Friday, December 28, 2007

The Yarn Harlot knits with Unique Sheep Yarn

Stephanie Pearl McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot, posted today about the socks she knit out of Verve in the Doctors without Borders colorway!! Take a look here. Its amazing how popular she is-- we have had 200 people link to our website from her post in the two hours since she posted!!! I better get busy dyeing, huh?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Free Hat Pattern!!

Well it only took me all afternoon to get this loaner computer set up to upload to the website, but finally everything is connecting the way its supposed to, the passwords are typed in correctly, etc. and I have a Christmas present ready for you! As promised, I finally typed up the pattern I've been using for all the toboggans I've been knitting up lately and now its available to you for FREE! Its a top down pattern, which I prefer because you can knit up until the bitter end of your skein of yarn without worrying about running out. I'll work on getting a bottom up version typed up as well, for those who prefer to work in that direction. One skein of Super Wool is enough for an average adult sized hat, but it does take the whole skein so if you are knitting for someone with an extra large head (more room for brains, ya know) you may want to purchase an extra skein. You can always use the extra to knit up a pair of Twisted Mitts for yourself!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More of Laura's Christmas in Paradise

On our second day in Key Largo we went out diving. Every couple of years we try to fit in a scuba diving trip to keep our skills fresh and enjoy the water. We had a great time, but I ended up more exhausted than I expected. Even my lungs felt tired!! I have to admit that I didn't actually get any knitting done on the boat ride out- it was way too windy for that!

The next morning we had a great brunch at a local coffee shop, The Key Largo Conch House, and I brought the second mail man hat along. After brunch we headed south to Key West. We had heard so much about Key West we figured we should check it out. Plus is the southern most part of the United States and only a couple of hours away. I got a lot of knitting done in the car so I didn't mind the drive. I think that Key West is probably more fun a) in the summer b) after dark and c) very very drunk! We had a nice afternoon walking around and window shopping, though. We finished the day off sitting on the dock watching the sunset. How nice! As we were leaving I found a yarn shop---15 minutes after it closed, of course!! I peeked inside, though, and it looked nice. Its probably a good thing I couldn't get in, I really don't need any more yarn right now! If you are in the Florida Keys, though, you should check it out for me and report back. The shop is named Knit Wits and its website is here.

For our final day in Key Largo we decided that the best strategy would be to just chill out on the beach. So I spent ALL day laying in a hammock (or lounge chair) knitting and reading Drunk, Divorces and Covered in Cat Hair by Crazy Aunt Purl (which I recommend, by the way. Its very well written and funny!) Thats the life, huh? I finished up the socks and the blue toboggan, and cast on for another toboggan, also in Super Wool but this time in "Evergreen", a semi-solid dark green. This time I'm going to try it top down. Once this hat is done I'll write up the instructions for both the top down and bottom up versions. My father-in-law was kind enough to try on the toboggan for me, even though it was around 80 and very sunny today! I also knit a little cozy for my camera to keep out the sand and protect it from bumps and scratches. Knit with a double strand of Super Wool its thick and cozy (as a camera cozy should be).

For dinner we had a really impressive seafood dinner at The Fish House, known for being the freshest, best seafood restaurant in Key Largo (if not the whole of the Keys). Every year on the North Carolina coast I have decent seafood, but you know, it really doesn't compare to fresh Stone Crab claws caught off the Florida coast, or sweet, tender scallops and shrimp bathed in a key lime sauce. Mmmmm. And, of course, Key Lime Pie for desert-- we got take out so we could take it back to the hotel and enjoy it with, appropriately, Key Lime Martinis! This is my new favorite drink-- creamy Key Lime Liqueur and Vodka with a little bit of cream (or in my case skim milk, hehe). I bought a bottle of the Liqueur (from the discount store from the last post) to bring home with me so that whenever I need a touch of the Keys I can just pour myself a drink. Yum!

You can see the progress I've made on the green toboggan (the third of the three I need to get done by Christmas). I've got all the top increases done and now its just ribbing until its long enough! I got some help from a local sea creature to help speed me along :)

Tomorrow morning we will get up early and head home. We had planned on stopping over night to break up the driving but we have decided to try to do it all in one shot--its only 13 hours of driving, after all--so that we can have more time at home before Christmas.

