Farm to Needle Retreat at Mulberry Hill Farm

Join us for a full immersion into the life of yarn from freshly sheared to cleaning, spinning and finally hand dyed.  The Lacey’s, Sean and Colleen will be sharing their farm to needle yarn journey this April 5 – 7th.   We will be staying at the Historic Allenberry Inn and Spa where we will have our own private, cosy spots to hang and knit, plus farm to table dinners both Friday and Saturday night.   Here is the agenda for the weekend:

Friday, April 5

2:30   Arrive and check in

3:00 – 5:00  Presentation from Mulberry Farm owners, Sean and Coleen Lacey

5:30 – 7:00   Cocktails and Knitting project introduction

7:00  Private Dinner at the Barn

Saturday, April 6

8:00am  Farm Breakfast at Mulberry Hill Farm

9:00 – 12:00  Farm tour, hands on wool cleaning, spinning demonstration and hand dyeing

1:00  Lunch back at Allenberry

2:00  Open afternoon – knitting, walk part of the Appalachian trail, spa appointments

6:00  Cocktails and knitting

7:00  Private dinner

Sunday, April 7

Leisurely breakfast at Allenberry and depart by 11:00am

 

The cost of the retreat is $800.00 .  This includes hotel accommodations, all meals, pillow knitting patterns, sessions with the Lacey’s at their farm, plus a skein of the Lacey’s yarn fresh from the sheep you will meet at the retreat!

Categories
handmade gifts Knitting

Yarn scraps for the baby birds!

Put your yarn scraps to great use by knitting or crocheting a nest for orphaned baby birds.

The Carolina Waterfowl Rescue Group has put out a request for all us fiber artists to pull out our yarn scraps and put them to good use.   A new bird’s nest for orphaned baby birds.   Here are the knitting and crochet patterns:

Knitted Artificial Bird Nest

Directions:
On size 5 dpn’s cast on 54 stitches using 2 or 3 strands of yarn so the nests are tightly knit and will stand up in a bowl shape on their own! (divide sts up into 18 sts/needle). Work in knit (stockingette is automatic on dpn’s) stitch for approximately 3 inches. Begin decreasing for the crown as follows:
Next row: *K 7, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 6, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 5, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Nest row: *K 4, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 3, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 2, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 1, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Clip off yarn leaving a tail of about 6 inches.
Using yarn needle, slide yarn needle under all stitches on needles, and draw tight to close up the end. Knot

Make sure the nest can stand up in a bowl shape on its own!

Here is the one I was able to make in a few hours one night.

 

CROCHETED Artificial Bird Nest

Several yards of Worsted weight yarn.  Hold 2 or 3 strands together for a TIGHT stitch!

Size H hook

Starting ring:  Crochet 3 chains using 2 or even 3 strands of yarn held together, and slip stitch last chain to first chain to make a loop or ring.

Round 1: Chain 2 (this counts as your first “stitch), work between 10 – 15 single crochets into th ring (depending on what thickness yarn you are using).  Slip stitch the last single crochet to the top stitch in the chain 2 that started this round.
Round 2: Chain 2. Single crochet into each of the next two stitches, then do 2 single crochet’s into the next stitch, single crochet into the next two stitches, then 2 single crochet’s in the the next stitch. And on and on around the circle. Slip stitch your last single crochet into the top of the chain 2 that started this round.
Round 3, 4, 5, 6, and on: Repeat Round 2 over and over, until your circle is at least 3” big. You can make your nest with a bottom as small as 3” big, up to maybe 6” big.

Once you have made the bottom of the nest from 3” to 6” big, from all rounds thereafter, crochet ONE single crochet into each stitch. You will see your “sides” begin to form. Crochet until the sides are about 2 – 3” high. Bind off and weave in loose ends

Mail them to:

CWR
Po box 1484
Indian trail NC 28079

If you would like to read more about rescue nests, click here.

Happy Stitching!

Categories
Knitting

Felicia Lonigro & the welcoming feeling at Pick Up Every Stitch

What makes Pick Up Every Stitch in Mount Kisco, NY so welcoming?

