Drea Renee Knits

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Lily Jade // The Perfect Handbag for Knitters // GIVEAWAY!!

giveaway, toolsAndrea Mowry199 Comments
Lily Jade Caroline Bag

Lily Jade Caroline Bag

Good morning and happy Sunday! Today I want to talk about what so many of us knitters (and mamas!) need in our life - organization. And maybe even more importantly - something pretty that helps us achieve that!

When I was introduced to Lily Jade bags, I was so happy to find a diaper bag that didn't scream, well, DIAPER BAG! I also refuse to buy items for myself that I feel I would only be able to use temporarily - during my pregnancy, or while my babies were very young. Outside of a few pairs of maternity pants, I opted for shirts and dresses that I knew I could keep on wearing long after I no longer looked like I had eaten a watermelon whole. So, why then, would I buy a frumpy, plastic-y (yes, that's a word) diaper bag to use (begrudgingly) for a couple of years?

Enter the Caroline bag - a leather handbag, with a pop of red for the interior that need not be relegated to any one category. It has everything a mama, knitter, or crafter needs! Plus, being a total sucker for details - I also just really love that tassel with the jade beads!


Why yes, that is my yarn and sketchbook snuggled up with diapers, sippy cup and burp cloth - necessities whenever we leave the house!

Why yes, that is my yarn and sketchbook snuggled up with diapers, sippy cup and burp cloth - necessities whenever we leave the house!

Perks for the mama:

  • Pockets for all of baby's (and your!) necessities - from diapers, wipes, snacks and lanolin, to lipstick and a change clothes.
  • Changing pad, that rolls up neatly, and doesn't take up too much room.
  • And something I really love - a removable baby bag organizer (which is washable, along with the changing pad). Why do I love this? Because sometimes I won't need all of my baby supplies (or gasp - knitting supplies) and I just want a nice handbag to take out on a date with the hubs! (Someday we'll get to do that again, right?!?!)

On those rare and wonderful occasions that I get to sneak off and knit sans babies ;), here she is, filled to the brim with my latest yarn haul, interchangeable needles, and sketchbook, inspiration sparked and ready to go!

On those rare and wonderful occasions that I get to sneak off and knit sans babies ;), here she is, filled to the brim with my latest yarn haul, interchangeable needles, and sketchbook, inspiration sparked and ready to go!

Perks for the Knitter:

  • POCKETS!! Seriously, I counted 19! Knitters NEED pockets. We have knitting needles, stitch counters, stitch markers, tapestry needles, tape measures, YARN, notebooks, pens, patterns - so many things to keep tidy when we head out to knit night!
  • Magnetic closures - I love this. No snagging your beauitful WIP on a zipper!
  • Space for everything, while toting around your latest project (instead of looking like a bag lady - my usual go-to ;)

Are you ready for a chance to win your own Lily Jade Caroline bag??? Leave me a comment below with your favorite ways to stay organized (as a mama or knitter - I need all the tips I can get!). Don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment! Giveaway is open until Friday, July 22!!

Favorite Tools // Fringe Supply Co. Giveaway

giveaway, knitting, toolsAndrea Mowry89 Comments

When it comes to the tools I use everyday - I get pretty passionate (and opinionated). If I find something I like, and that works well for me, I want to tell everyone about it! So I figured, it was time for a blog post, so all of you can check out some of the items that make my work life better!

Let's start with something that has been near and dear to my heart since I was a wee one. I use to use my allowance every week to buy school supplies. What can I say - I've just got a thing (or what some would call - an obsession) with pens and notebooks. I find it so satisfying to have a shelf lined with notebooks that I have filled with notes, recipes, journal entries, patterns - all in my own handwriting. I also have at least one notebook and one pen with me at all times. (Okay, if I am being honest - more like 3 notebooks and an entire pack of pens.)

So, my current faves??

1. Frixion Erasable Pens - I am the kind of person who had a "messy" notebook and a "tidy" notebook in high school. I couldn't stand bad handwriting, or crossed out lines - so I would rewrite everything nice, neat and organized into my tidy notebook after taking speedy notes in class in my messy book. These pens solve that. They are truly erasable - but still good quality pens that write smoothly! Major bonus - you can get a pack with 24 different colors! Whoop whoop! (Thank you for introducing these to me Melynda!!)