Usually when I go on a vacation like this--not visiting family or attending a conference, but a real vacation where you eat too much food, get too much sun and be as unproductive as possible--part of the reason I enjoy it is to "get away" from something. I think most people are like this. For me its usually school-- going on vacation means a break from homework and preparing for tests, from worrying about grades or feeling like I need to spend a certain quota of my time studying. Now that school isn't a big part of my life I don't have that to get away from. For many people the next big thing to escape from would be work. I am SO fortunate that I don't need to escape work, in fact I kind of miss it while I'm away. I won't pretend that the last couple of weeks haven't gotten a bit hectic, trying to get orders out before my trip so that everyone will have their yarn for the holidays and then trying to fix the mistakes I make because I'm in a hurry, trying to figure out what to do when Pay Pal acts up on me and then the computer crashed*....So yeah, its been busy and some evenings when I realize its past bed time and I haven't had a chance to knit yet I feel a little stressed out, but I don't regret for one minute my decision to try my hand at being a professional fiber artist.

So THANK YOU to all of you who have bought a skein of yarn, posted a positive review on your own blog or mentioned The Unique Sheep to a friend. Every time you do this, you help me (and Kelly) to make my dreams come true and let me live such an amazing life. So with every skein of yarn I send out, I include my thanks-- not just for your purchase and your money, but for the opportunity you give me to have a job that I enjoy more than any vacation!

*p.s. my computer crashed. Yes. My life, compressed to the size of a laptop, crashed. I FedExed it to the IS Help Desk on campus and hopefully they are doing something to fix it right now, but who knows when I'll have it back. For now I'm using Chris's computer to check my emails and blog but of course I don't have access to tons of the information and programs that I am used to having at my finger tips. And my organization is all messed up. So if you have emailed me in the last week (or in the coming week) and I haven't gotten back to you, or its been a brief, disorganized email, I apologize. I am pretty much dysfunctional without my laptop to keep me together.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas in the Keys

Laura is on vacation--woohoo!! I'm spending a week in the Florida keys with Chris (fiance) and his parents. Its bizarre to be enjoying sunny skies and 75 degree weather a week before Christmas, but I'm not complaining. I hear that back home in North Carolina they are freezing with 30-40 degree highs, rain and wind!!

The loooong drive down here gave me plenty of time to knit and I finished one of my "tweedy" red and brown socks and cast on for the second. I tried to knit on it on the beach this afternoon but the rocking of the hammock and warmth of the sun made it hard-- I kept dozing off! Chris has also been knitting hard to get some gifts done before Christmas and on some socks of his own. I love a man who can enjoy knitting on the beach!

Now, Chris's family is usually VERY classy and I have done some very sophisticated things with them. But this week we are relaxing. That means take out pizza and Key Lime Martinis (complements of the "Discount Liquor" shop down the road). Thats the second tweedy sock-- I think once I finish this post I'm going to go turn the heel!!

p.s. embarrassing the father-in-law by taking photos of my sock at liquor stores is priceless :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter Photo Contest

I'm feeling the urge to dye up some new colors. What do you think--Is it time for winter colors? I think so. So send me your wintery photos and give me some inspiration. As in the past, if your photo is chosen to be a colorway inspiration you will receive a free skein of yarn in that color. Rules and more information can be found here. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Yarn Has Arrived at Eat. Sleep. Knit.

As of last night, Unique Sheep yarns are now available on the Eat. Sleep. Knit. website! Right now they have Verve, Sushi Socks, Tinsel Toes and mini sock kits, but a HUGE box containing more of each of those plus Super Wool and Chasca will be on its way as soon as I can reskein all of it and pack it up. I wonder how fast you guys can clear them out? That would be the best Christmas present I can think of :).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Binding Off!!

I am so proud of myself-- I'm finally finishing up some Christmas presents! For my grandma, a hairpin lace scarf out of Sushi Socks. The pattern (Oat Couture PH605) calls for DK weight yarn but Sushi Socks is fingering weight, so I just held two strands together!

I also finished a pair of socks, but I can't tell you who they are for until after the big day. For these I used Back to Basics in Spiced Apple and the pattern Tyrolean Socks from the Winter 2007 Interweave Knits. I altered the pattern a bit to fit a man, though.

I still have a couple projects left to go, though. Like these socks for another special fellow. They are simple ribbed socks using two strands of Verve held together, one in Sinful and the other in Spiced Apple. Holding two strands together on size 5 needles makes the socks go really fast!

What have you finished?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pretty Yarns

It's funny how my taste in color changes depending on the season.
Lately this is one of my favorite colorways.

It is called "Chestnuts Roasting" and is being shipped to Woolgirl. It is a custom color dyed for Jen for holiday sales, but this color would be great all year round.

I just need to keep a couple of skeins for personal use!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Too Cute!

I got the cutest little Christmas present in the mail yesterday from one of my vendors, Wool2Dye4. I'm tempted to order some to sell on the website, what do you think? They are perfect for my mini socks...

The Unique Sheep was just featured in the Winter '07 edition of the Wake Forest University Magazine. You can download a pdf of the magazine here.