Felicia Lonigro at Pick Up Every Stitch

It starts with the owner!  Felicia Lonigro comes from the garment center in NYC where she managed amazing clothing brands.  Knowing how the garment industry functioned gave Felicia a strong foundation for opening Pick Up Every Stitch, a delicious yarn shop in the heart of Mount Kisco, New York.  She finds that smaller yarn farms and indie dyers can really expand beyond their website sales through shops like Felicia’s independent yarn shop where her customers can not get enough of her curated offerings for all their fiber projects!

Yarn is a product we fiber artists love to touch and a personal recommendation from our local yarn shop owner or the knitting/crochet group at the table in the back of the store is a great way to discover new products or get confirmation of something we see on Instagram, Ravelry or Pinterest.

It all started at Bloomingdales

Felicia has been an entrepreneur since her days working the floor at Bloomingdales during college.  She was attending Briarcliff College and working student hours at the local Bloomingdales.   Briarcliff College got purchased by Pace and as Felicia was evaluating a different college option, she was invited into the executive training program for Bloomingdales by the store manager.   This is when Felicia realized the best school for her was on the job and so she left the traditional college path for the hands-on executive training Bloomingdales was well known for.   “It was a life-changing position and from there I was invited to work at the Garment Center on great brands like Carol Little for Saint Tropez and Ellen Tracy.  I just loved it and from there I found a partner and we opened our own independent show room representing young contemporary and high-end designers.”  Felicia loved the intimacy of the relationships with the designers and the independent clothing shops she sold to.  “You knew everyone and how their sales are flowing, unlike the bureaucracy of the larger organizations.”  You now see this same intimate relationship flowing between yarn options and knitters coming through Felicia’s shop door in Mount Kisco.

Becoming addicted to knitting

How did you go from the garment industry to becoming a knitting addict?

By the late 90’s, the clothing industry had changed, and “I completely shifted gears and took time out for me. I decided to pick up knitting and started hanging out quite a bit at the local yarn shop in Katona.  They were looking for somebody to work in the store and I knew I would be there anyway so why not work there.  I started working Thursday afternoons and that was my entry into the yarn shop business.”

Your first knitting project?

“My first knitting project was a black bag that my grandmother taught me to knit.  It had a hot pink lining!” From her youth, Felicia would pick up her needles every now and then, but nothing major until she decided to close her business in New York.  “I decided I wanted to learn the right way to knit and finish my garment so that it did not look homemade, but beautifully handmade. So, I started taking classes. I took whatever classes I could and I went on a knitting retreat to Chatham.”

The birth of Pick Up Every Stitch

When the Katona yarn shop closed, Felicia knew she had to open a shop of her own and immediately started looking for spaces to open a new shop.  “There just had to be a local yarn shop option instead of having to go all the way into New York City.  If you went t

Jacko Day running into the shop!

hat far to look for yarn, you felt obligated to buy something.   I wanted a place for folks to just come hang and knit.”   And that is exactly the atmosphere of Pick Up Every Stitch.  Come shop when you need something, otherwise, come hang and enjoy the friendship of other crochet and knitting companions.  There are two tables in the shop and they are always buzzing with laughter and chatter with women and men that come often as well as newbies like me that just showed up one day because my friend Jacko said “we had to go!”

Felicia decided to create and build the yarn shop as a solopreneur.  While she enjoyed having a partner in New York, she is enjoying running the shop completely through her own vision.  When she sees something on social media or in a magazine, she researches it and then reaches out to the company directly.

 

She attributes the key to success running a yarn shop is knowing who the customer is that you are catering to.  Know the taste of the area you are serving.   The NYC woman is different from the Westchester woman from the Long Island woman.   The shop needs to cater to their specific taste in color choices and styles.   “Make sure you are doing this because you love the customer.   It is not about you and if you feel like it is more about you and getting your knitting supplies for wholesale, then you are in it for the wrong reason.” advices Felicia.

Being a solopreneur is very liberating and challenging at the same time she admits.  Her favorite part of her shop?   The people. At this point in the interview, this dynamic, New York City toughened, garment professional gets teary eyed and has to pause.  “Everyone has been so unbelievable.  Everybody wants you to succeed and everybody wants to be part of this success.  I just love Saturday afternoons here. Whenever you come in, you will see this table full of people that stopped by after the gym just hanging out for the rest of the day, knitting and socializing.   I just feel so happy that I can provide this.”  And as we are in the middle of the interview, one of Felicia’s patrons is leaving the shop.  She comments to me as she opens the door to leave, “Felicia is so awesome! She has made a shop that is so warm and so loving! She is just the best.  And everyone knows it.”

