Gradient kits and two color shawls were the things at TNNA tradeshiw this year. I've started another chevron baby blanket. A perfectly swampy green dyed on the same base that we did for our last sock yarn club selection (special deal coming soon!) and a mid-week trip to the zoo.
Today's the day! It's SSYC's 10th Anniversary! Hard to believe 10 years ago today I took the leap from environmental education to yarn shop owner. I'm so fortunate to have met so many wonderful knitters and dyers over the past decade and to run a business that not only helps to support my family, but many others. Today we're commencing the summer-long party with this fun kit. Details can be found here, and then go here to grab yours. As usual, the quantities are limited by the hand made nature of the goods. If you happen to miss out, I have two other kits coming in July and August that are just as collectible.
Let's also start off the party with a contest! Beata at Hedgehog Fibres wants six of you to have a skein of the Better than Tin colorway that she dyed specially for us for this kit. If you are buying a kit, you already get one, and you might as well enter the contest too and perhaps you'll get another one to knit a larger project.
To have a chance at winning one of the six skeins Beata gave us (learn about her here), play the role of a designer and tell me what colors you'd love to see put onto a skein of Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn. Do you want something bright and confetti colors? What about pale grey base with short bursts of blue and green? Describe the skein you'd love to see and you could randomly win! Heck, I might like your idea so much that I have it dyed for the shop (There are already some special edition colors in the works for this summer!). Just enter once and do so before Thursday, June 4 at 1pm EST. I'll e-mail the winners and announce here on the blog.
Sock below knit up by Vickie at Bird Leg Bags. I might have sent her the first skein last month as a little surprise and she did a beautiful pairing of the no-purl Monkey pattern with it (and she added that sweet picot cuff).
Rachael and I are in Columbus today for the yearly TNNA trade show. We get to catch up with our finery friends, see new goodies and share in all the thing we love. Found some AMAZING things for upcoming kits. Here is a teaser of what we saw on the show floor.
In just a few days, Simply Socks Yarn Company starts our summer long 10th Anniversary celebration. I'm kicking it off with the first of three 10th Anniversary Kits, which will go up for sale on Tuesday, June 2 (the other two kits go up for sale in July and August). Typically, I put kits up for sale around 9am EST and they tend to sell out within a day. So if you think this kit is for you, please don't hesitate. I'd love to have enough to go around but because our special edition kits are comprised of most or all hand made items, there's a limit to how much I have. As usual, I'll post links on the homepage of the website, and I'll mention here and on Facebook and send out e-newsletters to notify you when the kits are available.
The design for this kit started out with this fabric. Vickie at Bird Leg Bags showed me this fabric (I think it was LAST YEAR when we started dreaming this up) and it seemed perfect. Whimsical and adorable, don't you think?
Time has definitely flown over the past 10 years, so I think the theme of this kit is oh-so-appropriate. It's hard to believe I opened this shop in my mid-twenties. Barely married, no babies yet, life was completely different. So much more sleep. And knitting.
Here's the interior striped fabric of the bag. Take note that for the above photos I put 5 skeins of yarn in the bag to give it some weight for the photo, but I could have easily fit one more, maybe two. This bag is generously sized, perfect for a sweater project or something that requires you to carry around several different colors. Like this. It features heavier weight fabric than we've offered in any of our tall/skinny sized Bird Leg Bags, plus heavy interfacing between the interior and exterior fabric. From the top stitched zipper with beaded pull down to the adorably coordinating interior fabric, this is a tote of the utmost quality.
I think it's helpful to show you several skeins of yarn in the pictures so that you get an idea of how each skein can differ. While your own Better than Tin skein will look similar to what you see, it will be its own unique combination and application of color. This colorway was dyed by Beata at Hedgehog Fibres in Ireland. If you'd like to learn more about her, I recently featured an interview with her here.
I always like to include a little tool or something new and cool in your kits (and often chocolate, but it's too warm to ship that!), and so you'll find a selection of pear-shaped locking stitch markers. Pictured with a US 1 needle to show the size (which is under 1"). You get a total of 30 of them- 10 each in white, orange and pink. James counted these out for you. Super useful and lightweight. Great for your little knitter's toolbox. I'll soon be offering an array of colors of these in the shop too.
