purchased all my yarn from area “lot” stores and big-name retailers. I didn’t know about local yarn stores or Ravelry, and had never even met another knitter, crocheter, spinner, or weaver.

This is not meant to be a dig against Denise needles. I actually like them for flat, worsted+ knitting. But I work mostly in the round and/or with fingering weight yarns and I think I’ve simply grown out of of these. I don’t think I’ve invested in any knitting equipment that wasn’t directly related to the yarn business since this set. I already know what I’m getting (Chiaogoo red lace FTW!) Time to save my pennies!

I’m also going to continue to work down my stash of sweater quantity yarns. Several of these were purchased at the aforementioned discount stores *and* I still have thrift store sweaters to frog. Right now I’m working on Girasole with BRIGHT orange Lion Brand Cotton Ease.

And then there are monsters. I made two in the week between Christmas and the new year. I want to make one more before I ship them off to 600 Monsters Strong.

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I will continue to participate in Nerd Wars. I’ve had so much fun AND I’m using my languishing fingering weight and handspun stash. In December I made a handspun hat.

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In shop news, it’s Play at Life Fiber Arts’ 4th anniversary!  To celebrate, I’ll be including a special gift in each order throughout the month of January. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PALers!

That 70’s Yarn Club

I vividly remember the colors and kitschy patterns of the 70’s with great fondness. Growing up, we had an avocado car and stiffened crocheted wall hangings in our dining room. I wore corduroy everything. I loved it all!

That 70’s Yarn Club celebrates avocado, orange, owls, and mushrooms. Colorways will be fun, wearable interpretations of those wonderful, cringe-worthy combinations.

Shipments will alternate between striping and gradient Maki (or fiber) and coordinating semisolids. Pair yarns together for a large, striped shawl. Or ply a long color repeat with a semisolid for a marled, self-striping yarn. This club will give you many options beyond a single skein or braid.

Club spots will open on this site on Friday, November 16, 2012 at noon. Spots will close November 30 or when the club is full. Your first shipment will go out by January 15 and will continue each month (by the 15th) through 2013. Yarn, fiber, paid-in-full, and monthly subscription options will be available for the entire year or the first 6 months. I will be listing any available spots for the second 6 months in May 2013.

Stay tuned for spoilers and other fun!

No Longer Waiting!

While Sandy was making her way through my neighborhood on Monday afternoon, I got the call I’ve been waiting an entire year for: a vending spot had finally become available to me at the Fiber Festival of New England!

Several of my friends had gotten spots last minute in 2011, so I put my name on the waiting list while I was visiting the festival that year. I didn’t think it would take the whole year to get to the top of the list. Despite the anxiety of waiting, I am incredibly excited to be attending as a vendor this year!

Thankfully, I have been stashing some stock away the last several months. I’ll have most of my fall Maki colorways in shawl and sock sets. And I was able to dye up some coordinating and contrasting neutrals for all those stripey shawl patterns available. I will also have some of those neutrals on Oona DK and some variegated colorways on squishy Jest Aran (perfect for winter accessories!) As always, I will have silk hankies for those you want to try something new. There will be plenty of extras available for those touchy-feely types who (like me) learn by doing. Scrumpet sock will be 30% off this weekend too!

Free copies of my Garter Path Shawl pattern will be available to those who make a purchase. Supplies will be limited though so stop by early. And please do stop by to say, “HI!” The more smiling faces, the better at booth #474/475E.

I hope everyone fared as well as possible through the hurricane. I’m sending lots of mojo and positive fixing vibes to those still cleaning up and waiting for electricity.

Nerd Wars – IT’S ON!

Have you heard of Nerd Wars? It’s a friendly fiber-centric competition held in a group (of the same name) over on Ravelry. Whether your craft is knitting, crochet or spinning; whether you’re a gamer, Dr. Who fan, or math geek, there’s a place for all nerds in Nerd Wars.

This is my first time competing and it was difficult deciding which teams to list as my first, second, and third choices. Members from previous tournaments get preference over newbies and some of the teams fill quickly. I got into Team Bazinga (my 3rd choice) this time. Fans of Big Bang Theory will be familiar with Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s favorite way to let his friends and colleagues know they’ve been pranked.  My team mates have been great! Fitting a project to a challenge and finding a team tie-in has been a blast.