2. Dot Grid Notebooks - Woah Mama. In love. So tidy. So fun. Perfect for knitters! Without the confines of lines (horizontal or in grids) you can make each page what you want it. Perfect for sketching, writing, graphing - whatever you need. I am also a huge Bullet Journaling fan (thanks to Annie!), and these are ideal for that. (Again- thanks for introducing these to me Melynda!!)

3. Knitter's Graph Paper Journal - as many of you already know, knit stitches are not a perfect square - they are more like a rectangle. So when it comes to charting out designs for color, cables, lace and texture - if you don't want it to be distorted, you need knitters graph paper! These journals from Fringe Supply Co., are perfect! Not only are they affordable - they also have super handy hand drawn notes in the front and back covers (needle charts, graph keys, ect.)

4. Fashionary Sketchbook - My drawing skills aren't quite as advanced as my knitting skills. But that whole "I like my notebooks tidy" issue, means I want tidy sketches, as well! Enter the Fashionary Sketchbook. Each page has 3 faint dot-lined female figures. They are faint enough that you can easily write over them, otherwise they are perfect to use as a guide to draw out garments and accessories on a model. Perfect for designers, but also great for those of us who desire a handmade wardrobe, or plotting out outfits.

The infamous and highly-coveted Fringe Field Bag

The infamous and highly-coveted Fringe Field Bag

Let's talk project bags. I love to keep all of my individual projects tucked away in their own special bag. That way I don't lose anything, I've got everything I need for that project and I can just grab and go! I am not a monogamous knitter - I tend to have 2 to 4 projects on my needles at all times. When I am heading to my knitting group, I just pick the easiest one to work on while chatting and I am out the door. At home in my studio - having everything in their own bag, helps me keep organized! I also usually keep a row counter in each bag, that way I don't get them mixed up and end up on the wrong row in my project!

My absolute favorite bag is the Field Bag by Fringe Supply Co. This is a seriously well made bag. It is sturdy, stylish, and functional. I love the simplistic design, and useful details. It has a sturdy bottom and sits upright on the table, so I can utilize it like a yarn bowl. It has a drawstring and handle for easy portability. Pockets!! I've mentioned how I like to keep everything I need for a project all together in one bag - now I have space for pens, pencils, stitch holders, scissors, stitch markers, row counter, notebook, scrap yarn and spare needles. Seriously - I just can't say enough good things (which is why I own four - no joke.)

My "I use these for every single project" notions.

1. Lantern Moon Sheep Measuring Tape- I've had this little guy for probably 14 years. I love him. He brings me joy every time I use him. Every knitter needs a tape measure - might as well make it a cute one! (You can probably find this at your LYS! Support small business if you can!)

2. Clover Row Counter - There are all kinds of row counters out there and this one is by far my favorite. Again, I began using it way back when I first started knitting. I have tried others. Simpler ones, and fancier ones - and I just find this is the best for me. The "click" helps remind me that I pushed it so I know I am not forgetting rows, and it's sturdy. I have a couple so I can have one for each project. (You can probably find this at your LYS! Support small business if you can!)

3. Chibi Tapestry Needles and Holder - As you can tell from the wear and tear, I also got this when I was a relatively new knitter. Nostalgia and functionality holds its place in my top fave tools. It does exactly as it is suppose to, and I like its now worn look. There are some much more modern holders available these days, so go with what fits your style - but for me, this guy is perfect! (You can probably find this at your LYS! Support small business if you can!)

4. Stitch Markers and Pouch - I got this as a gift from my friend, Marlee, and I adore it! The brass stitch markers are perfect for many different needle sizes, and the pouch is just so special. Little pieces like this (especially when received from friends) add so much joy to my work days.

5. Sharp, Small Scissors - (not pictured) I use small, gold handled embroidery scissors that I keep in my notion bag. They are probably about 10 years old, and still sharp and easily portable. And pretty - very pretty. I don't think you can get that particular set anymore, but there are sooo many options out there for all different kinds of styles. You can find them at your LYS, Fringe Supply Co., and any craft store.


So there you have it! Some of my all time, and most used, favorite tools. These are the workhorses of my collection, that I am utilizing every single day. I really like to "use" my tools - I am not gentle. So to have high quality, durable items, is really important to me. I hope you found this useful!!

To help you build up your own hard working tool set I am SO excited to announce that Karen of Fringe Supply Co. has offered a $50 gift certificate to her shop (does not include shipping costs)  for one lucky winner!!! To enter, simply leave me a comment below carrying on the discussion! What are you favorite tools? Are their items you want to see a post about? Let me know! And don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment so I have a way to reach you if you win! Giveaway is open until March 13 at midnight.