Finally, I thought you'd like to see a bit of this knit up. I sent Vickie the first skein of the Better than Tin colorway a few months back, and she started this no-purl Monkey sock with a delicate picot edge. What a perfect pair of pattern and yarn, right?
Thank you so much for your support of our exclusive kits. I enjoy working with my designers and makers on these- it allows us to create something new and special and get to know each other and our process even more. I love the feedback I get from you and seeing what you create with each part. Thanks for allowing me to live vicariously through you and your creative process!
This is my first finished project in months. Seems I've been starting several things, but not actually finishing them. But there was something about the repetitive nature of the chevron that mellowed my mind while the colors invigorated me. An oddly addictive dynamic and a purely pleasurable project.
Here's my "recipe" for this blanket. I saw several free chevron blankets on Ravelry, but none of them really were exactly what I wanted. So I put together elements from a few of them, with a few things of my own to create this little dear.
I have knit this once, and if I find errors in this recipe, I'll change them in red. These are the notes I took while knitting the pattern. The abbreviations or instructions may not be "standard". Take it or leave it.
Simple Chevron Baby Blanket
Materials: I used seven balls of Cascade 220 Superwash. I did a total of 8 stripes, and each stripe is 1/2 of the ball. I did two white stripes, using up the whole ball. I used a US 7 32" Addi Turbo. Colors used were 877 Golden, 859 Lake Chelan Heather, 886 CItron, 837 Berry Pink, 1913 Jet, 817 Aran and 1973 Seafoam Heather. You could buy just four balls and make the same blanket, just knit two stripes of each color. But I liked the idea of more colors. I also liked combining heathered colors with solid colors. Give it a try! You'll also need a set of stitch markers to help you keep track of things. Place them wherever you like to help you keep count.
Cast on 149 stitches. I placed stitch markers every 20 stitches to keep track. When I got into Row 1, I then placed markers after each k1.
Knit 6 rows, then start the following stitch pattern that you'll continue through the whole blanket til you get to the desired length. Then knit 6 more rows and cast off. Weave in ends. Snuggle a baby in it.
Row 1 and all right side rows: k3, ssk, k9, yo (k1, yo, k10, md, k10, yo) repeat brackets until 15 stitches remain, k1, yo, k9, k2tog, k3
Row 2 and all wrong side rows: knit the first and last three stitches, purl all other stitches across the row. Note: When I came to yarn overs on wrong side rows, I purled them through the back loop to close the hole. You don't have to do that, but I like that it didn't create a yarn over hole. Whatever you choose to do when purling the yo's, just do it the same each time or you'll have some with holes, and some without.
k = knit
k2tog = knit two stitches together
ssk = slip stitch as if to knit, slip stitch as if to purl, knit two together
yo = yarn over
md = a double decrease or a mitered decrease (turning three stitches into one stitch) slip two stitches as if to knit, knit the next stitch, pass the two slipped stitches back over the knit stitch. here's a video
For your striping pattern: I knit 8 wide stripes using 1/2 of a ball of Cascade 220 per stripe. Basically 24 rows (so 12 repeats of row 1 and row 2) per color block. For the first and last color blocks, because I knit 6 rows, I deducted that from the 12 repeats and did just 9 repeats.
This is a basically a simple 2-row pattern that has a garter stitch top and bottom and a garter stitch border to keep it from curling. I plan on knitting several more of these with different striping patterns. Perhaps thinner stripes that use 1/4 of a ball at a time. This pattern is very adaptable. Want ti make it wider? Add repeats of the chevron pattern by adding stitches in multiples of 24. So cast on 173 or 197 or keep going! And make it as long as you want!
How we spent our holiday weekend. Fishing with friends,working and knitting. Showing off my chevron baby blanket using Cascade 220 superwash. I'll post the pattern later, more of a recipe really. I'm mid-laugh there.
Since I have just 8 more rows of my blanket left, of course I stopped to work on a sock. Doesn't make sense to actually finish a project for once, does it?? This is Opal PremiumCotton collection color 8895.
New sale yarn from Regia just arrived. Kristin Nicholas' design line. LOVE these self-patterning colors.
Let the kit assembly begin! It's all hands on deck as we put together the first of three of our 10th anniversary kits. This one goes on sale next week (details soon). Even James gets in on the assembly as he counts out all your stitch markers.