From 7 to 91 and everyone in between

New people discover Pick Up Every Stich all the time and are quickly adopted into the back-table discussions.   The youngest fiber artist to date was a seven-year-old.  One of Felicia’s teachers is actually a school teacher and is exceptional with their younger fiber artists.   And the great part of fiber art is the breadth of ages that can participate and excel.  Felicia’s oldest patron is currently a 91-years-old.   There are also men and boys in the shop often.  “Roger just left the shop, he comes in during the winter and is here almost every day during the cold season.  Then we miss him in the summertime because he’s on the golf course.  Little boys are really fun too.  One little boy came in because he was learning to knit at school.  He wanted to see “a Knitting shop” and went crazy over all the colors when he walked in.”

What is hot right now in the shop

Two yarns in particular stand out.   Sandpiper Yarns by Sue Nagel and La Fee Fil.   Both are handmade.   Sue’s work is especially dear because she only makes three skeins that are the same at any one time.  So, if you see something you like, you have to pick it up right then and there.   The colors she puts together are so stunning and make each project an exceptional original.    La Fee Fil knits up so beautifully and uniquely as well given the way they hand dye the yarn.  The colors flow quite nicely

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The secret to success at Pick Up Every Stitch

So, what is the Felecia’s secret to creating such a yummy culture and spot for us to discover yarn and fiber friends?

First and foremost, Felicia continually said how grateful she is for each and every day that folks come visit her in her shop.   She takes the approach that Pick Up Every Stitch is an extension of her home, so she wants to be inviting.   Felicia believes customer service is key regardless of having pointed needles in her hands…  She has put together a knowledgeable staff who can expertly guide customers to the right yarns and tools for any project needs.   And I can say first hand, she made sure I never felt invisible, but instead welcomed and several projects heavier when I left the store.

Categories
Farm Fresh Yarn Knitting

Farm to Needle Retreat at Mulberry Hill Farm and Allenberry Inn & Spa

We are thrilled to be hosting our first farm to needle retreat this April 5th -7th in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.

Overview

 

Our hosts are Coleen and Sean Lacey at their farm, Mulberry Hill.   The Lacey’s are giving us access to their farm to have a hands on experience cleaning wool that has been freshly sheared from their flock of sheep, known as The Girls – Maggie, Norah, Ellie, Annie, Olivia, Oakley, Noelle, and Harvard.  Plus a spinning and hand dyeing lesson.  And did I mention that Sean is making his famous corned beef hash for our farm breakfast on Saturday!

We will also be knitting a pillow with their own Distilfink Yarn dyed in the color of your choice!  We have 6 pillow patterns to choose from.   When you register for the retreat you select the pattern and your color.

We will be staying at the lovely Allenberry Inn and Spa.  Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, the timeless and idyllic setting of Yellow Breeches Creek has attracted visitors and outdoorsmen for generations, including the relatives of American Folk Legend, Davy Crockett.  In 1786, the Crockett family chose this serene corner of Boiling Springs, PA to build a family home and barn that is still in use today.   For our retreat we will be staying in our own cottage and dining in The Barn, their farm to table gourmet restaurant.   Our time there will give you space to knit, hike a part of the Appalachian trail or just relax at the spa after our “farm chores” Saturday morning.

Itinerary

Friday, April 5

2:30   Arrive and check in

3:00 – 5:00  Presentation from Mulberry Farm owners, Sean and Coleen Lacey

5:30 – 7:00   Cocktails and Knitting project introduction

7:00  Private Dinner at the Barn

Saturday, April 6

8:00am  Farm Breakfast at Mulberry Hill Farm

9:00 – 12:00  Farm tour, hands on wool cleaning, spinning demonstration and hand dyeing

1:00  Lunch back at Allenberry

2:00  Open afternoon – knitting, walk part of the Appalachian trail, spa appointments

6:00  Cocktails and knitting

7:00  Private dinner

Sunday, April 7

Leisurely breakfast at Allenberry and depart by 11:00am

$800/person  8 people maximum.   Includes lodging, meals, knitting project, farm tour and hands on demonstration.  Assumes single occupancy per room.  Double occupancy by request.

