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Hello, Dog Days of Summer

It is August 15th – how in the world did that happen?! In two weeks, our family is starting a new adventure into the world of homeschooling (which I NEVER thought I would do), and yet part of me feels like 2020 just started. 

As always, I seem to have the best of intentions with posting monthly, but summer has been very challenging for me on a personal level this year. Getting the energy to go to work was more than I had most days. 

Nevertheless, I persisted. (HA! No, but I couldn’t help it!) I still had a project on the needles, and it seems that my summer tradition is to knit shawls. Sure, I had some plain socks going for throwing in my purse, but shawls are just so….satisfying! This year, I participated in my first ever Mystery Knitalong, The PA Road Trip Shawl Hosted by Real Clear Designs. This was such a fun project! Each clue had two options, and each option represented a different tourist location within the state of Pennsylvania. 

I knit my shawl with two skeins of MadTosh fingering weight singles (blue and yellow), Neighborhood Fiber Co (forget the base, but the color was Dupont Circle) and a variegated called “Funfetti” by Fiberarrium. These were the perfect colors for this shawl!

It is MASSIVE – which I love, but holy cow that thing was like toting around a blanket to work on! It’s done though, and I LOVE it. It’s so much larger than those single skein mini shawls, and will be wonderful to wear this fall.

With August on the downswing now, it’s also time to start thinking about fall. Obviously, there are no in person fiber festivals this year, which is awful and I miss you all. However! Rock Solid Designs is participating in not ONE, not TWO, but THREE virtual events this fall! 

August 19th-23rd we will be a vendor at FiberWorld, and will be online at 9am EDT and 1pm EDT every day. 
August 28-29 we will be vending at Wool and Fiber Arts (time TBA)
And in September, we will be participating in Knitters’ Day Out virtual event.

We are introducing some fun new items and gifts at each event, so make sure to tune in to all three!

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Finished! And….What do I do now?

I am not sure how it is where you live, but here in PA things are warming up! (and then cooling off, and warming back up, and….) Spring always brings on a pretty intense startitis for me to begin with, but I feel like the social distancing/quarantine has amplified it this season. 

Last post, I shared a review of the Providence Hoodie and Donegal Tweed yarn. This sweater has been perfect for cool evenings around the campfire! With that off my needles, I turned my attention to my New Years Day Cast-On, my Elegant Ribbed Socks, pattern by Anne Budd Favorite Socks knit in Flying Fibers Yorkshire Medley yarn.

Elegant ribbed socks by Anne Budd from “My Favorite Socks.” Knit with Yorkshire Medley from Flying Fibers

These socks are a wonderful blend of soft and durable, and I love how the colors pooled here. I just need to find the right shade of ribbon for the tops, and they are all set for wearing! Of course, it’s already too warm for these….oh well.

So now, I’m working on finishing my pair of plain stockinette socks for my mom – these are one of those “backup” projects for when I need something mindless, or a filler between more interesting projects.

So now, I am down to almost no WIPs, and I am dying to start about 1,000 different new projects! I keep staring at all my pattern books and magazines, unable to decide what to make first. I look at my stash and see yarns that were bought for specific projects, but can’t move to get any wound and ready to knit.

I want to start all the things, and yet I can’t bring myself to start anything. That’s a bit how my entire life feels, right now. There’s so much I should be doing as I am spending more and more time at home, with less travel and less outside obligations, and yet I just….can’t. 

Plus, summer always ends up in me setting a project down for a while, anyway. I don’t want to cast on a bulky sweater, because in a house with no A/C, it won’t be touched from July to late September. My go-to is shawls, but I haven’t found a shawl pattern I just have to make lately, and I hate single skein patterns. I could do socks, but I just finished up two pairs, and really don’t feel like working on a third.

So…..what’s left? What do I make next? Do I start another small project, so that if I ever go anywhere again, I can throw my project bag in my purse and go? Or do I start an at-home project, that lives in it’s bag on the coffee table to work on whenever I am relaxing in the evening?

How do you decide what to start, when you are too paralyzed to begin?

