Yarn Chat 8: want it all, love it all (Madelinetosh grab bag, a sweater WIP, finished shawl & more)

I’m sharing a ton of new additions to the stash, my recipe for a great swap box, talking about Madelinetosh grab bags, sharing a finished shawl and three new WIPS, and chatting about our recent trip to Las Vegas.

When I checked the footage after filming, this bad boy was nearly two hours long (eek!) so I had to make some aggressive cuts. I hope things don’t jump around too much as a result! I also uploaded the file as a lower resolution so we weren’t dealing with a 22 hour upload time – if you think the quality has suffered, definitely let me know.


Swap Yarns
Palouse Yarn Company, Merino Fine in Caribbean Night (swapped!) and Blue Canyon
Ella Rae Lace Merino
Plymouth Yarn Sakkie
ONLine Supersocke 100
Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

My phenomenal swap partner is Smilinwithmaddie and we swapped for Waycooljules Diary of a Yarn Snob Christmas in July!

Stash Additions
Northbound Knitting MCN DK in Matcha
Becoming Art Cielo Fingering in Love Birds
Skein Sport in Moroccan Mint
Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, mine are all OOAK but my best guesses for the official colors are Grey Owl (gray), Nebula (blue), Shire (green), Coquette (dark hot pink) and…. the last one is tough – I’d guess either an early batch mistake Kilim (new color!) or major mishap on a batch of Venetian
August Fiberista is Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 in Coast Guard
My Sin City Knit Shop purchase is Araucania Huasco / Botany Lace in 107 Aqua

Rattan by Truly Myrtle in Dream in Color Perfectly Posh Sport, Magic Orchid

Lispenard in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in Icy Blue for Through The Loops Summer Shawl KAL
Color Affection in Becoming Art Cielo Fingering and Tosh Merino Light
Gehry in Skein Sport for Mysistersknitter Brooklyn Tweed KAL

Yarn Chat #6: It’s been awhile!

I’ve been away longer than planned and for no good reason (or for no bad reason, or no reason at all, really).  If I force myself to write too much here, I know I’ll put it off another day, so Ima just get to the important stuff — there is a new Yarn Chat up, I still love my blog, and I’ll be focused again soon!

About five too many WIPs


For all my bad knitting habits (and there are plenty) I’m usually not so reckless about starting more projects than I can reasonably tackle.  Things started innocently enough — I wanted to use one of my Fiberista Club yarns (blood orange shawl) then I needed a project for the car ride to Michigan (gray sweater).  While in Michigan I picked up some amazing new yarn and wanted to immediately see how it would work up (yellow and pink shawl).  Then I needed a small project for our long drive to Cheyenne (brown sock) and picked up some yarn for Alan’s Grammy while we were there (blue shawl).  Blatantly ignoring my current WIPs, when a friend pointed me towards a beautiful shawl pattern I couldn’t resist casting on something new (blue/green shawl).  If you’re curious about specifics, I’ll run through them:

The gray sweater is Ivar using Knit Picks Palette.  I knit the rib on US3 Addi Turbo lace, body on US6 Knit Picks interchangeables.

The brown socks are Hermione’s Everyday Socks in Patons Kroy, Flax colorway.  Needles are US1.5 Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina Cubics.

The yellow/pink/teal shawl is Eyeblink in Stonehenge Fiber Mill Crazy, no colorways on these since they’re all unique.  I’m using US7 Addi Turbo Lace needles.

The blue shawl is Henslowe using a lace weight merino/silk/sparkle blend, dyed in-house by Your Daily Fiber in Fort Collins, Co.  Needles are US 3 Knitter’s Pride Karbonz for the garter stitch, US4 for the lace work.

The blue/green shawl is Westminster in Malabrigo Finito, Estragon colorway.  The needles are US5 Knitter’s Pride Karbonz.

Last, but certainly not least, the orangey-red shawl is Artesian in Love Spun Merino/camel fingering weight, Blood Orange colorway.  The needles are US6 Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina.

So, clearly, I have a lot going on right now.  Too much.  Fear not, though! I have a plan!


My primary focus, one that needs to be finished like… tonight… is this blue Henslowe.  I’m knitting this for Alan’s Grammy and he’s hopping on a flight to see her in just a few days.  It didn’t start out as such an urgent project, but she’s had some medical concerns recently, so I don’t want to send him away empty handed.


