I Brioched and I Loved It

Photo of two-color brioche knitting

I made my dad a hat for his birthday.  He is not into bright colors and energetic motifs.  I could have knit him a very plain watch cap, but I settled on an idea to spice it up, for my own sanity (?).  What might appear to the untrained eye, a very simple hat, is, in fact, two color brioche in the round.  Wheeeeee!

Photo of two-color brioche knitting

I knit it in two colors of Happy Fuzzy Yarn American Worsted, “Shadow” and “Moss.”

Dad is not a cold-weather kind of person so gifts of warm clothes are always appreciated.

Picture of a man in a hat

OMG, I love this hat so much!

I need to make one for myself.  Doncha think?

Picture of a brioche hat

I used the Brioche Hat pattern from Weekend Knitting and sadly the directions for the crown decreases are confusing.  And this is NOT a reversible pattern, although you will be tempted to think it is until near the end.  That, I can live with, but I want to find a pattern with clearer directions for the crown.

So what’s a girl to do?  Nancy Marchant, the living expert, doesn’t appear to have a published pattern for a straight-forward two-color brioche watch cap.  Anyone have a pattern they’ve used to recommend?

What do you have a craving to cast on?

Trecolori Shawl

Photo detail of Trecolori Shawl by Carol Ullmann

The grey is here to stay for a few months, but we can combat the blahs with comfort and color.

Photo detail of Trecolori Shawl by Carol UllmannDesigned for Happy Fuzzy Yarn‘s Corrie Sock fingering weight yarn, the Trecolori Shawl is an easy-to-knit textural asymmetrical shawl with a deep border of arrowhead lace.  Knit in three colors, Trecolori uses the Fibonacci sequence to make a fun striping pattern.

Photo of Trecolori Shawl by Carol UllmannYou can blend your stripes a little if you use a multicolor yarn with two coordinating semisolids, as I did here.  “Jane” is a multicolor comprised of pink, orange, and green and I combined it with a semisolid “Peony” pink and “Granny Smith” green.

Photo detail of Trecolori Shawl by Carol UllmannHappy Fuzzy Yarn released this design in early summer and it has pattern has sold well at shows and online — in fact, I think the paper pattern is headed for its second printing soon.

Photo of Trecolori Shawl by Carol UllmannI don’t have my own Trecolori shawl to keep and wear.  I can’t decide what colors to make mine with — I like bright colors, but hot pink is definitely not in my wheelhouse.  I’ve always loved the “Enchanted” colorway so maybe I will start there.  Or perhaps “Cherry Float”?  No, “Moss on Stone.”

Help! What colors would you choose?

Trecolori is available for purchase on the Happy Fuzzy Yarn website or on Ravelry.

Spring Valley Shawl

photo of the Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann

One of the things that I bought yarn for at the recent Fiber Expo was 3 skeins of Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino to make my own Spring Valley Shawl. Finally.

Picture of yarn from Happy Fuzzy Yarn
DK Merino, just waiting it’s turn.
Photo of Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann
I did the pattern photography with my friend’s daughter modeling.

I love this pattern!  Riin picked the colors and I designed this striped asymmetrical shawl with a deep edging of beehive lace and a simple crochet edge to highlight the new DK Merino yarn base offered by Happy Fuzzy Yarn.

Some patterns fight back in the design process and require a lot of ripping back, swatching, swearing, and finger-crossing.  This one was smooth, joyful, easy, and sprang pretty much full-formed without fuss.

photo of the Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann
Pattern sample done blocking and I am so sad to see it go!

If you are the kind of person who loves a big cuddly shawl or scarf, Spring Valley will make you happy too.  Happy to knit, happy to wear.

Available to purchase on the Happy Fuzzy Yarn website or on Ravelry.

I can’t wait to see what other people do with this pattern — other color combinations, perhaps other weights of yarns.  If you are a clever sort of knitter, it would be no big deal to knit this in any weight of yarn so long as you set yourself up with the correct stitch multiple for the lace.

Conquering Shyness

Picture of fiber from Happy Fuzzy Yarn

I was terribly shy as a child.  When we moved into a new school district in second grade, I was nearly friendless for two years because I was too frightened to approach other children and ask to join their play.

In fact, I first learned to knit from my second grade teacher because she would allow us to stay inside at recess if we wanted to knit with her.  Knitting was better than being cold and lonely!

Somewhere out there in the world — in a thrift store or garbage dump or maybe even lost in my parents’ house — is an unfinished garter stitch burgundy acrylic scarf.

The shyness persisted throughout school, including college.  That was about the time I began to purposefully push through.  It helped to realize that other people have the same fears and it wasn’t just me.  I also remind myself that talking to people I don’t know isn’t dangerous.  Sounds weird, but if you are shy also then you know what I mean.