Hand Care: Taking Care of Our Most Precious Tools

knitting, techniques, toolsAndrea Mowry8 Comments

This past week I have been very busy knitting EVERYTHING. As you can imagine, this can take a real toll, and so I wanted to take a moment today to talk about taking care of and protecting our most precious tool - our hands. Early in the week, with deadlines looming, I noticed I was knitting "thru the pain," and knew I had better start paying attention to that twinge of discomfort pinging in my thumb. Even though I didn't want to, I set my knitting down, did some stretches and a hand massage, and left my knitting for the next day. Taking this brief time out, allowed my hands the necessary time they needed to rest so that I didn't end up with a worse problem. In the past, I made the mistake of ignoring the warning signals - and paid the price dearly. Listen to your body, take short breaks now, so that your hands don't end up on the sidelines for a number of weeks (or worse months!)

I have been an avid knitter for many, many years, but before knitting became my job, my hands were still the force behind my livelihood. My twenties were spent baking as a pastry chef, with a brief stint as a hairdresser thrown in. I love to use my hands, and they have treated me well over the years. After a few injuries, I have learned to take good care of them, so I can continue doing what I love!

I am sure I am not the only one out there guilty of hours of marathon knitting whenever my life allows. You may have had your own experiences in the past of "over-doing" it, and ending up with very sore hands (or worse, a serious injury.)

Let me stop and say here - I am not a doctor. Everything contained in this post is what I, personally, have found helpful, and is my own opinion. If you are concerned you may have injured your hands, please see a specialist!


My top three tips for keeping your hands happy and crafty are:

1. Take breaks!! It is so easy to slip into the knitting zone (especially if you have a great Netflix series or audio book going ;). Your hands will fair much better in the long run if you take a break at least every 30 minutes. It doesn't have to be long, but just something to break up the repetitive movements. A few minutes, and you can pick up and keep going! If you tend to get lost in the meditation of knitting, try setting a little timer on your phone as a helpful reminder!


2. Moisturize! Especially in these colder winter months, are hands get so dry. Give them some love with a good moisturizer. And better yet, throw in a quick hand massage at the same time! My current favorite that I keep in my project bag is Love and Leche Lotion Bars. I have tried all kinds of different hand products, and I really love this one for a number of reasons. For one - it's adorable, I love the stamped bee on the bar, or even better the hearts they stamped for Valentine's Day! The scents are delicious, while being very mild. I love my essential oils, but I don't always want to impose them on the entire cafe I happen to be knitting at! Most importantly - this lotion doesn't interfere with my knitting. I have tried so many moisturizers that leave my hands greasy or wet feeling, which is not ideal when you are trying to work with fiber and slippery needles. These bars feel decadent as your rub them between your hands, and then leave a moisture that is easy to work into your skin, leaving your hands soft and ready to knit. I actually love my bar so much I wanted to share with you a quote from the companies site:

When you receive one of my soaps or lotion bars, they may have been hand-poured by my son Simon, and packaged by my daughter Roan. The packaging was designed by a local designer, and strives to be as green as possible for the size of my business: recyclable, reusable, re-giftable, or keepable-foreverable! The artisan designs were thoughtfully created as a collaboration between myself and local sculptor Stephanie Huerta...
— www.loveandleche.com

What a great treat to have in my bag - from a family run business that cares. To read more about the benefits of these bars, and to get your own you can head HERE. I am lucky enough that my LYS sells these - yours might too!

While moisturizing my hands, I always give myself a little hand massage. One of my favorite parts of the massage is to pretend that my fingers extend all of the way to the base of my hand at my wrist. I follow this path all the way up, pushing and squeezing gently, to the tip of each of finger. Imagine you are "milking a cow."

While moisturizing my hands, I always give myself a little hand massage. One of my favorite parts of the massage is to pretend that my fingers extend all of the way to the base of my hand at my wrist. I follow this path all the way up, pushing and squeezing gently, to the tip of each of finger. Imagine you are "milking a cow."


3. Stretch! Below are some of my favorite stretches to do during my breaks.

I typically begin my simply bracing my hands against a wall or table and pushing gently. I start with my fingers pointing up, hold the stretch for 10 seconds, and then rotate so my fingers are pointing down and hold for another 10 seconds. 

