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Filtering by Tag: yarn

Yarn Review: Stacatto Organic by Sweet Paprika

Andrea Sanchez

Today we have guest blogger Elizabeth from Sweet Paprika Designs here to share more info on her glorious yarn Stacatto Organic. This amazing organic yarn was used in her Fall/Winter 2016 collection design, Autumn Hike Hoodie. Elizabeth has graciously offered 15% off your Stacatto Organic orders through February 5th. Use code KNITTINLITTLE15 at checkout to get your discount. 

When I first had the inspiration for the Autumn Hike Hoodie design, I knew right away that I wanted to knit it in our Staccato Organic yarn

Staccato is a non-superwash merino worsted and has been one of our standard yarns for many years, but I hadn’t used it for any new designs in a long time. The reason was that our original base yarn was discontinued by the supplier a couple of years ago. As soon as we found out, we bought up as much of the base yarn as we could to keep us going while we searched for a replacement. What we did not expect was for the search to take us a year!

We tried many, many yarns looking for an alternate yarn that would be similar enough to replace our much-loved Staccato. Some of the problems we ran into were yarns that were closer to a DK rather than the heavier worsted we wanted, yarns that were over twisted, and yarns that didn’t take the dye in the same way. We even tried a couple of BFL yarns that were nice but just didn’t have the same feel as the merino that we were looking for. 

When we finally got samples of our current base yarn, it checked all the boxes and we were thrilled that it’s also a GOTS certified organic yarn. This is very much in line with our personal values and as a business we’re moving towards using more local yarns, sustainable yarns, and organic yarns as much as possible. 

I’m so thankful we held out for the perfect replacement and I’m looking forward to using Staccato Organic for many more future designs!

 

Thank you again Elizabeth for sharing this amazing yarn with us! Be sure to check out this month's Made by Mama post to read all about her journey and to enter to win a copy of her Zippity Raglan pullover. Remember, use code KNITTINLITTLE15 for 15% off Stacatto Organic through February 5th! Happy knitting! 

Made by Mama: Elizabeth from Sweet Paprika

Andrea Sanchez

I'm so happy to have Elizabeth with us this month for our Made by Mama feature. She's half of the team behind Sweet Paprika, yarn dyers and knitwear design. She also designed and provided the yarn for the Autumn Hike Hoodie from the Knittin' Little Fall/Winter 2016 collection. 

Through February 5th, Elizabeth is offering 15% off Sweet Paprika Designs Stacatto Organic yarn. This is the same yarn used in her Autumn Hike Hoodie design from our Fall/Winter collection. Use code KNITTINLITTLE15 at checkout!

sweet paprika 1

So tell us how it all began. How and when did you start knitting?

I tried to learn to knit on my own from a book when I was 8 or 9, buy my tension was way too tight and I was using horrible plastic kid's needles and I just couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. Luckily my grandmother came for a visit and taught me to knit when I was 11 and I haven't stopped since! I was always a crafty kid and learned crochet, sewing, and basic weaving and embroidery before knitting. Knitting and crochet have stuck with me the most over the years, but I've been getting back into the sewing and weaving lately.

So, I've been knitting and crocheting since I was a kid, but it was while I was unemployed for a couple of months while living in England that I first thought about starting my own knitting business. I began by doing some sample knitting for another designer, which led to a freelance tech editing career and once I got back to Canada in 2007, my sister Debbie and I launched Sweet Paprika Designs. 

Could you explain what Sweet Paprika Designs is?

Sweet Paprika is a hand-dyed yarn business and we also design knitting and crochet patterns and kits. When we started out Debbie and I both did a bit of everything, but as Sweet Paprika has grown we realized we needed to each take responsibility for an aspect of the business. With her background in costume design and fine arts, it seemed natural for Debbie to take charge of the yarn and dyeing, and my tech editing experience has been invaluable in heading up the pattern side of things. 

What makes Sweet Paprika unique?

Because we started out both dyeing yarn and designing with our own hand-dyed, from the beginning it’s been very important to us that our yarn looks good in any project. For this reason we specialize in semi-solids and subtle variations that give a depth to your projects without competing with the design. 

