Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Tour de Fleece and Shallows Sale

If you spin, you probably know the Tour de Fleece starts Saturday. If you don't, well ... in a nutshell, it's a Ravelry event in which spinners spin every day during the Tour de France and challenge themselves in some way. You can spin on drop spindles or wheels (or both). There are big teams for rookies, sprinters, climbers, etc., and lots of "wildcard" teams hosted by various Ravelry groups. 

Today's Tour de Fleece training is done. Getting better! #bonniesennott #spinning #spindlespinning #tourdefleece #bfl

As a drop spindle newbie, I've joined Team Spindlers, where I'm challenging myself to spin at least 15 minutes every day, more on challenge days. I will work my way through the only two fibers in my stash, some Ashland Bay mixed BFL top, and some pin-drafted Cormo roving from Barbara Parry's Springdelle Farm here in western Massachusetts.


Over the past couple of weeks, I've been training for the TDF by spinning, plying, and knitting swatches. I'm hoping to spin enough yarn to make myself a Shallows cowl or mitts—neither requires a lot of yardage and the lace pattern looks good even if the yarn is a little uneven. 

So here's where the sale comes in! Along with the daily spinning, I'm having a Tour de Fleece Shallows sale. Use the coupon code TDF2015 to get 25% off the cowl, the mitts, or the ebook set in my Ravelry pattern store, now through July 26.


I don't have a lot of equipment, so I've been plying on a spindle using the flower pot method—a ball of each single ply under a flowerpot, with the yarn coming through the hole in the bottom. There are faster and more sophisticated ways to ply, but right now, I'm really enjoying this very "homespun" way of doing it. (The balls I'm winding the singles on are cat toy rejects—Snickers turned her nose up at them.)

Ready to ply #spinning #spindlespinning #bonniesennott #yarn

Plying done! #spinning #spindlespinning #yarn #dropspindles

It's been a good day, yarnwise. About 188 yards of 2-ply BFL and 70 yards of the single. #dropspindles #spinning #spindlespinning #handmade #yarn #bfl

 I love that the TDF is not a competition, but lets you challenge yourself in ways that are meaningful to you. If you're a spinner, are you participating in the Tour de Fleece? I'd love to know what you're spinning and what your goals are! 

Single and double. Still a lot to learn but I'm getting better! #spinning #spindlespinning #bfl #handmade #yarn #tourdefleece #bonniesennott


Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Pattern: Grille

Brooklyn Tweed released Wool People 9 yesterday, a collection of new patterns by guest designers. I'm excited to be among them, with a textured vest called Grille.

Pattern: Grille, by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed LOFT in Almanac

Grille is a light, loose-fitting tunic featuring gansey-style overall texture reminiscent of automotive grilles. It's worked from the bottom up in two pieces, after which the shoulders and sides are seamed. The ribbed neckband is picked up and worked in the round, then sewn to the inside for a clean, attractive finish.

Grille is an ideal summer project because it's all about simplicity—simple knitting, construction, and style. Cast on now, knit at your leisure, and by September you'll have a versatile layering piece that will carry you through the fall and even into winter. I designed Grille with many different styling options in mind: wear it with pants and a tailored shirt, or with a pencil skirt for the office, or over a long-sleeved tee and leggings or jeans for casual occasions.

All photos © Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

 There are 14 patterns in Wool People 9—seven lace pieces (I want to make them all!) and seven garments, contributed by designers hailing from Australia, Ukraine, Malaysia, Argentina, Japan, Canada, and the United States. It's truly an honor to be among them.


Thank you very much for reading!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Gearing Up for the Hulst Socks KAL

On your mark! The Hulst Socks KAL starts a week from today. We have great prizes - yarn from Periwinkle Sheep, buttons from Katrinkles, and a project/tote bag made by @missouritrouble. Hope to see you! @katrinkles_knitting_jewelry @periwinklesheep #bluepe

Only a few days until the Hulst Socks KAL starts! Have you got your yarn and pattern? 


The discount on the pattern in my Ravelry store continues through Saturday, June 20. Use the coupon code HULSTKAL to receive $1.00 off.

This KAL is a celebration of both summer sock knitting and summer produce, farmers markets, and CSAs. Already some great recipes have been shared—like a watermelon-cucumber cooler called Summer in a Glass. Find it right here. (Gin is entirely optional, and I can't vouch for how it might affect your sock knitting.)

We have some great prizes, too—free patterns, a lovely project bag, buttons—and a skein of the yarn I knit the sample in, Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors in the Atlantic colorway.

