Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Congratulations, Jennifer T.! You're the winner of two fabulous skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in Steven! It's squishy soft and I know you're looking for another project. Come on in and we'll check out Ravelry and see what you can make!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Handpainted Yarn Mania!

My name is Bridget and I am a handpainted yarn addict. When I see the colors that these dyers create, I get chills down my spine and I must have them now. I have probably used this same logic to enable you: if you see a color you love, you need to get it now because the next dye lot will probably be wildly different. Here are just a few of my favorite color magicians:


Take a squishy soft merino wool base, then apply vibrant colors that knit up into a wild mish-mash of delightful color and just try to keep it off my needles. Just try. Rios is their superwash and it's perfectly lovely and my pick for baby knits but my heart belongs to Worsted--it's a single-ply, lofty and squishable.

Wild Hare Fiber Studio:
My love for Wild Hare is not just because Melissa, the owner/dyer, is so much fun to work with and understands us so well. It's because she creates these fantastic color combinations (animal prints, even!) on yarn that feels nice on the hands and works up into a wonderfully soft and drapey fabric. But also, she gets us--Melissa created yarn for me inspired by Firefly, one of my favorite sci-fi shows, based on some images and my obsessive colored pencil shadings.
Gotta love someone who gets you!

 Dragonfly Fibers:

Dragonfly does these marvelously deep colors and then dusts over many of them with this smokey  haze of black. I find that the haze doesn't hide their intensity but draws it out in those little portions where it peeks through. We have two of their fingering weight bases, Djinni Sock and Pixie Skein--Djinni is fabulous for socks and single ply Pixie is awesome for shawls.

Smooth, beautiful handpainted gradients on lovely wool base yarns. Freia is my absolute go-to yarn for Stephen West's Spectra--I made mine using the lovely single ply Sport with Lorna's Laces Sportmate and I adore it.

Three Irish Girls:

 I'm an Irish girl so it only makes sense that I'd be partial to other Irish girls, especially the yarny ones. I love their color combinations and the distribution of those colors. Ordering from them and staying within budget is one of the hardest parts of my job (and yet still one of the most pleasurable). Plus, they do a lot of really fantastic exclusive colors for us.

There are so many really amazing hand-dyers out there and I love discovering them (or having them brought to my attention). To ring in my first guest blog here in true StevenBe-meets-DrawFour fashion, I'm doing a giveaway! Hurrah!

Enter to win the two squishy skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in exclusive Steven by commenting here and answering this question: if you were a handpainted yarn, what colors would you be? (Imaginary bonus points if you tell me your fiber content, too.) The winner will be chosen by random number generator on Sunday the 15th!

Bridget (DrawFour Designs) signing out!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

For Your Review: Bobbin Winder

Winding bobbins by hand is kind of like winding yarn into balls for knitting - it’s possible to do it without one, but it’s a lot faster when you have the right tools. There’s a great video from The Woolery about how to wind a bobbin.

You SHOULD practice this, though. The person in the video makes this look really easy, but it’s harder than it looks, at least for me! So far, no weaving mishaps have happened because my bobbin wasn’t perfect, but I still wish I were better at it.

I wind as many bobbins worth of yarn as I think I will need before I start weaving, but it’s no big deal to jump up and wind some more if I run out. It creates a small break in the weaving - I probably should stop and stretch my legs every once in awhile, anyway!

If you're a spinner who doesn't weave, you might still want to consider buying a bobbin winder. They're great for winding storage or plying bobbins!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Show and Tell: Crown Jewel Hat

63Stella on Ravelry made a Crown Jewel hat out of 2 skeins of Plymouth Yarn's Gina.

This is what she had to say about it:

I did this project as a tester and it’s a quick easy knit. I checked my notes and next time I am going do the bobbles thicker so they stand out more. Also I would buy an extra skein of yarn so I can “pick out” colors if I use the Plymouth Gina again.

Thanks for sharing, Stella! Photo is used with her permission.

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

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

For Your Review: Mini Boat Shuttle

The 9-inch mini boat shuttle was my first shuttle purchase. The wood is so smooth! It really just feels so nice in my hand, I can’t believe it. I bought 10 bobbins for it. The little plastic bobbins for shuttles are really inexpensive, so there’s no excuse for not having a bunch of them.

Bobbins come in different lengths - make sure the ones you buy fit your shuttle!
With stick shuttles, I sometimes snag the warp yarn as I weave. This basically never happens with a boat shuttle. Plus, if I work carefully, I can use more of the warp with a boat shuttle than with a stick shuttle. I can tuck the nose of the shuttle into small and strange sheds. For thinner yarns, like sock yarns, it works great! It takes a little practice to get the hang of it, and I always end up winding more bobbins than I think I needed, but I really like it.

I should back up - boat shuttles hold bobbins, which are just little plastic spools that hold yarn. You can wind bobbins by hand or you can use a bobbin winder. Winding by hand takes no more time than winding a stick shuttle, so until you’re ready to get a winder, you can just work with your fingers.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Show and Tell: Sprout Blanket

Jill (sheepish1too on Ravelry) made a Sprout Blanket out of 5 skeins of Spud & Chloë Sweater.

This is what she had to say about it:

Gauge is important to make the leaves pop out properly. I am actually making another Sprout now for friend and I am going down a needle size due to my loose gauge to help make the leaves pop more. So you may want to consider doing a gauge swatch.

Decide how much yarn you will need. It is easy to modify this pattern and make it bigger; this will require more yarn. The chart at the top is larger than the beginning and center charts so take that in to account for yarn quantity also.

A friend of mine also made this (RavID: Lightning) and noted some errata so adjust your pattern accordingly. The notes on her project were very helpful!

Look through others’ project pages to see what yarn was used to help you decide what to use. I really like the look of the Spud & Chloe yarn. It has the structure to make the leaves stand out. I also recommend a solid color over instead of variegation for the same reason.

I wrote out the charts as I was having trouble reading it while knitting.

Use stitch markers between each chart and to remind you to do 9 stitches of garter on each end of the blanket.

This is a really nice pattern that isn’t boring to knit but also isn’t terribly complicated, and the result is absolutely beautiful!

Thanks for sharing, Jill! Photo is used with her permission.

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

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