Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fiber Fest Teacher Feature: Melissa Leapman

We're pleased as punch to have Melissa Leapman teaching two classes for us this year!

Melissa taught herself how to knit when she was in high school. "Amazing, isn't it, how I've written 16 knitting books in just five years, right?" she joked, with a saucy grin. We're certainly impressed...and she doesn't look a day over 21.


She loves working on books but it gets to be a struggle near the end. "I think every author curses towards the end of the process of writing a book, and usually the last project I design for each book is the toughest for me to finish," Melissa said. "I'm always torn between wanting to finish it up quickly to get it off my desk and slow the pace down to savor the final moments." But at least she gets to work with some really fantastic yarn while she's writing! "Usually, my favorite yarns are the ones made by the yarn company I'm currently designing for," she told us.

Melissa also loves knitting in public. "I love to knit on airplanes. It's the only time I'm literally tied to a chair with no excuse to stop knitting to do something else!" she laughed. She and Steven have a common knitting in public location, too. "I've knitted while on a jeep on safari in Zuzuland," said Melissa. Knitting safaris are the best kind of safaris.

Sign up for Melissa's classes before they fill!
Friday, April 26th, 2p-5p @ StevenBe: Two Color Double Knitting
Sunday, April 28th, 10a-1p @ StevenBe: Flatter Yourself

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

For Your Review: Fiber Trends Sock Blockers

I don't know why they call them sock blockers. I use them as sock dryers, since they make socks dry so much faster than leaving them on a towel. But, I guess that doesn't sound as good.

Anyway, I love the Fiber Trends blockers because they are made in the USA, come in sizes, and have a slightly rough texture on their outer edges to really hold socks to a certain length.

Plus, they're a great color and will never splinter or warp.

How do you dry your socks?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Show and Tell: Throws!

Natacha B (Nattybraz on Ravelry) wrote in about two awesome throws she knit out of Loopy Mango Big Loop Merino (grey and ivory).

This is what she had to say about it: 

It was a really fun project! I bought the yarn in NYC at the actual store - I loved the look of this ultra bulky yarn and it’s very soft to the touch. 

It was strange knitting with size US50 needles and my friends got a real kick out of it! The best part… Less than 3 hours work = satisfaction. 
When I knit the first throw, I had to start over a few times because I was knitting too tightly! The secret to this project is to knit VERY loosely - I mean no pulling at all!
Thanks, Natacha! They look so cozy.
Photos are from Natacha's Ravelry page, and are used with her permission.
Want to share your story? Email me at jessie at stevenbe dot com.
Want to buy something you read about here? Call us! 612-259-7525.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fiber Fest Teacher Feature: Franklin Habit

We're delighted to have Franklin Habit teaching two fantastic (and incredibly helpful) classes for us during Fiber Fest this year!

Franklin is largely a self-taught knitter, we discovered. "I learned the long tail cast on from a classmate during my senior year of college, when I was supposed to be studying for exams," he said. (We call that "procrastiknitting," Franklin, and we're very familiar with it!) His classmate got tired of teaching, though, and he had to turn to books to teach himself the rest.

He does an amazing job taking vintage patterns and reworking them for modern knitters. Some of our favorites are Summer Neckerchief (1843) and Miss Lambert's Lace Sampler. Franklin's current project, a 1915 men's sweater, has been the bane of his existence. "It has been pulled back twice already, and may have to be pulled back to the beginning again," he explained, "And I am three-quarters of the way through it." We can't wait to see it finished--and neither can he!

