Monday, February 16, 2015

Colorful Day Cowl

Hello Friends!  Happy February already!  

We have survived many days of frigid temps here in Chicago and my friends have declared 2015 "The Year of the Cowl". So practical--warm like a scarf but it doesn't get messed up or tangled--you just put it on and it stays right there.

I designed this cowl using a Magic Ball during a particularly grey week of January.  I intended it to be useful; I wear cowls a lot during the winter, even indoors (mostly in the evening for an extra boost of warmth.)  But I found an added benefit to this cowl as I was knitting it—the colors were really uplifting during a particularly bleak month.  It turned my “grey days” into “colorful days”!  And I quickly knit three cowls in rapid succession!  

Carla in "Pastel Baby", Laura in "Maple Leaf" and I'm in "Enchanted Forest"
I want to share this pattern with you in the hope that it brightens your day too.  You can download it for free on Ravelry right here.  Enjoy!

Molly in "Maple Leaf"

p.s.  The pattern contains instructions for making your own magic ball but if you would like to purchase a Sophie's Toes Magic Ball you can find them in my etsy shop.  There will be an update next week on Tuesday night, February 24th. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Got Leftovers? Mini Skeins? Teensy Bits?

Hey Knitting Friends, 

I just published a new pattern on Ravelry for a little ornament and I want you all to have the coupon code.

You can find the pattern here.  It’s a mini-cardigan ornament that only takes about 20 yards of fingering weight yarn.

I developed this pattern for Sock Summit in 2011 as a kit with a mini skein, but I have just revised it and tested it and now it’s all pretty and spiffy and ready for holiday giving.  A bin of leftovers and a few cozy evenings and you would have an army of cuteness for all your friends or co-workers!  Or skip the knitting and just gift the pattern to your knit-pals.

Today and tomorrow I’m running a coupon code for $1 off the $3 price. Use the code “mini” to get your dollar off!

And can I ask you a favor? If you would take the time to click on the link and put it in your queue--that would help bump it up to the front pattern pages where it will be seen by more people. I would be very grateful!
Thank you!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Art Quilt: Rose Window

Good morning Friends!  I am participating in the "Round the World Blog Hop".  I hope you are enjoying your trip visiting many different quilt artists.

I was invited to participate in the blog hop by my friend Frieda Anderson.  Frieda makes beautiful quilts with nature themes and also teaches and sells her hand dyed fabric and patterns.  Frieda and I met many years ago because we are both members of PAQA, the Professional Art Quilters Alliance.  When we met, her sons were in high school and now they are grown/married/grandkids.  I didn't even have kids yet(!) and now mine are in middle school/high school.  We have been friends ever since.  Like, forever!

I thought that this would be a good time to show you a quilt that I made earlier this spring.  I was excited about attending the new show in Portland, OR, presented by Quilts, Inc, (the producers of Quilt Festival in Houston) called Quilt! Knit! Stitch!  I was planning to vend with my Sophie's Toes Sock Yarn, and since the show was a new concept--crossing the boundaries of different genres of needlework, I thought it would be extra special to have a quilt in the show also.

I planned to enter the special exhibit "Coming up Roses" and  I was excited about the rose theme.  I've made many floral quilts over the years--I am always inspired by flowers.  And this time, I wanted to do something a little different.  I've been turing over in my mind an idea for many years--over a decade, actually, to do something in fabric that experimented with light.  I wanted to get a stained glass effect with fabric.  I don't mean a jewel-toned quilt with black sashing that mimics stained glass, but a quilt that really looks like light is shining through.

This was a real challenge for me.  Usually, the line drawing is the most difficult part.  Once that is finished, I am quick with all the color choices.  But this quilt took a lot more time and experimentation with the colors and values, to get the effect I was working for.

I am very happy with the way this quilt turned out, and have plans for future experimentation with the stained glass idea.

Rose Window is currently for sale:  $4,200.  
Measurements are: 52" height  x 39" width

Here is a photo from August, of me and my daughter Molly at the show with my quilt.  We had a wonderful time vending, seeing Portland, and enjoying all the beautiful quilts!