We’re very picky about our base yarns and will often try many, many options before adding a new yarn to our line. We want to offer high-quality unique yarns that we know our customers will love as much as we do. 

We’ve also been experimenting over the past few years with working with local producers to create custom yarns that are 100% Canadian. It’s truly inspiring to visit the farms where the sheep or alpaca are raised, and to be involved in the entire process from washing the fleeces to dying the finished yarn. It’s very important to us to support local industry when we can, so this is an area of the business we hope to gradually expand over the coming years.

When designing our knitting and crochet patterns, our goal is to create patterns that are both fun to make and easy to wear. We have a variety of patterns for all skill levels from basic to adventurous and we try to include a large range of sizes when appropriate. We enjoy experimenting with interesting techniques and finding the perfect finishing details to make a project look just right.

I love the rich and saturated colors in your palette. Where do you come up with the inspiration for these?

Often from nature, sometimes from customer requests, sometimes just from playing with dyes, experimenting and seeing what happens! When working with a new yarn we’ll usually dye a whole bunch of very small skeins in different colours to try out possibilities and then pick which ones to develop further. That way can we make sure each yarn line is cohesive, I like designing patterns with more than one colour, so enjoy having a palette of colours that work well together.

I love hearing about how people juggle their business and their family - I guess it makes me feel normal! haha! What does a typical day look like for you?

On a typical weekday I’m home with my 3-year old son during the day so I’ll try to get an hour or two of work time in during his nap and then another couple of hours in the evening when my husband is home from work. I often work a longer stretch on Saturdays but try to reserve Sundays for family time. My sister Debbie and I usually have a weekly check-in to make sure we each know our goals and priorities for the week and we talk almost daily on the phone to keep each other up to date.

Balancing parenting and a business is certainly a challenge at times, but I do appreciate that it gives me the flexibility to be at home full-time with my son – something that was always important to my husband and me. My husband is very supportive and although he’s not involved in the day-to-day running of the business, he’s great at offering suggestions and helping me brainstorm. He’s my go-to person when I get stuck on naming a pattern!

What have been the best and worst parts of running your own business?

The best part has been creating something, watching it grow, and learning a ton of skills I wouldn’t have otherwise (web design, bookkeeping, photography…). I also love connecting with the wider knitting community both online and in person.

The worst part is balancing the business with the rest of my life. It often feels like there’s so much to do and never enough time, so it can be hard to turn off and feel like your work is done for the day.

I really love how the Autumn Hike Hoodie turned out using your Stacatto yarn. Which yarn base do you think is the best for knitting for children and why?

This depends on who the parents are! I really love the Staccato Organic worsted merino for kids. It’s soft and knits up quickly, BUT, it will felt if not washed properly so I only use it if I know the parents are well-versed in washing hand-knits. If I’m not sure, my go-to kids’ yarn is Minuet which is a DK superwash merino and comes in lots of fun colours.

How do you share your love of yarn with your little one? Do you have any fiber related books you read with them? 

My son has been surrounded by yarn since he was born. So far he loves helping me use my ball winder and swift to wind yarn. He occasionally gets to visit Aunt Debbie at the yarn studio and has “helped” with fleece washing, labeling, and telling us his colour preferences. He seems to like buttons as much as I do, so he always gets to pick out a few of his own when I go button shopping. He’s started making requests for me to knit him things and it’s always gratifying when he picks out his clothes in the morning and chooses something I knit him. So far we haven’t read any fibre related books, but that’s a good idea!

Feeding the Sheep (this month's book club pick) was my favorite to share with my son the summer before he turned three and he might relate to the activities in it as well! At the end of the story, we find that the mother has been processing all this wool to knit a sweater for her daughter. What has been your favorite thing you’ve knit for your little one? Or any children’s pieces you’re looking to try?

It’s so hard to choose one! My current favourite is the Little Leif hat I just knit this fall because my son asked for me to knit him a hat, chose the colours himself and I get to see him wear it every day this winter.

I’d like to try making more kids socks. So far I’ve only made my son one pair (which he’s now grown out of), but I have Clare Devine’s Sock Anatomy ebook that I’ve been meaning to work my way through.

Where can knitters/crocheters find you (online, shows, websites, etc.). 

