A Girl's Gotta Knit

A blog about opening A Swell Yarn Shop, knitting and the rest of the stuff that makes life fun :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Brand-New Holiday Colorways Available Now

Are you ready for Christmas knitting? I know I haven't made quite as much progess as I'd hoped! But don’t worry, we've still got plenty of time. Swing by A Swell Yarn Shop to load up on yarn in the brand-new holiday colorways! Here's a quick rundown of some of my favorites:

Holiday Spirit – The rich colors and warmth of the Christmas season inspired this traditional colorway.

Noble Fir – Inspired by and named for the iconic Christmas tree, this colorway reveals A Swell Yarn Shop’s Northwestern roots.

Caribbean Autumn – Who doesn’t daydream of tropical vacations this time of year? Bring a little paradise to your knitting needles, at least.

And these are just the beginning, there are lots of great new colors to choose from! How are your holiday knitting projects coming along?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Thanks again to the suggestions and encouragement of the folks over at the Lucky Lurker Ravelry Group there are now semi-solids available at A Swell Yarn Shop.
Usually I do very definite different colors within a skein...I like dramatic, bold, contrasting, coordinating, subtle and pretty colors all together. As a dyer, you do what you love. Well, the folks over on Ravelry kept requesting semi-solids. I tried some here and there and the color changes were so subtle that I couldn't leave well enough alone and had to make them more dramatic. This time, however, I just went with it....

I let the be soft and gentle and flow into eachother. I took a breath and decided to wait to see how they looked once they were dry.

Wouldn'tcha know it...those guys were right. These semi-solids turned out GORGEOUS, even if I do say so myself!!!

I did them in both DK weight and Fingering weight !

I was so excited to see these all done, that I made another batch too!!! Those are drying on the racks right now! So, even though some of this batch of semi-solids are already sold out...there are more to come!!!! I am loving these so much, there is a chance they will make a more frequent appearance too!!!

Let me know what you think of them and what semi-solid colors you would like to see!!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Help Californians Stop Animal Cruelty

This is a cause near and dear to my heart. You wouldn't believe how some farm animals are treated - forced to live in small cages their whole lives, abused and mistreated. Not to mention, factory farms who carry out practices like these put us all at risk, fostering the spread of diseases that can affect people. Californians are trying to do something about it, and I hope other states will follow suit.

Proposition 2 aims to end three specific types of cruelty:

  1. Veal Cages: Calves are taken from their mothers when they are just hours or days old and tethered by their necks in crates too narrow for them to turn around or even lie down comfortably. Virtually immobilized and prevented from engaging in natural behavior, they suffer immensely.

  2. Gestation Crages: During nearly their entire four-month pregnancies, female pigs used for breeding are confined in barren gestation crates – individual, metal stalls only two-feet wide. The crates are so small that the animals cannot even turn around. Barely able to move, these highly intelligent and social animals suffer terribly and develop crippling joint disorders and lameness.

  3. Battery Cages: Nationwide, hundreds of millions of egg‐laying hens are confined in tiny, barren, battery cages so small that the birds can’t spread their wings, nest, dust-bathe, perch, or even walk more than a few painful steps. Each caged hen has less space than a sheet of letter‐sized paper on which to live for more than a year before she is killed.
The proposition is endorsed by more than 100 animal protection charities including many California humane societies and SPCAs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, and beyond; and the State Humane Association of California. Leaders like The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, Best Friends Animal Society, and the California Veterinary Medical Association recommend voting YES! on Prop 2.

Similar laws have already been passed in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon, and if this measure is passed in California, hopefully similar laws will become even more widespread.

California residents will have to get out and vote, but the rest of us can help too. Californians for Humane Farms is trying to raise $200,000 to get their advertisement about proposition 2 on television so that more voters will be educated when it comes time to vote. It sounds like a lot of money, but every little bit helps. You can watch the ad and make donations here. Or just send a link to your friends and family.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sneak Peak: Lucky Lurker Pattern Contest Winner

Just like the save your sole sneak peak, this pattern won't be available at A Swell Yarn Shop until January, but I'm so excited about these patterns that just I can't keep them to myself.

Northwest Rain, designed by Jennifer Shuster, was another winning pattern from our Lucky Lurkers pattern contest this summer. The pattern, along with a skein of Rhythm of Rain Skinny Duet Yarn was sent to members of the Lucky Lurker club in September.