This final picture is of the striping color that we're dyeing in preparation for the second of our 10th anniversary kits, coming in July. I love it so much I just couldn't wait to show it off. It takes a lot of hands on time to create this six-color striping yarn. If you can't wait til July to grab some stripes, you can check out what we currently have in stock right now.
Want more info about our 10th anniversary celebration? Check this out and join us! Thank you for all your wonderfully kind comments on that post. You really made my day. Really, you've made my last 10 years. I greatly appreciate each day that I get to spend doing what I love, and it's so nice to read so many encouraging sentiments. You rock!
Simply Socks Yarn Company starts celebrating our 10th anniversary in June! Just typing that makes me smile. What started out as a way I hoped to make enough income to do what I love and stay home with future children (little Henry and James weren't more than thoughts at that point!) has now grown into a 3500 square foot shop and dye studio that not only services a stunning amount of knitters, but also supports a dedicated crew of fiber artists at SSYC and dozens of dyers and vendors, shippers and manufacturers in the US and abroad. With your guidance and loyalty, SSYC has grown into what we are today and we look forward to fueling your passion for your craft over the next decade. I am confident in speaking for my dyers, my staff, my delivery people and every artisan I represent when I say THANK YOU. Thank you so very, very much. You allow us to help support our families, do something that fulfills us everyday, and feel good about our work. You are awesome.
To celebrate, we're going big. Not only are we offering one super-special edition kit per month in June, July and August, we have our party in the shop on June 20, and our dyers and vendors have sent us a huge array of fiber goods to share with you in contests online and in person. A LOT of prizes will be given in flash contests here on the blog, Facebook, Instagram and Ravelry, so I hope you visit us on all those platforms over the summer to have a chance to win big.
I'll also be offering special edition colors and yarns, sales and gifts throughout June and July. I can't wait to celebrate, and I hope you'll join us!
I love bringing yarn from thousands of miles away- from artists in countries that I have yet to, or may never, visit. From landscapes that inspire the colors splashed across the fiber. I love that we get to knit these special pieces in our own homes, in our own spaces that are completely different from those they were created in. That we get to dream up what we want each skein to be, after the dyer in a far off place dreams up the skein's color and texture. We get to marry our own craft with theirs and turn it into a wearable piece that not only looks special, but gives comfort.
What I'm showing today is no exception, brand new colors of sock and dk weight. The work of Beata Jezek and her team at Hedghog Fibres of Ireland is an ever-changing landscape inspired by a place I hope to one day see, but til then I get to experience it with each tiny stitch I knit. Beata took a moment from her busy schedule to share her life and inspiration with us. Do read on to learn more about her and what she makes.
Allison @ SSYC: Welcome, Beata! So glad we could chat for a bit. Let's start at the beginning. Your company name. Do you like hedgehogs or is there more to the story?
Beata: My last name, Jezek, means hedgehog. I'm Beata Hedgehog :) That's where the name came from. Sometimes people ask if the yarn is made from hedgehogs. I don't think you can shear a hedgehog.
Allison: But the idea of trying does paint a funny picture. Tell me about how long you've been dyeing and what made you make the leap into a full-time production studio?
Beata: The company was founded in 2008. Ever since I started Hedgehog Fibres, it was a full time gig. I had actually just been 'downsized', so I decided to just go for it. I had dyed stuff for myself that people seemed to like, so it seemed like a good idea. At first it was just me, and then Máire joined shortly afterwards. We used to sell on Etsy during the early days and the yarn was an instant hit. We moved into our first studio in 2010. We moved again recently to a bigger space and now have 6 employees.
Beata: When we rented our old studio it felt like a huge leap of faith. There were three of us at the time and we did everything from building Ikea furniture to painting the walls and floor ourselves. By the time we left, myself and Jess (our other dyer) were falling over each other and yarn! Setting up the new studio was a pleasure by comparison! We knew we had a viable business, and we were in a position to draw the plans, hand them to the builders and not get overly involved! The new studio is light, airy and spacious. The biggest difference is that we have a drying room now, where we can keep the humidity about 40%. Previously, in the winter, I would have to take all the yarn home to dry in my house and as the volume was getting bigger it wasn't really practical!