Here I am, in my thirties, and I don’t think people would describe me as shy.  Sometimes reserved perhaps, but I no longer hesitate to go up and talk to someone when I want to.  It’s very freeing!  I still have my moments, but what a difference it has made in my life to not be ruled by those fears.

Which brings me to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo this past weekend.  I was working the Happy Fuzzy Yarn booth, but I also made a point to circuit the barns and talk to many vendors.  I had to consciously approach people, but it wasn’t as hard as it used to be because the interactions are often rewarding, amusing, informative, and community-building.  Only one or two people blew me off, and I left those booths quickly.  I don’t even remember who they were.

I really love talking to farmers and shepherds in particular and am starting to see familiar faces after working at shows around the region for the past year.  Now that I think about it, it’s going to be months–long, cold, snowy months!–before there’s another show around here.  Good thing I stocked up on pretty things to get me through the quiet season.

I totally have a palette.  There is no shame in my game!

Top row: Fiberstory FAVE sock in “Milo”; BFL/Silk from Cross Wind Farm; Superwash Sport “Aquatic” from Happy Fuzzy Yarn.

Middle row: DK Merino in “Verdigris,” “Shadow,” and “Granny Smith” from Happy Fuzzy Yarn; Polwarth “Nessie” (darker braid) and Superfine Merino “Blue Lagoon” from Happy Fuzzy Yarn; 3ply worsted black alpaca from Amiable Alpacas.

Bottom row: Silky Meri in “Deep Blue Green” from Studio June Yarn; Arial Evolution in “Dusk” from Twisted Fiber Art; and Boyne (BFL) in “Castiel” from CJKoho Designs — plus a spinner’s merit badge!

I have specific plans for four of these purchases.  The others I bought as part of my effort to try out the products of local fiber artists.  So I just went with something that called to me and I’ll figure out what to do with it eventually.  Dangerous words, I know.

The only question is: where to start?

 

Spinzilla was a blast!

Picture of a small skein of woolen spun Cormo

If knitting in public isn’t weird enough for you, you should take up spinning.

What I learned from Spinzilla last week was that spinners are, on the whole, a very happy bunch of people. We like to get together and ogle each other’s fiber, wheels, spindles, kates, niddy noddies, and freshly made yarn.  We encourage.  We help.  We teach.  We skip tea in favor of wine.

In getting ready for Spinzilla, I couldn’t wrap my head around what I wanted to accomplish.  Did I want to spin 4 oz per day?  Did I want to make more fractal yarn?  Did I want to try a combo spin?

A couple days before Spinzilla began, I assessed the fiber stash.  I sorted it by prep this time and found that my roving bin wouldn’t close!  That settled what to spin.  As for how to spin it, I figured a spinning competition was as good a time as any to learn long draw, which is a production technique that produces a woolen yarn.  I was almost swooning at the thought of spinning up woolen yarns in many colors to knit colorwork item. Peerie Flooers, here I come!

I opened up my Craftsy class “Drafting from Worsted to Woolen” with Jacey Boggs Faulkner and practiced long draw on a few different roving samples.  After an hour of playing around, I emerged with a lumpy and deliciously lightweight mini skein of woolen 2-ply dark brown Cormo.

Picture of a small skein of woolen spun Cormo

The night before Spinzilla started,  pulled out some of my oldest stash: 7.5 oz of light grey roving with some pale purple and yellow carded into it.  It was mystery wool that I bought on sale from a shop going out of business back when I was baby spinner.  I prepped it by pulling off two yard lengths (measured fingertip to nose, nothing too fussy), splitting that lengthwise, then predrafting, or attenuating, each piece until it was about doubled in length.  Then I gently rolled each piece into a ball so it wouldn’t tangle.

Picture of grey/purple/yellow balls of roving

The prep helped immensely with speed of spinning and it turned out that this mystery wool was even easier to spin long draw than the Cormo.

My second major endeavor for Spinzilla was an 8 oz ball of mixed Icelandic and Border Leicester lambs wool from Kathy Westfall named “Two Black Lambs.”  It was sooooo soft.  The staple length of this fiber was longer, which made the long draw even easier than the mystery wool.  It felt like it was spinning itself!

Here’s my Spinzilla 2015 pile:

Picture of handspun yarns

As team captain for Happy Fuzzy Yarn, I pursued people to fill up my team of 25 spinners.  I am really proud that we had at least 5 people on our team who were very new spinners.  Even though this is a competition for most yardage, my focus was education and community.  I wanted people to feel welcome, no matter their skill level or time commitment.  I am so happy with what each and every one of us accomplished.  I’m not burned out like sometimes happens with intense events like these, and I am already looking forward to next year.

This Spinzilla, I fell in love with the long draw.  I am just getting started.  I can’t wait to try more breeds and see what happens. And my happy spinner friends, makers extraordinaire, will be there with me.