What time is it? Michigan Fiber Festival time!

It’s that time again! Time to go to Allegan and fondle fiber and tell all the sheep and goats how cute they are!

We have a much needed double space this year, so stop by the no longer claustrophobic Happy Fuzzy Yarn booth! We will be there Friday through Sunday in building 8B. Since we now have a double space, we’re in a different spot than last year. We’ve moved to space 100-101.

We have several new colorways, and a new base yarn, Merino Silk Lace. If you like laceweight yarns, you’ll want to roll around naked in it, I promise.

A close up of Merino Silk Lace

The Michigan Fiber Festival is held at the Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, MI. You can read more about festival dates and hours, events, and a lot of other stuff at the festival website.

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Not in the Plans

After putting it off for over a year, I finally made an appointment for an eye exam. I have no idea why I kept putting it off, but I was getting tired of things being blurry so I finally made the call. I had my exam Friday.

See that dark spot?

cataract

That is a shadow. A shadow cast by a cataract. A cataract in my eye. I have one in each eye.

I have cataracts.

That means that even when I get new glasses, things will still be blurry. And they’ll continue to get blurrier.

Eventually the cataracts will be bad enough that they’ll remove them, but they’re a 1 now, and they won’t remove them till they’re a 4.

Wondering just how bad my vision is going to get, I did some googling and found this.

vision-through-cataract

And this.

normal_vision

So basically, everything is going to look like it’s far away and I’m not wearing glasses, whether it’s far away or not, and even though I’ll be wearing my glasses.

I’m trying not to freak out (everyone says “oh, cataract surgery is a breeze these days!”), but I am. No one talks about how long you have to deal with impaired vision before the surgery. I am a knitter. It’s not just something I do; it’s what I am. It’s my identity.

I like to design some simple things, but I really like to design complicated things. It’s the way my brain works. And I need to see what I’m doing to do that. Will I still be able to do that? I have to.

This was not in the plans.

 

 

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Meet the Designer: an interview with Diane Zangl

birdseyebackThis is the first in a series of interviews with designers who have worked with our yarns, whether we have published their designs, they’ve published the designs themselves, or they’ve been published elsewhere.

Diane Zangl is the designer of two Happy Fuzzy Yarn patterns, the Bird’s Eye Shawl and the Burwick Tam. Watch for her new mitten pattern this fall!

Burwick TamHappy Fuzzy Yarn: How long have you been designing? How did you get started?

Diane Zangl: I’ve been sewing and crocheting since I was seven and knitting since my teens. I began my professional knitwear career in 1984 after receiving encouragement from Elizabeth Zimmermann to publish my designs. That was at the first of her camps I attended. I’ve gone every year since then, except for one. Her daughter, Meg, runs them now. My first design was published in Knitter’s issue #14, and since then I’ve had the good fortune to have over 600 published designs to my name.

HFY: What does your day look like?

DZ: My office/studio is upstairs and I usually head up there sometime around 8-9 am to check the emails and Facebook to answer any questions that have come in, etc. till around noon. I used to spend the afternoons and evenings knitting, sometimes 8-10 hours a day, but since I’m sort of semi-retired now I usually only knit in the evenings – unless there is a deadline looming. Now that summer is here, I spend good chunks of the afternoon outside in my gardens.

HFY: How would you describe your style? Does your design style match your personal style or are they different?

DZ: My philosophy is that of creating classic, yet current, garments that can be enjoyed across several seasons. Unique stitch combinations and knitting techniques are the things I like to do most. They fit my lifestyle pretty well, as I prefer classic, easy-to-wear garments. I’ve never been into lace or froufrou very much either in my personal style or my designs.

Diane's idea boardHFY: Tell us about your design process. How does a piece go from a glimmer of an idea to a finished garment or accessory with a published pattern?

DZ: I do what I call a “scribble sketch” first. I still keep a small sketchbook handy and when something comes to mind I’ll scribble a small, very basic sketch with a few notes in that.

