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Crazy for Ewe

Marvelous Mittens

Mittens are a terrific little project - small, portable, and full of learning opportunities. This particular pattern is really a gauntlet with a flared cuff that transitions into ribbing around the wrist.  That cuff is not only attractive but functional.  The flare helps block cold air from going up your coat sleeve, so you stay nice and toasty

The pattern is written for lots of sizes, so you can work a pair for every member of your family.  It's also ambidextrous, so either mitten fits either hand.  I often knit mittens in sets of three, just in case one gets lost, which it almost always does! 

This is a fun class - two sessions, and you can easily finish the pair in that time.  This class is a great introduction to lots of useful skills including knitting in the round in a small circumference, paired increases, paired decreases, picking up stitches, and more. 

We'll be using a beautiful new worsted blend of merino, alpaca, and silk.  Very cozy and soft.  Sign up here, because it's going to be a very cold winter!  

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Stash class fun

Wow - Sunday's Stash Class was so much fun!  I was expecting boxes and boxes of everyone's stash.  I brought mine in just so no one would feel bad!  

It was interesting.  You know, everyone has her own comfort level with stash.  For some people, a few leftover partial skeins and 6 or so skeins of sock yarn is stressful.  For others, like me, a healthy stash is kind of a comfort.  I think a great yarn stash is like a well-stocked pantry.  You need to have plenty of staples on hand so that you can whip up whatever you want whenever you want to.  Personally, I also want to have plenty of random fun and interesting things to inspire magnificent creations.    In your pantry, those special things might be preserved lemons,  artichoke bruschetta topping, or hand-made lemon basil pasta.  In your stash, it's those spectacular hand-dyes in colors you just couldn't resist, sparkly things (of course), and stuff with great texture that is just interesting and special.  A whole sweater out of these special gems might be overwhelming, but just a touch is exactly what you need get your creative juices flowing. 

Everyone was surprised in the class yesterday to see how those random multicolored skeins provided the unifying force that brought all the other yarns into place and made them play well together.  Students learned that yarns with unusual texture add depth to a fabric - a touch of whimsy and interest.  All in all, the students agreed that this class was really empowering  Join us for our next session Sunday, February 8th because you will have fun and learn a ton!  

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Talking about stash

In this week's newsletter I give you my own definition of stash as well as a peak at some of my own stash. 


As you can see, it's kind of a mess.  I'm constantly pulling out bits of this and that to see if they work together.  It's the primordial soup of a creative knitting project, and that's okay with me. 

 Here's a look at some of my yarn that I don't consider stash. 

See how neatly (relatively) these skeins stored.  I never pull them out and throw a skein on top of a pile of other yarns because these yarns are already slated for a particular project.  That bag of pale blue merino is going to be a cardigan by Kim Hargreaves.  The aqua Touch Me, an entrelac top - the Rowan Tapestry a throw for my bedroom.  I'm not sure what the pink and cream fingering weight cashmere is going to be, but you can bet your life it's not going to get thrown into the knitting equivalent of a stew pot. 

Personally, I find sorting and sifting and combining and refining my stash thrilling.  So many potential projects in there.  The hardest part is choosing just one.  If you'd like to spend a fun Sunday afternoon playing with your stash and learning how to turn a few bits of this and that into a fiber masterpiece, join us!  You'll be so glad you did! 

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Info for the Chris Bylsma class


Just a quick reminder - If you signed up for the Chris Bylsma class this weekend, it's 10-5 tomorrow at the La Plata shop and 10-5 Sunday at the Leonardtown shop.   Bring your stash of multi-colored sock yarns, and any lace weight you may have.  Bring a range of needle sizes from US 6 to US 9.  If you don't have a stash of yarns,not to worry, we have plenty here ;-)   Lunch is provided.

If you haven't signed up yet, there is still a little room.  Send me an email or call the shop.

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Later that same trip

The second day of that workshop was on the Symphony jacket and creating a beautiful fabric by blending yarns. Combining yarns is one of Chris' passions, and it really is a fun creative outlet. There was also a section on playing with bits of this and that to create a kind of fabric fringe that adorns her latest Chanel-inspired jacket, Paging Coco. Chris will be sharing many of these techniques during the upcoming workshop, so you don't want to miss it.

in high energy mode 

Swatching for a Symphony 

Playing with fabric 

Another Symphony to be 

Creating textural fabric
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Chris' first visit to Crazy for Ewe

I was looking over some photos of previous classes we'd had with Chris, and decided to share them with you. Chris' first visit was in 2007, when she came to teach finishing and edgings. First was seaming techniques, picking up stitches, and more. She is very much a hands-on teacher who really engages with her students.

Chris and Amanda    DSCN1620


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Chris Bylsma - designer for the way we live

I've just posted the Chris Bylsma classes on the website, so registration is open!  The classes will be taught at the shop - Saturday in La Plata, and Sunday in Leonardtown.

Chris in Interlude
Chris in Interlude


It's been a while since Chris has been able to visit us, and I have missed hosting her.  She is a lovely person inside and out, and it's always a pleasure to see her.  Although you've all seen and admired her designs in the shop, if you're new to Crazy for Ewe, you may not have had the opportunity to take a class with her. So, let me take a minute to introduce Chris, and tell you why I like her so much.

As a designer, Chris is talented and unpretentious - her garments are a perfect match for the Crazy for Ewe knitter -- she deigns for the way we live.  Her garments are stylish without being trendy - chic without being fussy or pretentious.  They are your BFF garments.  You know, the garments you reach for time and time again because they're attractive and great-fitting, and they're easy to wear.  Chris Bylsma garments are wonderful wardrobe items that become an essential part of your life.