I typically begin my simply bracing my hands against a wall or table and pushing gently. I start with my fingers pointing up, hold the stretch for 10 seconds, and then rotate so my fingers are pointing down and hold for another 10 seconds. 

Here is another variation on that same stretch that you can do anywhere. I really like this version as I can very gently adjust my hand a bit to the right or left to feel the stretch stronger on one side, and then the other. This is great to loosen up your wrist. Remember to repeat this stretch with the other hand!

Here is another variation on that same stretch that you can do anywhere. I really like this version as I can very gently adjust my hand a bit to the right or left to feel the stretch stronger on one side, and then the other. This is great to loosen up your wrist. Remember to repeat this stretch with the other hand!

This stretch I find not only alleviates any tension in my forearm and wrist, but also in my fingers. With your arm outright, gently pull back on your fingers with your other hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat with your other hand.

This stretch I find not only alleviates any tension in my forearm and wrist, but also in my fingers. With your arm outright, gently pull back on your fingers with your other hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat with your other hand.

Thumbs! Mine seem to get the brunt of the work sometimes and can get really tight. In this stretch just hold your hand out with fingers spread and gently pull your thumb towards the back of your hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat with your other thumb.

Thumbs! Mine seem to get the brunt of the work sometimes and can get really tight. In this stretch just hold your hand out with fingers spread and gently pull your thumb towards the back of your hand. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat with your other thumb.

Pinky's up! Same as the above stretch, just with your pinky instead of your thumb. Feel free to repeat this stretch with all of your fingers.

Pinky's up! Same as the above stretch, just with your pinky instead of your thumb. Feel free to repeat this stretch with all of your fingers.

This forearm stretch is another favorite. I work down the outside of my arm, then rotate and work down the inside of my arm. Simply squeeze and then gently push down towards your hand (without actually slipping down your arm) to stretch. Hold this for at least 30 seconds. Let go, move down your arm a little ways, and repeat. I usually do 2-3 segments to make it down the lower part of my arm.

This forearm stretch is another favorite. I work down the outside of my arm, then rotate and work down the inside of my arm. Simply squeeze and then gently push down towards your hand (without actually slipping down your arm) to stretch. Hold this for at least 30 seconds. Let go, move down your arm a little ways, and repeat. I usually do 2-3 segments to make it down the lower part of my arm.

Same as above, working down the inside of my arm.

Same as above, working down the inside of my arm.

Lastly, a stretch I think we are all familiar with! Simply lock your fingers together, rotate palms facing out and push away from your body. Hold stretch for 15 seconds, repeat if desired.

Lastly, a stretch I think we are all familiar with! Simply lock your fingers together, rotate palms facing out and push away from your body. Hold stretch for 15 seconds, repeat if desired.

I hope this post helps to inspire you to take care your precious five-fingered assets. If you have any tips you want to share on you how take care of your hands- please leave them in the comments!!


Congratulations to Nikki - the winner of last week's giveaway!!

//Yarn Babies// Part 2 - A Good Yarn Sarasota

knitting, tools, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry2 Comments
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Today's Yarn Babies post is going to be a bit different than last weeks. Instead of focusing on a yarn company, I am going to chat about a specific, stunning skein from a yarn shop, A Good Yarn, in Sarasota, FL!

This beauty is called Midnight Pass, and it is an exclusive Madeline Tosh colorway for A Good Yarn. Y'all - the pictures just aren't going to do this yarn justice. It is much more bright aqua then any of my photographs could capture. It is like staring into a deep, blue pool of perfection!

I know most of us will be familiar (aka obsessed) with Madeline Tosh. My favorite Tosh base is definitely Tosh Merino Light (TML) - which happens to be what this little pretty is dyed on. I am a sucker for a single ply, and this one does not disappoint. The uses for this fingering weight yarn are endless - my favorite is definitely a shawl. Which is what I have planned for this lovely skein. It is just itching to be paired up with 2 other skeins and knit into a perfect summer shawl - maybe crescent shaped, with some lace texture??

No joke - I tried so hard to capture the true color of this gem! Every background I could find got a chance...

No joke - I tried so hard to capture the true color of this gem! Every background I could find got a chance...

A Good Yarn Sarasota has a whole line of exclusive colorways (oh to own a yarn shop!) and each one is stunning! I especially love how it really correlates to their local community! You can even see inspiration pictures paired with most of these colorways and how they came up with them - so cool. So if you want to check out a shop with a personality that shines thru their yarn, I highly recommend it!

