[Giveaway] Six and Seven Fibers Featurette

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A "Work of Love" will be released as a single pattern next Friday so let's take a moment to shine the spotlight on Six and Sever Fibers, another one of the lovely yarn sponsors for the Giver Issue!

Rachel picked up knitting in 2011, when her now mother-in-law taught her the basics of knitting. “One of my favorite things about these fiber traditions is that we learn from others,” she states. “It's passed down from one person to the next, along with stories, and sweet time spent together. I honestly didn't like knitting at first: brow furrowed and muttering under my breath as I tried in vain to ‘get gauge,’ whatever that meant.” After a year or so, though, she took another class at a LYS and it clicked—now, her needles won't stop clicking.

As she grew in her love for quality fiber, she was also growing and learning about herself. Before hand-dyeing yarn, she taught English & ESL at a nearby high school, then worked as an advisor at a local university. She began to realize that she wanted to give her creative passion a try, a real go at making a small business work. In May of 2017, she and her husband took the leap and started Six and Seven Fiber. “We haven't looked back!” she exclaims excitedly.

When asked about what her purpose is in the fibre community, she muses, “It's something to consider why we decide to pursue a dream or give our all to achieving a goal. I suppose it's really not enough to say I just love squishing soft yarn, even if that's fairly close to the truth? I love working with my hands, doing something vital and lasting, as we all do in this fiber community. Fiber folk, I call you—us—endearingly, as I feel fiber is the bond between us all. It's warmth, comfort, but also challenge and growth. I love creating for this community because I've found "my people" here, and I'm thankful that I get to be a part of it as a dyer and fellow maker.”

She recounts a story to me: “A friend recently came over to see my work space, where my brand values hang above my desk, as a daily reminder. She commented, ‘Those seem like good values to just have as a human.’  And, other than ‘quality, reliable fiber,’ I agree with her.”

According to Rachel, Six and Seven Fiber is about lovingly prepared goods and the human element, too, not just the material. “I want each customer to have a genuine interaction, to remember that it's just me, an average, approachable person, behind the scenes,” she says.

She continues on, “I also believe that Six and Seven Fiber is about genuine, deep, earthy colors. My own inspiration often comes from the beautiful Rocky Mountains here in Colorado, but also softly-focused memories from years ago, the smell of bread baking, or the sound of a loved one's laughter. Those tender moments in life are what I pursue in my dyeing, and I'm glad, because life never slows, never stops, so nor will the inspiration.”


Giveaway

Want to win the "Work of Love" kit? Entering is easy. First, follow Six and Seven Fiber on Instagram. Next, leave a comment with your Rav ID below answering the question, "What inspires you to create?" Giveaway is open until January 25th, 2018 11:59pm. The winner will be announced along with the release of Work of Love next week!

Website: 6and7fiber.com/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sixandsevenfiber/

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Response to Vanity Fair's "Take up knitting"

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As it tends to do from time to time, the Twittersphere exploded last month when Vanity Fair magazine tweeted a video in which 6 of its staffers offered their ideas for New Year’s resolutions they thought Hillary Clinton should make. Each resolution was more insulting than the last, with the overall idea being that she should stay out of politics from here on out, no matter what.

One of the “resolutions” they proposed? That she should take up knitting. While some of us might get excited at the prospect of adding Hillary Clinton to our ranks, the actual comment was hugely insulting to the former Secretary of State AND knitters everywhere. The Vanity Fair staffer advised Clinton to, “take up a new hobby in the New Year: Volunteer work, knitting, improv comedy – literally anything that will keep you from running again.”

Pardon me?

Oh, I get it - so she should sit at home on her couch and knit tea cosies, because apparently the folks at Vanity Fair don’t want her doing anything important with her life anymore.

Knitters, are we just going to take that?

Of course not! Knitting is more than just something women do to be quiet and shut up - in fact, it can be exactly the opposite! Knitting is what allows us to come together and knit bright pink hats to express our solidarity with women everywhere. Knitting is what gives us a medium for welcoming refugees into a new home. Knitting is what gives voice to our desire to comfort a friend who has experienced a loss.

Little do those Vanity Fair staffers understand, if Hillary Clinton takes up knitting she will be equally empowered with one more way to create change in the world, and to continue to fight those battles that are far from over.

When I created the Fibre Muses, perhaps I should have made a fifth one: The Warrior?