Being wardrobe essentials, does not mean that they're plain or boring.  Chris' designs are full of beautiful chic details that make them a special.  The effect is not one that shouts "Hey, look at me."  It's more the quiet confidence that comes with any well-tailored piece of clothing.  They are very much at home in every situation - professional, casual, or dressy situations.  They just work.  I have knit nearly a dozen of Chris' designs, and I wear them often.  Every time I wear one of Chris' designs, people compliment it.  It's not just knitters either -- ordinary people who simply admire the garment always ask me about it.

We all appreciate these details - who doesn't want to look pulled together and  polished?  As a knitter, however, I especially appreciate how easy Chris makes it to get that effect.  She's all about making it easy and accessible.  Special techniques like pockets, trim, edgings, and interior structural elements - Chris makes them all easy and available for you to incorporate into any garment you knit.  It's a day of creative color play and technique development.  You'll learn something useful, regardless of how long you've been knitting, and I guarantee, you'll have fun.

Registration is now open, and class size is limited.  I encourage you to sign up now, because you don't want to miss out!  Call either shop to register  301-475-2744 or 240-349-2853

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Reading your Knitting

This week in the newsletter, I encourage you to take the Reading Your Knitting class this weekend.  It is so empowering to truly understand not only what happens to your fabric, but why.  I am big into the why of things.  As a little girl, I always hated that ubiquitous adult rejoinder, "Because I said so!"  As if I wasn't smart enough for the reason.  If a kid is smart enough to argue with you, she is smart enough to deserve an honest explanation.  Most knitting patterns don't have room to explain the why of every direction, but assume a certain level of confidence.  As a new knitter, I followed patterns exactly as they were written - I didn't know any better.  Good patterns helped develop my arsenal of effective techniques, and poor patterns showed me what not to do - after it was too late, of course.  What a painful and frustrating way to learn!  How I wish there had been a resource like Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch and The Purl Stitch when I was learning.  I love Sally's approach to knitting - she always tells you why!  Her books are a perfect marriage of pattern, teaching, and resource.  She gives you a terrific pattern, shows you all the techniques you'll need to follow it, and explains how each thing you're doing affects the outcome.

In our classes we use the same approach.  We focus on teaching you the skills you need, but also on why certain things are done certain ways.  This approach allows you to extrapolate and apply what you learn to a variety of situations.  We want to give you the confidence to decide that "Because I said so,"  is simply not a good enough reason, and the power to choose the path you like for the results you want.

Sound intriguing?  Here are the details about the class in La Plata and Leonardtown.  Hope to see you there.

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Bedouin Bag

Zipping along on my Bedouin Bag-it's such an easy and relaxing knit. Worked a 13 round repeat last night so I'm nearly half finished.

So many people have fallen for this fantastic project that I have to order more handles! It's not too late to get on board-if you'd like to get started come by the shop this week and choose your color of Shepherd's Wool and we'll order you one of Jul's gorgeous handles. You can have it by the end of the week!

I cannot wait to finish mine-in fact, I've already picked a color for my next one. Since you can move the handles from bag to bag, I think I need a whole wardrobe of bags!!!

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Reading your Knitting

What does it mean to be able to read your knitting, and why is it important?  Reading your knitting is the ability to look at a piece of knitted fabric and determine exactly what happened on the needles to produce that fabric.  This is an important skill for lots of reasons.  How many times have you been in the middle of a project, put it down, and then wondered where in the devil you were in the pattern?  Have you ever been watching a movie and forgotten to advance your row counter and wondered how many rows you’d worked since that last decrease?   Then there’s all that looking at what you’ve done, knowing you’ve made a mistake, and wondering what it was you did and how to fix it.  Honestly, how can you fix a mistake if you don’t even know what you’ve done wrong! 

Maybe you never make mistakes and you never stop without writing down exactly where you are in the pattern.  Good for you.  But let’s say you changed your pattern slightly on the back to better fit you.  Of course, you meticulously wrote down every change you made so that you’d know just what to do on the front.  But what if you're knitting one afternoon, and your knitting BFF spills her coffeeonto your paper and destroys your notes.  How will you ever figure out what you did?  Well, if you knew how to read your knitting, you’d know exactly what you did on the back and could easily duplicate it. 

In our Reading your Knitting class, you'll learn how to look at your knitting and see and understand what you have done – right or wrong.  If you can see what you’ve done correctly, then you can easily repeat it for the other side of your jacket, the second sleeve, or the next time you make that garment.  If you have made a mistake, it’s essential that you be able to identify exactly what the problem is before you can correct it! 

This class will help you answer these and many other questions we all have when we look at our knitting:

1.    How many rows have I knitted
2.    Am I supposed to knit or purl this next stitch/row
3.    How many increases/decreases did I do?
4.    Where did I make my increase/decrease?
5.    What kind of increase/decrease did I use here?
6.    How many rows are there between my increases/decreases?
7.    Why is there a hole in my knitting? – Is that a dropped stitch?
8.    Why does this stitch look so long and loose?
9.    Why are these stitches twisted?
10.   How many stitches have I bound off?
11.   and my favorite - This looks really wonky – what did I do?

When you’ve completed this class, you will truly understand your knitted fabric, and you will be able to answer all of those questions listed above.  Additionally, you’ll be able to un-knit correctly stitch by stitch or rip back several rows and still getting your stitches safely back on the needle.

Saturday, February 2nd in La Plata and Sunday, February 10th in Leonardtown 12-3.  Call the shop to register.  

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