Are you lucky enough to have visited this shop in person?? If so, I am dying to hear about it, so tell me everything in the comments below!! As always, I love to hear about other yarns you want to see showcased here! The conversation continues next Sunday!

Also, a big congratulations to Brienne, the winner of the Eucalan Giveaway!!!

Washing Woolens & Eucalan Giveaway!!

knitting, tools, techniquesAndrea Mowry85 Comments

Grab a hot bevi, and let's talk about washing and blocking our woolens!!

I am passionate about blocking and truly believe it will take you to the next level as a knitter!  My favorite wool wash company, Eucalan, also happens to be celebrating their 25th year! So I thought it was perfect timing to really delve into another of my favorite topics ;)

I know there is many a knitter out there who finds blocking their knits akin to cleaning the bathroom - it's just not high on your to do list, or maybe better stated, your want-to-do list. I hope today I can change your mind.

In my earlier days of knitting, I avoided blocking my knits - I just couldn't be bothered! I wanted to get back to the fun part - the knitting! (And don't even get me started on swatching!) Thankfully, thanks to the wisdom of Elizabeth Zimmerman, and some eye opening personal experiences, I am now a faithful blocker, and I actually really enjoy it!

They take time and care to make, so wash them with time and care.
— Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitting Without Tears

I have two specific memories that helped change the way I feel about washing and blocking my woolly goodies. The first was a sweater - bulkier weight, hip length and full of big, squishy cables. The second it was off my needles and seamed, I tried it on and was so sad. It added about 10 pounds to my hips alone! The bulky yarn and the squishy cables I had dreamed of, were hugging me in all the wrong places and to say it was unflattering on me, was an understatement. I folded it up and gave it to a woman much more petite than myself. Guess what I didn't do? I didn't block it. Those beautiful cables never had the chance to open up - to really show themselves. The drape and fit of the sweater never got to bloom and relax thanks to a quick soak in the tub. The sweater was never given a chance to reach it's potential! Many sweaters later, I learned how powerful of a tool blocking can be, and how essential it really is. Had I blocked that sweater, it no longer would have been pulling in at odd angles from the freshly knit cables. It would have hung properly on my frame, given the opportunity to open up, thanks to a dip in some warm water and a few pins on the blocking boards.

...you are the master of your sweater. A damp sweater may be shaped to your will. It may even be made slightly larger or slightly smaller, by slightly stretching it, or gently coaxing it in.
— Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitting Without Tears

Okay, so I learned to block my sweaters - a big step in the right direction. But hats? Really? Do I really NEEEEDDDD to block my hats??? YES!!! Oh the lumpy crowns of hats I see out in the real world, that could be so round and beautifully shaped, if just given a teensy bit of TLC. The laces and cables that would open; the perfect drape achieved for the slouchy hat we all love so much!! It was cables that did it for me again - taught me the lesson I kept pushing back against. I knit a really beautiful cabled hat, and then threw it on my head (like I would do with all of my hats the moment I bound them off - often times forgetting to weave in the ends.) Hmph, I thought, this really doesn't fit as nicely as it does in the picture. The crown squished together, and the cables sort of enveloped themselves. So what did I do?? Gave it away. Again. Fast forward a year, when I designed my first hat. Being a good little designer I did everything the proper way - swatches, samples, and of course blocking. Mind blown. The crown of my hat was so perfect. I couldn't believe it. How had I not put two and two together all these years?? So that was it. From there on out there isn't a swatch or knit that comes off my needles without a trip to the tub. 

So let's get to the knitty gritty - this is how I block:

Water - think warm enough for a baby's bath (after all, these are your handknit babies you are about to wash). I opt for the kitchen sink, but the bathub, a bucket, a big bowl, anything that can hold a sufficient amount of water to soak your knit is just fine.

Soap - My current favorite is Eucalan Delicate Wash. It is non-toxic, eco-friendly, biodegradable, lanolin-rich and a big one for me - NO RINSE! When I first started blocking I would just use some gentle shampoo. Well if you have tried that, you might be able to feel me on trying to then rinse your woolen. I hated having to refill the basin a couple times to get the soap out. I have also just used a few drops of essential oils - but in my family, we really wear our woolens, and especially with a toddler, I wanted a little more oomph in my sweater bath. My favorite scent is Grapefruit, followed closely by the Lavender. The Grapefruit is scented with grapefruit essential oils which are also naturally antiseptic! The Lavendar is even more amazing - it's antiseptic, deters moths, is rich in lanolin to keep your woolens soft and static free and it's soothing scent is perfect for relaxing, especially for little ones! I love to use it for all of my daughters woolens. The best part is a little goes a long way. I find a capful in my sink is plenty, and my sink can fit a number of articles at once.