I’ll also tear pictures from a magazine or catalog – usually a fabric garment with an interesting detail that I think can morph into knitwear. That’s my seamstress background popping up.

I revisit the book from time to time and refine the idea, most often after I see a yarn that especially speaks to me. I don’t start swatching until the idea firms itself up more. I don’t do a tremendous amount of swatches for each design. If it’s not working after 3 swatches at the most, I’ll drop it for a later revisit. As for choosing yarn, more often the properties of the yarn tell what it wants to be.

HFY: Where do you find inspiration?

DZ: Nature inspires me a lot, also classic garments that can be adapted to today’s styles. I live on the edge of a National Wildlife Refuge and the colors there are great inspiration.

HFY: What attracted you to Happy Fuzzy Yarn?

DZ: Definitely the colorways. I especially like the Semi-Solids.

HFY: What’s your favorite design?

DZ: Usually whatever I’m working on at the moment, although I do have a saddle-shoulder gansey I knit in 1987 that I wear constantly. It’s from a huge cone of yarn I picked up when a local yarn/weaving shop went out of business a few years before that. Berroco ‘Lambswool something’ that is a very high-twist yarn, sturdy, much like what was used in the ganseys of old. It looks good as new, even with all the wear, and being my default sweater for many occasions, I still get compliments on it.

Diane's drawing boardHFY: Any advice for beginning designers?

DZ: If you’re really serious about being a designer, you have to want to devote the time and effort to it. There are a lot of wannabees out there now that put a cable pattern into a plain sweater, write about it on a blog, or put it up on Ravelry and voila!, think they’re a professional. Good pattern writing skills are a must. I think a lot of knitters will agree, there are a lot of very poorly written patterns out there.

HFY: Where can people buy your designs?

DZ: Most of my designs are done for yarn companies or knitting magazines, but I do have others under my Stitch Witch Designs label that are available on Patternfish.com.

DZ: I’m working on new ideas right now that I’m hoping to have finished this fall and will have those available on Ravelry. Knitters can also keep up with what I’m doing on my Facebook page, Stitch Witch Designs.

HFY: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us!

You can see all of our Happy Fuzzy Yarn patterns on Ravelry.

 

 

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Looking for a sock pattern that’s easy but interesting?

SnakecharmerSocksIntroducing Snakecharmer Socks!

These top down socks are a delight to knit and to wear. Cables and reverse stockinette in a checkerboard pattern mix up the colors of the yarn and provide a stretchy fabric that fits well.

These socks are very stretchy and elastic, allowing each size to fit a range of measurements. Instructions are included for women’s S, M, and L. I wear a size 8.5 shoe (women’s US), and I made the size M for myself.

One skein of Corrie Sock is more than enough. Shown here in Enchanted.

You can buy the PDF on Ravelry.

 

 

Yes, it’s 1000 degrees outside, but in a few months you will want to wear this scarf!

I know it’s 1000 degrees outside, but in a few months it will be cold. Honest! You’ll want to wear a scarf then! If you knit a scarf now, you’ll have it when you want to wear it.

Planning ahead. I know, it’s radical. Plus there’s always, you know, ahem, holiday knitting.

Our newest scarf pattern, Mimicry, is beautiful, soft, and cozy.

Designer Michelle Trudeau Fleming combines one of her favorite cable patterns with a flanking complementary lace design in this scarf. The lace design seems to mimic the cable, or is it the other way around? A simple seed stitch border finishes it off and prevents the stockinette in the lace from curling. She loved the idea of using cables and lace in the same design, so she was happy when she was able to figure out how to combine this beautiful cable with a lace that fits so well with it.

It uses two skeins of Merino Mono, shown here in Verdigris.

Buy the PDF on Ravelry.

 

Do you like cables? Do you like hats? Check out our new Ishtar Hat pattern!

Ishtar HatIf you like cables and hats, I have a hunch you’ll like our new pattern by designer Carol Ullmann.