Though you can barely see it in these photos, I cannot properly articulate just how amazing the yellow/pink/teal yarn is.  I feel like the yarn and color scheme was made just for me.  I’m really enjoying the pattern and adore the yarn, but I think it’s pretty clear that they aren’t a good fit.  I’m definitely going to frog this one and save the yarn for the perfect project.  I’m seriously thinking about having another go at this pattern using my NBK in Matcha from our recent Fiberista Club box.

I’m pleased with my current progress on the Hermione socks but have stalled on things while I decide if I want to continue with the gusset heel as written, or change things up for a simple short row heel.  I barely wear shoes in summer, let alone socks, so these aren’t a huge priority.


Although Westminster is my most recent cast on, it is a bit of a win because I actually frogged another project in order to use this yarn.  You may (probably not) remember that I was working on a pattern of my own ages ago.  I loved how the pattern was going, but randomly added a wonky set of increases during the final 1/3 of the shawl and totally screwed the entire thing up.  That shawl and this yarn have been sitting in a box for many months so I’m pleased to be putting the yarn to such good use now.  I was one lace repeat into this shawl before I decided to frog and re-start and I’m so happy that I did.  Remember how I always see things going awry but push through and end up regretting it?  That’s one bad habit I’m really trying to work on.  This second attempt is going perfectly.  If I can reeeeeeally push myself, I’m thinking about finishing this up to send with Alan for his sister, but doubt I can mange to finish and block both shawls in less than 3 days.


The orangey-red shawl has been pushed aside for quite awhile, though I’m not certain why.  The pattern designer, Romi Hill, hosted a fun Egg Hunt for Easter and I found one of the pattern codes before they were all claimed.  I used the code to purchase Artesian and I’m really enjoying it.  I’ve started to appreciate the color but it’s definitely still out of my comfort zone.  If I self-analyze a bit, I think that I have suspicions that I won’t know how to wear the final shawl, so I’m not prioritizing the project.  I normally have the stitches bunched up on a too-short cable, so this is actually the first time I’ve stretched the shawl out and gotten to see how things are coming together.  I’m surprised by how great it looks and I’m excited to move things along again.  This one is forth in line behind Henslowe, Westminster, and frogging Eyeblink.

Finally, a project that I discussed at length in my recent Yarn Chat, Ivar is my first sweater.  After pointing out all the reasons why its so ridiculous for this to be my first sweater, I think I’ve convinced myself that I’m better off starting with a simple top-down raglan sleeve.  I’m not unhappy with the work I’ve done so far – quite the opposite, in fact – so I’ll make detailed notes then put this sweater into storage until I have a bit more garment experience under my belt.  I have so many question about fit, construction, seaming, shaping, etc. etc. etc.  I’m certain that I’m better served starting with something a bit easier while I figure out what works best for my body.

So… it’s a lot, but there’s a plan…  If you’re looking for your next project, I’m not unhappy with a single pattern in the bunch.  Consider checking one of these out!  Let me know what you guys are working on right now, too.  I imagine I’ll have finished or frogged 4 of the 6 by the end of the month, so I always need something new on the horizon!

Beginner spinning

Octoberhouse fiber

Let’s put a big ole’ emphasis on the beginner part of that post title.  Inspired by my fellow Fiberista Club subscribers who are getting fiber, I finally decided that I couldn’t resist any longer and I needed to try spinning.  On our recent trip to Michigan I managed to find one drop spindle – just an Ashford Student spindle, I believe this one is very close to what I have.  My Mom also sent me home with a tiny bit of fiber from her stash.  I know next to nothing about fiber or spinning right now and have a whole new world of vocabulary to learn, but I found the 100% Coopworth fiber to be a bit… hairy and silkier than I expected.  After wrestling with it for awhile and feeling like a total idiot the entire time, I lamented my difficulties on Ravelry and wondered where to go next.   The boards, always a wealth of information, suggested that I use the best materials I can afford.  This is a primary philosophy behind Slow Stitching and one that I’m always too quick to dismiss.  Despite my massive (too large) stash of supplies, I also hate the idea of waste.  I resisted buying beautiful fiber because I wasn’t sure what to do with it, then told myself if I did buy beautiful fiber, I needed to make something immediately usable, otherwise I was just wasting/ruining materials.  Surely this goes back to how I used to approach school work… I wanted to be perfect, the best spinner ever, right from the start.  No pressure!

