Friday, September 28, 2012

Icelandic Lopi wool is here!

We have been in love with Lopi wool since our first trip to Iceland and are thrilled to be offering it at Fancy Tiger!

Léttlopi is the worsted weight yarn that Icelanders use for traditional yoked sweaters. The Icelandic sheep have adapted to Iceland's cold wet climate and Lopi sweaters keep people warm and dry, too. Jaime made a Lopi sweater last year. On her recent trip to Iceland she wore it every day and it looks as good as the day it was finished. The rest of us at Fancy Tiger can hardly wait to make our own!

Our dear friend Ragga will be here this weekend teaching classes on traditional Icelandic knitting. Want to make your own Lopi sweater? Come join us for her classes!

10 reasons we love Lopi yarn:
  • Icelandic wool is the warmest
  • keeps you dry in cold wet weather
  • comes in beautiful solid and heathered colors
  • a strong single ply
  • loosely spun and lofty
  • wears well and hardly pills
  • knits up fast
  • perfect for adorable colorwork
  • affordable
  • comes from the cutest sheep!

Thanks sheepies!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jaime's Iceland Wool Report 2012

I just got back from a week in Iceland! This was my second time - Amber and I went in 2010 for a Knitting Iceland retreat which was amazing and you can read all about that here. This time I went with my partner Matthew for a vacation so it was not soo knitting-centered, but luckily you can't escape the wool in Iceland. Here is my Iceland Wool Report for 2012.

Sheep are everywhere in Iceland. They graze with no fences all over the countryside, so I was able to hang out with lots of sheep on all our hikes and travels. The sheep provide Icelanders with both meat and wool so they are an integral part of their culture.

Sheep grazing in the thermal valleys of Hveragerði

Icelandic Sheep heads on display at a restaurant.
Iceland is one of the best countries to go to if you knit, crochet or appreciate wool and woolen goods. Every city and town has shops for buying yarn and hand knit goods and its no wonder -  Iceland is cold! The wool of the Icelandic sheep has adapted to keep them warm and dry in Iceland's cold, damp climate so knit goods made from Icelandic sheep are perfect for keeping humans warm and dry too. There is no shortage of handknit items to buy made from Icelandic sheep, from socks to gloves to hats and of course, the Icelandic Lopi sweaters.

Eating the yarn I bought.
In Reykjavik, I made a trip to the Handknitting Association of Iceland - the best place to buy your handknit goods. All of the sweater, hats, scarves and mittens sold here are knit in Iceland with Icelandic wool. They also carry all of the colors and weights of the Lopi wool yarn. I managed to pick out 2 sweaters worth of yarn so I can make two more Icelandic Lopi sweaters! I can't wait to get started on them.

Naturally tanned Icelandic sheep hides and hand knit sweaters at Þingborg
Beautiful naturally dyed lopi yarns at Þingborg
We also made it to Þingborg Wool Center in Selfoss. This is only about an hour outside of Reykjavik and it is a gem! I highly recommend this as my new favorite shop in Iceland. The Þingborg Wool Center sells hand knit goods as well as hand-dyed and hand-spun Icelandic wool yarns, knitting kits, fiber for spinning - anything fiber-related. It is a fiber-enthusiasts dream! I was a little overwhelmed at so much awesomeness in one place and I left with only this adorable cross stitch kit to make a traditional Icelandic design table mat. My kit contained a pattern, linen fabric, linen lace, and 5 colors of naturally dyed lopi yarn = heaven!!

I worked on my cross stitch during the flight home and finished it. I now have a beautiful heirloom to remember my trip by...♥!

If you need to get your own Iceland fix, be sure to stop by Fancy Tiger Crafts this Friday and Saturday to help us welcome Ragga from Knitting Iceland!

Ragga will be lecturing (for free!) on Friday night from 7 - 9pm on Icelandic Knitting Traditions and she will be teaching two classes on Saturday on Icelandic knitting. Check out the deets here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Brooklyn Tweed + Sleep Season + Iceland = Magic

Megan Mahaffey of Sleep Season Goods dyes beautiful yarn. When she delivered the latest batch of her hand-dyed yarns, I fell in love with one and had to keep it--the skein is a pale green with hints of neon green and yellow-y brown. I needed a project to keep me busy on a flight to Iceland so when Allison suggested a Norby hat, I was sold.

The Norby pattern is a design by Gudrun Johnston for Brooklyn Tweed and was featured in their Wool People 2 collection (also available here at Fancy Tiger Crafts!) I love the slouchy look and thought it would show off the slight variegation of the yarn perfectly (not to mention, I'm a huge Gudrun fan!). Several Fancy Tiger staff had already knit this pattern up so I had a chance to covet their hats as well. A seven hour flight to Reykjavik gave me plenty of time to finish the hat so I had a new accessory to show off in Iceland.

This hat was the perfect hat for Iceland! The colors were reminscent of the moss and changing trees that covered the lava fields. Megan called this color "Juniper", but I've re-named it "Iceland Moss Magic".