One hat down, 2 more to go!

I have finished one of the three hats on my holiday knitting list. This one is for the mailman at Knit Picky-- we are making hats for all of our delivery guys. I am also making an identical one for the mailman who delivers to my home. I cast on for it last night. The third will be dark green and for my dad. Thankfully these hats work up pretty quickly in a simple rib pattern on size 8 needles. Once I get the second hat done I will write the pattern up and have it available on the website.

Yarn: Super Wool, held double
Needles: Size 8 DPNS (or circs)
Pattern: Coming Soon!

Yarn is on its way to Eat. Sleep. Knit.

Last Friday I sent out a BIG box of yarn to Eat. Sleep. Knit. so it should be arriving any day now and will be up on their website soon, I hope. Eat. Sleep. Knit. is a online yarn shop dedicated to handpainted yarn. We are honored to be in such good company, sharing shop space with names like Lorna's Laces and Dream in Color. So head on over and support one of the shops that makes it possible for The Unique Sheep to stay in business!

Socks for the Holidays

Laura and I dyed a batch of yarn for Woolgirl in the Colorway "Rudolph" a couple of weeks ago, and I accidentally grabbed a skein of the yarn that was used for these socks.

I recently purchased Cat Bordhi's new book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, and was looking forward to trying her unique sock architectures. This yarn was a perfect choice for the pattern I chose.

The yarn, which is temporarily named "twist" is a 4 ply with one ply that takes the dye darker than the others. It is superwash and almost a worsted weight, and is quite squooshy. It is not listed as one of our base yarns, but I could not resist posting the picture of the socks. Please do inquire if you are interested in the yarn.

I am very happy with how the socks came out and am looking forward to knitting more patterns from Cat's book.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Last Chance for Pre-Christmas Delivery!

If you are planning on purchasing any Unique Sheep yarn as a Christmas present please place your order ASAP! Orders placed after Wed, Dec 12th may not be shipped until after Christmas, so please get your orders in before then! If you've waited too long, you can still get a gift certificate. Also, you might want to check with one of our online vendors to see how late they are offering pre-Christmas delivery.

Criss Cross Lace

This shawl was knitted using Leili in 2 colorways. The body is Faux Karakul Fleece, and the ruffle is Milky Way. You may see some projects made in colorways like these that are not yet listed on the website. If you like this colorway we will dye it for you!

The shawl is very versatile and can be worn as a wrap as you see to the right, as a "shawl" as seen above,
or as a scarf doubled up and wrapped about the neck.

The pattern still needs to be looked over, but let us know if you would like to buy a copy.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Doctors without Borders-- Its adding up!

Its been exactly one month since I started offering the Doctors without Borders colorway and the response has been enormous. This morning I added up all the sales of the Doctors without Borders yarn and, thanks to you, I was able to send in a donation of $163!!! And thats just from one month. I am impressed. If you would like to make a donation to Doctors without Borders on your own, you can do that at their website. If you do, please let me or Stephanie (the Yarn Harlot) know as we are keeping track of how much knitters are donating (because we think knitters are the most generous people in the world and want to prove it). You can read more about Stephanie's efforts to support Doctors without Borders here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Quick and Easy Gift Ideas

Santa will be here soon, are you ready? If not, here is a quick and easy gift idea to knit up in no time. These coffee cup cozies are knit using 2 strands of Super Wool for a thick, squishy cozy to keep your coffee warm and your hands safe. And just in case you spill your coffee, just toss them in the wash- Super Wool is machine washable!

For a coffee cup cozy that will fit an average take-out cup:

Yarn: Super Wool held double
Needles: size 8 DPNs
Gauge: 4sts = 1"

Cast on 40 sts and join for knitting in the round. Knit three rows in k1, p1 rib.
Work pattern of your choice for 2 inches, or desired length.
Knit three rows in k1,p1 rib. Bind off.

The pattern stitch for the center of the cozy can be anything you like as long as it can be worked over 40sts. Plain stockinette, garter or rib works fine but your cozy can also be personalized with the stitch pattern of your choice. I chose the stitch pattern from the popular "My So Called Scarf" for one of my cozies, and the Linked Ribs stitch from the "365 Knitting Stitches a Year" calendar for the other.

These are the perfect gifts for co-workers and teachers, and made even better by slipping in a gift card to your favorite coffee shop!

This free pattern can also be found on the Unique Sheep website.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Another Pair of Gloves

Here is another version of Twisted Mitts made with SuperWool.
I used Blackberry Sauce for these so they match the Neckwarmer I made last week. Usually I do not like to be matchy-matchy, but I had quite a bit of this colorway. There is still some left- any takers?