I finally just took myself to Etsy in search of beautiful materials – isn’t that always the right answer?  There are countless gorgeous shops available so I just picked one that looked good and forged ahead.  Thankfully, I picked a great one!  The fiber above is from October House Fiber Arts (site here, Etsy here).  My package arrived quickly and was wonderfully packaged.  I’m not sure what is standard when shipping fiber, but each braid was tagged, then bagged separately.  She also included a business card, thank you note, and a little packet of stitch markers.  Starting at the top gray braid, moving clockwise, I picked up — Merino in the Poem colorway, Wensleydale in the Dried Petals colorway, and BFL in the Bloomingfields colorway.  They’re all lovely, but Poem may be one of the most beautiful fiber related things I’ve ever seen.  It is just lush.  The colors are totally up my alley.  Love, love, love.


Although the Merino was tempting me, I decided to set myself up for success and start with the BFL since I’ve heard its good for beginners.  You can see my spinning above.  Honestly, I have no idea if I’m doing things properly or not…?  I could certainly benefit from a class, but there are none available locally.  If you have any thoughts or resources, please share!  If you’re interested in the YouTube videos I’ve checked out, let me know!

Video unboxing // May Fiberista Club yarn subscription box

I’m very late to the game this go around, but I’m finally here with an unboxing video for my May Fiberista Club yarn!  As usual, I cover this info in the video but I know not everyone is interested in 14 minutes of rambling.  If you just want to see what was in my box, scroll down or skip ahead to 7:15.

Once again, my yarn shipped and arrived without issue, even without the aid of my obsessive stalking.  I was on the road at the time but I believe I received shipping notification on a Thursday or Friday and my box was safely at my local Post Office by Monday.   Our shipments arrived in standard poly mailers, but Fiberista Club has indicated that they’re test driving some other packaging options, so that may change going forward.

Perhaps the biggest news of the month is that Fiberista Club announced that they’re ready for expansion.  They’ve opened some new spots in the current club and are gearing up to introduce two new subscription options.  Existing subscribers currently have the option of joining a garment club (10 skeins, paid for over the course of a few months) and sock club (1 skein of sock yarn, shipped monthly).  If you want full details, check out the Ravelry thread here.   While I’m trying to shift my knitting to be a bit more garment-focused, 10 skeins of a luxury yarn is well beyond my budget and level of expertise at the moment.  That sock club though…. you have my full attention!  I immediately commented to ask if it was possible to convert a regular pre-pay (I have 4 months remaining) to a doubled sock club.  The math doesn’t work out perfectly, but it’s very close.  On that note, I sound ridiculous when I explain this in the video.  Obviously I know that $22.50 x 2 = $45.  I was saying “around $50″ because the current club is around, though not exactly, $50.  Sigh.  Chatting on video seems quite easy, I know, but I clearly find it tough to not sound dumb when I only have one take!  I haven’t gotten an answer on my doubled sock club subscription, but I also haven’t emailed them directly, so this is no one’s fault.  I’m going to sit on the idea for a bit before I ask for special treatment.  I’m still rolling the idea around in my head because I’m certainly not unhappy with what I’ve received, but I suspect I’d be happier with 2 skeins of sock yarn.  The only thing stopping me from immediately increasing my subscription is the fact that I decided to join the Yarnbox Sock club before FC announced their new plans.  The pre-sale FC Sock Club option ends tomorrow, so I already know I’m going to miss the deadline on that bad boy.   For once, I’m exercising some patience and will come back to the idea in a few months once I see what both sock clubs yield.  

Next up… man, guys, I’m so wary of throwing too many opinions out into the Internet world because these videos have attracted quite the range of feedback to my email and Ravelry inbox.  I’ve met some buddies and some people who are very unhappy.  There are compliments, there are complaints, there’s just… people have a lot of feelings about a lot of things.  I love filming the unboxings because I think it heightens my excitement for something I may otherwise open, then just set aside (I’m remembering you, Birchbox and Ipsy).  I re-film the little intro bit only if I’ve been interrupted but the unboxings are always a one shot deal.  My ramblings are my true feelings and I can’t really go back and change my first impressions of our boxes.  I’m very sensitive to the fact that Fiberista Club is a small business owned by two people that we “know”, at least on some level.  I certainly didn’t know them before I subscribed.   While I expect a certain level of customer service and satisfaction when I spend money on something, I also realize…. running a business is hard.  Maybe I’m more understanding and forgiving than others? Maybe I care less? Maybe (probably yes) I realize that when you give yourself to a business, people like to take as much as you’ll let them.  In my experience, with my business, the more available you make yourself, the more people expect and want.  Through that lens, I understand that the club currently isn’t perfect, but it’s also not the end of the world if there are some hiccups.  I could go on and on, but if you want the final word without explanation or qualification, yes, I’m happy with Fiberista Club.  Will I continue after my 6-month pre-pay ends? I’m not sure yet.