If you want to dye yarn this beautiful yourself, be sure to sign up for Megan's class this Tuesday (tomorrow!) here at Fancy Tiger. Stay tuned for more about Iceland in my 2012 Iceland Wool Report!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Allison's Far Far Away Quilt

I have always been intimidated by quilting but once I saw the Far Far Away III collection by Heather Ross I knew I wanted to give it a try. I bought the fabric in November and hoped it would be a fun activity for me to do with my grandmother when she came to visit for the holidays. After a lot of debating and dreaming I decided to do a bunch of blocks with different colored borders to really showcase the fabric. A word of advice, if you don't know how to quilt ask a quilter for help. I asked the amazing ladies at Fancy Tiger and their tricks blew my mind (e.g. strip piecing!!!!!). The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman was incredibly useful, she has a great tutorial on binding on her blog Oh! Fransson.

When I saw the finished quilt in my mind I saw it as a tied quilt. As much as I wanted to try to sew the layers together with a cute design I couldn't decide what to do. I am really happy with the finished results, I think it suits the character of the quilt well.

I love it!

For the back I used all of my leftover fabric and just sewed it together until it reached the size I needed.

I am happy I finally tried quilting. It's really fun and a great way to put together all of the fabrics you really love.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oh My Bear!

I am both obsessed with and terrified of bears. I always want to see one in the woods, but I don't want to be attacked. I want to squeeze and cuddle their cute little faces without being eaten. Stephanie Dosen, the designer behind Tiny Owl Knits has designed a lot of magical, woodlands-inspired patterns, but none that I love quite as much as her "Oh My Bear" sweater.

Once I finished my first colorwork project, I decided to tackle this pattern. I love neutrals and un-dyed yarns so this is the perfect colorwork project for me. Five shades of greys and browns to make a bear face? Yes! There was not a question in my mind over what yarn to use. What yarn is bulky and comes in a million beautiful shades of greys and browns? Imperial Stock Ranch Native Twist! This beautiful, softly-spun yarn is also grown and milled in the US by our friends over in Oregon, so I was excited to have a project that would be perfectly suited to the yarn and get to use the colors I love so much.

The bear face (which is amazing and adorable) is knit using intarsia colorwork, which means it is knit back and forth and uses bobbins to keep the colors straight. This was my first intarsia project so it was a bit hairy, but I took it one row at a time and it went fine. It was so exciting to see the bear face come together, it kept me knitting even as the weather grew warmer.

Holy Crap!

This was also my first time seaming a sweater. I prefer seamless sweaters, but the intarsia bear meant seams and it was worth it for that sweet bear face. I had help from Angelique and Sunne with my seams so they look awesome and I am much more confident with seaming now.

I made two modifications to this pattern. The first is that I'm not into hoods so I didn't add a hood and just finished the neck with a bit of ribbing. The second is that the pattern is only one size which is large (it is meant to be oversized). I am pretty petite so I was worried I would drown in a sweater that was too big, so I knit my sweater in  a smaller gauge of 4.5 stitches to the inch instead of 4 that was recommended. I did some calculations to make sure that it would fit and it seemed like it would work. It did!! My bear sweater is still a big sweater, but with enough fit to be flattering.

This is a warm sweater, knit in bulky wool and I finished it in July in the middle of record heat. I was finally able to wear my new sweater on a recent camping trip at 10,200 elevation in West Fork, over by Ridgway, Colorado. It was amazing!! Bears flocked around me and they all knew I was not to be eaten as I was obviously a big fan. My new bear friends appreciated their likeness and took me in as one of their own. I can't wait to wear this sweater to all of my cold-weather outdoor adventures and see what types of experiences we'll have together!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Craft Up A Trend: Colorblock Style

Colorblock style is hot to the max!

We've been seeing this trend everywhere and it is inspiring us to get crafty in big, bold blocks of color, from quilts to shawls to clothing and totes!

1) Colorblock Jewelry at Fancy Tiger Clothing  2) Crochet Slippers by WhiteNoiseMaker  3) Knitted Collar by theknitkid  4) Neon Clutch by byMART  5) DIY Leggings Tutorial by Cal Patch  6) Color Block Magnets by CuppaColor  7) Mustard Colorblock Pillow by JillianReneDecor

Jaime just finished the Rockefeller Shawl mystery knit-along from Stephen West and we love her colorblocking choice of Anzula Squishy's Cantaloupe and Au Natural--pretty dang stunning!

Stephen West's Spectra and Chevry

The designer of Rockefeller, Stephen, is the master of hot colorblock knitting--we also love his shawl patterns Spectra, Chevry and Earth & Sky! Be sure to stop by the shop on September 22nd from 7 - 9pm to meet the man himself!

Allison is currently making Earth & Sky in Madelinetosh Light colors Maple Leaf, Smokestack and Onyx. It's looking super hot!

For quilting inspiration, the new book, We Love Color, will inspire you to play with colorblock style. 16 quilt designs using Kona cotton solids will have you thinking bold solids and large blocks! We are especially digging this Sweet As Pi baby quilt pattern.

Sewists, the new Kona Modern Quilts fabrics by Cynthia Frenette are prints with vibrant modern blocks of color. Use this faux patchwork to make a crafty colorblock garment or bag, or even stitch up the quickest quilt of all time!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Anise + Juniper Colette Patterns are Here!

