Last Day of Stitches

Sorry for the time delay in this report. We headed out of town post-Sunday to get a meal and then get on the overnight flight home. By the time I got to the house here in NJ, wondering if I was going to have to dig through 28″ of snow to get to the front door (thanks to Danielle and Jesse, I didn’t!), I crashed on the couch
covered in two kitties (Hoshi and Oreo) for hours to try to catch up on some sleep and get rid of my Hobbit feet.  

Here is the wrap up from Day 3 at Stitches West…   

I think that Jane Elliott of Not Just Plain Jane Knits (www.picturetrail.com/njpjk02) is the best kept secret in knitwear design. She did get cover of Knit ‘n Style (June 2007) with her shawl and tank top worked in The Great Adirondack Yarn Co yarns and her collection of designs is extensive.   

Mark & Jane Elliott

Mark & Jane Elliott from Not Just Plain Jane Knits

Mark, her equally talented artistic husband, posed for a portrait in their booth. Mark’s passion is woodworking (not knitwear design). Count on more kids and baby knitwear from Jane as they are expecting their first grandchild shortly.

Jane's designs

A few of Jane's designs

Note the fabulous little girl’s cardi on the left: yes, Jane already knows that her first grandchild is a girl! Congrats!  

I was making the rounds and found Cliff Haack demoing Skacel’s Artfelt. Cliff is third generation at Skacel Collection (www.skacelknitting.com). His Mom is Karin Skacel Haack, now running Skacel, and his grandparents, Hans and Ingrid Skacel, started the company.  

Artfelt samples

Samples of Artfelt projects

Artfelt demo step 1

Cliff has the background roving tacked in place


Cliff began the Artfelt demo for me with the wash out paper base on the blocking board and placed the first layer of roving on the board using a needle tacking tool.  




Skacel demo image 1

Cliff applying the green roving to the base




Cliff decided to start tacking green roving for “S-T-I-T-C-H-E-S” onto the brown roving as part of the demo.






Artfelt demo step 3

Showing finished pieces and answering questions




Soon a crowd gathered and he was showing off finished pieces. The results are very thin and very drapey. Finished scarves had much more fabric drape and softness than I anticipated.  



Learn more about Skacel Artfelt with instructions and step out photos at www.itsartfelt.com. LYS sell complete Artfelt kits and supplies — try it! You’ll love it!   

Last, but never least, I stopped by The BagSmith (www.bagsmith.com) booth. Becca is soooo creative! She was demoing BigStitch Tunisian Crochet to a new shop owner. Soon Becca’s Mom Jean and Becca’s sister gathered for a picture.   

The BagSmith crew at Stitches

The BagSmith team helping a new shop owner

Becca is also known for her 100% alpaca Bumps yarn. This yarn is specifically designed for BagSmith’s line of BigStitch knitting needles and crochet hooks. The most popular application are the alpaca rugs projects in either knit or crochet.   

Della Q's toes

Della Q's perfect pedi

In fact, pre-show, Della Quimby (www.dellaq.com) came by, took her shoes off and snapped a shot of her toes melting into the softness of the throw rug. Imagine one by your bed, and starting your day off with a luxurious treat for your feet!   

I heard from Vickie today that the prelim copies of the June issue are at the office so that means they are being boxed and shipped out to your LYS. Subscription copies are also hitting the mail. It goes on sale at the newsstands March 23.  

Until next time, enjoy your knitting! 



Stitches Day 2

We are here at Stitches West in sunny California — blue skies and mid-50s temps. Knitters are jamming the aisles in the Market checking out all the yarns, books, tools, and patterns. Lots of serious shopping going on! Signature Needle Arts (www.signatureneedlearts.com) introduced a new line of circular needles – we are reviewing them in the June issue of Knit ‘n Style. Danella and crew also introduced sock blockers.

Signature Needles Sock Blockers

Signature Needles Sock Blockers

They are made of the same anodized aircraft aluminum as their needles and are offered in two sizes: small and large. The small blocker (the purple one shown above) is 8.25″ from heel to toe and the large (it’s green) is 9.5″. One neat feature is the u-shaped top between each foot. Hang the blocker over the shower head or curtain rod in the bathroom for drying or even on a doorknob. Another great product from Signature Needles.

One of the best part of Stitches is getting caught up with yarn company owners, as lots of them connect with a shop selling their yarns in the Market and help answer customer questions.

Twisted Sisters

Terri and Martha from Twisted Sisters

I ran into the Twisted Sisters (www.twistedsistersknitting.com) gang but missed Anna as she was teaching a class. Terri and Martha are also part of the knitwear design team. Twisted Sisters is known for outstanding hand-painted yarn recipes, but even moreso as knitwear designers with incredible patterns using their yarns. You can create timeless one-of-a-kind wearable art with their designs. Make sure you check out their website.

