Thursday, September 18, 2014

Unique Feet

Once upon a time, many years ago we had a club called the Ram Club and it was all about men's socks (and, for a brief period, men's accessories). Our designer Charles Voth came to us one day with an idea for this club and my initial reaction was "Well, I doubt it'll be very popular but if you don't mind designing for what might just be a few customers...we'll give it a try!". I was wrong. Very wrong. It ended up being a huge hit. I had no idea how many people out there were looking for interesting patterns for socks in larger sizes. We had a good number of members who were men themselves but we also had plenty of female members who were knitting for men or simply enjoyed the wider size range that these patterns offer. After a few years we discontinued the club because many of our loyal members had either run out of feet that needed covering or had acquired such a prodigious sock yarn stash that they needed some time to work through it. We didn't stop designing men's sock patterns, though. Charles, along with several of our other favorite designers and a few new ones, kept working on men's sock patterns and eventually we had enough good ones that we were ready to put together a book. This book, Unique Feet, contains 15 sock patterns that range from basic ribbed to cabled kilt stockings and from rustic boot socks to corporate dress socks to totally wacky super hero socks! All of the patterns include instructions for multiple sizes and we have included both toe up and top down patterns. 
We recommend buying the book directly from our publisher, Cooperative Press. When you buy the hardcopy book you get the e-book thrown in for free which is awesome because it means you get a physical book to enjoy flipping through and admire on the shelf, but you also get the instant gratification of an e-book plus the convenience of being able to access your patterns anywhere from your phone/tablet/laptop. Or you can save a few bucks and get the e-book alone either from the Cooperative Press page or via Ravelry. To see details about all the socks featured in the book, please click the Ravelry link. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Great Doctor Who Scarf Project

If you are a Doctor Who fan (and who isn't these days?) and a knitter then you have almost certainly heard about the Doctor Who Scarf. This epic garter stitch scarf was worn by the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and has become one of the best known symbols of classic Doctor Who. Whether you are going all the way and doing the full 12ft long scarf or knitting a project that is more scarf-inspired (like these awesome stockings) its crucial that you get the colors just right. There have been plenty of suggestions for yarn brands and colors that will work but it can be hard to find all the colors you need all in the same base so we had a customer come to us with a challenge- to dye up a set of Doctor Who Scarf colors on our Super Wool DK yarn.

-borrowed from

We used the extensively research site as a guide. They even have a list of pantone colors that are supposed to be a perfect match to the original scarf. Armed with my official Pantone color cards I was able to create dye recipes to perfectly match the colors. Unfortunately though the colors are a match, they still aren't quite "right". As the customer put it, they aren't as "dull and lifeless" as the originals. I think that this is, in part, because we only ever saw the scarf under studio lighting and through the filter of 1970s video recording equipment. And lets just say that back then TV wasn't exactly HD. According to the website the scarf itself was actually  a bit brighter and more saturated, but the scarf- as we saw it- was more dulled down. So the big question: replicate the scarf as it originally existed in-real-life or the way it looked on screen. 

Here you can see the way my original recipes turned out. I have two photos for each skein in order to try to show the color as accurately as possible but, as usual, different computer monitors will show the colors differently. Keep in mind the the background of the photos is a piece of heavy white computer paper. 

My next step is to try the same color recipes but less saturated to give it a more faded look. If that doesn't give us the perfect results I may try the recipes on our Green Sheep Fingering base and see how it looks on a non-superwash wool. 

If you find yourself in need of a 12 foot long, one foot wide behemoth of a wool scarf (and after this remarkably cold winter it doesn't sound like a bad idea), you can get your own kit here. Each color is also available individually for purchase on any of our base yarns. Keep in mind that on our other bases the color will turn out slightly different. If you are searching for extreme accuracy please contact us before ordering so we can discuss your yarn base options and, if necessary, tailor our recipes to your needs. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Knitter's Christmas Eve

This holiday season would not be complete without the A Knitter's Christmas Eve, a poem by Nancy Massaroni that has been circulating among knitters for a number of years. As you read this poem, expect a chuckle, as it will all sound way too familiar. 
So enjoy a quick break....and then get back to work!!