Serendipitously, the day before the October challenges were to be announced, my oldest son decided he needed a hat. The pattern he chose happened to contain a stranded colorwork chart. Perfect! Rajesh Koothrapali is always wearing stranded colorwork knitwear on the show.

This project also fit in to the Power of Two, or Three, or Four challenge which requires participants to use either a variety of yarns in one project or the same yarn in different colors in the same project. Yes, that is a basket of laundry in the background.

One week into the first round of tournament 6, I was finished. It seemed too easy. Having revealed that my nickname (often used sarcastically) is Princess, I decided I must have a tiara. Crocheted in campfire colors, this project fit the Let’s Dress Up! challenge and our Team Unity project (campfire themed) and I ended up with a snazzy headband to keep my hair out of my face. Beautiful and practical, Amy Farrah Fowler would approve.

I went into Nerd Wars hoping to use up some of my sock yarn stash. But my handspun and spinning fiber stashes could use some paring down as well. I can’t wait to see what our challenges are next round!

Cultivating a Sense of Accomplishment

I finished something! This is a big deal. I’ve been doing a lot of work knitting, many swatches. And I came nowhere near finishing my Ravellenic Games project. But I finished this!

My Neiman (from Knitty Fall 2007) called for a wool/cotton blend for the main color and silk for the contrasting color. Well, I had some cotton/milk and shiny cotton/bamboo in my stash. I love all of Weaverknits designs but had never had a chance to work one up.

I was able to get gauge on the needles the pattern called for. This was a good thing. Working with a mostly cotton yarn on small needles made for achy hands. I can’t imagine having to go down a needle size for the body! The long stretches of stockinette were also a bit tiresome, but the increasing and decreasing helped keep me from being totally bored.

I ended up following the pattern for the 36″ size for the body and the 44″ size for the arms (mine are big) So I had to fudge the decreases a bit when I got to the yoke. The neckband was a bit of a challenge with this yarn and my shape. My shoulders are rather narrow and slope quite a bit. In general, I have a difficult time keeping straps of any kind up on my shoulders. Following the pattern and needles suggestion resulted in a *really* wide neck opening. Too wide, in my opinion.

I ripped it out and reknit it several times. I think a total of 5? What worked was ripping out the entire stranded yoke, doing an additional row of decreases before the stranded section and following the directions for the 34″ size. Then I knit the garter stitch neckband on size #0 needles. I couldn’t get the jogless stripes to work out so I just left the jog. Now I know which side is the back! I love it. It’s too warm for me to be a summer sweater. My timing was perfect

And while I’m talking about accomplishments, let’s talk about Play at Life Fiber Arts a bit.
I’ve been quiet at the blog. Well, everywhere really. Other than shop updates and previously scheduled vending events, life has interfered with some of the business. We (meaning my family) all have been dealing with some things that have been making it difficult for us to (at the risk of sounding super twee) be all we can be. I’m being vague because it’s nothing serious or life threatening, but it has caused me to look hard at where the business is going and what I can do to make it work and thrive.

I have decided a couple of things.

1. Play at Life Fiber Arts will remain small. FOR NOW. I can manage local vending events and shop updates. I can keep my at-home dye studio and workspace. This means I won’t be able to do BIG shows like NYSW, MDSW, or Stitches. But it should be easier for me to focus on the things I CAN do.

2. I am in the process of dividing the Maki, variegated, and self-striping colorways into seasons. This will allow me to focus on a smaller pool of colorways, thereby making it easier to have a variety of yarn weights and bases available. That means something available for you non-sock knitters who would like thicker yarns! I am still working out how I want to deal with the semisolids. Ideally, I’d like to have some fall/winter colors and some spring/summer colors. Maybe even some colorways that have been specifically designed to coordinate with Maki and variegated colorways. Things might be a bit bumpy as I transition into this dyeing schedule.

3. Pattern writing is not my thing. I do want to get Ruivo ( a sock pattern I’ve been working on off and on) to a publishable point, but I have no idea when it will be ready to go. I have several ideas for designs, but since I’m a one woman yarn factory, it’s really not my top priority. I was able to get the pattern published for the Garter Path Shawl, but Ruivo is a bit more complicated an I refuse to put a pattern out that is going to confuse or frustrate knitters. I love you all too much! Well, that came out a bit twee too. I guess I’m in a very saccharine-sweet mood today.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact page here, Ravelry PM, or Etsy convo.

Don’t forget to play today!

May Wrap Up – Festivals!