Next week on the blog hop:  Lyric Kinard.  Lyric is another friend that I met through PAQA years ago.  She lived for a short while in Chicago and now lives in Cary, North Carolina.  Lyric is an artist, teacher and author and her quilts are very meaningful.  Take a look and enjoy her work!  

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Finished Quilt: Tiny Crosses

Hello Quilty Peeps!  It's about time I show a finished quilt on the blog!  This one was finished in September, but it took me a while to grow in love for this quilt.  Just keepin' it real.  Here is the story.

Flash backward to August when the kids went back to school.  I Instagrammed this pile of quilts:  four quilts that had been basted and ready to quilt, waiting patiently for me all summer.

Where to start with the quilting?  First in....first out?  Or last in....first out?  Biggest to smallest?  Worst to best?  Or how about the one that the teenager keeps bugging me about (only one fits that category, can you guess?)

I picked the one that fit into several of those categories--the tiny crosses of Liberty fabric--the one on the bottom.


It was quite big to quilt (81" x 92") and I quilt with a 20 year old Bernina 930, a workhorse but not fancy.  My shoulders were reminding me that I haven't quilted a big quilt in a while.  And while I was quilting it I was reminded of all the things that I could see "wrong" with it.  Such as:

1.  I used all the fabrics from one collection. It seems to be "the usual" thing to do these days--make a quilt entirely from one collection of fabrics.  What's up with that?  I have never done that.  I may buy some new fabrics but I always add from my stash.  In fact, most of my quilts are entirely from my stash.  I think there's a sparkle that you get when using a variety of fabrics that very rarely can come from one collection.  In this quilt, I believe that it does work, because this collection was huge, and well, Liberty.  Yeah.  No worries.  It works.

 2.  I made this quilt by freehand cutting and sewing the crosses.  The crosses are meant to be wonky.  But I think I cut them too evenly and not wonky enough.  They aren't perfect, but they aren't imperfect enough to look like it was done on purpose, so I think they just look wrong.  Maybe the fact of sheer size and amount of teeny squares makes up for it.

3.  It was started during a difficult time in my life, and it still carries all those memories with it.  That's a hard one.  As makers, we tend to roll up all those life events right into our work that happens at the same time.  The good and the bad.  Fortunately, those bad feelings have begun to fade, they're much softer.

Transition to the good news:

Somewhere during the binding stage, I started to fall in love with this quilt.  Really, how could you not LOVE this binding???

And then there's the photo shoot.  Maybe I should take every quilt to the park next door.  It is a beautiful spot and I'm fortunate to have it in my backyard.

When the sun is shining on this quilt all those blue and red Liberty florals just sing a happy song.  It is really so cheerful, just what I envisioned.  Summery, patriotic, kind of old-fashioned.

If you missed seeing it in progress, here are all the other times I blogged about it:  January 2013May 2013, September 2013December 2013.

And here it is in my favorite shot, by the pond.  A beautiful spot, a happy place to document this quilt. Thank you for reading and letting me share this with you!

In happy endings, I have shaken all bad feeling for this quilt and love it unconditionally.  It has taken up residence on our sunroom sofa and has become a favorite among the TV watchers.  I think it will see heavy duty this winter and nothing could make me happier!  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Keep Calm and Knit Socks

Hello Friends!  I am happy to report that I survived the April/May juggernaut of

---Children's End-of-School Activities---
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have guessed my secret.  You have seen me do it a lot recently.  Big reveal:

The Secret to Saving Sanity = Socks

Remember this equation!  You might need it someday!  They don't teach it in school!

S+S+S = S

(Secret Saving Sanity = Socks) (in case it wasn't clear)

It all started....way back in February.... in this bin:

Remember that?  That was my Bin of Unfinished Socks.  The sock graveyard.  The bin under the tv cabinet.  The Home for Unloved Socks.  The place where half-knitted socks go to die.

It was a very dark place.  A place not usually featured on blogs.  But after the Ravellenic Games ignited my finishing mojo, I decided to visit this place that I had feared for so long.