Two new patterns are here from Colette!

Perfect for your fall/winter handmade wardrobe, the Anise pattern is a classic and ladylike double-breasted jacket with a cozy collar.

We think these wools would suit this pattern perfectly!

The Juniper pants have a wide leg and tailored hip--a classic fit for classy ladies!

We think the Essex cotton/linens, the hemp ticking or hemp denims would be lovely for Juniper.

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Fabric Collections from Japan are Here!

Echino + Nani Iro + Melody Miller + Heather Ross = Yay!

We finally unpacked it all and can't take the magic of our newest fabrics! 

Melody Miller's Ruby Star sheeting is here! These stunning prints on lightweight linen/cotton are large scale and make super fantastic bags and skirts and curtains and more. Below, see each of the fabrics with the whole print from selvedge to selvedge. They are 62" wide!

We've been anticipating and planning for the new Echino line since we got a peak at quilt market. We've got a major crush on Etsuko Furuya. Those animals in fancy frames? They're destined to be sewn up into hot bags and skirts.

Naomi Ito's newest Nani Iro fabrics are pretty dang dreamy. Printed on a soft double gauze, they'll be great for dresses and blouses.

Heather Ross's newest line, Nursery Versery, has cute storybook characters for little ones, with adorable illustrations of the itsy-bitsy spider, little piggies and mice.

Plus, we have even more super-cute Japanese prints for all your adorable to the max projects!

Happy sewing!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Maenad KAL Madness!

The Maenad knit-along was a smashing success! We started this KAL after our meet-and-greet with Irish knitwear designer Carol Feller. We fell in love with this shawl - it is beautiful knit with 2 colors of fingering-weight yarn and it is long enough to wrap around several times for added warmth. Eight fancy folks participated, making a total of nine shawls! Everyone agreed the shawl knit up surprisingly fast - the body is knit first and then the lace border is added after. Here are the results of our Maenad craze:

Some of the Maenad KAL superstars

I made my Maenad shawl with Anzula's Sebastian yarn, one of our most recent yarn additions to the shop. Working with this pretty seasilk/merino fingering weight yarn, I enjoyed each and every stitch of making my shawl. Upon seeing Sebastian at Anzula's trunk show, I immediately fell in love with the soft grey-brown Clay and paired it with Chipmunk for my Maenad.

Jaime knit her shawl using the mysterious colorways of Madelintosh Light Cosmos and Lowlands. Between the cosmos and the lowlands, her shawl encompasses all of the universe, and her new Maenad shawl transports her to magical fairy forests whenever she puts it on. (She made me write that.)

Angelique was pretty enamored with Carol Feller's sample Maenad, and used the same Noro sock yarn paired with Anzula Sebastian in Charcoal for the edging.

Betsy blew our minds by knitting not one, but two Maenads! Her first is in Madelinetosh Light, colorways Badlands and Twig--two yummy browns!

Betsy's second Maenad was knit in Scrumptious Lace. This Maenad uses just one color: Natural. It is so classy, delicate and lacy!

Sunne, our talented-to-the-max knitting instructor, whipped out her Maenad in no time, using Noro sock and Isager Spinni.

Adorable Samantha's Maenad is knit with a hand-dyed sock yarn she picked up at Estes Park Wool Market and Malabrigo Sock in Black for the lace edging. 

Pink used Noro sock in a self-striping magenta colorway that matches her signature pink hair! She trimmed it with a bright orange Malabrigo lace.

Thanks to all the amazing knitters who participated in our Maenad KAL!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Liberty Lifestyle Fabrics + Blog Giveaway!

We just peed our pants--Liberty quilting cottons are here!

I don't even know how to say in words how excited we are. I hope you are excited, too, because we are doing a blog giveaway--you can win a swatch book of the entire collection and a screenprinted Liberty of London tote made with Liberty corduroy! Deets at the end of this post!

If you are familiar with Liberty fabrics, you know they are among the most coveted of fabrics for sewists! The new Liberty Lifestyles quilting cotton fabrics are the same classic prints that Liberty is known for, but printed on a lovely 100% cotton at a much more affordable price. Have you dreamed of crafting an entire quilt or a dress out of Liberty prints? Your dreams can come true without breaking the bank!

Now, for some gratuitous Liberty photos...

All these pretty babies are here waiting for you! They are sure to fly out of here so be sure to hurry in!

Now for the giveaway! The winner will receive one Liberty tote bag and a box of fabric swatches. All 55 fabrics from the new collection are in this adorable box-o'-swatches! These little 5 1/2" squares would be perfect for a quilting project or patchwork! Enter to win by commenting on this post by 5pm on Friday, September 14th. In order to win you must include in your comment:

  1. Your email address (important!)
  2. What you would make from the new Liberty fabrics
  3. Your absolute favorite color combination!
Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Saturday, September 15th. Best of luck!

***UPDATE: Thanks everyone for commenting and sharing your favorite color combinations! Carol who likes "yellow and brown like aspen leaves when they change" is our lucky winner--we hope you enjoy your Liberty goodies Carol!***