Soak - So you've got your warm (NOT hot) water, a bit of wool wash and now it is time to add your woolens! Just toss them in the water and give a gentle squeeze. If you are washing 100% wool that is not superwash, you want to be careful with how much you agitate the knit in the water. We don't want to felt anything, so just gently squeeze it to help it absorb the water. Then leave it to soak for about 15 minutes.

Remove Moisture - This step is pretty important, as you don't want a waterlogged woolen taking days to dry and left smelling like it needs another bath. First, drain the water and then gently squeeze as much excess water as you can with your hands. Next, some brave souls throw it in their washer and run a spin cycle. I have found a big bath towel does the trick just fine for me. I lay out my towel and gently spread my knit out on it. Roll it up like a burrito, and use your full body weight to help press the water out (in other words, go ahead and stand or sit on it!) If your woolen was still really saturated when you pulled it from its bath, you may want to repeat this once more with a dry towel. Not to get repetitive - but do remember to be gentle, damp stitches are heavier, and can get stretched easier if you aren't careful. I find this to be especially true of superwash yarns, which doesn't seem to have quite the same elasticity as their untreated brothers.

Lay Flat to Dry - Time to lay it out and let it dry! I opt for blocking mats, as I find them extremely useful. But you can easily use any large surface you've got! For years - I overtook our dining room table. A word to the wise - do not lay your knits out on towels to dry! The towels will soak in the moisture and now you just have damp garments on top of damp towels getting stinky together and taking forever to dry. If you aren't using blocking mats, I would suggest laying everything out onto garbage bags. The bags can't soak up moisture, so instead the moisture is forced to evaporate. If you need to pin, you can lay the garbage bags over a rug or on your bed, ect...

Blocking Pins and Wires - Some knits are going to want to curl at the edges, so you will need to pin them down. Other items (lace, cables..) need to be more aggressively blocked, and to keep them open you must use pins. In my opinion, pins are essential for blocking, even though you may not use them for every single project, you will most likely use them for most. Wires are great for us shawl lovers out there. They help give a nice straight edge and can be used in all kinds of creative ways when you need to do a "harder block" (i.e. opening up lace or cables.)

Shawls - shawls have to be blocked to obtain their desired shape and look.

Swatches - If you really want to be sure you can trust your swatch, block it the same way you would the finished item you plan to knit. Be amazed at how much tidier your stitches and tension look after a dip in the tub.

Hats - You can block hats flat, or, to really help with the crown shaping they do great draped over something. My favorite is a 6" cake pan turned upside down over a mason jar. An appropriately sized bowl would work great, too. If you want to have even more fun with it - blow up a balloon inside the hat to get the perfect, round head shape!

Our knits take so much of our time, love, and effort, let's take care of them so we can continue to enjoy them for years to come! I am so excited to be able to giveaway a collection of Eucalan's different washes! I am fascinated by these washes and their amazing properties! I touched on the Grapefruit and Lavender above. The Eucalyptus is a great unisex scent that is also a moth and flea inhibitor. If you store your sweaters for the warmer seasons, I highly recommend washing them in this first to help protect them while they are stored! The Natural is perfect for anyone with skin sensitivities, or if you have asthma that is easily effected by any scents. It is still lanolin-rich to keep your knits soft and static free. Lastly, Jasmine is the most intoxicating of the scents! Also rich in lanolin and antiseptic. It would be great one to use for your lingerie as well as your woolens. One lucky winner will win all of 5 of these! Just leave me a comment below with your email address and tell me what you plan to get in your wool bath first! The giveaway will close Saturday, 1/23/16 at midnight PST.

Do you have some great blocking tips?? Share with us in the comments below!

Congratulations to Vicky, our winner of the last week's giveaway!!

 

//Yarn Babies// Part I - Mountain Meadow Wool

knitting, tools, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry70 Comments

Hey y'all!! I don't know about you - but one of my all time favorite topics is yarn (obvi)! So I thought I would start a new weekly chat, where we can talk about our favorites!! I am going to kick things off this week with Mountain Meadow Wool (and a giveaway!!).