When we asked Franklin about his current knitting celebrity crush, he was coy with us. "The terms of the settlement forbid my mentioning the name in a public form," he quipped. Yarn, however, can't get a restraining order so he felt free to share this week's favorites with us:
Cascade 220 Sport (we have a rainbow of colors of the superwash)
Jamieson and Smith Shetland Jumper Weight
Lopi Einband
Madelinetosh Vintage (we just got a huge shipment of this fantastic yarn yesterday!)
Zitron Lifestyle from Skacel

Franklin is just like us in his love for knitting in public. His favorite place to KIP is Green Park in London. "Very comfortable, very beautiful, and when it starts to rain you can take refuge in one of the hotel bars on Park Lane," he reminisced. The strangest place he's knit in public was "the set of a porn movie." With an answer like that, we had to know: what was he knitting? "A Baby Surprise Jacket. No, I am not kidding," he laughed.

Sign up for Franklin's classes today!
Sunday, April 28th, 10am-1pm @ StevenBe: History, Methods, and Styles of Knitting
Sunday, April 28th, 2pm-5pm @ StevenBe: Photographing Your Fiber

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

For Your Review: A Swift!

My friend pointed out that her new ball winder wouldn't be very useful without a swift, which she already had.

I love this wood, tabletop version, because it can be used both to unwind skeins of yarn into cakes and wind yarn into skeins off of, say, a spinning wheel.

Also, it's pretty! And, when you're not using it, you can take it apart, so it stores really easily. 

My first swift was an umbrella-style one that had to be clamped to a table. I like this one a lot more because, well, it looks nicer and works just as well. Also I'm less likely to pop myself in the mouth with it, as I have done with the umbrella one, before. 

What's your favorite knitting/spinning tool?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Show and Tell: Art Yarns Mixing It Up!

This piece was knit with:
Feza- Chanel
Malabrigo- Rasta
Steven Be- Exclusive Handspun Feather Yarn
Prism- Plume
Fringe- Raw Silk

On size 13 knitting needles.

This is a simple slant scarf achieved by adding a stitch to the beginning of every right side row, and knitting two together at the end of every right side row. Wrong side rows are just knit across.

I knit between 6 and 10 rows of each yarn before changing to a new yarn.

Using different-weight yarns can feel uncomfortable to knitters, but I feel it opens the door to unique beauty and individual creativity.

The decision to change was based on yardage and how much the individual yarns stood out against the others. I wanted the stripes to look fairly similar, while allowing the thinner yarns a space to show without losing their shape.

- Jenn Weidner
J. Rae Fashion

Want to buy something you read about here? Call us! 612-259-7525.

Thanks for sharing, Jenn!

Want to share your story? Email me at jessie at stevenbe dot com.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fiber Fest Teacher Feature: Mary Scott Huff

We're so excited to be hosting Mary Scott Huff, author of Learn to Knit Visually: Color Knitting, for Fiber Fest this year! She's a rock star teacher and her book is the first one we put in the hands of anyone interested in learning colorwork.

Mary Scott Huff, working with color!

Mary's mother taught her to knit when she was young. "I used to climb trees and knit sitting on a branch," she reminisced. She stopped knitting for about 20 years but picked it back up when she was pregnant for the first time. "I got tactile, rather than food cravings," Mary explained.

Every knitter has something that trips them up, and Mary's is a common issue: she always runs out of yarn! "That's what they'll put on my tombstone," she laughed, "'Failed to Estimate Yardage Correctly.'" Steven recommends that you always pick up that extra skein!

Getting her daily dose of fiber!

All knitters know that it's hard to stop working on a project, no matter where we are and sometimes we don't realize that it may look a little odd to other people. When we asked Mary about the strangest place she's ever knit, she had to consult her family. "While playing miniature golf," she said, "Also, I freaked out my seatmate by drop-spindling on an airplane once."  

We love spreading the word by knitting in public and so does Mary! Her favorite place to knit in public is "the ice rink where my kids practice, because all the little kids are fascinated by it and fearless about asking questions."

