Friday, July 29, 2011

Celebrating Brown

It's hot as heck around here, and with the lack of rain, all that was green is turning brown :-( Brown is another one of those colors that brings on a number of different feelings for folks.

At times, when I think of brown, I think of everything starts to die off and ready for the hard winter ahead. Come January, brown makes me feel warm and toasty, as it brings on that cozy feeling you get when sitting by the fire and knitting with your favorite wool. Hot chocolate, coffee, chocolate truffles, all among my favorite "browns".

Here's just a sampling of what's to come for August, as we celebrate the color brown.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Becoming One With My Sketch Pad

Recently, we published what was our first sock design, Angelic Lyrics. This sock was designed in 2008, as part of our Toe-tally Ewe sock club. Before publishing, I attempted to add some design elements to this pattern, that in my mind were so clear, yet I wrestled with making them work with this simple lace pattern. I must have ripped this sock out at least a dozen times before I decided that the simplicity of the pattern, as initially written, was probably best left as is.

In the meantime, I took to drawing all of these ideas into a sketch book I purchased. It was a bit difficult to get started, fear I think, that I won't be able to get onto paper what's floating around in my head. I over came that fear! I have found that now that my ideas have been unleashed, I cannot put the design book down. I've been working on what I think will be a very beautiful lace shawl pattern. It's gorgeous on paper, but now I must sit and make it work with my stitches. Now to make time to knit it :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting Lost In The Green

May was the month for green around, in many more ways than one. Our new green colorways proved to be a big hit, so the dye pots were kept busy. At the same time, we have been diligently working on our garden, and before we knew it, May had come and went.

Like many other families across the nation, we are trying to cut back on our expenses, for fear that the economy has NOT hit rock bottom yet, and the real suffering has yet to begin. Put the economic circumstances together with the recent, and very scary E. Coli outbreak in Germany and threats of biological warfare and it's made for a very scary environment. One in which you don't know who to believe, especially coming from those that grown/package our food.

We've had a garden for a number of years, but this year we are trying to go as organic as possible, and increase the harvest potential. I have tried to plant vegetables that are freezer friendly, like broccoli and green beans, and/or vegetables that I can jar. While the cost of establishing this garden was more than mere pennies (we had to bring in a load of top soil and a load of compost, not to mention the cost of building the raised bed), by and far, it will save us oodles at the grocery store.

With all of this business, we've not had much time to blog. I might also add, that the office is very hot and not conducive to sitting and writing a blog post. However, we have updated our shop, with our June Color Of The Month - Purple. Burgundy Grapes (left) quickly became a favorite for many, and we couldn't be more excited.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I've Joined The Army

If you followed my old Knittin' Diva blog, you know that I have long been an advocate for raising breast cancer awareness. My mother is a 15+ year survivor, and I have calcifications that have been "on watch" for more than 10 years. As a 40 something women, I am in awe at how many women still do not get mammograms or do self exams. So many women survive breast cancer now, because they are getting early screenings, but there are still hundreds of thousands that do not.

While a lot of attention over the last 3 decades has been given to the "cure", there is still still not a lot known about how breast cancer is caused in the first place. Scientists have been able to identify the BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes that may increase the likelihood of getting breast cancer by 80%, but that only pertains to about 5-10% of those who develop breast cancer. So what about the other 95%?

Dr. Susan Love, a long time breast cancer educator and advocate, launched a groundbreaking initiative, called the Army Of Women, that connects breast cancer researchers with real women who are willing to participate in wide variety of research studies. All women are encouraged to join the Army of Women, including breast cancer survivors and those who have never had breast cancer. The goal is recruit 1 million women, and thus far, we are 350,000 strong!

Since declaring “war on cancer” more than 40 years ago, the scientific community has made great strides in some areas. However, the number of women diagnosed with and dying from breast cancer is virtually the same as it was in 1969. Currently, the vast majority of resources for research are focused on early detection and treatment of breast cancer. More resources need to be spent on determining the cause of breast cancer, which isn’t just going to take more research – it’s going to take a different type of research. Studying mice and rats isn’t enough. Mice and rates do not get breast cancer. More studies must be done with actual women. The Army of Women is jumpstarting this type of research providing quick access to a diverse group of women for various studies.

For the sake of my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren to come, I'M IN! How about you? Learn more by going to

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Going In Reverse

I have a tendency to do things ass backwards….often. While learning a new concept, I have difficulties with being patient, while I read / learn about the concept…I often just want to get my hands in and play. Fiber dyeing is a case in point. Five years ago when I started Beyond Basic Knits, I simply played. I envisioned a color, sometimes changed that vision while the yarn was in the dye pot, and I applied. Most times my colorways would come out just as I had anticipated, but there were times when I got a bit over zealous with the color, and hated the outcome. My husband (who is an engineer) would look into the dye pot, and then look at me like I was crazy. I didn’t measure anything. I simply went by eye shot. I do this in my cooking too, so you next to never get the same exact dish twice. When I started hand dyeing, most people felt the same about their yarn purchases….they liked the fact that they would never get the same exact colorway twice.