Can't wait until January to start a new Lucky Lurker pattern project? Check out patterns from previous rounds of the Lucky Lurker Club that are available to buy here. And don't forget, signups for the February-March-April round begin in December (membership makes a great Christmas gift!).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Knitting by the Fire

After SEVERAL requests during the summer from fellow Renton Knitters from knit night, we FINALLY had our 'knitting by the fire' night!
It was fabulous! The Lucky Lurker members of the group were among the first to arrive and the conversation quickly went to "did you get your package" and "I got my package". Even the local Lucky Lurkers don't know when their packages are going to arrive and they are just and suprised as those around the world.

Mr Ken custom made our deck when we first moved in here and add the fantastic feature of a built in fire pit. The Renton Knitters had been asking for a long time about a night to come over and knit around the fire. Last night was that night!

I think pretty much everyone came (which is right around 18 regulars) and it was a full deck. There was so much delicious food, I went back and filled my plate with different items 2 different times!!! Yummy!!!

There was knitting, talking and s'more making. Not suprisingly for here in the Northwest, we did get some sprinkles that kept us mostly under cover, but the fire definitely kept us warm...or was that the hot totties? Either way it was a great time and I am ready to do it again!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tips for Going Green: Homemade Laundry Detergent

Some of you already know about my efforts to “go green” – not only is it good for the environment, but it’s way easier and more fun than I initially expected!

This homemade laundry detergent is just another great example of that. It’s easier on the environment, drastically cheaper than commercial detergents and it leaves clothes noticeably softer! And (my favorite part) you can even customize your fragrance or choose to go completely fragrance free!

I used this recipe to make detergent for everyone on my Christmas list last year. I had some funny looks at first, but then after each person did their first load with it, I started getting calls from them for the recipe so they could make more! It’s proof that green products not only work, but sometimes do the job even better!


  • Large pot that holds at least 2 gallons of water
  • 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap
  • 1/2 cup of sodium carbonate (aka washing soda)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup borax
  • Optional: Fragrance
  • Container to store detergent in

  1. In a stock pot that can hold 2 gallon water, add 1 inch of water and heat to medium/high heat
  2. Add 1/3 bar of grated Fels Naptha laundry bar soap and melt completely
  3. Add 1/2 cup washing soda/sodium carbonate (this is not the same as baking soda)
  4. Add 1/2-1 cup borax
  5. Melt until dissolved
  6. Optional: Add fragrance if desired
  7. Stir in 2 gallons water
  8. Remove from heat and let mixture sit 24 hours
  9. Stir and transfer to storage container

What changes have you made at home in an effort to “go green”? I’d love to hear what’s worked (and what hasn’t) for you!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sneak Peak: Lucky Lurker Pattern Contest Winner

This pattern won't be available at A Swell Yarn Shop until January, but I couldn't help but give a sneak preview.

Save Your Sole, designed by Tori Barnhart, was the winning pattern from our Lucky Lurkers pattern contest this summer. The pattern, along with a half skein each of coordinating and main color DeKay yarn, was sent in a welcome package to members of the September-October-November Lucky Lurker club members.

I've been using this stitch pattern on a project (more on that later), and boy does it grab the attention of other knitters!!

I know January is a long time to wait. In the meantime, you can whet your appetite for lucky lurker knits by checking out the patterns that are available to buy here. Bonus, they're now available in downloadable PDF format, so you can get started on a new project right away! And don't forget, membership for the Lucky Lurker Club will open again in December.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Instant Gratification: Patterns Now Available in Downloadable PDF

Great news! You no longer have to wait for patterns you purchased at A Swell Yarn Shop to arrive in your mailbox - patterns are now available in a downloadable PDF format!! You can get started on your new projects right away and save a couple bucks since there are no shipping charges! The Lucky Lurkers over at Ravelry made the brilliant suggestion, and I was happy to oblige. Although, I’m no techy and can barely work my MP3 player, so I owe a big thanks to Kelly Magill who converted all the patterns to PDF.

Patterns are free, of course, to current Lucky Lurker Club members along with a skein of the same yarn used to create it. For those not in the current round of Lucky Lurkers, patterns will be available for purchase online once the round has ended. Here are just a few of the patterns now available:

Glitten (Glove / Mitten, get it? ;) )
made with Original or DeKay Duet Yarn

That’s a Wrap
made with Original or DeKay Duet Yarn

Fancy Pants
made with Skinny Duet Yarn

Be sure to check out the other patterns we have available here, and remember, enrollment for the next round of the Lucky Lurker Club starts in December (and makes a great Christmas gift)!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Holiday Knitting Ideas: Decorative Icicles

In a previous post, I promised I'd share some ideas I have for quick holiday knits. This time it's a beautiful, delicate pattern for decorative icicles. This pattern was created by Judith Prindle and I found it on her Knitting Pattern Depot blog.

