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Remembering That This Is Supposed to Be Fun

I know that knitters (and crafters more broadly) can work themselves into a bit of a frenzy around the holidays. I’m one of the worst offenders. I design for myself an insurmountable list of gifts I want to make for people, and then work on them like crazy as the deadline approaches. Many years I have sat up long into the night in Christmas Eve, frantically trying to finish things in time to wrap them before the rest of the family woke up the next morning. But nice as it is to give a handmade gift, is it really worth making yourself crazy over so that you will be tired, grumpy and stressed rather than able to spend a nice relaxing holiday with your family and friends?

Blocking Crocheted Snowflakes

I have always been the queen of the last-minute handmade gift. It has taken me years to learn to slow down just a little bit, and even now I am still finding excuses to add more things to the list of what I “need” to make. Knit more, bake more, how about embarking on a complicated craft project I have never done before at the last minute? Even today on December 20 I am fighting the urge to knit just one more pair of socks! But, the holiday season is stressful enough. It’s a time of massive, mostly self-inflicted stress, whether it is unnecessary shopping or unnecessary crafting. It’s easy to forget that this is supposed to be fun. That’s why we knit, crochet, spin and weave. It’s not because that’s the only way we can procure clothing. It’s not because making clothing is cheaper than buying it (we all know that’s not true). It’s about enjoying the process of making something with your hands. To not enjoy the process is defeating the point, even if it is a gift.

So, how about giving yourself a gift too this year—the gift of relaxing, spending quality time with people you care about, and remembering that making things is optional and supposed to be fun! Although I am still making plenty of gifts this year, I’m also trying to remember to take a bit of time out and enjoy the season without adding endlessly to my to-do list.

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What to Make with Mini Skeins

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately making things with mini skeins or leftover scraps. They are a great way to play with color in small projects (or even large projects!). I normally carry mini skeins in the booth at shows but I’ve just recently added some to the online shop as well (find them here).

Here are a few of my favorite project ideas using mini skeins:

Mitered Square Blanket

I just finished one of these after working on it for nearly 5 years! This was my original sock yarn scrap project and the reason I started collecting mini skeins. The finished blanket is about 80” by 100” and includes 1575 squares, but it could be make in any size.

Mitred Square Sock Yarn Blanket
Mitred Square Sock Yarn Blanket

Scrap Socks

I’ve been enjoying making some of these lately, mostly with the minis leftover from the blanket. I’ve been enjoying putting together different combinations of stripes from similar colored scraps to make socks that are cohesive and yet different.

Scrap Yarn Socks
Scrap Yarn Socks

Ornaments

I made quite a few of these last holiday season. These are Christmas themed but you could do different types of ornaments for different seasons like the Bluebird of Happiness.

Knitted Ornaments
Knitted Ornaments

Leftie

I knit this one a while ago but it is one of my all time favorite scrap projects. It always gets a lot of attention in the booth at shows too. Someday I will make another in a different color scheme.

Leftie by Martina Behm
Leftie by Martina Behm

Anything Striped

Mini skeins are good for adding stripes to just about anything. I recently started this tubular chevron cowl out of some mini skeins I got a while back (making up the pattern as I go).

Chrevron Cowl
Chrevron Cowl

What are your favorite ways to use mini skeins?

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Labor Day Sale

We’re celebrating the holiday weekend and the coming of fall, our favorite season, with 15% off everything in the shop through Thursday, September 10. There are plenty of gradients, including the return of worsted weight gradients for fall, lots of linen yarn if you are still hanging onto summer, and the usual range of lace through bulky weights!

Plus, we are gearing up for the Garden State Sheep Breeders festival in Ringoes, NJ next weekend. Hope to see some of you there!

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Happy New Year 2015

In the new year, we’re gearing up for lots more festivals (check the Events page for a full list) and planning new yarns and colorways. We’re also discontinuing two yarns (Saranac DK and High Peaks Sock) to make room for new ones. Get what’s left, while they last, at 20% off here.

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New Gradient Colorway

After a busy fall show season, I’ve been back at the dye pots, restocking lots of old favorites and a couple new items as well. The colorway pictured, Oriental Poppy, was a big hit at shows and is now available online for the first time. I’ve also listed several semi-solid colorways of Highland Dream, a fingering weight baby alpaca/silk/cashmere yarn that is incredibly soft! See what’s new in the Etsy shop and keep an eye out for our Thanksgiving specials as well.

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Happy Spring!

Happy Spring everyone! It’s been a long time coming, but here in Washington DC at least, it is starting to feel like winter is on its way out. It’s been a busy spring too at Wandering Wool with a number of festivals and the introduction of two new yarn bases. Thanks to everyone who came out to Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet and Homespun Yarn Party. It is always great to meet customers in person. We have two more shows coming up this month–Carolina FiberFest and Powhatan’s Festival of Fiber. I hope I’ll get to meet some more of you there!

MCN Sock  Yarn

New Yarns

I’m very excited about two new yarn bases. The first is Ausable Sock, a 80/10/10 Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon sock  yarn with 400 yd. per 100g skein. It has the same tight two-ply twist as Rock Creek Sock. There are several colorways listed in the fingering weight section of the shop.

The second new yarn is a 100% Superwash Merino 8-ply sport weight yarn. It has a round, springy feel and I think it will be great for sport weight garments or thicker socks. Find it in the sport weight section of the shop.

Sale on Helvellyn Sock

BFL Sock Yarn

I’m featuring Helvellyn Sock this month and it will be 15% off in the Etsy shop until April 7. Helvellyn is a 75/25 Superwash BFL/Nylon sock yarn with 464 yd. per 100g and is my absolute favorite yarn for socks. It’s a very hard wearing yarn but is still soft and it has a nice sheen from the BFL. It’s also great for lace because of the stitch definition. Find it here.

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Wandering Wool Knit-Along

It’s about time I posted something, right? Happy 2014 everyone! I wanted to announce a knit-along that’s going on in the Wandering Wool Ravelry group right now. The rules are simple–start and finish a project (or multiple projects) with Wandering Wool yarn between January 1 and February 28, 2014 and post your finished object here. There will be a prize drawing for finishers plus feel free to join in and chat with the group members about your progress!

Here’s what I’ve been working on for the KAL: a Brioche Cowl in Wandering Wool Opalescent. I’m about half done right now. What are you working on?

Brioche Cowl

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Featured Yarn for December: Heights Bulky

If you are as busy as I am this time of year and have as many over-ambitious handmade gift ideas as I do, you know what a wonderful thing bulky yarn can be! So, this month’s featured yarn is Heights Bulky, a 100% Superwash Merino yarn with 106 yards per 100g skein. It’s perfect for knitting up quick projects like hats, cowls or slippers and it’s also machine washable so that you don’t have to worry about the recipient ruining your handmade gift by washing it!

All Heights Bulky is 15% off through December 15 to give everyone a chance to try it out or stock up for larger projects. There are several colors to choose from–find them all here.

Hand Dyed Bulky Yarn

There are lots of great patterns available for bulky yarn, many of which are free. Two of my favorites are the Gaptastic Cowl (which uses three skeins of Heights Bulky) and the Non-Felted Slippers (which uses only one). Happy Knitting this holiday season!

Hand Dyed Bulky Yarn