Once I started knitting sweaters, this all changed. I can now appreciate the value of getting colors that don’t scream, but that sing a happy melody together. Of blending colors that compliment one another. This all brought me to the study of the color wheel, in which we are doing this year. I’m taking a step back, and playing with semi-solids, to try to learn more about tones, tints, shades, hues, and now, color value.

So what is color value anyway? Simply put, it is how light or a dark a color is. It is a comparison of a given color, to a scale of grays that range from white to black. (see scale below)

The numbers on the scale represent a percentage of black that has been mixed with white to form that particular gray.

We played a bit with this concept last month, when our color of the month was blue. We took our blue, which had a color value of about 10, added a bit of gray, which changed the value to about 30, and then added black, which changed the same color’s value to about 60. If you look at our Storm Surge Colorway, a colorway we introduced about 2 years ago, you can see this same concept in play, where we combined all 3. This is, by far, one of our best sellers. Only now, have we begun to explore these colors by applying each shade to a single skein, and the outcome is gorgeous. (As I said, ass backwards) By knowing what a colors value is, you can better plan how to compliment or contrast them, when planning a design or project. I see another sweater coming with this shade of blue.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Let The Fun Begin

In January, February & March, we explored the 3 primary colors (red, blue and yellow) as part of our Celebration of Color. We also learned about the differences between shade, tint, tone and pure color.

April is when the real fun begins, as we start to play around with combining the 3 primary colors, to create our own secondary colors. With warmer temperatures, the change in season giving us warmer, brighter days, and watching all of our vegetation come to life, we've decided to make April the month of orange.

Be sure to watch the blog, as we explore the color orange over the next 4 weeks, and the bad rap it gets. Maybe our exploration will help you see orange in a new way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Drawn To Blue

Right from childhood, I have had a thing for blue. If you look in my closet, you will see that most of my clothing is some shade of blue. (I'm a blue jeans and t-shirt kind of gal!) Many of my knitting projects are some shade of blue, a majority of my quilting projects have included blue, and if I thought my husband would let me, I'd paint a number of the rooms in our house, some shade of blue. I have boys that have blue eyes (Thank you God!) and a pair of Blue Jays that come and say hello every morning.

If you know me, you know that I can't swim. Yet, my favorite place to be is near the water (that's right - blue!). Blue skies that hold the promise of a new day, a fresh start, growth and a breath of fresh air. Blue waters, that while the waves gently beat along the shore, hold the power of both comfort and destruction. This same water scares me. That one day it will take my life, or that of my kids. Yet, I'm drawn to it, like a fly to fruit. Is it the power of blue?

Blue is the Color of the Month for March at BB Knits. A celebration of spring. The season that promises blue skies, blue birds and blue bells.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Learning to Paper Piece

About 4 years ago, I sewed my first stitch, after having protested the idea of sewing for much of my life. It's amazing, really, how kids will transform you. After a series of events with my boys, that landed them in the hospital, and realizing during this time, just how much comfort their blankies provided to them, I decided I wanted to learn how to quilt. At the same time, I started our local Project Linus chapter (we provide hand made quilts to seriously ill children). My mission, to make quilts for other children in need.

In the beginning, my quilts were simply patchwork quilts, and I did really enjoy making them. Over time, these have become a bit boring to me, and seriously, how many patchwork quilts can one person have? That said, I went on a hunt....I needed a challenge. I joined a number of quilt guilds, and a few online quilting groups. Both offer a lot of learning opportunity from some of the most skilled quilters. Some of these groups also offer exchanges. While I was reluctant to join at first, worried my skills were not up to par, I have found that it's a great way to try new techniques, without committing yourself to an entire quilt. This month, to go along with our Celebration of Color, I opted to try a little paper piecing with some red fabrics I had in my stash. I must admit, I'm not a real "heart" person. A little too "cutesie" for me. However, with these rich reds, I rather liked them. I found that paper piecing is a great way to use up those little scraps of fabric that I have been collecting in a box. Now I'm stash diving for the next paper piecing project :-)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

February Reds - A Little Lesson

If you follow our blog, then you learned about pure color, tone, shade, and tints last month. We had a little lesson in this exploration last week, and the gorgeous reds you see to the left were the result.