To reserve your place at the retreat email rebecca@pinkimperfection.com today!

Deadline to register is Monday, March 25th.

Mulberry Hill Farm

Mulberry Hill Farm started its existence as the Hilltop Motel.  Built in the late 1950’s a six room motel was constructed on Route 11, and was run for many years by the Nell family.  The motel ceased operation in the 1970’s when the construction of Route 81 diverted customer traffic.  Here is the Hilltop Motel from a postcard photo.   Today, Mulberry Hill Farm is currently home to three purebred Romney’s, four Romney/Border Leicester crosses, and one Corriedale cross.  We coat our sheep to ensure the highest quality fleece in our roving and yarns.  Sheep names:  Maggie, Norah, Ellie, Annie, Olivia, Oakley, Noelle, and Harvard.

Allenberry Inn & Spa

Allenberry has a long history of delighting guests with live entertainment and warm hospitality.   The 1929 owners of Allenberry Farm remodeled the original barn for summer entertaining. When the estate was sold to the Heinze family in 1944, Charles A.B Heinze knew the place was too special to be kept from the public and the Allenberry Resort was born. In 1949, The Allenberry Playhouse opened its doors and the resort became a center of relaxation, hospitality and entertainment.  Locals, as well as guests from New York, Washington, DC and Philadelphia, came to take in dinner and a show in the quaint, pastoral setting. Famous faces at Allenberry include a young John Travolta who joined the summer stock program in 1971 and Shirley Jones who played a special one-week engagement in 1994 to sold-out crowds.

Today, the tradition of good times and relaxation continues. Allenberry Resort has been masterfully renovated, maintaining its history and charm, while offering updated accommodations and luxurious amenities. The 57-acre resort is connected by foot, bike, and cart paths allowing visitors to leave their cars and their busy world behind.

Sock Knitting Workshop

Want to learn how to knit socks in 30 hours or less?  Join us Saturday February 10th at the Greenwich Historical Society to learn from Sarah Solomon, one of the top knitting teachers from New York City!  To reserve your spot, click here to sign up!

Beth Hahn’s Winter Park Workshop

Beth Hahn will be leading this workshop, teaching her beautiful stranded color work techniques, featuring a fabulous original pattern designed especially for Pick Up Every Stitch using Blue Sky Extra yarn.  Every Saturday during the month of February at 9 – 10:30am  starting February 2nd.  $80 for the workshop.
Categories
Knitting

Sarah Solomon, the Practical Creative Knitter

Sarah Solomon, the Practical Creative Knitter

Designer and Teacher for the love of animals and the yarn they produce!

Sarah Solomon is a much sought-after knit wear designer and teacher across the U.S.  that I was lucky to interview for our Pink Imperfection community.  She shares with us how she became addicted to knitting and grew closer to her Mom, Philippa Solomon, through their knitting class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City.

 

From England to New York City. Where it all began.

Sarah’s mom, Philippa, started knitting at age 4 in England where she grew up and was taught by her father.  They had a lodger in their home who Sarah explained was instrumental in her mom’s knitting education.  Auntie Janet, as she was known, was knitting a sweater for her fiancé and allowed Philippa to knit on the sweater.  This expedited Philippa’s focus to become extremely good with her knitting at an early age because she wanted it to look as nice as Auntie Janet’s stitches!  Philippa suspects that Auntie Janet might have taken out her work at night but being given something so important to knit on sparked a serious passion for knitting.   Growing up in England in the 50’s with no central heating, keeping warm and wearing wool to do so was a natural part of most people’s lives.  British women knit everything from sweaters to socks to underwear, partly for pleasure but partly to actually keep warm.  There was a very practical slant to the knitting of that time.

