Meet Lauren:

LaurenI’ve been working at Over the Rainbow Yarn since January of 2015, but I’ve been a loyal fan since the early days. I am an avid crafter with a fervent wish to collect all of the craft skills (except perhaps the messy ones…). I am hopelessly obsessed with adorable things. To name a few of my favorite things in life: vintage dresses, polka dots, pastel colors, picot edging, cupcakes, and kittens.

I was inspired to learn to crochet when my husband and I received a beautiful hand-crocheted doily as a housewarming gift, upon my move to Maine in 2011. Knitting is a relatively new addition to my repertoire, but it is my dearest crafting love of late, and I consider myself a very competent knitter.

My favorite way to make things is by experimenting. I find crafting fulfilling because it is an opportunity to invent things, and to see my whimsies become physical things. So, I dabble in knit and crochet design on the fly. I intend to write patterns for my more successful experiments ASAP! Sometimes I fail completely, but that’s ok. It’s only yarn.

Here are Over the Rainbow Yarn, I am in charge of maintaining the website; I write the weekly newsletter; and I seek graphic design opportunities everywhere I look. Have you ever noticed our store signage? I made that. I also take a lot of photos for our social media pages.

Lauren’s Latest Blog Posts:


Knits for Forest Elves

Actually I bought two yarn duos, but the nature tones on the left spoke to me first.

During our recent sale I scooped up a pair of pretty skeins that sparked my imagination with images of woodland elves. On their own, these two didn’t call out to me, but paired together with a pom pom on top, they were magic. I’m always picking up pairs of yarns that look like they belong together. I feel like a professional matchmaker for yarns. Just let me know if you ever need my services in that department.

This weekend and early this week, I knit furiously as usual. I went on a hat-making spree, also as usual. Finished that striped hat I started last week. Finished a surprise hat for my sister, Mollie. Finished a new Mock Rib Watch Cap in Galway Worsted for the shop. Finished a few crocheted flower pins to decorate my hats.

Ok, we all know how awkward selfies are, but I know I prefer to see hats on actual heads.

But best of all, I finished my very own forest elf hat that I’ve been wearing for three straight days now. And a pair of matching boot cuffs to use up the leftover yarn. I can’t be the only one who wears freshly knit items for days on end, right? I am so tickled by the little leaves on the ends, and the confluence of the colors and the style, and the realistic faux fur pom pom on top, and the fact that the moss stitch looks like actual moss when knit in a mossy green.

I don’t have a pattern for my hat or matching boot cuffs. Should I write one? Anyway, in case you also want to feel like a forest elf (not a Christmas elf),  I just went perusing on Ravelry for lovely little things that fit the bill. I even found an elven leaf pussy hat. It’s all about the nature tones, the variable nubbly textures, and the leaf and vine motifs. Here are a few of my favorites. Tiny Owl Knits in particular is a gem for knit designs that will make you feel like an elf or a fairy or an otherwise sweet, magical creature from a fantasy universe.

Click the links in the captions to see these patterns on Ravelry.

Snow Day Knitting and the Jogless Jog

The Jogless Jog: Somehow I haven’t had the occasion to use this delightful technique until yesterday, when I found myself without a project to knit during the epic Winter Storm Stella. We had to close the shop early, and there I was with all kinds of time on my hands and a warm, fuzzy feeling resulting from the gratitude I always feel to have a roof over my head when the weather is bad (and also from the space heater that I practically snuggle with in my living room). We’re lucky to be knitters on snowy days, because knitting is the natural thing for a knitter to do while hunkering down at home.

I’ve been on a bright and cheery color kick. I just finished the Hanasaku Cowl in a rainbow of purples, greens, blues and pinks and the Rainbow Warrior Shawl in hot pink and speckled turquoise. I was in the mood for this Malabrigo Worsted skein in bright plum purple. But never one to be satisfied with one single color, I decided to combine it with a bit of leftover cream-toned Cascade Eco-Duo I had lying around. Who knows where inspiration comes from? I just cast on some stitches and began knitting a hat with a hemmed edge and skinny stripes and hopefully a beret-like fit.

The only trouble with stripes in a circular-knit project is that they typically don’t line up at the beginning of the round. There’s a visible jog in the pattern. When you’re knitting around in a spiral and you switch colors, the very last stitch of the row will be basically on top of the very first stitch. One solution, of course, would be to knit all striped objects flat, then seam them with the mattress stitch. This can result in perfectly aligned stripes. But, my friends, there is a better way!

This is how it looks when you lift the stitch below up and put it onto the left needle.

Here’s how to do the Jogless Jog. It could hardly be simpler.

First, Introduce your new color and knit all the way around. No funny business. Just knit a round.

Second, when you are ready to knit the first stitch of the next row, use your right needle to lift the stitch below (which you knit in the previous color) up onto the left needle and then knit it together with the stitch.

Do this every time you switch to a new color. Not every row, just every first row of a new color.

This is how it looks on the inside. See how the end of the row shifts?

 

That’s it! it’s like a miracle – you can’t even tell where the end of the row is. By the way, the end of the row will naturally shift one stitch to the left every time you do this. It’s ok. Just go with it. You never need to hesitate about knitting stripes in the round again!