The 2nd from the left, is our pure red. Reds can be very tricky, as many times they either have orange/brown undertones, or blue undertones. This red is gorgeously pure! As you may recall, a tint is created when adding white to a pure color. Tinkly Cocktail, on the far left, was our result. Next, we added a little gray, to create a tone, and come up Sangria, a sort of smokey red. Lastly, was creating a shade....adding black to our true red. The result....heavenly! We called it crushed velvet as the richness in colors makes us think of velvet. It appears, that it quickly became a favorite! We posted our update on Facebook on February 2nd, and it sold out almost immediately. Not to fear though, we've restocked! Remember that these glorious reds are on sale this month at 15% Off!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Meaning of Yellow

Yellow evokes a number of different feelings for people. For some, yellow is the color of the warmth. For others, Hope. And yet for others, it means danger. These meanings can change, dependent on our mood, and yellow can take on many different forms, all at the same time. I find yellow to be a stimulating color. When I seen the bright yellow sun in the morning, I feel chipper, ready to take on the day ahead. I feel bold; free. I admire artists who use the color yellow so freely. To me, it speaks volumes about their view of the world and their aura. However, yellow can very easily be overused. When I am surrounded by yellow I feel overstimulated, anxious and long to escape to a more calming color like blue.

Yellow is one of those colors that many of us so wish we could wear, but it just doesn't look good on most. (I so envy people who can wear yellow and look good in it!) There was a time, during the Elizabethan Era, that yellow was symbolic for wealth and social status, and so it didn't matter how it looked on you. Thankfully, times have changed and for those of us who craft, we find other ways to use yellow. Yellow fiber, yellow fabric, yellow paint; you get the idea.

Now, go take a look in your closet......Find one item that is yellow. Come back here and share with us what it is that you find, and what kind of feelings it evokes in you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cookie A Never Disappoints

Admittedly, when I started knitting socks, I was quite intimidated by so many sock designers, but Cookie A was at the top of the charts. I love that so many of her sock patterns are assymetrical. They are interesting, from the cuff to the toe, never a boring stitch. Some of her patterns are chart heavy, and it scared me. My first Cookie A pattern was BFF. An easy pattern and a great little nibble on cables. When Sock Innovations came out, I was beyond excited, and for the first time ever, I actually knit up several patterns from that book. It was at a great time in my life, when I actually had a little time to focus on the pattern, and learn to read the charts. I was hooked! Imagine my excitement when Knit. Sock. Love. came out! There are sssooo many gorgeous patterns in this book, that it was hard to decide on which to start first. Thankfully, I found a KAL on Ravelry, and the choice was made for me....Pointelle it is!

At the same time, I decided that this is the year to spend a little time studying the colorwheel, and opted to start with yellow. A happy, cheerful, warming color. Well, a marriage made in heaven, for sure. Look at Pointelle, knit up with one of our January colors, Lemon Cream, on the BFL base. Need I say more? The pattern is so well written, the charts are easy to understand, and not once was I bored knitting this sock. Now on to the 2nd sock.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Celebration Of Color - January

The start of 2011 begins a year long celebration, if you will, and exploration of the color wheel. As you may have guessed by now, color makes me happy. VERY HAPPY! I'm always stumped when my boys try to nail me down and ask me favorite color, because the truth is, they all are. As a fiber artist, just like any other type of artistry, it's easy to get stuck in a rut. I was feeling a bit "stuck" this past fall, and decided I was going to spend this coming year studying. Playing with a variety of color combinations, and exploring each colors beauty unto itself.

I have gathered a few tools to help me along the way and will share them with you over the coming year. One of which is the 3-in-1 Color Tool (image to the right). This is printed by C&T Publishing, and it's a great tool for someone who is always dabbling in color. Whether it be with yarn, roving, fabric or paper.

To begin, let me share with you a bit of information to pave the way for our studies. There are 3 primary colors in our color wheel. Colors that most accurately reflect the colors of our world. The blending of our 3 primary colors, offers up limitless possibilities in new color. Add in white, black and grey, and it's sheer magic.

Each color on our color wheel can be categorized within 4 different categories:
Pure Color
Soft Tints - created by adding white to the pure color
Shades - created by adding black to your color
Tones - created by adding grey

A sampling of an experiment with the above would be our colorway Green Mountain. We took a beautiful green and dyed a section of the skein, added a little grey to the green and dyed another section, and added yet another color, black, to the green, to dye the third. GORGEOUS!

During our color wheel studies, we will explore a new color each month, starting with the primary colors of yellow, red and blue. Since January can be so cold, dark and gloomy, we've decided to start with yellow. Yellow is warm, sunny, happy, uplifting.

In the coming months, we will explore shades, tints and tones of each color. Through the year, each color of the month will be offered at a 15% discount in our shop, to encourage you to explore the world of color with us.

In the meantime, we'd love to hear from you. How would you describe yellow?