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Providence Hoodie Review

It is finally done! This sweater has taken about 1.5 years, off and on. I started this at Wool Gathering back in 2018, knitting this heavy, rustic wool sweater on one of the hottest days that month, in a sweltering tent. I then apparently misplaced it when we moved the following April, having done the body up to the armpits, and one sleeve.

Sometime this past August or September, I was looking for a new project to cast on. While I was flipping through my copy of New England Knits, I came to this pattern, and realized it looked awfully familiar. So familiar….oh. Right. I had already started it! So, with some on and off work, it is FINALLY off the needles! So, here is my official pattern and yarn review.

The pattern itself is well written – the design and construction aren’t challenging, and so it is a good project for someone who doesn’t want to do a whole lot of in-depth thinking. That being said, it is almost entirely moss stitch, which is tedious. Part of the reason this took me so long to knit is because I just could not handle that much continuous moss stitch, and frequently put it down to work on something a bit less annoying. 

The braided band along the bottom was a fun and fairly easy knit, and looked awesome. This part made me a bit nervous, as I had a hard time telling if it was actually long enough to fit around my body with a button band. That wasn’t something I could easily go back and lengthen.

I’m also not thrilled with the hood. I followed the pattern exactly, however the hood isn’t functional, at least for me, and I don’t have a large head. It doesn’t fully cover my head, or feel wide enough. It seems to be more decorative, and for me, if the hood isn’t functional, I would have rather not knit it. 

The yarn is some Donegal Tweed that I was given as a gift from family who traveled to Ireland a few years ago. It’s a fairly rustic feeling, tweedy yarn, and it’s a dense yarn, so I do have concerns about how heavy this sweater will be upon wearing. The yarn wasn’t unpleasant to knit with, but I will definitely be wearing this sweater over a long sleeved shirt, unless it softens up a bit more with washing. It’s got a great texture though, and I do think was the perfect choice for this moss stitch and braid. I love the combination of the yarn and pattern, overall.

Providence Hoodie in donegal tweed side view
Providence Hoodie in donegal tweed side view

 

 

The buttons are from Stitch Your Art Out, in Pine Grove, PA. These are adorable buttons, 1 ¼” in diameter, and the perfect finish for this sweater!

And finally, this sweater lived most of its life in one my newer Grace Bags. I did learn however, that I apparently need to make an oversize tote for  ridiculous sized projects. Ha!

 

 

Overall, this was an enjoyable, if lengthy, knit. I probably won’t ever make it again, but I will enjoy wearing it!

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November Project Review

I’m trying to make this at least a monthly thing – we will see if this keeps up through the winter. This month’s review is a bit different though, because there was no pattern.

Two years ago, I bought some bulky yarn from Youghiogheny Yarns in the “Autumnal Woods” colorway with the goal of knitting a hat for myself. Of course, there is lots of yarn, and lots of projects, and the yarn fell to the back of a bin after a while. In getting ready for our big family Disney trip though, I needed something simple to work on during the plane ride – especially since I would be sitting with my very active 3 year old, and figured focus wasn’t going to be in ample supply.

I searched all over Ravelry for a pattern that matched what I wanted, but I couldn’t quite find what I was looking for. Isn’t that the hardest part, having a visualization, but nothing exists that matches it?

So, I set out to knit the hat I wanted. Overall, a hat isn’t too terribly difficult, so I wasn’t too worried about this mental pattern being a challenge. For this hat, I cast on 58 stitches, and did 8 rows in a 2×2 ribbing, before going into a seed stitch, with one 5×5 cable. (ta-da! You have a free hat pattern!). This was cast on while sitting in the airport and waiting for our flight, and was great entertainment! It also fit great in a small project bag, which helped with trying to limit the size of our travel items.

knitting at galaxy's edge
hat project while waiting at star wars galaxy’s edge

handknit with project bag
knitting at the airport

 

This hat went so fast, and I LOVED working with the yarn. I knit until it “felt” like it was tall enough, then started my crown shaping to close the top. I wove in the ends, wore the hat for a week…and realized it was NOT long enough. So last week I ripped out all the decrease rounds, knit another eight-ish rounds, THEN started the crown shaping. THIS was definitely long enough, and I love how this hat fits and feels! It’s not a slouchy hat, and not overly stretchy because of the seed stitch.