Left: Powder River 75% Mountain Merino, 25% American Alpaca; Right: Powell 4-ply Worsted 85% Mountain Merino, 15% Alpaca in colorway Lupine

Left: Powder River 75% Mountain Merino, 25% American Alpaca; Right: Powell 4-ply Worsted 85% Mountain Merino, 15% Alpaca in colorway Lupine

I was lucky enough to first be introduced to this beautiful American-made yarn by my LYS (Woven Art) owner, Meg. Having just had my eyes opened by my sweet friend Ashley of Woolful, I was on the hunt for more yarns with a story. I love to support yarn producers that are doing everything they can to run a "conscious" company. Producers that are conscious of their product quality, where it is coming from, how it is effecting our environment and communities, and how they treat their employees and fellow business people. Mountain Meadow Wool has a pretty incredible story and strives to hit every single one of these marks:

Our fiber factory begins in Wyoming’s rugged mountain climate.

Because it is so fine, mountain merino yarn is silky soft to the touch, insulates well, and feels delightful next to your skin.

We process the best fiber from the best growers in the West, transforming it into extraordinary wool products: knitting and weaving yarns; handspinner roving; quilt batts; felt and more.

We use only environmentally friendly cleanser, and vegetable based spinning oil.

- In operation since 2007
- Currently processing 15,000 lbs of wool a year with capacity of 80,000 lbs
- Producing 11 types of yarn as well as custom blending and spinning
- 11 Employees, women owned
- 5,000 visitors per year
- Selling in 42 States and 3 countries overseas
- Complete full service mill, including scouring.
- Work with 16 ranching families for environmental agricultural sustainability and economic opportunity
- 100% natural, using bio-degradable soaps and non-petroleum spinning oil
- 100% made in USA
- 100% Hand-dyed using natural techniques
— http://www.mountainmeadowwool.com/
North Country Mitts: Pattern available  HERE

North Country Mitts: Pattern available HERE

I love Laramie, their 2-ply worsted weight, which I used for my North Country Mitts this past autumn. Cushy, with a woolen spun, I am hoping to knit up a sweater next fall, possibly in the same colorway you see above - Prairie! The subtle changes in dye makes the yarn a real treat to knit up, and I love the balance of the rustic woolly appearance with the next-to-skin softness!

Powell 4-ply worsted in Lupine Colorway

Powell 4-ply worsted in Lupine Colorway

I am delighted to giveaway a skein of their 4-ply worsted weight yarn, Powell, and my North Country Mitts pattern to one lucky winner! All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment below with your email address and your favorite yarn that you would like to see me chat about here! The giveaway is open until midnight EST on Wednesday 1/20/16!

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about these amazing women and their company, I highly recommend giving the Woolful Podcast a listen!

If you need me, I will be drooling over this Powder River -a unique blend of 63% mountain merino™, 25% alpaca and 12% black rambouillet - that I've got on my needles :)

Do you have a yarn brand you love? Let me know! Leave a comment below and tell me why you love them! Are you a yarn company that would like to see your yarn here? Email me at dreareneeknits@gmail.com !

Nova Cubics Platina Interchangeable Needles

knitting, tools, needlesAndrea Mowry11 Comments

Let's talk knitting needles. I think we all go thru a transformation as knitters when it comes to the tools we use. Many of us were lucky to learn on needles handed down from our grandmothers, and even more of us start off with whatever we find at garage sales or on sale at the craft store. There are endless options when it comes to needles - from plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, wood, bamboo, glow-in-the-dark, light up, bone, ivory...you name it - you can probably find it. Not to mention straight, double pointed or circular.

I started off with a pair of aluminum needles, but quickly moved on to bamboo. There was something about the natural feel of bamboo that really appealed to me - until I used my first pair of Addi Turbos. My stitches flew off the needles with increasing speed, and I knew there was no looking back. My other needles began to collect dust as I opted for metal needles more and more.

Choosing the material of the knitting needle is really user preference. We all knit differently (which should be celebrated!!) and thus, have different needs. I am a very tight knitter, and found that the stickiness of bamboo clashed with how tight my stitches were. Where as metal needles give me the slip and glide to help my stitches flow smoothly over the needles. If you are a tight knitter like me - give metal a try! If you tend to knit very loosely, you might prefer the grip that wooden and bamboo needles can offer!