The thing is, we don’t need a fifth muse; there’s a Warrior in each of us. If you get angry when someone tells you knitting is just for little old ladies and women who need to get off the stage, take up your knitting. Use it to make a difference in someone’s life. Use it to make a statement. Fight back, and knit on.

I’ll be right there with you.

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[GIVEAWAY] A Return to the Land with Blind Buck Farm

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The pattern "You are Knitworthy" drops as a single pattern on Ravelry next week, so let's shine the spotlight on the yarn that made this pattern possible! Introducing one of the Yarn Sponsors of the Giver Issue, Blind Buck Farm!

Backside of "You are Knitworthy"

Backside of "You are Knitworthy"

It has been a lifelong dream of Erica’s to “return to the land.” Raised in New York City, she traveled the world with her father who was a diplomat, with some agricultural background from numerous visits, throughout her life, to her grandfather’s farm in Egypt—visits that are now a vivid part of her childhood and adult memories.

This lead her to creating Blind Buck Farm. Located in Salem, NY, it is composed of 3 properties totaling 24 acres. Erica is proud to say that the farm has been able to contribute to the preservation of a rare and endangered species of sheep.

She excitedly continues, “I find farm life a lot of fun, too. Seeing a newborn being gently nudged by its mother to take its first wobbly steps, visiting the chicken coop to collect fresh eggs, and seeing the vegetable garden grow every day. Dyeing my own yarn also indulges my love of color.”

“I feel that it is unfortunate, even sad, that such experiences have become rare pleasures”, she reflects. “If I can make my own small contribution to bringing traditional knowledge full circle, by connecting people with natural fiber, plants, and animals, I will consider myself blessed indeed.”

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When asked about what makes Blind Buck Farm so special, Erica replied, “the constant search for unique blends, using only natural and local fibers. Each shearing gives us the opportunity to create new blends, in addition to experiencing how different fibers and fiber blends take colors. Choosing colorways is the fun part.”

The second aspect, she explains, is explaining the value of natural fibers, which she finds herself most passionate about. “The consumer does not realize that natural fibers are fire retardant, whereas Superwash is not,” she explains. “Many consumers claim they have allergies to wool; often this is due to the processing of the yarn with chemicals, or the dyes which are used. I use a non-toxic, heavy metal-free dye.”

Website: blindbuckfarm.com/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/blindbuckfarm/


Giveaway

To win the kit for this design (pattern + yarn), just follow the entry rules below! (Apologizes last time for Rafflecopter acting up, we'll keep it simple this time round). Giveaway lasts until January 11th, 2018 11:59pm CST. Winner will be announced here on the 12th.

1. Follow Blind Buck Farms on Instagram

2. Leave a comment below (with your Rav ID so we can contact you easily if you won!) answering the question... which do you like, alpacas or llamas?

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[Giveaway] The Dream of Tundra

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The Comfort Cowl pattern is dropping on Ravelry next Friday! To prepare for this pattern's launch, let's take a moment to take a closer look at the yarn used in this design, Tundra from the Fibre Co.

When I was first putting together the pieces for this issue, I knew that I wanted to work with bulky/thicker yarns than what I was used to. So when the Fibre Co. sent me samples of their yarn, their Tundra line was the first base I looked at. With a fibre content of 60% alpaca, 30% wool, 10% silk, and 120 yds/109m per skein, I knew that this was going to be the perfect yarn to snuggle up in during the colder winter months.

And I was not wrong! This yarn is a DREAM after it blocks and you put it against for your skin for the first time. While it tended to release lots of little fibre fuzzies as I was working it, it was very much worth the small clean up at the end and apart from that, this yarn was very pleasant with which to work. For a 2-ply yarn, the stitch definition is quite good and pops nicely, which is important for designs like color work.

The yarn blooms when blocking, and the stitches even out oh-so-nicely. And as mentioned before, it is very warm and snuggly to have against the skin. When I first finished the Comfort Cowl, I spent the rest of the evening wearing it around the house, even though it was still the middle of summer. It is just THAT good.


Take the time to check out their website and read about them. They recently launched a great initiative for designers earlier this year where they will not only give yarn support but also use their platform to give newer designers a moment in the spotlight. There is SO much hidden talent in this community and industry so collaborating with a brand that is equally passionate about uplifting and showcasing such gems was a no-brainer. Their yarn is very Seeker-esque but their mission evokes the Giver so strongly!

