Friday, October 31, 2014

Fast Friday Review: Folk Socks

If you haven't read Folk Socks, you're missing out! This is the old edition, but there's a new one out there. It starts with four chapters about the history of socks, with a focus on Great Britain and Europe, and ends with 18 patterns. It's a great resource. 

All of the socks are knit from the top down, but there are a few different heels and toes used. Also, the colorwork and texture of the socks in the book are amazing.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting Ready for Class Tonight!

I think there may still be a spot or two open at Linden Yarn & Textiles tonight...and I know you can catch me on Saturday in Sioux Falls! I'm just testing out the techniques before I embarrass myself in front of a bunch of knitters. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ancient Arts Yarn

Even when I'm hanging around yarn shops more, I've been pretty good about not buying up tons of yarn. I made an exeption for this Ancient Arts Meow Collection skein. I couldn't resist a yummy Russian Silver Blue!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nothing Like A Wool Jacket

I bought this jacket over 5 years ago and I still love it. It has a great attitude, even hanging on a wall. (It's from Banana Republic, but I don't think they make it anymore.)

It was one of the purchased I made when I was re-working my wardrobe to be a Big Important Editor. I'm no longer an editor or very important, but the jacket still works, I think.

A little wear is starting to show up on the cuffs and under the arms. Basically, the white threads are starting to show through more. That just makes me like it even more. It's just showing a few white hairs, is all.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Colorwork Inspiration

I love the texture of old brick walls. Does that yellow rectangle remind anyone else of National Geographic?

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Stone Soup" Socks

I have a lot of little odds and ends of sock yarn. Sometimes I'll round them up into colors and divide them by main fiber content. In this case, the yarn is black and the fiber is wool.

I weigh out 100 grams of yarn and start to get creative. In this case, I have two partial skeins of Cascade Heritage and another of Cascade Heritage Silk. I'm going to use the silk for the toes, heels and top ribbing and the other two skeins for the rest of a pair of socks. I call it "stone soup" because it feels like getting something from nothing. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sometimes the Problem is Behind You

Spinning for Spinzilla was awesome - but I did run into a slight issue. I was being lazy and didn't want to bring up my blue folding chair from the basement. The kitchen chairs we have are about the same seat height, so I thought one of them would work well. 

Do you see the problem that I didn't notice until the second day, when the back of my left arm started throbbing? The high back + knob thingy was hitting my arm as I brought it out for long-draw spinning. OUCH!

Learn from me, kids. Don't change your gear right before the long race.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Leftover Socks for Yours Truly

Leftovers of Dream in Color Smooshy in Autumn Rainbow made a lovely pair of socks (with just the tops in another color...)


Top down, stockinette-stitch socks.

Eye of Partridge Heel Flap + Square Heel (just like my Checked and Square Socks)

Medium-length wedge toe.

It all equals one very happy knitter. :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Yankton, SD - Ewe Knit It and The Rocky Horror Show

Great weather!

Black socks!

Shop full of darling knitters, who I forgot to photograph.

AWESOME show! That's his granny and mom, so no jokes, please.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A History of Hand Knitting

I must confess - I've never owned A History of Hand Knitting, before. I've always had to get it from a library when I wanted it as a reference. I found a copy online that wasn't too expensive, so I decided to treat myself.

I love it! I'm re-reading it cover-to-cover. If you haven't read it, you really should. It's a wonderful overview of as much as anyone knows for sure about the history of our craft. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On A Cost of "Free" Patterns

I once had the wonderful experience of spending an entire week with one of my idols, Maggie Steber. I did my graduate project about her work and she was generous enough to let me stay with her as I finished interviewing her for it.

She showed me many, many collections of prints and told me about her first job in photography, at a tiny newspaper in Texas. I asked her if I could see those photos. She politely avoided my request for a bit, then looked at me and said, "It's very early work, and I don't show it."

Ah, the joys of the pre-internet days! I'm watching people discover my free patterns on Ravelry and it's nice that they're queuing and marking projects as favorites,'s early work and I almost wish I couldn't show it!

Most of my free patterns don't have sizing. Some are rather hastily written. All were edited just by myself (and maybe read over by one other person for any really obvious problems). None of them are particularly bad, but if people are taking them as examples of what my work is like now, they're definitely getting the wrong idea.

I learned a lot from writing those patterns, but now I feel as though all of my past sins are right out there, in public, for all the world to see. I just have to hope that people are looking for the good in them, and not just any problems there might be.

If you've found this site because of my free patterns:

...but please keep in mind that they were works-in-progress!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Donna Druchunas Asks: "Why haven’t you bought this book yet?"