  • # 4 needles
  • bedspread weight cotton thread
  • 1 small bead for each icicle


  1. Cast on 3 stitches, leaving the tail long enough to become half of the hanging loop.

  2. Knit until desired length, turning always in the same direction. I turned away from me and
    gave the icicle a tug after every row. This becomes second nature after a while.
    Mine are 22 rows, about 3 & 1/3 inches, but icicles can be any size you want.

  3. When you cut the thread, leave the end long enough to secure the bead, work the thread through the icicle, and have enough for remaining for the other half of the hanging loop.

  4. Now, knit all 3 stitches together, cut and pull theend through the last stitch, pull tight.

  5. Bring the thread around the bead through the last stitch.

  6. Work the thread up the side of the icicle securing it by looping it around a stitch,
    every 2-3 stitches.

  7. Tie the beginning thread to the ending thread by looping it through itself.

I think these would look great on a Christmas tree, hanging in a window or even off the mantle. Heck, they might even look good tied in the ribbon of a wrapped gift! What do you think?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Knitting for a Good Cause: Winter Clothes for Underprivileged Babies

Are you looking for a quick-to-knit, instant satisfaction project for a good cause? Crafty Me Yarns, Elgar Richardson, and the Montgomery Hospital in Norristown, PA have joined forces to create Knitting for Babies, a project to provide warm winter clothes for underprivileged babies, from newborns to about 4 years old. Want to help? All you have to do is knit or crochet a baby item, such as a little hat, sweater, or booties, and send it to:

Knitting for Babies
Crafty Me Yarns
515 Maple Street
Conshohocken, PA 19428

Remember, there are lots of great DK, fingering and even light fingering weight yarns over at A Swell Yarn Shop perfect for baby patterns. You may even have enough left over in your personal stash for a quick set of booties!

If you have any questions, e-mail Anita at Crafty Me Yarns: anita@craftymeyarns.com

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Holiday Knitting Ideas: Full Scale Ferrari??

It's that time of year again when I'm spending more and more time planning for and working on holiday knitting projects. More on my ideas later. But in a quick search for some simple knits, I came across this blog about a woman who knitted a full-size ferrari cozy!

No kidding - look closely, the whole thing is knitted! Apparently it's made up of 250 squares hand knit by Lauren and 20 other knitters. Not to mention she welded the metal frame it's sitting on. Sheesh!

I love cozies as much as the next gal, but I don't think I'll get that ambitious this year. What are you working on for the holidays?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Easy Halloween Craft Idea – Trash Bag Ghosts

The crisp fall weather that’s finally hit Seattle doesn’t just mean that the fall holidays are right around the corner – it also a great excuse to stay inside on the weekends and work on crafts!

This weekend was a quickie for Halloween: Trash bag ghosts! Here are some simple tips for getting your ghostly crew up and running.

Materials Needed:
  1. Kitchen sized trash bag (I was able to make 10 ghosts with just one)
  2. Scissors
  3. Needle and thread
  4. Black sharpie marker
  5. Something to stuff heads with (In an effort to recycle, I used balled up paper from an old catalog, but cotton balls or even paper towels would also work)
  6. OPTIONAL: Lollipops
  7. OPTIONAL: Rubber bands

  1. Cut white trash bag into squares (mine were about 12” sq)

  2. Ball up old paper or cotton balls and place on center of square

  3. Pinch the trash bag around the head to form a neck and secure with rubber band or thread (I used thread, which was a little tricky to tie by myself - rubber bands may be easier)

  4. Use a permanent marker to draw the ghost’s ghoulish face

  5. Thread a needle

  6. Pull needle and thread through the top of the poor little ghost’s head

  7. Tie a small knot to secure the thread and cut the thread to your desired hanging length

  8. Rinse and repeat :)

I made 10 of these little guys and then hung them outside the house. For about $1.25 worth of supplies, they make quite an impact!

And as another option, you can replace the paper/cotton ball head with a lollipops and skip steps 5-8. These might make cute additions for the kid's lunches or gather them up in a spooky vase for a ghoulish boquet!