Website: www.thefibreco.com/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thefibrecompany/


GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the launch of the Comfort Cowl, I am giving away a Comfort Cowl Kit (the pattern + 3 skeins of Tundra) to one lucky winner! Entering is simple. Just leave a comment below answering the prompt and give:

"What would be your essential FO if you found yourself stranded on the Tundra?" (For me, probably this cowl haha).

Then, give the Fibre Co. a follow on Instagram below. 

Yarn Alchemist Spotlight Series: Kay Litton

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The Yarn Alchemist Spotlight series on the Aroha Knits blog was started up by Ash Christine. She wanted to use the Aroha Knits platform as a way to shine a light on the hidden gems in the community and give them the opportunity to share their story.

Kay with her husband and boys

Kay with her husband and boys

1 - Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in knitting

Hey, y'all! I'm Kay, also known as The Crazy Sock Lady! First and foremost I am a Wife to my husband, Eric, and a Mother to our two sons, Austin and Wyatt. I was born and raised in West Virginia, but we currently call North Carolina home. We have been very blessed to live all over the US, for my husband's job.

My fiber story first began with crochet. My Granny, my dad’s mom, was always crocheting when I was a child. So, I dabbled a bit with crocheting, here and there, while growing up. I would make what, at the time, seemed like the world’s longest crochet chains. Then maybe I would eventually do a row or two of double crochet. A lot of blankets were started, none were finished. I didn't complete a project until after I got married, so almost 12 years ago, when I made a few baby blankets for friends who were pregnant at the time. I think it was about nine years ago that I taught myself to knit, from a Better Homes & Garden Book, and I immediately fell in love. 

Over the years, knitting has become a significant passion in my life. If you see me at home, running errands, or at a sporting event for one of my boys and there aren’t knitting needles in my hands—you can rest assured they are not far from me!

2 - What type of Fibre Muse are you?

I am The Giver! Which is just SO true! I adore knitting for my family. Most of the items that I knit (or crochet) are items that will be gifted to family.

3 - As a post first-time Rhinebeck attendee, how would you describe the experience to someone who’s never been?

I would describe Rhinebeck in one word: Magical! Leading up to my first Rhinebeck I had so many thoughts about how I imagined it would be, and it completely surpassed all of those. For me, the best part was the feeling of community. Getting to meet so many wonderful people that I have interact with through social media was amazing, and it was indeed an "I have found my people" moment. I feel like knitters are absolutely the best people, and Rhinebeck took that to a whole other level, for me. And we can't forget the yarn! When you add all of that together, you have a very magical experience, unlike any other! If you ever have a chance to go—do it! You won't regret it, and it will be a weekend you will never forget.

4 - Where do you draw inspiration from in your designs?

My inspiration comes from all over. I may be inspired by something as simple as walking out of my back door and looking at the trees or falling leaves. Sometimes I will browse through stitch dictionaries and feel inspired. It can come from anywhere, and sometimes from somewhere, you wouldn't imagine! It is all about having your eyes open, and paying attention to the little things. 

5 - What finished object are you most proud of?

The cardigan that I knit to wear to Rhinebeck! I knit the Old Romance Cardigan, by Joji Locatelli. It has a very different construction, unlike anything I have ever knit before, which made it fun and challenging. I am so pleased with the finished object, and have such a feeling of pride every time I put it on. Pride and awe, because I still can't believe I made it!

6 - What is your design process like?

I feel like my design process is still something that is evolving in many ways, and maybe it always will be. Typically it starts with an idea for a stitch pattern that I will then graph out with pencil and paper...always pencil and paper! I am pretty old fashioned in a lot of ways, one being that I still love the simpleness of sitting down with a pencil and putting my ideas onto paper. 

Once I have a basic idea and have graphed it, it is all about putting that concept to yarn so I can see what will work, and what feels right. Many times it requires going back and starting again from scratch. It can be a good practice in patience. But when everything finally falls into place it is a beautiful and exciting moment!

7 - How do you see your work making an impact in the knitting and fiber community?

I hope that my work in the knitting and fiber community can spread a little love and will always leave others feeling inspired. Inspired to pick up some knitting needles and try to knit socks, or sweaters, or whatever it may be that has maybe seemed intimidating.

Left to right: Rhinebeck is Calling, Rhinebeck Roomies, Wyatt Socks, the Austin Socks

8 - What was the inspiration for starting your knitting podcast?