I should have asked Donna if people misspell her name as often as they misspell mine. :)

She published a really sweet review and a rather long interview with me over on her blog. If you aren't a regular reader of Sheep to Shawl, you should be. Her work is really fascinating.

Final Spinzilla Update:

I spun up 1,163 yards! Not bad for someone who had to go to work 6 days that week. I'm going to ply the yarns that are still singles, once I finish spinning all of the singles!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spinzilla Sunday, in Photos

...and then both my bobbins were full and The Walking Dead was about to come on, so, I had to stop!

Friday, October 10, 2014

I'm Going to Sioux Falls! + Spinzilla, Day 4

Or, rather, coming back to Sioux Falls, and an LYS was a second home to me when I lived there.

When - Saturday, 11/1/14 from noon to 2 p.m. Followed by a book signing until 3.
Where - Athena Fibers, 3915 S. Hawthorne, Sioux Falls, SD. 57105Contact - 605-271-0741. Space is limited, pre-registration is suggested!Price - $40What - Lara’s favorite heels you may not have knit before: Thumb-joint Afterthought, Balbriggan (top down) and Joined Flap (toe up).Students should bring smooth yarn of any weight and needles that work well with that particular yarn. The needles should be the same type that they use to make socks (dpns or circulars). Students will also need a spare circular needle of the same size or smaller than their working needles.

I hope to see you there!

Spinzilla Update

I spun for about an hour and a half last night and almost finished up batt #2. I don't know if I'll get any work done tonight, because we already have our tickets to Dracula Untold. I'm super psyched!

I was going to ply batt 1 and batt 2 together, but now I'm thinking I'll just self-ply both of them. What do you think?
Batt 2

Batt 1

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Spinzilla, Day 3

I started spinning up my second batt. It's a bit larger than the first and is basically lovely blues, whites and a little tan.

I'm not sure how much I spun, but I got more than halfway through it. More tonight! 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Spinzilla Update: The Chaos Art Batt

I studied Physics for four years of college, so I know what Chaos really means.

In this case, it means this art batt. It's lovely, but to enjoy spinning it, I've really had to embrace the chaos. I have control-freak tendencies when it comes to spinning, so I'm making myself have fun with some long draw spinning and let the bumps fall where they may.

It all started on Sunday, when I broke the batt up into fauxlags. My rule to myself: chill out. Let it be what it wants to be. (Beautiful, beautiful chaos.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


The nice folks at Schacht Spindle asked me to join their team this year! And, they asked me some questions about Spinzilla. My answers are over on their blog, but I'm going ahead and putting them here, too.

Why you are doing Spinzilla?
I'm doing Spinzilla this year as a way to kick-start my spinning. It's had to take a real back seat to my knitting and online activities in 2014 since I was finishing my book, Sock Architecture, and, now that it's out, I'm spending a lot of time letting people know about it! Last year, I had a pretty good rhythm going of spinning at least once a week, and I hope this week of really committed spinning will help get me back to that.

What you plan to spin that week?
I know I should spin from my stash, and I guess my most recent purchase counts as stash, since I bought it 6 months ago! It's a gorgeous art batt from a local shepherdess. The colors are kind of autumnal, but there's also some bright pink in there. I can't wait to get it open and see how it spins up.

What do you plan on doing with the yarn you spin?
If I can get a nice worsted-weight yarn out of the batt, and I think I will, I will probably weave it up on my Flip into a scarf. Weaving and handspinning go so well together. I like to knit, mostly, relatively plain yarns. With weaving, I feel I can get a little more "out there". If I don't find the right warp for it, right away, I'll just display it in my home. A lot of my former art batts are now art skeins. They look lovely just resting on a bookshelf.

What do you like about spinning?
It is super-relaxing, but still creative. I avoided spinning for a long time because I thought I wouldn't want to give up my knitting time to do it, but I'm really glad that my friend finally loaned me a wheel and talked me into trying it. When everything is set up just right, and the fiber is just flowing over my fingers like water, that's just heavenly.

What are your thoughts on Spinzilla?
Spinzilla is so much fun because I love seeing what other people are doing with their spinning. Unless you happen to live somewhere that has a spinning group, it's rare to really see other people's work in an up-close-and-personal way. Spinzilla makes it easy to feel really connected to other spinners. There's that competitive aspect to it, too, and I hope I don't let my team down too much! I was a "rogue" spinner last year because I wasn't sure I could really put in the time. I'm still not sure, but I guess I can't resist the invitation to be a part of the team!

Spinzilla Day 1 results: I spun up a whole art batt! More on prep, etc., tomorrow....