If you aren’t following along on Ravelry, I’m sure this all reads like a bunch of cryptic rambling.  If you are in the club and want to share thoughts, send me an email or message me on Rav.  If you’re considering joining the club, here’s my quick & dirty recap:

Are you happy with Fiberista Club? Yes, happy enough.  After working with last month’s yarn, I would say I was very unhappy and considered asking for a refund for my remaining pre-pay.  This month has totally redeemed the club for me.

Is it worth the money?  This is questionable and is really my main sticking point.  I don’t think we’ve received anything bad, I do think that it isn’t always the same “value” I was expecting.  Every month we get some kind of fun swag (tote, needle gauge, measuring tape).  I obviously enjoy these items (check out the videos for proof, sometimes I freak out) but I don’t feel like they have a real dollar amount of worth.  Were you to add up the total and say “swag = $5″… I think that’s kind of a joke.  But I like them!  I don’t think I’d miss them if they were gone.  When it comes to yarn, I personally expected we’d be getting something closer to the $60-75 “value” of yarn in our boxes.  Some months have blown me away (February, enough yarn for TWO projects!) and some have been a disappointment (April Chromatique was amazing on first impression but I wasn’t happy with the actual yarn).   Overall, I think the boxes are always “worth” what they have inside them, but aren’t always what I would buy myself.  If you have the disposable income to get surprise yarn, it’s great.  If you don’t and you have a great local yarn shop, maybe you’re better served treating yourself to a once-a-month $50 splurge.  I’ll be honest and say that I’m borderline on how well it fits into my ideal disposable income spending.  I can certainly afford it and knitting is my prime (only?) hobby, but that $50/month could go elsewhere.  So.. ya know…

How are the patterns?  I have not been blown away by the patterns but I also expect a lot from my patterns.  Fiberista Club has started releasing Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced patterns and I look forward to seeing how this develops.  This month’s shawl isn’t on my To-do list currently, but I could see myself making one in the future.  I do wish that our patterns arrived with our boxes.  It’s only natural that clubs are compared to each other and I’m fairly certain that “the other guys” send a pattern picture in the boxes.  I want to get my pattern with, or in advance of, my yarn.  I can totally see people opening their yarn and loving it, then looking at the pattern and loving it, and just casting on immediately.  When we receive the patterns days or weeks later, the excitement has subsided and the yarn is much more likely to disappear into The Stash.

Final thoughts? In my ideal world, all shipping chatter would disappear from the Ravelry boards! Ha!  Some months I’m busy and don’t think about my yarn, some months I’m really excited and track that box multiple times a day.  I would rather Fiberista Club release a blanket statement such as, “yarn arrives by the 15th of the month”.  If the box arrives early, it feels like a bonus.  If the box arrives on the 15th, it’s exactly as expected.   Real problems with shipping are obviously a legitimate concern, but I think the group as a whole tends to get riled up during shipping and that heightens the tone of everything.  Instead of an issue being just about shipping, it snowballs into a whole mess.

Although I’m happy with my subscription, I decided that the referral link still feels like I’m “pushing” a club that I obviously have mixed feelings about.  I’ll continue to spend my money on the club, but feel uncomfortable unequivocally telling something else to do so.  I’d rather keep my opinions totally honest and not get a referral credit than keep things super positive just to push referrals.  I’ll never straight up bash someone else’s company, so I sincerely hope my comments come across as critical but generally supportive and encouraging.  If you are interested in Fiberista Club and have more questions or would like me to get credit for referring you, send me an email!

northbound knitting mcn dk matcha

A quick trip home




Thanks to a semi-impromptu road trip, things have been really quiet around here.  If you follow me on Instagram, you can probably ignore this whole post because I’m reusing those pics.  I never travel with a camera, but wanted to share some snaps of our short trip home!

I call the trip semi-impromptu because we knew we wanted to make a trip to Michigan sometime in May to fetch our Airstream, but didn’t have a specific plan in mind.  My best friend’s sister (also a great friend) invited me to a surprise birthday celebration that could align nicely with the trip, so we quickly set a plan in motion.  I’ve mentioned it before, but the trip from Wyoming to Michigan is 2 days each way.  Best case scenario, no issues or interruptions, the trip is 24 hours… we were not so lucky this time.  We left in the rain, hit a near blizzard before the state line, then spent the rest of the trip in total downpours and construction.  We left Thursday, spent the night in Nebraska, and pulled in to my parents place at 4am on Saturday.  Alan slept in while I woke up early to run around Ann Arbor (3 knitting shops and Zingermans!) with my Mom.  The same afternoon we headed to my brother’s place to BBQ with his family, then hauled butt to Detroit to surprise my best friend for her birthday.  I’ve never tried to pull off a big birthday surprise, but she had no idea we were coming and seeing her reaction was fantastic.  We grabbed dinner, saw a show, and landed in our hotel around 1 am.  The next morning we woke up early to head to Ohio to see my Grandma and spent the day with her before returning to my parents farm late that night.