When I started my knitting podcast, my intent was to be more active in the knitting community. I feel like you would be hard-pressed to find another online community as amazing as the knitting community. Everyone is so kind, generous, and encouraging. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that, and spread the love that I have through my knitting. So, in September of 2016, I went for it, and The Crazy Sock Lady Podcast was born. It has been a wonderful experience that leaves me feeling blessed daily. 

9 - What's in store for you for next year?

This next year will hold some new pattern releases. Of course some sock patterns, but hopefully some other items as well! I have felt so inspired since my trip to Rhinebeck, and I am just bursting with ideas of things I want to create. I just need to get all of my gift knitting done in time for Christmas, and then it is full steam ahead on new designs! I plan to continue hosting The Crazy Sock Lady Podcast, and to keep knitting as fast as my fingers will allow!

Where can we find you and your work?

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/thecrazysocklady/
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtzJ6l6pgniBj_GDDhN-BYw
Ravelry designs/shop: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/crazy-sock-lady-designs


GIVEAWAY

To support Kay Litton, I'm going to gift a copy of one of the four sock designs (featured above in the interview) to a lucky winner! To enter you just need to leave a comment with which sock design you would love to knit (and perhaps what yarn you'll do it in!) along with your Rav ID and give Kay a follow on one of her social media platforms.

You have until December 17th, 11:59pm CST to enter! I'll pick and announce the winner right here <3

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[Pattern Release] A Shield Against Grief

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When grief ambushes someone I love, I want to wrap them up in my arms until the love I am pouring into them mends the tatters, stitches up the tears, and fills that empty space. Usually, I do not touch them for fear that I will break their facade and leave them helpless, crying for the remainder of the day.

To replace that hug, I create a mourning shawl. With the mourning shawl in place over their shoulders or around their neck, my friend knows my love and thoughts, and that big old hug travels with them through their day.
— LA Bourgeois

This shawl design was inspired by LA Bourgeois’s article for the Giver issue, “The Mourning Shawl”. When I asked LA what types of patterns make for an appropriate Mourning Shawl, she wrote, “My requirements for mourning shawls are that they include mostly simple knitting and can include up to three colors.” A Shield Against Grief was created to fit that description; with two simple stitch patterns that make it easy to adjust for different yarn weights or final measurements if you so desired. However, I recommend to knit it up as large as you can in heavier yarns, as so to wrap a loved one up in and bask in its warmth and comfort.

When words are inadequate to help someone’s pain, a handmade project filled with love, compassion, and empathy can go a long way. As you are working on this project for someone special, infuse each stitch with the powerful intention of healing and light. Keep in your mind why and who you are knitting it for, and that energy will radiate into the fibres. The person receiving the gift will feel the intentions and blessings every time they wrap the shawl around them or run their fingers across the fabric.

Yarns Used: Shibui Drift (Worsted; 85% Extra Fine Merino, 15% Cashmere; 110 yds/101m). 4 skeins in Ash.
Needle: US10.5 (6.5mm) 32” (80cm) circular needle. A long circular needle is recommended, in order to accommodate the large number of stitches as the shawl grows.
Yardage: 440 yds (400 meters).
Gauge: 20 sts and 22 rows = 4 inches (10cm) in St. st after blocking. Gauge is not crucial to this project, but varying gauges will affect yardage and final measurements.
Other Notions: Darning needle, stitch markers.
Final Measurements: Wingspan: 66 inches (167cm); Depth: 17 inches (43cm).


PATTERN RELEASE BUNDLE -
THE QUERENCIA TRIFECTA

querencia (n): a place where one feels safe, a place from which one's strength of character is drawn.

To go along with the release of "A Shield Against Grief", I've paired it up with two other designs: Then Comes Spring and The Arrival of Spring. I find that these two patterns are quite appropriate to be bundled with this shawl, as they serve as a reminder that after every harsh, cold Winter there is a warm and rejuvenating Spring. I battled with depression my first winter in Japan and created "Then Comes Spring" from that experience. I later revisited the concept of pushing through challenging times and moments in my "The Arrival of Spring" design. Altogether, these shawls form a trifecta of knitted magic to wrap oneself, or perhaps another, in times of need. A place to feel safe and escape to as you knit it up. A worn reminder that you, or the one you are gifting these to, are strong enough.

A Shield Against Grief - your grounding for the present
Then Comes Spring - the reminder that all trials come to an end
The Arrival of Spring - the promise the future holds

You can purchase A Shield Against Grief for $6.99 or get the Trifecta Bundle for $12!