I love small, local fiber festivals. Especially the RI Wool and Fiber Festival at the Coggeshall Farm Museum. The grounds are beautiful, there’s a kids’ craft tent (that my oldest loves), and The Knitaholics always have a sit and knit spot. Plus the spinning guild does a sheep to shawl demo and the Plouffe’s food truck is there with yummy barbeque and baked potatoes that are bigger than your head.

I usually share vending space with my friend Lisa of Autumn Olive and Katy Wescott. This was the first year vending in my own 10’x10′ space! I overestimated how much product I would need to fill the space.

But that meant I had plenty for the next weekend! Though it was a rather hot day, RIWFF was fun and relaxing as usual.

On to the MA Sheep and Woolcraft Fair in Cummington, MA. I was pretty nervous about a two day festival with my kids in tow. Which resulted in me messing up a bunch of little things. I had so much product and display stuff that we needed a larger vehicle to get there. The rental fee for an SUV or van would have been prohibitive. So we rented the largest car we could get and divided the kids and product between the rental and our Saturn. This set up was on the verge of being to small. With some rather puzzle-like packing, we were able fit everything we remembered to bring.

I say remembered because I didn’t make a packing list. And despite leaving them next to all the other things we needed to bring, we forgot to bring the legs for the grid wall pieces. And my sign. Thankfully, I had picked up some clothesline and a bunch of zip ties. I love zip ties! We strapped the grid wall together in a zig zag. My husband tied some loops into the clothes line and we used the zip ties, S-hooks, and ribbon I brought to hang the fiber. I really liked this on-the-fly set up.

The first day was very hot. We drank a lot of water and my kids were very happy that the play area was shaded well. Apparently, this was the first year for the play area. It happened to be just behind our spot which saved my youngest from extreme boredom. He was in and out of there all day!

He was less enthusiastic about it the next day. By the end of day two, the allure of out trip had worn off and the boys were back to bickering and poking at each other constantly. We were all beat and happy to sleep in our own beds that night. And ecstatic that the next day was a work and school-free day. We needed the day of rest!

And it’s taken me this long to wind down enough to make a blog post 😀 I assume, next year will be easier for us. I hope so, since I already booked a spot in Cummington!

May Wrap Up – The Clubs

May was very, very busy for me. VERY. Not only did I have my first outdoor, two day vending gig, I had to travel to attend it. And I brought my family with me. It was an adventure! Plus I had two club shipments to complete.

First up: the clubs.

The Not so Guilty club focused on my favorite musical guilty pleasure, Katy Perry.

Revelous Sockie Maki Set – Boom, Boom, Boom

I love this colorway! I chose the Revelous (sw merino/bamboo rayon/nylon) and its fiber counterpart for the sock and fiber club shipments. This blend is great for summer socks. Luxury Shawl club members received Telyn Maki put up in an exclusive 115g/4oz size.

Once again, members received some great stitch markers from Lucid Sunshine

In the Tripping Yarn Balls Zodiac Club, it was Taurus’s month. Taurus. A bull. It took me a while to find inspiration. I finally settled on a calf-inspired, self-striping colorway. I’m happy to say it was well received by members.

On Wednesday, you’ll find out what happens when I don’t make a packing list.

Long on Color Club – Not So Guilty #1 – Ascension to Skyland Mountain

The newest Long on Color club (Not So Guilty) has been a great way to explore different themes while offering a variety of colorways. And I get to use some of my favorite things for inspiration!

First up is The X-Files. My husband (then boyfriend) got me hooked on the show. I made the mistake of blowing through several episodes (on VHS, by the way 🙂 when I was home alone one night. And our surround sound speakers have the uncanny ability to pick up passing CB radio broadcasts. I may have jumped out of my seat a couple times that night.

I came up with this colorway while watching the “Duane Barry” and “Ascension” episodes from season 2 . I love when quirky, vulnerable characters refer to themselves in the third person (nope, can’t explain it) and Duane does so throughout both episodes. I decided, aloud, “Duane Barry needs to be a colorway.” So to Google Image Search I went.

I came upon this still which became this color palette.

And then became Ascension to Skyland Mountain.

As a special surprise, members received matching stitch markers crafted by Mary-Lyn of Lucid Sunshine.

We’re both very happy with the pairing! And I am absolutely positive that this colorway will end up in Play at Life Fiber Arts’ regular colorway list.