I walk the show in search of knitwear designers selling single copy patterns of their creations for Pattern Picks, a regular feature that appears in every issue of Knit ‘n Style. And I also find indie yarn companies that only sell at consumer shows. Was introduced to a new (well, new to me) company from Montana called Sweet Grass Wool (www.sweetgrasswool.com). Patti is the owner and principal hand-dyer and Stephenie is one of her knitwear designers. Their yarns are yummy! They sell off their website as well as at shows. In business since 2004, Patti still is passionate about “playing in water.” Caught a shot at the end of the day (see below) of the girls in front of a small sample of their beautiful fibers.

Sweet Grass Wool

Patti and Stephenie from Sweet Grass Wool

Stitch Diva (www.stitchdiva.com) Jennifer Hansen set up in the aisle, surrounded by yarn contained in Fiberspheres (www.thefibersphere.com), demonstrating Tunisian crochet. We have a great how-to article by Becca Smith in the new June issue but it was fascinating watching Jennifer quickly add rows to her afghan using a large tunisian crochet hook and working with multiple strands of yarns.

Tunisian Crochet demo

Tunisian Crochet with Jennifer Hansen

Made for a lap throw with interesting texture that flew off her needles. Definately a weekend project!

I am off to get this posted for you, Tweet (@knitnstyle) the blog post, and get back on the floor!

Until next time, enjoy your knitting!


We’re At Stitches!

We are here — at the world’s largest consumer knitting show! The Santa Clara Convention center and the Hyatt is the host for Stitches West. We flew into San Fransisco and toured the area a bit before making our way to San Jose.
The market is a riot of color, rich in texture and pattern. I am always so inspired by color. The shot below is what I get to look at from our Knit ‘n Style booth… a total temptation of color.
Colorful Yarn

Inspiration from Glorious Color


The traffic to the booth yesterday (the first full day of the show) was steady. Nice to meet so many of you who love Knit ‘n Style, including Karen who moderates the Knit ‘n Style group on Ravelry. I was chatting with so many people that I didn’t get a chance to take as many pictures as I wanted (and make sure they were in focus — sorry Becca and Bjorn!). Hope springs eternal with today’s plan. 

We ran into the gang from SWTC at the Beacon Yarn Cabin/Knit 3 Together booth (417-419). 

SWTC at Beacon Yarn

Jonette, Gianna, and Jonelle from SWTC


Jonelle Beck (right) with her mother Jonette (left) own SWTC, the industry-leading yarn company in eco-friendly fibers (www.soysilk.com). Gianna (center) is Jonelle’s eldest daughter and a knitter too. Nice to see the next generation of SWTC. Sophia (Gianna’s sister) was helping out at the cash register. The girl always has the business side of things on her mind even though she is 8 years old! The girls are lucky to be home schooled so they can hang with Mom and Noni at the shows. The project on display is a Diane Zangl design for SWTC called Peacock Vest (it’s a gorgeous full length piece) worked up in SWTC’s Vespera

I will be posting more shots from the floor tomorrow or later tonight, and if you are around, stop by booth 829 and fill out a ticket to win one of five 5-year subscriptions we are giving away. 

Until next time – enjoy your knitting! 


Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece
by Gail Callahan
Storey Publishing, 2010.
ISBN 978-1-60342-468-4

Heard from Alee, publicist at Storey, Friday morning last week and promised her I’d get this review up before she got in Monday morning. I still have time on the clock! It’s only half-time of the Vikings-Saints game.

I always find it interesting when I meet a knitter, as many times they are spinners and weavers. And vice versa. How interwined our fiber crafts are! My assistant Vickie is a weaver and a knitter and a spinner. Laura Bryant, owner of Prism Yarns, is a master weaver, knitwear designer, and dyer of her owns yarns.

Gail Callahan, the author of Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece, states at the very beginning of her new book, that she is a weaver who was “dragged kicking and screaming” to dyeing, as she could not find the color of fiber she wanted for a weaving piece. However, she is also a knitter because after she teaches you several methods for dyeing, there are patterns for 8 projects: mittens, 2 baby cardis and one with a matching hat, a delicate lace ruffle scarf, leg warmers, lace scarf (my fav), a hat for a guy but I’d wear it too, and socks. The patterns not only include the regular materials list but also the dyes and methods she used for the fiber used to knit the photographed sample.

Gail will lead you through all the steps, answer all your questions (including safety and environmental concerns), introduce you to dyes, fibers, and methods (dip-dyeing, hand painting, tie-dying and other creative techniques), even teaching you how to dye in the small spaces of your house. The simple handpaint method needs only a shallow pan, a plastic bag, gloves for your hands, and your microwave. You really don’t need a lot of space with her methods.

There are a ton of photos and step-by-step instructions so you can’t mess this up!  The most interesting method is the Parking Meter Yarn dye method. I had to read it twice to believe she really means it when she says to warp your fiber between two parking meters and then dye it. No parking meters near you? No worries — skein up that yarn between two parked cars as long as you can wrap around the bumper and be able to drive the cars closer together to lift the skein off the bumpers. 

No excuses for supplies as Gail presents a list of resources in the back of the book for yarns and dyes. You’ll feel very confident with the book in hand as you set out to dye that special color yarn you’ve been looking for and just can’t seem to find. Give it a try! 