Monday, October 06, 2014

An Awesome Hidden Perk of Writing a Knitting Book

I have a legitimate excuse, nay, a responsibility, to visit EVERY single yarn store.

Friday, Dee and I hit the road for scenic Stillwater, MN, to check out Darn. Knit. (Anyway).

Yarn-bombed tree in front of Darn. Knit. (Anyway)

It is such a cute shop! I spoke with one of the owners, Jennifer, and got to browse a bit while she looked at my book. She seemed excited about carrying Sock Architecture in her shop and we talked about scheduling a class or two in a few months. Stay tuned.

The big event was Saturday. We packed up the socks (very light box) and a few cartons of books (VERY heavy box), and headed out to my first official book event, a book signing and trunk show at the extremely charming Northfield Yarn.

I kind of got camnesia inside the shop, but I shot the sign they made out front for me.

They spelled my name right!

But, seriously, someone is really good at drawing books.
A bit of a family thing has come up on the original weekend that I was supposed to teach at Northfield Yarn, but they were nice enough to reschedule. The new date is Sunday, November 9 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The full details are here

The signing was a blast. We laid out all of the socks on the table and chatted. There is something always so nice about being with people who "get" you. One knitter even let me use her hand as a sock model when I was explaining why I love the Balbriggan heel. (I used it in the Boostrap socks.)

There are so many really fun little towns less than an hour's drive from the Twin Cities. If you live in the area and haven't gone exploring - do it! They each have their own characters and great shopping and food to offer. All of those NLYS (Nearly Local Yarn Stores) would love to have you visit. A quarter tank of gas seems like a tiny investment, to me.

Spinzilla - I AM spinning this year. I'll give you some updates starting tomorrow...

Friday, October 03, 2014

Anyone Else Psyched for Spinzilla?

Oh, I REALLY am.

This is not me.
The photo above it from a museum that shall remain nameless because, I guess, it turns out that you're not supposed to take pictures there. Oops. The only information on the wall was "Cherokee Woman with Spinning Wheel." I guess "Badass Cherokee Woman with Awesome Spinning Wheel" was too long. Osiyo to all of our foremothers!

If you don't know what Spinzilla is, but you are a spinner, it's not too late to sign up as a "rogue" spinner. Get thee to the signup!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Good News and Bad News

This morning, I received a wonderful email from someone in the knitting world that I truly admire. She's one of my nine muses of traditional knitting (in no particular order): Meg Swansen, Barbara Walker, Anna Zilboorg, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, June Hemmons Hiatt, Nancy Bush, Elizabeth Zimmermann, Beth Brown-Reinsel and Mary Thomas.

So, I was psyched that she noticed my little efforts and wants a copy of Sock Architecture. But...

The link to buy the book, where she found it, isn't working!

I was warned this might happen, since Cooperative Press is striving to improve every single day. They updated their new shopping cart system just a few days ago, and they've completely reorganized their website. The new site looks great, but old links simply aren't going to work!

Here is the new link. I hope it's permanent!

If you try that link and it doesn't work, try

Of course, you can buy a signed copy from me on my Etsy page, but that doesn't come bundled with the PDF and I have to have the price cover my shipping costs.

Let's Hope the Cookie Is Correct

Why yes, that is a remarkably bad photo. Sorry!

I have final confirmation and pricing! I am teaching Beyond Basic Sock Skills at Linden Yarn & Textiles twice (so, if you came to both classes, you would just get the same information, twice).

Full information is on the Teaching & Travel Schedule page, but you do have to preregister and the cost is $30.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Building Skills

We live just a few blocks from a great bike trail, and earlier this summer, we bought bikes.

I haven't regularly ridden a non-stationary bike in over 20 years, and it's funny how just a little over 3 miles on a "real" bike feels like more effort to me than over 6 miles on the exercise bike in the basement.

The world seems both slower and faster on a bike. There are restaurants and coffee shops that are actually faster to reach from our home on a bike, and on the way we get to enjoy the sight of the creek and watch birds fly overhead.

One thing I've noticed about myself in the last year - I'm kind of a competitive person. I love being really, really good at something. But, I'm also very happy when I'm just starting out and can keep my expectations low. That's where I am on the bike. I'm out of breath. 10 people just passed me on nicer bikes than mine. A little old lady passed me. A teenager is passing me without even steering because he's texting with both hands. (How do they do that?)

Well, so what? I'm better off than I would have been sitting on the couch. Even when I was a sort-of athlete in high school, I got out of breath easily. It's just the way I am. If I keep going, it will be easier next week. If I have to stop for some reason and my fitness level goes down, I'll just start over. I don't have to be great at this, it's just for me and I enjoy it. There are not a lot of areas in life that are that low-stress, and I cherish it!