A Knitter's Christmas Eve poem
by Nancy Massaroni, 2009

’Twas the night before Christmas and all around me
There was unfinished knitting not under the tree.
The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care
’Cause the heels and the toes had not a stitch there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
But I had not finished the caps for their heads.
Dad was asleep—he was no help at all.
And the sweater for him was six sizes too small.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I put down my needles to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash.
Tripped over my yarn and fell down in my stash.
The tangle of yarn that lay deep as the snow
Reminded me how far I still had to go.
When out on the lawn I heard such a noise,
I was sure it would wake up both Dad and the boys.
And although I was tired and my brain a bit thick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nic.
Yet what I heard left me very perplex-ed
For nothing I heard was what I expect-ed.
"Move Rowan! Move Patons! Move Koigu and Clover!
Move Shelridge! Move Starmore! Move Spinrite! Move over!
Lopi, don’t circle around, just stand there in line.
Pay attention you sheep and you’ll work out just fine!
I know this is hard, as it’s just your first year,
But I’d hate to go back to 8 tiny reindeer."
I peered over the sill.What I saw was amazing!
Eight wooly sheep on my lawn all a-grazing!
And then in a twinkle, I heard at the door
Santa’s big boots stomping on the porch floor.
I rose from my knees and got back on my feet.
As I turned around, St Nic I did meet.
He was dressed all in wool from his head to his toe
And his clothes were hand knit from above to below.
A bright Fair Isle sweater he wore on his back,
And his toys were all stuffed in an Aran sack.
His hat was a wonder of bobbles and lace,
A beautiful frame for his rosy red face.
The scarf on his neck could have stretched for a mile,
And the socks peeking over his boots were Argyle.
On the back of his mitts was an intricate cable.
And suddenly on one I spotted a small label:
"S.C." in duplicate on the cuff.
So I asked, "Hey, Nic, did YOU knit all this stuff?"
He proudly replied, "Ho, ho, ho, yes I did.
I learned how to knit when I was a kid."
He was chubby and plump, a well-dressed old man,
And I laughed to myself, for I’d thought up a plan.
I flashed him a grin and jumped up in the air,
And the next thing he knew, he was tied to a chair.
He spoke not a word, but looked down in his lap
Where I had laid my needles and yarn for a cap.
He began then to knit, first one cap then two.
For the first time I thought I might really get through.
He put heels in the stockings and toes in some socks,
While I sat back drinking a scotch on the rocks.
Quickly like magic his needles they flew,
Good Grief! He was finished by two!
He sprang for his sleigh when I let him go free,
And over his shoulder he looked back at me.
I heard him explain as he sailed past the moon,
"Next year, start your knitting sometime around JUNE!"

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Zodiac Club Art Experiments

Has anyone used the set of art supplies from the July shipment to explore their creative side, yet? I've been playing around with the mini canvases a bit. I love their size because you can experiment with a technique or an idea without getting overwhelmed with the project. Forewarning: I haven't had an art class since I was in grade school and even then I usually stuck to sculpting or something else that didn't involved canvas and paint. I'm posting these photos not to show how good or bad of an artist I am, but to share with you the fun I've been having exploring a new (to me) form of art!

First I decided to stick with a subject that is really familiar to me-- the Unique Sheep logo. Normally I use watercolor pencils, regular drawing paper and black ink pen for our logos. For this experiment I used the logo I'm familiar with but used a canvas-paper and gauche paints. Gauche paints are really interesting to work with because they are thick and opaque like acrylic but they are actually a type of water color so if you dip your brush in water you can blend the colors on the page. To me, though, it still feels more like painting with acrylics and feels some what restricting. I do like that with gauche you can do a watercolor like blended background and then use the undiluted, opaque paint to do layers on top -- like the little swirls of color on my sheep. That is definitely a technique worth exploring more. I like how my sheep's body turned out but there is something "off" about her head.

 My second attempt was a medium I'm a bit more familiar with- water color- but a new subject, a portion of the view out the window of my family room. I used watercolor paper and one of those little children's sets of watercolors with 8 or so little slabs of color lined up in a plastic case. I think I would enjoy doing watercolors-- I like the freedom and the way the colors move in the water. Its a LOT like dyeing yarn, only you have to try to make a picture, not just a pretty color. I think I'd like to get a better set of watercolor paints and learn how to use them properly. Overall I'm pleased with how this little painting turned out, given the limitations of my supplies.

I've hung both of my little paintings on our refrigerator, with pride! We don't have kids yet so we rarely have colorful drawings on our fridge, unless we are honored with a gift from a friend, so its nice to brighten it up a bit!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival

Come check out our booth at the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival this weekend in Lexington, KY. We'll be in the "big top" tent with a booth full of Gradiance sets! It looks like it should be a beautiful, spring weekend here in Kentucky and we hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Knitty pattern "Now in a Minute" by Brenda Dayne

The new Knitty "Surprise!" patterns are up and, guess what? One of them uses Unique Sheep yarn! We were so honored when Brenda Dayne asked us to use our yarn and the shawl she designed for it, "Now in a Minute" is a perfect match for our Gradiance collection. It is elegant and feminine without being too overtly lacey, and since most of it is in a simple stockinette stitch pattern its a great option for chatty Knit Nights, travel knitting or sitting-on-the-back-porch-sipping-a-lemonade-and-soaking-in-the-sun-knitting.

This pattern requires 150g of fingering weight yarn (Brenda uses Luxe) in any of our Gradiance colorways. Brenda collaborated with Kelly to create the new colorway "Enfys" for this pattern.

p.s. if the link to the pattern doesn't open immediately, try again later. The Knitty website has a tendency to get a bit overwhelmed by the initial burst of people visiting the site when they announce new patterns!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Website/Old Coupons

I haven't finished transferring all of the old coupon codes to the new website/shopping cart which means that if you have a coupon code, our new website might not accept it. But do not worry--- your coupon is still good! Just email me at and let me know you are ready to use the coupon and I'll re-issue it using the new software.