Look what I brought home after having coffee with @periwinklesheep �� Can't wait to design some socks with it! #bluepeninsula #periwinklesheep #knit #knitsocks #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram

I've cast on a second pair, this time using Into the Whirled Gloucester Sock in a chocolately color called Blackthorn. The dark color is a little hard to photograph, but so far the yarn is working really well with this pattern.

Making a pair of Hulst just for me with Into the Whirled Gloucester Sock from Rhinebeck - and feeling like l ought to have chocolate for lunch  ������ #bluepeninsula #knit #knitsocks #knitstagram #knittersofinstagram

Hope to see in you in the KAL! It starts Sunday, but you can join whenever you like.

P.S. A few people have asked about the project bag I'm using for these socks. I sewed it using a Dropcloth Sampler by Rebecca Ringquist. She's got lots of cheerful embroidery samplers in her Etsy shop.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Pattern Giveaway

I'm honored that Vibeke at A Butterfly in My Hair has posted a little bit about me and my designs on her blog. She's also offering a giveaway of a free Blue Peninsula pattern.

All you need to do is take a look at my Ravelry designer page and then leave a comment at A Butterfly in My Hair saying which one(s) you would like to have.

Perhaps Meadow Road?

Meadow Road

Maybe the Fee-bee Mitts?

Fee-bee Mitts_4?

Or if you love socks—maybe Couplet?


Leave your comment by the end of June 14 (Sunday). Good luck!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

New Pattern: Hulst Socks

My blue socks are finally finished, and the pattern is now in my Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy pattern stores.


Pattern: Hulst, by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors in the Atlantic colorway

Named after a road in Amherst, Massachusetts, Hulst is a women's sock with a bit of lace (to keep the knitting interesting) and a bit of stockinette (to make it go quickly). Through midnight EST June 20, you can get $1.00 off the pattern on Ravelry, using the coupon code HULSTKAL.

Hulst is the third pattern in my All You Need Is One collection of designs that use just one skein of yarn (On the Other Hand and Conklaree were the first two). Two more patterns will be added to the collection between now and fall; when you purchase the ebook, it's automatically updated in your Ravelry library each time a new pattern is added. At $16 for five patterns, it's a great deal!



Starting June 21 (first day of summer), we're having a Hulst Socks KAL in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. It's going to be a celebration of sock knitting and the summer growing season. Along with knitting the socks, we'll be sharing photos and stories about our local farms, farmers markets, summer produce and flowers, our gardens, and even recipes.

My sister Jackie and I have split a share at the Brookfield Farm, located on Hulst Road in Amherst, for many years—in fact, we've just started our 19th season as shareholders. It is my favorite place in my hometown, very near and dear to my heart. We had a great time taking the photos there early in the morning last Sunday—no one was about except us and the birds.


The pattern is written for fingering weight yarn. I used the stunning Atlantic colorway of Watercolors sock yarn from the Periwinkle Sheep. Karin has really hit a home run with this color, don't you think? She's also got some other colors perfect for Hulst in her Etsy shop right now, including a rich Cayenne and a summery green called Antidote. 

This sock is worked top down, from the cuff, and features a heel flap with a garter stitch edge. I have to admit, I really fell in love with the heel—it might become my default method from now on. Instructions are given for two sizes, and stitch patterns are provided in both line-by-line written form as well as charts. 



No pattern ever comes about only through my own efforts. My heartfelt thanks go to Karin of the Periwinkle Sheep, for dyeing such gorgeous yarn; my sister Jenny, for her expert tech editing; and my sister Jackie, for her patient modeling (and especially for getting up bright and early, so we could take advantage of the lovely morning light). I'd also like to thank the test knitters who provided helpful feedback about the pattern—Heather and Brenda (take a look at her bright green socks in a colorway she calls My Favorite Martian).

Thank you very much for reading. I hope you'll join us in the KAL!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Steely Conklaree

My second Conklaree scarf came off the blocking wires yesterday. This time I knit it in a laceweight wool-silk blend, with two strands held double.

Grey Conklaree Scarf
Pattern: Conklaree, by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Jaggerspun Zephyr in Steel

The lace was very sculptural before blocking. I was happy to see that after blocking it retained some of that dimensional quality. 