 

By the time Sarah was born, her mom was no longer knitting as much, but at that period was focused on quilting.  The presence of fabric and a sewing machine led Sarah to sewing first and she became quite serious about it, but she had a long history of back problems and the sewing was killing her back.  So, Sarah went in search for a new hobby for her hands that was creative but not literally back–breaking.   Sarah looked to her mom to teach her knitting, Philippa had knitted for so long, she could not explain it to Sarah with words and Sarah could not learn simply from watching.  A friend convinced Sarah to take a knitting class at FIT (offered by continuing Ed) in the wearable arts department.  Six weekly sessions with a wonderful teacher that has since retired, and Sarah was hooked immediately after the first class.   “I loved making fabric with my hands vs. making things from fabric.   Actually forming the stitches was mesmerizing.   I loved the variety of textures you could achieve and started exploring stitch patterns right away.”  Thus, began Sarah’s love for reading pattern and stitch books.

 

From here Sarah convinced her mom to join her in taking the second level knitting class at FIT. The weekly class got Philippa back into knitting and began a new era of mother and daughter knitting together.

From Practical to Personal Joy

 “When I first started knitting, I only wanted to knit sweaters.  My first project was a sweater – even though all the voices around me said, “ DON’T start with a sweater!”  And my mom’s help was the only way I got through it—I found pattern instructions so foreign and I needed her to explain practically everything to me.

Because Sarah already sewed clothes, she immediately started creating her own patterns.   “I found patterns confusing and at the time I didn’t see the kinds of garments that spoke to me.  I had strong ideas about what I wanted, so I thought it might actually be easier to start making simple sweaters my own way.  My mom showed me how to look at sweaters in my closet, literally counting up stitches and looking to see where there were increases and decreases.”  From here Sarah’s designing knitwear was born.

“Teaching is how I learned to read other’s patterns instead of just designing.”

Sarah got a crash course in how to read patterns when she started working at Knitty City!  “That was my crash course because I learned in real time through helping customers that came in.”  Plus, the owner allowed Sarah to borrow books from the store collection and she made it a point to be learning new things all the time.   “If someone asked to learn something, I would say sure, go home and teach myself.    This was also the first time I was around other real live knitters.   Before I worked there my Mom was the only knitter I ever spent time with.  Seeing what others was interested in was my curriculum.”

Teaching vs Designing? 

Sarah claims she loves them both equally now and sees them as complementary to one another.  “Designing is very solitary and it’s a lot of problem solving.  There are endless decisions to make.  It’s hardly ever just about making something pretty.”  This harkens back to her Mom’s influence of being useful first and practicality was a big part of the family philosophy.  She enjoys talking knitting patterns with her brother who is a computer engineer.  “We both appreciate that building something, whatever it is, relies on a good underlying structure.”

However, Sarah loves teaching as well.  “It allows me to interact with other humans and I like people. Like designing, it’s problem solving but of a completely different kind.  You’re finding the best way to explain things to people, often many different ways of explaining, since one way rarely works for everyone.  Ever since I had the experience as a beginner of not being able to get the explanation I needed from my Mom, I’ve been thinking about how I would explain knitting to others.  I’m evangelical about knitting and really enjoy sharing this whole new world with other people.  I love seeing others getting hooked on knitting because it allows people from all walks of life and at any age, to access their own creativity.”    Sarah has seen first-hand how knitting is accessible for all to become really good at it.  As she explains, “there are not that many things in life where you can learn at any stage of your life and actually get good without giving up everything around you.”

Given Sarah’s background and the influence of her mom, she is looking forward to designing her ideal beginner class which would get students started inventing their own projects as soon as possible. Sarah’s passion is to teach from the beginning how to be more self-sufficient, giving knitters control from the first cast on.

Sarah’s Fashion Sense and Love of Animals

She has always loved making clothes, but with an emphasis on creating timeless classics.  The practicality of knitting that was central in Philippa’s youth is something that has had an enormous influence on Sarah’s own knitting.  In addition, she comes from a family  “who bought few things of a good quality and made them last.”  Her philosophy with designing knitting patterns it to incorporate the value of mindfulness that making with knitting brings to each creation.   “What I like about knitting is that it requires me to slow down and choose something that I really want.  That is going to be with me for a long time.   This emphasis on longevity really connects me with knitters of the past.  Handmade clothes last a very long time and I love the idea that if you took care of your knitted goods, you could actually pass them down.”