Allison: Having the right staff is so important when running a successful small business. Tell me about the team that makes Hedgehog Fibres what it is.
Beata: Jess is our second dyer. She has a background in fashion design which gives her a great eye for colour and texture. She's a really great asset and I definitely rely on her though she's only been with us since September.
Rose is learning to dye. She also does skeining, labelling and customer service. She does a bit of everything! She's always so cheerful and happy to oblige!
Máire has been with me since the beginning. She is a lecturer in marketing at the local university, so she handles a lot of the business side of things! She handles HR, shipping, customer service and admin.
Niamh mostly does skeining and labelling. She is a skeining machine! She skeins at about twice the speed of anyone else!
Emily does a couple of days a week, she also lectures at the university in ecology. (We are a very educated bunch!) She does shipping, skeining and labelling.
We also have Carol, who is on maternity leave since December. We miss her and we hope baby Brian will let her come back soon!
Allison: Sounds like everyone has their niche. Obviously one of yours is creating colors. Where do you find inspiration for your colorwork? Do you have a planned desitination or are your colors happy accidents?
Beata: The colours come as an extension of my personal style, and what I'm really into at the moment. Sometimes we come up with a great name and then create a colourway to match (like Teacup), sometimes I realise there's something missing in the line and then get completely obsessed with a colour (I had to have lilac, so we have 'Birthday Cake'). At the moment I'm into bright pastels and sprinkle effect yarns. We often work with designers and shops to create exclusive colourways (like your upcoming Better Than Tin, which turned out just stunning. I snagged one skein for myself!)
Some colours are definitely happy accidents! Pistachio was made as a potluck colour, but we loved it, so we added it to the colour palette.
Allison: I love Better than Tin, the color you created (above) for our upcoming 10th anniversary kit! I'm so glad to hear you felt the need to grab one for yourself!
I love passing along an idea and seeing it come for fruition. But I also find it to be the more frustrating part of my job when I have an idea and it takes SO MUCH longer to happen than what I'd like. What are some hurdles or frustrations that you have encountered along the way that you didn't even consider? For many dyers, I know it's managing growth so you're around for the long haul instead of just a quick burst of popularity. For my shop, I know it's not taking on too many things and staying focused on my mission of a huge selection of sock yarn and great customer service.
Beata: I agree. Hedgehog Fibres is growing very quickly and training new dyers is challenging, as the dye process is quite complex. Luckily we have a great team here at the HF HQ. I really enjoy coming to work everyday and I hope/think all my employees feel the same! We work hard but have a great time and all of the staff really go above and beyond because of that. Customer Service as you said is crucial. We feel very fortunate to have some wonderful customers who have been extremely loyal over the years, but old or new we want everyone to be happy with their yarn. It's a special treat and a luxury for most people, and you have to treat every purchase accordingly.
Otherwise, it's just been a steep learning curve in terms of things like negotiating contracts, but no one is born knowing stuff like that!
Allison: I'll admit that one of the joys of growing my business has been meeting and hiring some amazing people. And while we do dye some yarn in our own Poste Yarn line, I'm thankful that I'm not the one who does that or has to train anyone. I have a dye team that handles it in house. Such a learning curve with so many techniques used to achieve just the right look. I notice several different techniques used on your skeins for different colorways. What is something that you think is unique to Hedgehog Fibres?
Beata: Our yarns tend to pool less, as the repeat is very short, often just one stitch per colour. The colours are rich, complex and lively. Even our semi-solids consist of layers and layers of dye. We are also very picky about our bases; we want the most buttery soft sock yarn, the sheeniest silk blends, the squooshiest singles! As a knitter, I will only sell something I am happy to use.
Allison: I'm betting you create things that make you want to stop working and cast on immediately! Is this what you like most about your job? What do you like the least?
Beata: I'm first and foremost a knitter. I love to knit, it's my favourite past time. If I'm sitting, I'm knitting. I knit lot! My yarns are bright, cheerful and vibrant and the best part is that I get to make colours that I love. The worst part is admin work. I much prefer to work in the dye room. I'm still the head dyer and I hope I'll always be, that's the part that I really like.
Allison: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the fiber industry? If you had a mentor, what do you wish she would have shared with you?