Some other things that might interest you:

 

Conchos, Swonchos and Sharfs

You can be sure that knitters will always find infinitely creative ways to put knitted things on their bodies. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m caught knitting and it leads to the inevitable ice breaker, “what are you working on?”, I’m not even sure what to say. 

Sometimes, I don’t even know what to call the thing! Usually, it’s a thing that goes around the neck. Naturally, the neck is the prime location for both exhibiting your handiwork to the world and relishing the luscious feel of soft yarn. Is it a cowl, a cape, a capelet, a shawl, a shawlette, a scarf, a snood, or a poncho?

I recently added a few new words to my vocabulary. Allow me to share them with you!

1. Concho: For the cowl that begins to drape over the shoulders; for when you’re not sure if it’s a cowl or a poncho.

2. Swoncho: For the poncho with a hint of sleeve; is it a sweater or a poncho?

3. Sharf: For the long, skinny shawl that’s basically a scarf; it just happens to be a bit wider in the middle.

May your knitting life be enriched by these silly, curiously useful words.

NETA Spa, Knit & Spin

When I first heard of it, I was reluctant and frankly a bit confused about this event. First of all, it’s often referred to as “NETA SPA” or even just “SPA”, which doesn’t really clarify anything about it. NETA stands for New England Textile Arts, and while I initially thought SPA was an abbreviation as well, it turns out it’s just a reference to an actual spa, as in a place one goes to relax and get away from it all. The full name of this event is “NETA Spa, Knit, and Spin”. I was a little concerned that it would be an insiders-only kind of party where everyone knew each other. I was even a little concerned that I would show up and no one would be there, that I’d awkwardly wander around Freeport hunting for fiber people and looking like a lost waif. I think my misimpressions stemmed from the lack of an online presence that NETA Spa, Knit & Spin has. There’s the blog, which contains about two posts per year. And then there’s the Facebook page.

But I went this past weekend, and I’m back to tell you that NETA Spa, Knit & Spin is a wonderful, joyous and uplifting event worth checking out! It’s a loosely organized event – the only organized parts are the marketplace and the fashion show. Otherwise it’s just a big, sprawling knitting circle. I did a woefully poor job of capturing it in photographs, so you’ll have to let me paint a picture with words (and photographs I grabbed from the internet). 

First, I decided to park at the Hilton Garden Inn, where the Fiber Marketplace was hosted. I noticed that Freeport was packed with people and many of them were wearing obviously hand-knit things. Mostly shawls. Non-knitters rarely wear shawls, but most knitters do. A shawl is like a beacon that screams “I’m a knitter!”. I love it.

Managed to snap these three photos of the marketplace.

I wandered in to the Hilton Garden Inn and there were knitters and spinners EVERYWHERE. They were in the lobby, in the cafe and in the halls, just chit chatting and doing their craft, having a grand old time. I wanted to find the marketplace though. It was down the hall or through the side door, in the banquet hall/event area. It was wildly colorful and beautiful. Not too large, but one could easily spend a half an hour or more wandering about. There was plenty of high quality hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn and fiber available. There were also hand-made fiber tools, ceramics, and buttons. There were so many people wandering through the marketplace that I could hardly squeeze my way into a few of the booths. My personal favorite was Ball & Skein. I picked up a few skeins of luscious stuff to feed my yarn stash. I almost missed the little side room that housed even more vendors.

Also in the event area was a table with greeters and people collecting fashion show tickets from people who wouldn’t be able to attend – because the fashion show on Saturday night at the Harrasekett Inn was completely sold out and other people were ready to swoop in and claim the returned tickets.

After I visited the marketplace I returned to the Hilton Garden Inn lobby and scanned the room for an empty chair. There were a few here and there. I picked a random one, walked up to a crowd of strangers and asked if I could join them. I didn’t feel uncomfortable because these were obviously my people! They were immediately friendly and welcoming. It turned out I had a contingent of New Hampshire ladies on my left and another contingent of Connecticut ladies on my right. I stayed for several hours, finishing up my Leftie Shawl and chatting with all of the people in my general vicinity. I got to see all kinds of works in progress and several AMAZING show-and-tell finished projects.

The Daybreak Shawl. I want to make one of these too. It drapes so nicely.

It turned out that New Hampshire ladies on my left had all knit the Daybreak Shawl by Stephen West, which they were planning on exhibiting in the fashion show, and the Connecticut ladies on my right had all knit the Lotus Crescent Shawl by Kieran Foley, which they were also planning on exhibiting in the fashion show. I’m not sure whether the fashion show typically includes individuals or groups, but I was really charmed by the idea of participating as a group. I sure wish I could have attended the fashion show, but I had to leave too soon.

The Lotus Crescent Shawl. Even more impressive in person.

P.S. The Lotus Crescent Shawl is the most impressive knitted thing I’ve ever seen. Those ladies said they sought to challenge themselves more and more each year, and they were not messing around! It’s a combination of lace, stranded colorwork and intarsia colorwork. Knitting it requires 24 bobbins (by my count). I want to make one.

Anyway, maybe I’ll see you at NETA Spa Knit & Spin next year! You should definitely go!

Some other links that might interest you:

 


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