Bath time for this grey Conklaree #bluepeninsula #knit #knitting #knittingpatterns #knittersofinstagram #knitlace #knitstagram

Grey Conklaree Scarf

Grey Conklaree Scarf

Grey Conklaree Scarf

The color and yarn seemed a perfect match for this pattern. I'm really pleased with how it came out, and I hope the recipient is, too. It's a gift for my sister Betsey, whose birthday is today. As a longtime Blue Peninsula model, she deserves a special hand knit! (On the Other Hand, Fee-bee, Meadow Road, and Shallows Mitts are just a few of the patterns she's modeled.)

Conklaree is the second pattern in my All You Need Is One collection of accessories to knit with just one skein of yarn. The third pattern, a sock (knit with Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors), is coming next week.

Toes are drying! Look for the third pattern in my All You Need Is One collection next week. #bluepeninsula #knit #knitting #knitsocks #knitstagram #periwinklesheep

Gotta run—lots to do to prepare for celebrating Betsey's birthday. Have a great weekend!

Grey Conklaree Scarf

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

So Close

I'm so close to finishing the next pattern, a sock design.

It's a toe! Look for the pattern in June. The gorgeous blue yarn is Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors in Atlantic. #bluepeninsula #knit #knitsocks #knitting #knittingpatterns #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #periwinklesheep

Actually, the pattern is done and it's been edited. All that remains is for me to finish knitting sock number two, so we can do the photo shoot. It is arduous work, so I've had to indulge in a few treats to keep my strength up. ;-)

I admit to feeling some TNNA envy - but hey, there's some pretty nice stuff in my own hometown, including gluten-free lemon poppyseed scones at Rao's �� #notattnna #amherstma #glutenfree #knit #knitsocks #bluepeninsula

It's got ribbing and lace and some stockinette, and the front and back are not the same. It's got a garter-stitch edge on the heel flap, which I really love. And it's knit in the beautiful Atlantic colorway of Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors. I hope to publish the pattern next week. Fingers crossed!

Two things I'm loving today: a garter stitch heel flap edge and the project bag I made with Dropcloth samplers #bluepeninsula #knit #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #knitsocks #dropclothsamplers #periwinklesheep

Aside from the sock, I've been making lots of progress on my grey Conklaree:

Rainy morning lace knitting and falcon mama watching. One egg has hatched, three to go! #umassfalcons #bluepeninsula #knit #knitlace #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram

The past few days I've been knitting while watching the UMass Falcon Cam. Peregrine falcons have nested at the top of the Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst for many years, and a couple of years ago a webcam was installed, making it possible to watch the roly-poly little "ugly ducklings" grow up and eventually learn to fly.

So far this year, one fluffy white chick has hatched. His or her siblings should be following any time now. Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

June Read Along

One great thing about being your own boss is you can decide to do something a little different on your blog and no one will nix your idea because it's not "on brand." (Sometimes I feel that if I never heard the word "brand" again, I would be ecstatic.)

Anyway, I wanted to share that Vibeke of A Butterfly in My Hair is hosting a read along that starts a week from today. The book is Jean Giono's Joy of Man's Desiring. You can read all about it on her blog. It's going to be a fairly mellow read along, happening over four weeks.

She recently posted a photo on Instagram of the cover of a new edition of the book. Seeing it, I was suddenly transported pretty far back in my life—I first read this novel about 25 years ago, when I was living in Chicago and just a couple of years out of grad school. The book came into my possession by chance—a customer at the bar my ex-husband and I owned gave it to me, saying she thought I would like Giono's descriptions of nature.


I did like it, so much so that I embarked on a Giono odyssey, reading several of his other novels in quick succession. I've kept them all, carrying them faithfully with me every time I've moved, but I haven't ever read them a second time.


So I'm going to read Joy of Man's Desiring again and see what I think of it at this stage of my life, now that I live in the country rather than the city, and am no longer young. Will I still like it so much? 

As for other new beginnings: On Memorial Day, I gave myself a real holiday (no work knitting or pattern writing), and got started on a cardigan just for me, the Windsor Cardi by Amy Christoffers. I'm making it with Woolen Rabbit Grace in the Godiva colorway:

Busman's holiday - cast on a sweater for me - what a treat to just follow the pattern, yay - Windsor Cardigan by Amy Christoffers #knit #knitting  #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #woolenrabbit

And early this morning—at 6 am, as I listened to the birds sing—I began the next wrinkle embroidery piece. Feels good to be starting a new stitching adventure. It also feels really good to be able to knit and embroider outdoors, on my balcony. What a treat, after the long winter!