Until next time – enjoy your knitting!

– Penelope

Nicky’s New Closures

I am going to deluge you with lots of good stuff over the next few days (God willing). You’ve all been on my mind for weeks. The publishing company was shut down for the holidays (10 days away from the office) but for an editor, we can’t really completely leave the office (if you know what I mean). I MEANT to post this as the package arrived before I left for holiday. These buttons and closures have been carried back and forth for AGES and tonight is the night! 

Tomorrow I am headed out the door at 5am to get on a plane and be in Long Beach CA for the TNNA trade show. We are looking forward to the Fashion Show presented by the Yarn Group members tomorrow night. I’ve volunteered to work backstage so it’s super to get to see all the garments up close and personal.

Back to Nicky!

These beauties arrived via Nicky Epstein (www.nickyepstein.com) and JHB (www.buttons.com). This is her entire BRAND NEW collection of buttons and closures. I have to tell you, the corset had me going … so Nicky, you want me to knit a WHAT and keep it snug with THAT piece of hardware??? And then I decided it would make a fabulous belt closure. Or you can be as creative as you like!

There are six types of closures. The largest is the corset (3″ tall x 3″ across at the widest part in the closed and locked position) and the hearts are 3″ tip to tip closed. All the closures have 2, 3 or 4 shank type backs for secure placement on your project.

Nine buttons are also part of this collection. They are all shank-backed buttons. The largest, The Castle, measures 1-1/4″ in diameter. Another fav of mine are the sheep (of course). There are 4 different sheep and views of them (up close and full body).

These pewter cast pieces with antique black are solid and have some heft to them. Do not consider them for “light weight” knitted fabrics!  They would look stunning on worsted-weight and up projects, especially accessories!

Another interesting design element is how dimensional these pieces are. Take The Knight button. The facial armor protrudes 1/2″ from the circle.  A buttonhole would not dare creep around that guy!

Here is a close up of the Lilies closure and the Corset. The Lilies use the same “hook” method as the Corset. Please note that the Corset isn’t closed in this photo but the pieces meet as beautifully as the Lilies.

There is a lot of attention to detail in each of these pieces from the designer. Nicky seems to have this endless wealth of creativity in all her work. You can just imagine each one in her sketchbook! Turn over the closures and you will find her initals “NE” on each piece. Very nice touch.

Watch for them coming soon at JoAnn’s and your local yarn shop. Or you can go to Nicky’s site (www.nickyepstein.com) for more info as well as Nicky’s teaching schedule and her blog.


In today’s mail came two of Nicky’s books now available in paperback: Nicky Epstein Knitted Flowers and Nicky Epstein Crocheted Flowers published by Soho. The press release indicated a February 2010 launch but I just looked on Amazon and they are taking pre-orders or pester your local yarn shop to get copies. It’s a great price point and a GOTTA GET for your knitting library.

Until next time – enjoy your knitting!

– Penelope

Look what appeared on my desk this week!

Deb Knight, from Yarnmarket, sent a hank of yarn from their newest line called Fabulous Felines.

The inspiration for this new yarn, soon to be available at www.yarnmarket.com came from furry, four-legged household companions: yes, cats! 

Yarnmarket is running a contest over there and your cat could be a star! Send them a shot of your kitty, assign it to one of the nine color groups (the photo here is for the yarn that is now called Abyssinian), and if you win, your cat’s image and name will be printed on the label.

But wait! There’s more!

If your tabby is immortalized forever, you will receive a free skein of your cat’s gorgeous chunky-weight hand-dyed yarn.

Yarnmarket collaborated with Iris Schreier of Artyarns to create these hand-dyed beauties. The 100% merino wool has a long dye print and the twist of this fiber is relaxed just enough that the yarn is super soft to the touch. The gauge is set at 3.5 sts to the inch on Size 10.5 US (6.5 mm) needles so your projects will work up f-a-s-t.

HURRY! Deadline is Tuesday, December 15 for entries.

To submit your purrster (Deb loves cats – just send her a shot!)  and check out yarn interpreted from a photo of a Siamese (it is amazing), go to http://yarnmarket.blogspot.com/2009/11/casting-call-for-pussycats-new-yarn.html

Fabulous Felines debuts in December at www.yarnmarket.com

Knit on!


Heard from Jonelle, owner of SWTC, this week to give us the sneak peak at the cover of her second sock book. Co-authored with Katherine Cade, it is the next in the series of their brilliant socks a la carte. As with the first book, the idea is to mix the leg, foot, and cuff patterns to create your own designs.

The book is laid out as a “flip” book so you can really SEE your potential creation. You’ll find 14 foot patterns, 20 leg patterns, and 20 cuffs patterns. Remember – the patterns in this book start at the toe and you work the sock up to the cuff!

Estimated ship date will be sometime in June 2010, but you can reserve a copy NOW … more info at www.soysilk.com. Pester your LYS to make sure they pre-order enough copies for their shops. I can’t WAIT for June!!!

In case you still don’t resonate with the name SWTC, think great sock yarn in great colors—Tofutsies!

Knit on!