As accomplished a knitter as she is, Mary has great aspirations. "I want to be [Kate Davies] when I grow up," she told us. With Kate's fantastic colorwork and adorable cabled owls, her patterns are fun to look at and fun to knit! As for us, we want to be Mary when we grow up--write about knitting and then ride off into the sunset on our motorcycles.
Here is Mary's Fiber Fest class--click to register before it fills!
Friday, April 26th @ StevenBe, 10am-1pm: 2 Strings = Not Scary!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

For Your Review: Ball Winder by Royal

A friend of mine, who has been knitting for YEARS, finally picked up a ball winder.

For those of you who haven't used one, they help turn a skein of yarn into a little yarn cake. It stays neat in your knitting bag and you can pull the yarn from the center of the ball, so that your cat isn't as tempted to try to fish the thing out.

I love mine and consider it absolutely needed knitting equipment. The plastic model here may not look like much, but we use ours daily in the shop, so you know it will hold up to one knitter's use.

Winding by hand is nice and all, but I'd rather be knitting! What do you consider your basic knitting tools? Yarn, needles, darning needles, ball winder, swift....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Paris Yarn Show Photos!

Nadine and Steven had a great day at the Paris Yarn Show…L’aiguille en fete!

I love this version of the hairpin lace crochet jacket. I want to teach a class on this!

Katia had some amazing looks. Great to see all the samples made up that we don’t see in the U.S.

Some of the brands and even some of the yarns we carry at StevenBe and the Yarn Garage.

Indescribable art in crochet!

The gallery of design students exhibiting.

The crochet gallery was amazing. All their crochet work was on par with knitting.

Cocktail dress, anyone?

Over the top creations that I would be proud to own.

Dip dye is a trend of the season everywhere, and you know how I love chunky cables.

Mohair makes a bold statement in this halter.

Technique fusion, crochet and knit in one look.

The fashion show was a jam. So much fun and energetic. Not a word was spoken only music and dance.

Red carpet runway looks!

The best felted cake I have ever seen. You know our motto is BE SWEET!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Show and Tell: Radiance Shawlette

Bonnie (Bonicita on Ravelry) made a Radiance Shawlette using 1 skein of lovely, bright Knitwhits Freia Handpaints Freia Ombré Sport.

She had this to say about it.

I think my favorite thing about this project was watching the colors change. I really loved working with the Freia Fibers and can’t wait to do another project with this yarn. The pattern itself is very simple and easy to follow and was very nicely written. I love those one skein wonders and this one certainly did not disappoint.

I suppose my one bit of advice is that if you use the Freia Ombré like the pattern suggests, trust the yarn! You will think you’re going to run out but you won’t! Assuming you’ve followed gauge :)

Also, you have to block this project -- there’s just no way around it.

Gorgeous, Bonnie! Thanks for sharing.

The photo is from Bonnie's Ravelry page, and is used with her permission.

Want to share your story? Email me at jessie at stevenbe dot com.

Want to buy something you read about here? Call us! 612-259-7525.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fiber Fest Teacher Feature: Stephen West

We're thrilled to be hosting Stephen West for Fiber Fest 2013! We're looking forward to his classes with Ragga--Steven spent some time with them in Amsterdam last month, so we know we're in for some big fun!
Ragga, Stephen, and Steven knitting in public!
Stephen first learned to knit when he was a sophomore in high school. "I did a lot of musical theater and many of my friends were crafty, so I asked them to show me backstage during a rehearsal for Once on this Island," says Stephen. We all admire his designs and beautiful stitches now but was he an immediate knitting prodigy? "It was a disaster," he laughed, "but it was enough to get me interested and I later bought a book and yarn from Michael's to teach myself more." He's designed some remarkable pieces since then, some of our favorites being Earth & Sky, Vulpix, and the Moose River cowl, samples of which you can see at StevenBe.

One of our favorite things that Stephen does is his YouTube channel, Places Where You Can Knit. You can check out his fabulous video about knitting in Reykjavik here. The strangest place he's ever knit? A lava field in Iceland! Stephen also loves knitting on trains and planes because "I'm forced to sit down and I can't escape so I always get a lot of knitting done."