Beata: There will always be somebody who doesn't like their club yarn colourway. It's not the end of the world!
Allison: To true! We all have different tastes. When you aren't working with yarn, how do you spend your time?
Beata: I have a little vegetable garden and I grow very small amounts of very delicious vegetables. I love my dog babies and I work with our local dog shelter as a foster home. Me and my boyfriend have fostered over 15 dogs in the last couple of years, all of which have found wonderful permanent homes. We have a tiny 9 week terrier puppy called Ruby at the moment, I've shared photos of her and my other foster doggies on my Instagram.
Allison: I've enjoyed learning more about your studio and your process. Thank you for taking time to be with us! And to those of us who love your work, we'll see a whole new slew of colors in both Sock and Merino DK at SSYC now. Plus the special edition Better than Tin colorway coming up in our 10th anniversary kit in a couple weeks.
You know I love a good deal. I like getting a good deal for myself, but I LOVE getting a great deal for EVERYONE. That's why I love Mineville Wool Project, the branch of Fleece Artist that deals in short runs and one-offs of fibers that come at a great discount. Because there's limited availability from the mill, they can secure a fab price and they pass it right along to you and I. Check out the sale section for some of these deals right now.
This month, I have for you a wonderful multi-ply (different from the single ply that I offered last month) DK weight merino. It comes in the tradition put-up of 100g. Instead of the $22 price tag that you see from comparable skeins like Madelinetosh DK (which we carry and LOVE) it's instead just $11 a skein. The same fiber content, weight, yardage and everything, just dyed by the dyers at Fleece Artist for a fraction of the price. While the price and yarn is fab, there is a limited amount of this. Which is why it's at such a low price.
Oh, Blue Moon Fiber Arts. You make me want to knit ALL THE YARN. Every single skein of Socks that Rock Lightweight wants to come home with me today. But here are a few that I would settle for. If I had to choose. I reserve the right to change my mind. Again and again. And again.
Lucky Number Seven
There's a whole slew of new colors and restocks of Socks that Rock colors that you've been asking for. PLUS more coming soon. Seriously, Tina and her gang are super good to us.
This will be my third year attending the game, and the weather has been beautiful and the seats are great. If you want to sit with the Simply Socks Yarn Company group, you can fill out the below form and bring it with you (along with your check made out to the Tincaps) on one of our open days before May 22. Since we are only open to the public a couple days before the deadline, it's likely easier to print out your form and just send it to the address designated on the form and then include a note saying that you'd like to sit with the Simply Socks Yarn Company group.
It's that time! Our newest kit is available! With a specially designed Mason jar mug, yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and adorable details, this kit will make and mom (or any knitter, really) smile.
Want to tack more lovely things onto your order to take advantage of the free US shipping at $85 or your flat international rate? Check out all the awesome stripes available in our Poste Yarn line or in Biscotte & Cie (which just came across the border yesterday). Shown below are Poste Yarn in Electric Avenue (toes and heels in this) and Bourbon Street (toes and heels in this).
Since our kits tend to sell out within a day, please don't hesitate to get one if you really want it. While I'd love to have enough to go around, sadly it usually doesn't happen. It's just the nature of hand made goods. We greatly appreciate your interest in our special kits and I look forward to sharing more with you this summer as we celebrate our 10th anniversary!
Another dose of color is here from The Cyborg's Craft Room! Maegan has dyed us up some stunning batches of Assockilate (merino/nylon) and Assparkilate (merino/nylon/sparkle) in those fast-selling hues and a few new ones.
Take a gander at Spirograph Nebula
Where Dreams Become Reality
I Cried Aloud at Night
What I love about this yarn is that even with a lot of bright colors, it doesn't seem to pool or stripe in a weird way. Sometimes striping or pooling is cool in a project, but sometimes it takes away from the overall design. I knit these Dublin Bay socks a few months ago in the Element color and I'm really pleased with how they turned out.
Another restock I know many of you have been waiting for- Alpaca Sox from Classic Elite. This is a soft and slightly fuzzy option for those who like a little alpaca fiber. It's the only alpaca fiber blend that we sell. Great for socks, but also really popular for shawls and scarves like Lace Ribbon Scarf. Shown below in Ginger Potpourri and Pink Inferno. J'adore.