Beginning the day - first stitches of a new wrinkle embroidery piece #bonniesennott #embroidery #dailyembroidery #stitch #joy

The last wrinkle embroidery piece is done—I think—I need to leave it be for a little while to be sure:

Done? Maybe. Releasing the need to be sure right this second. Time will tell. #bonniesennott #embroidery #dailyembroidery #yes #letyourheartbreatheprayer

Well, since I wrote a little about art and knitting, I guess this post wasn't so "off brand" after all. Hope to see you in the read along!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Shop Update: New Bag and Free Shipping

What-not Bag

New in my Etsy shop: a sweet drawstring bag for all the little things you need for your crafting projects—tape measures, scissors, cable needles, and so on.

At 5.5 inches wide and 7 inches tall, it's just the right size for keys and phone and what-not, perfect for keeping small stuff from getting lost in a tote bag or purse.

Heading into my Etsy shop soon: linen "what-not" bag, perfect for knitting or crochet notions, keys and phone, what-not. Hand embroidered. Crochet motif made with Habu Cotton Gima. Cotton drawstring. Vintage button. 5.5 inches wide by 7 inches tall. #bonn

Sewn from 100% linen, the bag is embellished with a bit of embroidery, a delicate circle motif that I crocheted with two colors of Habu Cotton Gima, and a tiny vintage button.

What-not Bag

What-not Bag

From now through May 31, get free shipping on this and all bags and sachets in my Etsy shop with the coupon code FREESHIP.

What-not Bag

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fiber Conversations: Brenda Pirie of End of the Row Yarns

Welcome to Fiber Conversations, a series of interviews with creative fiber folks. Today's conversation is with Brenda Pirie. Brenda is a longtime knitter from Annapolis, Maryland, and an active member of the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. She recently opened an Etsy shop, End of the Row Yarns.

Bonnie: Hi, Brenda! Thanks for taking the time to chat about your new Etsy shop, End of the Row Yarns. Could you talk a little about how you began dyeing yarn and what lead you to open a shop?

Brenda: Hey Bonnie! Great to be chatting with you. The first time I dyed yarn was some 10 years ago. After a trip to my grocery store, armed with Kool-Aid, I dyed a couple skeins of self-striping sock yarn. I enjoyed the process but the colors weren't too exciting. So I ordered some acid dyes and tried it again ... better color intensity but not quite what I wanted. I didn't do more than a skein or two of solid colors ... not sure why, probably that thing called "life" got in the way.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I really wanted to try dyeing yarn to get that nice tonal color we all know and love. I always wondered, how do they do that?! So I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, got some bare yarn donations from friends, together with a skein or two of bare yarn from my stash, and started dyeing! I really just jumped in ... and found that I really had a knack for making pretty yarn. I figured out that whole tonal yarn thing, too!

My friends in my knit group have been so supportive. Their encouragement and excitement over my yarn made me think I could actually open a shop and sell my yarn. On a personal note, I'm at a point in my life where the nest is close to being empty. I've been a stay-at-home mom for 21 years and my youngest is only a couple years away from graduating from high school. I really wanted to do something for me, something I love to do and of course, something knitting related!

Bonnie: You offer fingering weight (sock) yarns in both variegated and tonal colorways. Tell me a little about the differences between the two. What kinds of projects do you think they are best suited for?

Brenda: Tonal yarns are basically one color but the tones of the color vary from light to dark. I think tonal yarns work well with most patterns and will show stitch patterns quite well. Variegated yarns have more than one color. Some can be more subdued and others quite wild! The more colors, the more your stitches will be hidden, meaning when your project is finished the design of the stitches will be hard to see. Most knitters have discovered this issue and search for patterns that are designed to work with those wonderful handpainted/variegated yarns. Sometimes I do that, and sometimes I knit whatever I want with the yarn I love, regardless. 

I dye my variegated yarns in a random way that creates little to no pooling. Pooling is when colors clump together and knit up into pools or splotches of color. I'm discovering that some of the dyes actually separate (break) colors in the dyeing process and create a skein with more than one color. Being somewhat new to this world of yarn dyeing, I find that so cool! Usually when I get a new dye color, I'll dye a "tonal" skein, just to see what the dye will do. Dyeing is such an adventure!


Bonnie: In your Ravelry profile, you say you started knitting in your 20s when you saw your mom teaching herself how to knit. Did she teach you, or did you decide to teach yourself, just as she did? Have you knit ever since then? Did the two of you ever knit the same patterns?