All that’s left is to make a pom for the top with the remaining yarn, then a nice photo shoot!

bb8 knitting project
knitting at disney world waiting for bb8

This month, I’m working on my husband’s long overdue Christmas stocking. I highly doubt it will be completed by Christmas Day, but it’s worth a shot. What holiday knitting are you working on?

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October Project Review

One of the things I would like to start doing, is a review of the patterns and yarns I am working on. This month, I am reviewing Willings Alley Shawl, designed by Erika Flory, knit in June Pryce Fiber Arts Watch Hill Sparkle, colorway “Babylon Nights.”

Both creators are vendors at Knitters’ Day Out in Harrisburg, and every year I drool over their offerings. This year, Cheryl actually had the shawl knit up in a different colorway, and as soon as I saw it, I knew that was something I needed to knit. Let’s ignore the fact that I have a sock and sweater on the needles already…

First, a review of the pattern: Erika’s patterns are always so straightforward and easy to follow. I downloaded this, and after getting through the set-up and maybe 2 repeats, I didn’t even need to look at the pattern. It was simple to memorize, but creates a beautiful fabric. My ONLY complaint is more of a personal issue – there was a lot of yarn left over when I got to the end, and even after adding 3 extra garter ridges, I felt I had barely entered the last color change. I could have ripped back and done another pattern repeat, but I’m also lazy.

The pattern creates an asymmetrical shawl, with a length of about 72″ once blocked. It wraps around so easily – really no complaints about the shape or size.

willings alley, knit in Watch Hill Sparkle

The Yarn: OK. WHO could resist a gradient like that?! I’ll be honest, I fell in love with the colors first, but couldn’t figure out WHAT I would knit with 760 yards, until I saw the sample of Erika’s shawl. The yarn is a merino/nylon blend with stellina sparkles throughout. Not my usual color choice, but it was so vibrant I just had to use it. Knitting with this yarn was a dream. It was so soft, a huge contrast from the donegal tweed I’m using for my sweater. I seriously never wanted this knit to end, because the yarn was just such a pleasure. The color changes were so subtle, that it actually took me until about 1/3 of the way through the shawl to realize I HAD changed colors, and that’s what I love. A subtle shifting as you move – no harsh lines or abrupt changes.

willings alley, knit in Watch Hill Sparkle

Overall, this project was simple, straightforward, and a DREAM in this yarn. I would knit one of these every month if I could. Which, by the way, was an added bonus. I cast on September 28th, and even with only evening knitting (and not every evening, because hello exhausting kids!) I was casting off on October 29th. A GREAT quick-fix if you need a finished object to keep you motivated.

Now, to figure out what to knit next….(Don’t say my sweater. or sock. I’m in denial and need something FUN!)

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Gearing up for the Holidays!

Knitting Advent Set

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve established I am not the best at writing a blog post…ever. I would say it’s been hectic, but I’m starting to realize it’s just *always* hectic, and I need to roll with it. BUT! I am so incredibly excited to share with you all our newest offering this Holiday Season – our Hanukkah and Christmas gift sets! These are pre-wrapped 8 or 12 package gift sets for your favorite knitter or crocheter (and if you are your favorite knitter or crocheter, even better!)

Knitting Advent Set

Hannukah gift set

One of my favorite things about the fiber industry is the openness to collaboration that I see everywhere. While I love my bags and products, I also want to make sure I help promote my fellow makers and creators as I grow. Welcome to the Holiday gift sets! While each set is guaranteed one of my snag-free bags, it also contains gifts from other makers such as:

Fairy Tale Yarn Co
TurtleMade
One Sock Wonder bags
Me Time Botanicals

and more! We have a 12 Days of Christmas set (to help you either count down to Christmas, or celebrate starting Christmas Day) and a Hanukkah Gift set, with eight gifts to help celebrate the festival of light.