Every time we go home, we end up driving around like crazy and this trip was no exception.  Ann Arbor is 45 minutes from my parents, my brother’s place is an hour away, back to Detroit is another hour, down to Ohio is 4 hours, etc. etc.  I won’t bore you with the details.  We drive 24 hours there, then drive all over the state the entire time we’re home.  After being on the road pretty much constantly for 4 days straight, my parents convinced us to stay one extra day to get the Airstream road ready.  Thanks to reasons that are even less exciting than this already dull post, the trip home too quite a bit longer than usual but we finally arrived safely home Thursday evening.


I wish I could weave a more exciting story, but the trip was pretty straightforward.  It was definitely a necessary trip, not a fun vacation, but we always love seeing our friends, family, and old stomping grounds in Michigan.  Every time we visit, it solidifies that we have zero interest in leaving Wyoming… but also solidifies how much we miss our old life.  St. Louis is a solid 10 hours from Michigan and not along the route from Wyoming, so this trip also reminded us how much we need to make our way out there to see Alan’s family.  I’m sure anyone who has moved far away from friends and family can relate to this struggle.  If we could just force our favorite people to move to Wyoming, then open a Zingerman’s deli, life would be perfect!

Site updates in progress

On Friday, one of my buddies (thank you, Kate!) gave me a quick heads up that my comments were no longer visible on posts.  The posts still displayed the number of comments, but click into the post and…. nothing.  I did a search and quickly discovered that my woefully out of date theme had a conflict with the new version of WordPress.  My theme was so out of date, I couldn’t just do a quick little Auto Update.  I looked into the longer process to update the theme, then quickly decided there was little sense in pursuing a more complicated update for a theme that wasn’t responsive, didn’t give me a quick mobile-friendly site, and I wasn’t all that thrilled with in the first place.

Bottom line – I swapped themes and have been cleaning up the site since then.  Things are mostly situated but I still see a few weird spots.  Specifically, there are WAY more ads displaying than I would like.  There’s a conflict between the ad plugin that I use and the new theme, but I’m working on it.  I won’t overrun this place with ads, I promise!

If you see any major issues in other spots, please let me know.  You can comment or send me an email using those snazzy new icons in my left sidebar.


Yarn Chat #4 (Summer excitement, a finished shawl and lots of WIPs)

I try to get videos up roughly every two weeks, but I feel like our Fiberista Club shipments keep arriving later in the month which pushes these later in the month.  I’m just now realizing that the month is over and I’m bummed with myself that I didn’t get this up sooner!  Going forward, I’ll just operate on my own schedule independent of whenever my yarn arrives in the mail, so if it’s late, it’s my own fault.


My coffee cup!
Spellbound Fibers Air
Witchy Woman pattern
Knitters Pride Nova Platina Needles, its the Starter Interchangeable Circular Needle Set (bottom center)
Chromatique in Eye of the Tiger, fingering weight
Baggu Zip Top pouches – I can’t find these ANYWHERE anymore!
Scrap yarn blanket – I’m using Manos Del Uruguay Maxima scraps on size 8 needles.  The link is for a similar bias blanket.
Blue Sky Alpacas Melange in Toasted Almond
Land of Nod knit baskets
Schulana Grande
Cascade Yarn Lana Grande
Pendleton Mills scrap strips
Massive crochet hook – not exact, but very similar
KnitPicks Yarn Swift
Cascade Ecological Wool in Natural Grey
Malabrigo Rastita in Lotus


Watch the video for details.  Giveaway is open to residents of the US who are 18+.  I’ll accept entries until midnight, May 15, 2015.  The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been emailed.

malabrigo rastita in lotus

I rambled too much when I was talking about fiber content/having a home with pets, but my point was — I recently saw a comment about fiber allergies (somewhere, no idea where) and it got me thinking that I can’t possibly guard against any allergy issues.  Whenever I buy fiber for me or for you guys, it’s immediately stored in plastic bags then stowed away in boxes, but sometimes different types of fibers mingle together and it’s possible (though not intentional) that a pet hair could come in contact with my fiber.  If you have allergies, I sincerely apologize, but it may not be the giveaway for you.