Stephen knits at the Eiffel Tower!
We all have projects that were less than successful and Stephen is no exception. "One of the first sweaters I made was a raglan style pullover that I tried to make up without swatching or measuring," he confessed. "I didn't try it on until the whole body and yoke were knit and the bottom was fitted, but the yoke was 8 sizes too big." He has, of course, mastered the sweater since then, as you can see in his marvelous Vaila pullover on Ravelry.

Stephen's worked with fibers galore but his current favorites are Malabrigo Finito (which we carry!), Quince & Co. Puffin, Brooklyn Tweed SHELTER, Still River Mill Harmony, and Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk (one of our favorites, too!). For one of his more unusual projects, Stephen knit with strips of plastic bags. "The finished result was beautiful for a gallery exhibit, but the process was laborious and slow," he told us, because the plastic "was so sticky and difficult to work with." Sometimes it's more about the product than the process!

Here are Stephen's Fiber Fest classes, click to register before they're full!
Thursday, April 25th, 10am-1pm @ StevenBe: Top Down Shawl Tips & Tricks
Thursday, April 25th, 2pm-5pm @ StevenBe: Trunk Show & Lecture with Ragga & Stephen West
Friday, April 26th, 10am-1pm @ Yarn Garage: Mixology with RaggaWest
Monday, April 29th, 10am-1pm @ StevenBe: RaggaWest Party Tricks for Knitters

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

For Your Review: New Sock Needles!

I just picked up some Hiya Hiya double-pointed needles and I love them! They are only 6 inches long - perfect for socks. They are the first stainless steel needles I've ever had. They are super light and smooth! My stitches are just flying. The brand name and size are printed on the sides of the needles. In my experience, that doesn't last forever, but it's still a nice feature.

The tips are pointy enough for decreases, but don't make me fear for my life, which is always a good thing. These are size 1's - I need some size 2's, as well.

What are your very favorite needles for socks? I feel like I'm old-fashioned for still loving double-points, but I can't help it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Travels: SoBeit….

SoBeit….Bought their amazing candle moldings for our new lifestyle shop!

Their space was amazing. Sobeit designs.

Here is the candle display. There are so cool. You know Tren is going to want the camera candle. Wait til you see them.

This is the future feel of StevenBe Loft!

The Conceirge desk.

I want this set up….upstairs as part of the Loft.

Nadine posing.

The candles we chose to export. They are mind blowing.
Love the skull lamp. We will zoom around on little scooters like this.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Show and Tell: Paulina Sweater

Dudine on Ravelry (she prefers to keep her "real" name private) made a lovely Paulina Sweater with Habu Textiles A-174 1/8.5 Cotton Gima.

She had this to say about it.

Favorite parts: great outcome without having to think much. Quick. Good project for a hot summer: no wool in your lap. A bit of modesty for all my sleeveless tops.

Absolute favorite: The first time I wore it was to a wedding. Within 5 minutes of arriving, someone asked me where they could buy it!

Advice to a friend: Do it! A very satisfying project.

Sooooo pretty! Thanks, Dudine!

The photo is from her Ravelry page, and is used with her permission.

Want to share your story? Email me at jessie at stevenbe dot com.

Want to buy something you read about here? Call us! 612-259-7525.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A great event in Cape Town, South Africa!

The opening night party of Design indaba. Check out the gig here….. Afternoon cocktails on lawn beanbags. In the background the bar is set up in and old freight forwarding container from the bay.

The DJ is everywhere. Saw this all over Amsterdam too. The clothing shops, restaurants/coffee shops all had DJ’s. Gives a fun funk vibe to any event. I think we should institute a jazz/Frank Sinatra DJ Sat. evenings at StevenBe.

This is the main stage of the event. Friday we are full on Indaba conference. We have lectures all day and Expo market on Saturday. What an amazing inspirational event.