Preorders are up now, and packages will ship in late November/early December. There are only 25 gift sets though, so get your order in soon!

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Goings On and Such

Wow, it has been a long time since I’ve posted to the blog here. Sorry everyone! There has been so much going on lately (of course, that seems to just be life in general.) This has been such a crazy year here at Rock Solid Designs Headquarters! We participated in our first ever VogueLive! Knitting event out in Chicago – what a great experience! It was so much fun meeting new people and visiting the Windy City. Chicago is always at the top of my list of places to visit, and it did not disappoint, at least the little bit of it I actually saw this trip. (Check out the fancy elevator in my hotel, though. GOLD PLATED, GUYS)

Rock Solid Designs at VogueKnittingLive Rock Solid Designs at VogueKnittingLive

A lot of time lately has been taken up by our shift to wholesale – we want to make sure our innovative and original designs are available to as many knitters and crocheters as possible, and it seems the best way to do this is to make your LYS aware of us! If you think your neighborhood shop would be interested in opening a wholesale account, send them our way! We’ve got a great online wholesale portal for them to order through, plus we are busy expanding product lines and fabric options for everything in our shop.

Rock Solid Designs Wholesale

This weekend is the Central PA Fiber Festival – this is one of the smallest events we do, but it’s so nice to have one close to home. The kiddos are able to come hang out and meet people for a bit, then head home for naps when they get cranky. 😉

There’s also a big surprise coming this fall – we’re busy working on a partnership with a dyer to bring a *limited edition* bag and yarn combo to Knitters’ Day Out in Harrisburg! I’m so excited that I can barely contain it – you all are going to LOVE the theme!

See you all at the next event!

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Hello Central New York!

This won’t be a long post, just wanted to drop in and announce that Spencer Hill is all set up at the Central New York Fiber Festival! I wasn’t able to be there in person this year, due to a certain little bundle of joy that just arrived, but I sent some inventory along with her to carry in her booth. So if you had plans to check out the festival this weekend, stop in and tell Barb hi, and that I sent you! And while you’re there, you should buy her Romney. All of it. Because if you don’t, I will and that’s just dangerous.

 

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Fresh and Clean

It’s finally done! Production has been slow these past few months, because most of our spare time has been focused on getting my new studio built. This took a lot of work, but I am loving the end result! My former workspace was a windowless, wood paneled basement room; hard to get motivated in an environment like that. This new space is so clean and bright, and has all kinds of custom storage to keep me organized.

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In other exciting news, we have a new addition to our family. Baby G arrived a little over a week ago, and it has been hectic with a toddler and newborn, to say the least! Because of this, I am unable to attend any summer events BUT will be sending inventory along with Spencer Hill Yarns (my booth partner). So while I won’t be there to see your smiling faces, please stop by her booth and check out all the new product and fabric offerings!

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New Product Release – Pattern Pockets

It has been a while since the blog portion has been updated, but I plan to make this a bit more regular, to keep everyone informed on new products, events, sales, etc.

This past March I released a new product – introducing the Pattern Pocket!

TARDISPPinside TARDISPP

If many of you are like me (and I suspect you are), you print off a pattern, fold it up, and throw it in your project bag/purse/ziploc bag/what have you, and after time it starts to get really ratty looking…like, really, awfully ratty. That’s if you don’t accidentally misplace it first! The pattern pocket helps to mitigate these issues. The sleeve is designed to hold multiple sheets regular size pages (8.5″ x 11″), and has a clear vinyl cover to keep them from getting messy, dirty, etc while in use. The vinyl is also able to be marked up by a wet-erase marker, allowing you to mark where you are in the pattern without permanently altering it. The pocket then folder up into a cute looking sleeve and shaps shut, enabling you to throw the whole thing into your bag when you are ready to go!

These were so popular at For the Love of Fiber that they sold out! Because of that, restocking is going a bit slowly, but new prints will be added weekly of these to the shop, but you can find the current inventory here.