This also translates into the fibers that Sarah uses in her designs.   Fiber innovation has exploded in recent decades and knitters have an overwhelming number of choices of what to work with.  Sarah is a self-reported yarn–first person and natural fibers are her focus.  “I have always loved animals and getting to touch them.  So, I think this is why I love touching yarn so much.  I see it as touching all the sheep, alpacas, goats….”

This has led Sarah to work with amazing fiber companies large and small that are dedicated to humane care of the animals, value their fibers and give back to the artisan communities.     Companies that Sarah is actively working with today include mYak, Cashmere People and Manos del Uruguay.   Sarah met Puala of mYak at Vogue Knitting Live a few years ago.  “I couldn’t leave her booth without touching all the yarn.  It was just so unique.   The same thing happened with Casey at Cashmere People.  When a yarn is processed in such a way that I still sense the animal it came from, that’s what draws me in.” Sarah will be teaching a sock workshop using Cashgora from Cashmere People sponsored by Pink Imperfection and hosted at the Greenwich Historical Society on Sunday, February 10th.  You can reserve your spot here!

Sarah met Manos del Uraguay at TNNA.  They are a nonprofit that helps rural Uraguay women find sustainable work using their artisan skills.  Fibers are shipped to the rural areas so women don’t have to leave their villages.   Sarah created a sweater collection for them released this past Fall and she will be doing a presentation about the collection and the history of the company in February at Knitty City.   (February 7th – 6:30).  The entire collection plus Sarah’s previous samples for Manos will be there to try on and see up close.

Sarah believes that whenever possible we should use the best quality materials for our knitting projects and celebrate brands that try to insure that everyone in the chain of production has the best life possible.

Why knitting should survive in today’s world?   

The marriage of practical and beautiful, where we are creating everyday things that are useful.  “I love to joke with my brothers – when there is a complete apocalypse, what are you going to bring to the table – I can start making folks clothes.”   It is an important skill even though we knit for pleasure.    We are reconnecting with our ancestors as well.   And adding your own creative energy to make it uniquely yours.   Knitting is a wonderful combination of basic function and opening our personal creativity.   “Quite lovely and unique compared to many daily activities in our lives.” Plus as Sarah observed, “Knitting took over my life because it is portable, and I can sneak it in all day long!”  

What’s Next?

Couldn’t talk about all of them quite yet, but expect more designing and teaching.  She also wants to get back to her blog as well, https://intothewool.wordpress.com/

Given Sarah’s passion for sweater knitting, she is currently developing a sweater knitting workshop in the short class format – clever ways to learn all the skills you need to make a sweater but can learn them in one 3-hour class.    Of course if you have taken a class from Sarah, you will probably agree with me, it is ok if it takes a full day hanging with Sarah!

In her personal time Sarah also enjoys hand spinning and she’s reached the stage where, as a teacher, she’d like to bridge the gap between spinning yarn and knitting, helping spinner’s figure out what to do with their hand spun or how to spin for particular knitting goals.

Sarah Solomon lives with her husband in the north Bronx with no animals for the moment.   But they joke about getting a sheep – they just need to figure out how to turn the fire escape into pasture.  You can follow Sarah on Instagram @intothewool

My favorite quote from this interview really summed up my own love of Knitting, “I like the slowness of the knitting.  It helps you distill what is really important.”

Happy Stitching!

Thread Tasting with Prosecco!

Needlepoint sip and learn three new stitches with 11 other old or new needlepoint friends!   The class will be in January 2019.   Only twelve spots, so sign up soon.  Once the 12 spots are filled the date will be finalized.   Wine & cheese will be served along with your canvas and threads of your choice.   You will learn three new stitches from a menu of 10 in addition to trying new threads.

Constellate Hat Knit Along with Karen Part II

Pick Up Every Stitch is loving the Hunter Hammersen’s hat patterns in her Firmament book.  Join one of their favorite teachers, Karen for a knit along of their favorite hat pattern, Constellate!  Fingering yarn and appropriate needles required.  (this is a two session class on December 13 and 20th) . These two knit alongs are free of charge.  You will just need to buy the pattern.

Learn to Crochet with Jennifer Part II

Learn the basics of how to crochet with Jennifer from Pick Up Every Stitch in Mount Kisco, New York!  All you need is worsted weight yarn and a G or H hook to learn the art of crochet!