And what I found was a place that was full of potential.  FO potential.  Black Gold.  Texas Tea.
Then.  The stars aligned.  Sock knitting met up with track meets, orchestra concerts, and carpool waiting.  There was a very long bus ride with 6th graders.  Did I mention that they were singing girl scout camp songs in the seat directly behind me for 2 hours?  Sock knitting, sock knitting, sock knitting.  Basketball games, choir and band concerts, and did I mention the bus ride with 4th graders that lasted until 9:30 at night?  Sock knitting, sock knitting, sock knitting in the dark.
To summarize:  one heck of a lot of sock knitting.
And I would like to present you with the result:

Ta da!

In case you need nitty gritty details, I have been a good girl and Ravelled all of them!  Here you go (from left to right):

That's it for now!  Happy summer!  Keep on knitting! xo

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Greetings from Athlete's Village

Greeting from Athlete's Village!  Also known around here as "Mom's spot on the sofa".  (But Athlete's Village sounds so much more.....well, athletic.)  As previously reported, I'm participating in the "wipdancing" event on Ravelry, trying to finish as many wips as possible. 

So I thought I would send you a postcard from the Ravellenic Games going on here in MyLivingRoom, Illinois:

In the photo below, I have highlighted much of the important equipment that you need to reach your Olympic potential:

1.  Giant pile of green knitting
2.  Giant pile of blue knitting
3. Tote bag filled with extra, emergency knitting.
4.  Footstool--for foot support. 
5.  Extra pillows--for back support. (Doubles as arm support if kids or pets are trying to lean on you).
6.  Ott light--for eye support (but in reality mine is broken, where is that equiptment tech when I need him?!)
7.  Quilt, a.k.a. legwarmer.  Kind of like those big puffy pants that the skiers wear before their runs. But not really.
8.  Extra yarn, needles, accessories, because you can never be too prepared for knitting emergencies.
9.  Giant glass of water, because you can never be too hydrated while extreme knitting under extreme pressure during extreme conditions.
10.  Remotes--why we need 2 remotes for one tv, I will never know.  (Occasionally a third remote appears, that's when I have to call in the experts, a.k.a. the kids.)
11.  Cell phone--not for actual calls.  For e-mail, texting, tweeting, and/or instagramming, while simultaneously watching tv and knitting.  Because that's how all the cool kids do it.  And we might as well look as cool as possible while knitting. 

Now that I have given you all my best advice for knitting during extreme conditions, I'll report on the status of my wips:

Item #1  Blue Fairwind:
I am pretty excited to get this done and actually wear it this winter!  Blocking done, just needs  the rest of the buttons!  Will it be done before the closing ceremonies?  Judges nod!
Item #2:  Selbu Modern:

This was a joy to knit.  Unfortunately, during the knitting of this item, our athlete fell off the mountain.  I overcompensated for fair isle tight gauge, by going up a needle size and knitting loosely.  Sadly, this hat is enormous.  I washed and dried it in an attempt to felt it.  I blocked it over a 14" plate instead of the recommended 10" plate.  But it really needs to be stretched even further to be able to get the pattern to emerge.  And it makes me look like a French Chef in a Disney cartoon. 

Epic Fail!
Moving on, Item #3:  Calligraphy Cardigan

Despite the crappy cell phone photo, the judges give this high marks, for beautiful color, excellent fingering weight gauge, and pattern choice of high wearability!  This was the status as of last night but as we speak the knitter is finishing cuff on sleeve 2.  Buttons have been purchased and there is a high probability of finishing before closing ceremonies! 
Fellow Athletes, please report your progress.  And enjoy the closing ceremonies!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The "Spring Fever" Shawl Club

I would like to announce: the first Sophie’s Toes Sock Yarn club!

This club, the "Spring Fever" Shawl club,  is devoted to beautiful spring colors to help everyone banish those winter blues!  All three months of color selections will be pale to deep pastels in a sophisticated color palette. 