Next up - straight, circular or double pointeds?? Again, this has a lot to do with user preference, and what type of projects you prefer to knit. I have found that I only need (and only use) circular needles. They work perfectly for any project that I encounter, especially if you master the fabulous "magic loop" trick of knitting a small circumference on a single pair of circular needles. I prefer magic loop over double pointed needles for mainly two reasons. Firstly, I don't need as many needles. I can often use one set of circular needles for an entire sweater project, because the longer circulars I needed for the body, work great for magic loop for the sleeves! Secondly, I found that when I was knitting in the round, my tension and fabric turned out neater thanks to less jumps between needles (there are only two when using magic loop, as opposed to 3 or more when using DPNs). Again, this is just my preference! If you haven't tried out magic loop, but would like to - here is a great tutorial!

So what is the point of all this needle chatter?? Well, I wish someone had told me years ago when I began knitting more and more, and investing more and more money into my new found hobby, how much money I would have saved in the long run by purchasing a set of interchangeable needles, as opposed to individual needles.

I love the versatility that a set of interchangeable needles can offer the knitter! You always have the size needles you need, and my personal experience is that you will no longer need that big stash of individual needles you have collected over the years.

Again, we have lots of options when it comes to needle sets - many brands, and again different materials and of course sizes. I think the most important factors to consider are: needle material, needle sizes, tip sharpness, cord material, cord lengths, the join between the cord and the needle, and price.

Today I am going to talk about my latest set - the Cubics Platina from Knitter's Pride. I just finished my first project with these needles and I wanted to share what I thought of them, specifically the factors I find most important!

Knitter's Pride Cubics Platina Deluxe Interchangeable Needle Set

>>The specs: Includes needle tips for sizes US6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11/4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 8mm; 4 cords - 24in/60cm, 2x 32in/80cm, 40in/100cm, 1 set of cord connectors, 8 end caps, 4 cord keys, and a carrying case.

>>Needle Material & Shape: Chrome coated brass pipes. I would compare these to other metal needles - my stitches flowed easily and quickly over them! What are really unique about these needles are their cube shape! I was so curious about how it would be knitting on square needles instead of round - and I have to say - I loved it! They were so comfortable in my hands, and most importantly, I found my tension actually improved! Even after all my years knitting, I still have trouble with even tension when knitting stockinette stitch flat. My purl stitches are just looser than my knit, and it tends to show in my knitted fabric. I found when using these needles I notice much less of a difference! Yay!!

>>Needle Sizes: With sizes ranging from US6 - US11, these needles are great if you tend to knit with DK, worsted, or Aran weight yarns! I knit up a worsted shawl with mine on the size US8 needles, and it was perfect!

>>Tip Sharpness: These needles are nice and sharp, which I love! If you enjoy knitting lace, brioche or cables, you will really benefit from a sharper tip. It makes it so much easier to move stitches from one needle to the other!

>>Cord material: I worked with a LOT of different circular needle brands, including many different interchangeable brands. I have to say, that when it comes it cord material - these are the best I've found. Some cords are just too stiff, or get kinks , or won't unwind. These were flexible and soft. I am very impressed!

>>Cord lengths: This set is really ideal for someone who loves to knit shawls and sweaters, or anything on magic loop. I have the "Normal IC" size, which means it does not include a 16in/40cm cord, because the tips would be too long. From what I could tell on the website, you can get a set that has shorter tips and includes a 16in/40cm cord, although I could not find that set for sale on Amazon. If you are big on hat knitting, I would suggest trying to find the shorter tip set! Otherwise, you should have no problem with the longer tips and cord lengths!

>>THE JOIN!!: To me, this is definitely one of the most (if not the most) important factor to consider. There is nothing worse than having a rough join between your needle tip and your cord, that catches your yarn every time you try to push your stitches over it. Or even worse, a weak join that comes undone, leaving your stitches without a cord! Luckily - you won't have either of those problems with these needles. They utilize a screw in system, with a little cord key that ensures they are screwed in tight enough. I had no issues with them coming unscrewed, and the join was perfectly smooth. I do highly recommend using the enclosed cord key, otherwise you may risk them coming unscrewed as you knit.

>>Price: On Amazon.com this exact set runs for about $72.  Which is a very fair price as far as needle sets go! I have sets that cost double that, and I think the quality of these needles surpass them. In the beginning, it may feel like a lot of money to spend on needles, but you will save yourself so much going for a set instead of spending $10-$20 on each new individual needle size you will want to own down the road.

So there you have it! If you are finding yourself getting more and more serious about your knitting, I really recommend investing in a good set of needles. Let me know if you have any questions - as you may have noticed, this is a topic I LOVE to talk about :)

xoxo