Are you in the NE Indiana area or coming here soon? Then you might consider coming the weekend of May 15th to visit the Salomon Farm Fiber Arts Celebration.
From the Fort Wayne Parks & Rec website: Join us at Salomon Farm for a two-day celebration of fiber arts. The focus of this festival is education through hands-on participation and demonstrations. Learn how natural fiber such as wool goes from animal to sweater: sheering, dyeing, spinning, weaving, knitting and more! Vendors specializing in fiber arts will sell equipment and supplies such as spinning wheels, wooden knitting needles, looms and shuttles, felting needles and forms, and crochet hooks. Natural fiber including wool, alpaca, silk and cotton, as well as hand-made fiber products such as sweaters, mittens, shawls and more will also be for sale. Visit with live animals, shop fiber art supplies and products, or just enjoy a day on the farm! Food vendors will also be on the grounds. The Fiber Arts Celebration is co-sponsored by the Flax and Fleecers Spinning Guild of Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department. Call Karla at 260-427-6008 for more information. Due to the nature of this event, pets are not allowed.
Here's the brochure for the event, should you want more details
While SSYC isn't scheduled to be open that day, you can of course e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you and friends are coming to town for the event and would like to schedule a special shopping session. And if you're just a single person who doesn't have a group to bring, you might consider e-mailing anyway as you could come in if we already are open for a group. It'd be a perfect fibery visit to Fort Wayne!
I have a great day and learn something new each time I attend the festival. And it's definitely geared toward family attendance with fun things for the kids to see and learn. The most memorable lesson for me being DON'T TAKE YOUR FOUR YEAR OLD SON ON A BUMPY HAYRIDE WHEN YOU ARE EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT. OY, THE PAIN. Lesson learned.
Many of you have been waiting on the following, and I just wanted to let you know they are available.
First, more Sock Rulers. These are fun gadgets that slip right into your socks to help you measure your project as you go. Much less fiddly than a tape measure, as you can just stretch the sock (leg or foot, toe up or top down) down over this and get a quick and accurate measurement.
Third, more of the Poste Yarn striping colors that I debuted last week, Bourbon Street and Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. If you missed out on the first batch, you can snag some now.
I love that you all are so passionate about the things I love too. I do my best to keep everything in stock for when the fancy strikes you. Since most of what we sell is hand made (and often one-of-a-kind from batch to batch), this can be a daunting task. But I greatly appreciate that you understand the limits of finding and knitting hand made goods. I think it's why so many of us have a sizable stash; because we know that many of the things we like might not be available when we actually want to knit it (like fast-selling Opal collections, Babs colorways or Tosh) and the skeins of the same colorway might not even look the same with the next batch. It definitely keeps yarn shop owners and yarn collectors on our toes, right?
Here's a picture of Bourbon Street drying, if you'd like to see the how the colors will look as stripes, rather than in a skein as shown above. It gives you a better idea what it would look like knit up with the thick swaths of color, doesn't it?
These are my types of colors. Bright and summery, cheerful, vivid, with unexpected bits of color that break in each swath. That acidic green in Boubon Street is super awesome. Like a lot of the "solid" colors in our stripes, you'll notice nuances when you knit- that each color is quite dynamic and almost tonal or slightly variegated in nature. These are truly great knits.
For those of you who have been waiting on particular sport team or wizard colors, we've dyed a big ol' batch of many of those too. Check it out!
I am seriously impatient for this collection to arrive in the US. I love myself some Opal Yarn. And the fact that I've only had ONE other cotton blend Opal collection in the shop in 10 years... well, I'm really anticipating this. I'm pretty sure I'm casting on color 8895 as soon as it arrives.
If you are equally in love with the idea of knitting up some cotton blend Opal Yarn, then you may be interested in preordering the collection of 6 colors now so they ship out as soon as they get here. I'm currently offering you this option. And you get the SSYC Special price of $15 a ball that we offer on all Opal 4ply collections (instead of MSRP of $18) plus you'll get free US shipping with your order. Of course, you can add other things to your order since you're already getting shipping for free. Just keep in mind that other things ordered along with this won't ship until the 29th when the Opal ships.
If you preorder the collection, it should ship out on April 29. And if you see just one or two colors you have to have. then those will be available for sale as soon as the yarn actually arrives in stock.