You can sign up for one month, two months, or three months.  Read on for details:
Month One, March:  “Winter Thaw”

Colors:  blues and purples, similar to the preview photo shared on the Ravelry group and Instagram (I'm emilyquilts on Instagram).
The yarn:  5 skeins of superwash merino, 175 yards each, each a different color, for a total of 875 yards.  All five skeins will include blues and purples and all will be variegated, no solids.  I envision making a large lace shawl, knitting with the first color, when that runs out, going to the next color, and so forth.  The colors will blend for a beautiful watercolor effect. 

Possible patterns you could use(medium to large shawls) :  Travelling Woman, The Elder Tree Shawl, Charlotte’sWeb, The Flower Basket Shawl, Holden, Citron, Faraway So Close.  These are just some of the choices to give you an idea.

Cost:  $70 includes US and Canadian shipping.  This selection will ship on March 17th.

Month Two, April:  “Moss and Petals” 

Colors:  Mossy greens, and pinks
The Yarn: one Magic Ball, which is 15 colors, approximately 10 grams (35 yards) each, tied together and wound into a cake.  525 yards total. As you know the Magic Ball is a Sophie’s Toes specialty!  This one is an exclusive new color of Magic Ball that will not be released to the public until Stitches Midwest, August 2014.
Possible patterns (small to medium shawls) :  Hitchhiker, Lintilla, Wingspan, Trillain, Moody Kerchief, Citron, Azzu's Shawl.  Any shawl that is basic (the color does all the work here, so you don’t need lace or a lot of stitch detail) and is adjustable, allowing you to use any and all of the yardage you have, will work great!
Cost $45 includes US and Canadian shipping.  This selection will be shipped on April 21th.

Month Three, May:  "Garden and Sky”

Colors:  aqua and teal with highlights of other pretty (deep) pastels.

Two coordinating skeins of 100% Merino, superwash sock yarn, one solid and one variegated, 350 yards each.

Potential patterns (medium to large shawls):  Ceniza Shawlette, Aestlight, Ruffle My Feathers, Flamboyan, Faberge, MaragonCameo, Holden, Halfmoon Shawl.  I am in love with the type of shawl that has a garter stitch triangle or crescent, with a big lace border or ruffle.  This would be great to use the variegated yarn for the garter and the solid for the border.
Cost $55 includes US and Canadian shipping.  This selection will be shipped May 26th.

Sign ups start Thursday, February 20th at 8am Central time and will close on Sunday February 23rd.(or will close sooner if all the slots are filled.)
To sign up, just send me an e-mail (Emily at emilyquilts dot com) OR a Ravelry message indicating:  your name, the email address that you use for paypal, and which months you are choosing.  I will send you a paypal invoice within 24 hours for the total.  I will use the shipping address in paypal unless you indicate that it should be a different address.

You are able to choose any amount of months that you would like.  There is a $5 discount on the total if you choose 2 months, and a $10 discount on the total if you choose 3 months.  (So for instance, if you pick March only, it is $70.  If you pick March and May, it is $70 +$55 - $5 discount = $120.  And if you pick all 3, it is $70 + $45 +$55 - $10 discount =$160.)
What’s included?  What you will get is the yarn as described for a shawl.  It will come beautifully packaged with a small something extra.  The pattern you decide to use is up to you, and is not included.  I will have listed on the Ravelry group many suggested possibilities.
Which brings me to….we will have a knitalong!  On the Ravelry group.  it will start as soon as the packages arrive.  There will be 3 separate KALs, and a prize for each one, to be chosen from completed projects.

Returns:  due to the exclusive put-ups and/or  colorways of these yarns and kits—I am sorry that I am unable to accept returns.  I have tried to give as much of a hint about the colors while still shrouding it in some mystery!  I understand that the nature of clubs is the fun element of surprise, but that also means that some participants could be disappointed.  Due to the no return policy, please make sure that you choose carefully!  I believe that if you like Sophie’s Toes yarn, and you like sophisticated pale and deep pastel spring colors, you will be happy!  I am very excited about this!  Please join me for some fun spring knitting!