Online I spend most of my time on Ravelry, Instagram and the Sweet Paprika blog. You can also find some of my patterns on Craftsy and Patternfish

I’ll be at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto in April and the Prince Edward County Fibre Fest in May. We also host a monthly knitting tea and the occasional knitting picnic in Montreal if you’re ever in the area! You can check the events page of our website for up-to-date information. 

 

Thank you again Elizabeth for sharing your story! I am loving that Zippity Raglan pattern. I'm always on the lookout for cute and easy sweaters for the kids. Elizabeth will be giving away TWO copies of her pattern to two commenters. Just leave a comment below and the winner could be you! Winners will be announced next Monday and contacted via email or Ravelry message so be sure to leave some contact info! Happy knitting!

Gansey Kids Giveaway

Andrea Sanchez

I hope by now you've had a chance to read my review on the new ebook Gansey Kids by Meg Roke, and that you've had time to pop over to Ravelry and use that discount code she offered us (knittinlittle25 to save 25% off the ebook price) and start queuing up your favorites. My yarn for the Whitby Vest is already ordered and on its way!

Because Meg is super generous (like 25% off her ebook isn't enough!) she is also doing a little giveaway here on the blog! 

Head over to Ravelry and check out the patterns. Fave a few (or all) and come back and tell me which one you love the best! That's it! Do this by midnight Friday (August 12th) and you will be entered to win a skein of Quince and Co.'s Chickadee in the color Apricot which is just the right amount of yarn to make a pair of the Fisherman Mitts for you or your little! 

This giveaway is open only to residents of the US and Canada. Please be sure to leave your email or Rav name so we can contact you if you win. Happy Monday!

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Locksley & Choosing Colors for Colorwork

Andrea Sanchez

So I finally wound up my yarn and got swatching for my second Knittin' Little Summer KAL piece, Locksley. But then I realized, was anyone else having a difficult time choosing yarn colors for color work? I spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking before I settled on these and while I'm happy now, it definitely took some time. 

When Emily and I were bouncing ideas back and forth for the sample, I had a color story to work with. I normally use these for each collection, to give the collection a kind of mood and to make sure I am choosing colors within that mood when picking yarn. One of the fantastic things about Knit Picks (this piece uses Swish Worsted) is that when viewing their colors, you can open more than one for a closer look and compare them side by side. 

But what if you can't? Here are some tips I use when picking out more than two colors for colorwork projects.

Use a color wheel

Quick color theory lesson: the easiest way to pick 3 colors for color work is to choose 2 colors that are across (complimentary) from each other on the color wheel. Then, add a neutral. Boom. This is my favorite (and I think simplest) way to choose colors!

If you aren't looking to use neutrals, you can break the color wheel into thirds and choose a color from each third that is equidistance from the next (this is called triadic colors). So, using the color wheel above, the aqua, bright purple, and yellow are triadic colors. Maybe the Aqua as a MC, then the other two as CC? Boom again. 

What I like best about looking at a color wheel is being able to see how the colors will look when close together without having to have yarn in hand.

Arrange then rearrange

Ok, you've picked your three colors but aren't sure which you want to use as the main color. Spend some time arranging and rearranging the yarn to get an idea of which will work best. 

I initially thought I wanted to use the the green as the MC (because I have a lot of it) but once I spent some time setting the skeins together, I realized the dark grey and green would muddy together. When I swatched, I only used two colors because I didn't want to hassle with the third and guess what? The grey and green muddy when right next to each other.

So arrange those skeins, then set them out in an area of your home that is well traveled. Take a day or two to walk by, look at them, then decide if you like the combo or arrangement. 

Use a color story

Photo via  Design Seeds

Photo via Design Seeds

If you're still having a difficult time, or you feel that you can't trust your own eye to pick colors that look amazing together, try using a color story. Design Seeds is a great site to use for this. You can search by color or just scroll through their blog and be inspired!

From one palette you can easily find one color that will work great as a backdrop for two of the other colors. I would love to see that coral and slate against the ice blue. So pretty!

 

Are you knitting a Locksley? We'd love to see it! Come join the KAL in our Ravelry group or share your photos on Instagram (#knittinlittleKAL to be eligible for prizes!).

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