Brenda: Little did I know how much saying, "I want to do that!" would change my life! My mom showed me how to knit that day. We both made slippers with scratchy acrylic yarn, complete with pompoms! We were so proud of those silly slippers. We found a knitting "workshop" class through our local adult education community. We took that class over and over for years! This was in the 80s, when knitting was just starting to come back into popularity, so I guess you can say that class was my first knit group. We knit the "class project" together sometimes and also did our own thing. You could come to class and just knit your own project—that was perfectly OK. From there, we each took a different path with our knitting. She excelled in making her own patterns for sweaters. We learned Elizabeth Zimmerman's Percentage System in class and mom just took the ball (of yarn!) and ran with it! I used to call her the Bionic Knitter. Me, on the other hand, I like to follow a pattern. I'll make modifications, but creating my own pattern from scratch isn't my thing. And when I learned to Continental knit, my knitting speed took off like a rocket! 

I remember a few years after learning to knit, Mom came to class with a skein of sock yarn and these impossibly tiny needles, ready to embark on knitting her first socks. I said, "What are you nuts?! That yarn is so skinny and those needles?! It'll take forever!" I then uttered four words that to this day, I can't believe I ever said, "I'm never knitting socks!" But of course, I did. I didn't start making socks till the 90s and now in some circles I'm considered the Sock Queen. Ha-ha! I usually have at least two or three pair on the needles at any given time. I did take some time off from knitting to have babies but returned as soon as possible. My mom still knits quite a bit, but she says that I'm the Bionic Knitter now. Mom and I are on opposite coasts, so I miss hanging out and knitting with her. 

Bonnie: What are your favorite kinds of knitting projects?

Brenda: I really love to knit all kinds of projects. I like to have multiple projects going so I can switch projects when I feel like it. I’m somewhat impulsive when it comes to starting new projects. As long as I have needles available, I’ll cast on. Then sometimes I feel overwhelmed with WIPs and start a finishing spree. I’m equally excited when starting a project as I am when finishing. I love to make shawls and socks most of all. Hats are another favorite, especially worsted weight with cables. I made toys for the first time last year, and I plan to make more now that there are a couple babies due this fall in my extended family. I also love to knit the same pattern over and over again. I like the familiarity, like reading a book I loved over again or listening to a favorite song. I think I’ve knit [Cookie A’s] Monkey Socks 10 times.

Bonnie: Do you have any favorite fibers or weights that you find yourself going back to again and again as a knitter?

Brenda: If you were to analyze my stash, you'd probably find mostly sock yarn and worsted weight yarn. I really love fingering weight yarn! You can make anything with it ... socks, shawls, cowls, sweaters, mitts, gloves, hats or scarves! (Did I miss anything?!) And I think I've knit just about all of them, too. Worsted weight is another favorite. I love making hats, cowls, and mitts with worsted yarn. They go so quick! I know that when I walk into a yarn shop I can find one skein of fingering or one skein of worsted and I know I’ll find a pattern that will use just one skein. Also, I usually don’t have a very big yarn budget. Being a one-income family, spending a ton of money on yarn just isn’t possible. So instead of getting 8 skeins for a sweater, I can get one skein and be perfectly happy, dreaming about what wonderful things I can knit!

Bonnie: I know you’ve only just opened your Etsy shop, so maybe this is premature … but I’ll ask anyway! What’s on the horizon at End of the Row Yarns? Can you share any plans for future new colorways or yarn bases?

Brenda: Yes, I did just get started but of course, I’m thinking ahead … dreaming of all the possibilities! I’ve been ordering different bases in single skeins and sort of test dyeing them, just to see what they will do. I would love to add an 80/10/10 (superwash merino/silk/nylon) base and a 50/50 merino and silk base, both in fingering weights. I have dyed both in current colorways and love the look. I’m hoping to add them in the not too distant future. The biggest challenge for me is repeating the same colorway. I’m working on ways to keep track of my process so this will get easier. I dye one skein at a time and I am always adding new colorways. My daughter, Justine, helps with me come up with colorways and names. I dyed one last light that is variegated with earthy browns and greens; I named it Mother Earth. I would also love to create a yarn club or partner with a designer on a pattern someday. Right now I’m still working on getting the word out about my shop. 

Bonnie: It’s been great learning about your knitting and dyeing adventures, Brenda. I wish you all the best on your new shop. Thanks for chatting!

Brenda: Bonnie, thank you for including me in your series. I had fun answering your questions and doing my first interview!