Ishtar is a Babylonian goddess, representing the forces of love and war. She is passionate, powerful, fearless, and feared. Carol’s friend Alison, who is both strong and incredibly nurturing, inspired the making and naming of this hat. She also cannot hold on to any cabled hat she’s knit for herself, so clearly she needed a little help from a friend.

The Ishtar Hat is knit from brim to crown in Happy Fuzzy Yarn American Worsted in Neptune. Instructions are given for two sizes, and with and without a fold up brim.

You can buy the pdf now on Ravelry.

 

 

 

What’s the point?

I was going to upload another pattern today, but I’m too depressed. This week’s headlines are just too much. Even though it’s just more of the same, it’s just TOO MUCH.

I am so sick of people being murdered because of their skin color or their religion or their sexual orientation or their gender identity or or or or or…

I mourn for our entire human race. I feel like I should just wear all black all the time.

Writing about yarn and patterns and knitting seems so trivial. I feel like I should just chuck it all in and go live in a cave somewhere where I don’t have to deal with people or hear about the horrible things people are doing to each other.

Or dye all the yarn black. And design everything for black yarn.

I won’t. I love color. And knitting with black yarn is hard on my eyes.

But damn.

Be kind, people. Please, be kind.

 

Swirly Curly Beret

Swirly Curly BeretNeed to get started on holiday knitting but don’t want a lapful of wool?

How about a hat?

Swirly Curly Beret uses Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino. It’s an octagonal beret, knit from the center out, using the magic loop technique. The first few rounds are tricky since there aren’t very many stitches yet, but it quickly gets easier. Once there are enough stitches, you can work on a smaller circular needle or double pointed needles if you wish. The increases form a pleasing set of swirls, ideal for showing off a multi-color yarn. The brim has a rolled edge, to add a curl to your swirl!

The rolled brim is fairly stretchy. If you’re between sizes, go down a size.

Instructions are written for seven sizes, from Preemie to Adult Large (so it’s sure to fit somebody on your gift list).

Buy the pdf on Ravelry.

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Fruit Fling!

FruitFlingxThis just may be my favorite pattern ever.

When we first started dyeing gradient sets, I knew I had to design something using one of them, I was pretty sure I wanted it to be a shawl, so I doodled with yarn and needles until I had something going that I liked, and then I just kept going.

The resulting shawl is 8 feet long! Long enough to really wrap around yourself, no, fling around yourself!

Made of a Corrie Sock Fruit Salad Gradient Set, this shawl is a long, narrow, asymmetrical triangle made up of garter ridge stripes with a lace chevron motif along the longest edge and repeated along the short edge. It starts with the point of the chevron and slowly adds stitches along one side, getting gradually wider.

Buy the pdf on Ravelry.

 

 

 

 

 

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Stuff happened but I didn’t die

Yes, the last post was about the then-upcoming Fiber Expo. That happened, I coughed the entire time, and then the next day I had pneumonia.

I had pneumonia for the rest of April and all through May, though I was starting to feel better toward the end of May, which was very good, because that’s when I had to really start the heavy duty TNNA preparation. We had been preparing for TNNA throughout the year, but when there were only a few weeks to go, it became apparent that there was still 6 months of work left to do in a 3 week period.

So…not everything got done. Enough did though. Rob and I went to TNNA, I tried to be sociable even though I really wanted to lie down on the floor and sleep, and things went ok until Monday morning when our whole yarn display came crashing to the floor. We put it back up, and it fell down again. We put it back up, strengthening things a bit, and it stayed.

Huzzah.

But it wasn’t all gloom. I got to see some of my best friends and meet some great shop owners (some placed orders; some brought stuff back with them. Ask your shop owner what they got!) and some potential new reps, which means Happy Fuzzy Yarn will be in more shops in more cities. Yay!

Here are some pics:

The Yarn! (before the gravity malfunction)

The Yarn! (before the gravity malfunction)

 

The combed top!

The combed top

 

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