HEY LOCALS …. now here’s something very exciting …

dhy yarns

Grand Re-Opening of Dog House Yarns This Weekend!

September 20 & 21

There is a cool, crisp bite in the air and the shop has been re-stocked. It’s the prefect time to stop by and check out our new look and stock up on all your Fall knitting and crocheting supplies. We have added additional seating at the front of the store, reorganized the pattern books and done other small things to ensure a fun shopping experience.

Our Grand Re-Opening is this Saturday and Sunday, September 20 & 21.

The first 50 customers will receive a Thank-You gift.

There will be door prizes (the drawing will take place at 4pm on Sunday) so stop in and register for your chance to win.

Come check out the new Dog House Yarns Orphanage and adopt a skein (or more) for 40% off the marked price.

We will be rolling out our new Customer Loyalty program on Saturday. More details available this weekend.

We really appreciate the support and patience of all of our wonderful customers and friends. We look forward to seeing you.

(Parking: There is additional parking available behind the shop.)


come on out and see what’s new … sig block


Saying Goodbye to an Amazing Mentor

Rosanne and one of her dearly loved Jack Russels

Rosanne and one of her dearly loved Jack Russels

I’ll never forget the afternoon I heard the news.

I got a voice-mail to call a fellow fiber-fanatic as soon as I got the chance.   Thinking she just had a knitting question, I happily called Jan back … only to hear the news:  our dear friend, Rosanne Berkenstock, had died the day before after a short battle with cancer.

Rosanne, the owner of Dog House Yarns, had brought the caller and I together … as she did so many others … a few years earlier when she first opened Dog House Yarns in Culpeper.  Rosanne was a born-mentor … nurturing my love of knitting and helping me to become a much better designer, teacher and writer about knitting.  She commissioned me to be the “main event” at DHY’s first annual Spring Knitting Retreat … she hired me to work in the shop … she allowed me the great privilege of writing a column in this blog several times a month … she coached and critiqued my designs, making me a much better hand-knits designer.  She was an amazing mentor and an amazing friend.

And I wasn’t the only one.

She brought many of us together to share our love of all things fiber … to meet and greet and swap tips and techniques and pattern suggestions. We will always love her for that and we will greatly miss her.

A Shawl for Rosanne (email the shop for free pattern-directions to this beautiful work of art)

A Shawl for Rosanne (email the shop for free pattern-directions to this beautiful work of art)

One of the “Thursday Night Knit Nite Ladies” designed a shawl in Rosanne’s honor. It’s a patchwork of lace patterns (lace knitting was one of Rosanne’s favorite things to work)  … a patchwork just like all the folks she brought together … a mix of differences that together make a beautiful piece of art. If you would like a complimentary copy of the design, email the shop and they’ll get a copy of the pattern right out to you.

BTW, in an interesting twist to the story: the woman who called me that day … Jan … has taken over as the new owner of Dog House Yarns! How cool is that??? Jan will continue the shop under the name Dog House Yarns to honor Rosanne’s memory. But just as Rosanne would have mentored: Jan will be running the shop the way Jan wants the shop run.

I can promise you’ll what Jan’s got in store for us fiber fanatics!

So stop on in … visit with Jan … fondle some luscious fiber … and enjoy the adventure that Rosanne started us all on …sig block


Review: Artful Color, Mindful Knits by Laura M. Bryant

Artful Color, Mindful Knits by Laura Bryant

Artful Color, Mindful Knits by Laura Bryant

You know all those gorgeous hand-dyed yarns Rosanne carries in the shop? I’m constantly being asked for advice on what to project to make with a Hazel Knits colorway … or how best to show Green Dragon’s short-repeats … or just exactly how a skein is going to knit up.

None of us wants unitentional pooling or striping of colors; we don’t want to take time to work an intricate stitch only to have it lost within the amazing colors of the hand-dyed.

What to do?

I think I’ve found the answer: Artful Color and Mindful Knits: the definitive guide to working with hand-dyed yarns written by Laura Militzer Bryant. Wow! Does she know what she’s talking about … and does she know how to make art out of her knitting.

Back in the mid-80s, Bryant started hand-dying yarns commercially which led her to start up her own company, Prism Yarns. For over 30 years, Bryant has been working with dyes … and fibers … and knitting … and crocheting … and honing her amazing knitting-artistry. She’s been teaching workshops on all this for the past 10 years or so. And now, she’s written “the definitive guide” to how to make the yarn work the way the knitter/designer really wants it to work.

With great detail, clear instructions and tons of anecdotal evidence, Bryant leads the reader thru her art — determining the repeat of a hand-dyed and using it to best advangtage in a final product. Her well-written text is accompanied by great diagrams and images to illustrate her point. This is not for the beginner knitter … but for the knitter who wants a challenge, has time to be mindful (not on auto-pilot) with his/her knitting, and really wants to create art. She has included progressively more detailed projects throughout her book, each accompanied by extensive helps. From simple scarves to wraps and shawls to intricate, woven-like jackets to softened argyle-like designs … all created from the same yarn’s colorway.

This book is definitely a must-keep for the experienced knitter’s reference shelf!

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Review: Sweater Girls … feminine and fashionable

book review graphicI thought I’d review a book that is a couple of years old but one that I’ve just finally looked at.  Sweater Girls: 20 Patterns for Starlet Sweaters, Retro Wraps & Glamour Knits is co-authored by UK designers Madeline Weston and Rita Taylor. It is a gorgeous book filled with very feminine, yet wearable, designs reminiscent of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, a time period known as the “glamour girl” age.

It’s funny … I am most certainly NOT an uber-feminine, girly-girl. It wasn’t until I turned 50 that pink started to slowly creep into my wardrobe; even then it was not a pale, girly pink but a vibrant fuschia. With five brothers and only a couple of other girls in the neighborhood, I was the proverbial “tom boy”.

That said, I do like to look feminine when I can. I like the look and sense of style from the mid-20th Century … the close-fitting (but not skin-tight) sweater blouses, the full skirts, the slim leggings … the style that is modest yet feminine; that exudes sensuality of the feminine form rather than pushing the sexuality of the woman.

This book is perfect for what I like:  styles that include knitting techniques of fair isle, lace, and textured patterning. Some are pullovers, some are cardigans and some are sets. There is a lace top and matching skirt set that is absolutely gorgeous. The angora bolero (we’d call it a shrug) has beads along the border …


There are also a couple of accessories included in this book: a lacy-stole (that could be made narrower and warn as a scarf), a fabulous fair-isle beret (the colors are amazing … I love the brights used), lace stockings and lace mitts.

This is a beautiful book with vintage patterns updated to today’s yarns, colors and fashion sense. These are not simply the old pattern re-done .. these designs have been recreated to reflect the 21st century woman’s body. sig block

Wanna join a Knit-a-long

Knittin' Love FebSome of you may have seen my Knittin’ Love shawl in the shop … it’s a fun shawlette, worked from the top down, all in one piece.  The one in the shop is done in Plymouth’s Cleo (DK) and I’ve also knit it with Cascade’s Ultra Pima — both knit up beautifully and work well with this shawl.  It takes about 440 yards of a DK and doesn’t HAVE to be done in cotton, although you want a yarn with a nice spin and little halo to get the look you see here.

For the month of February, I’m hosting a KAL  in my By Hand, With Heart group on Ravelry.  The “rules” are simple:  join the BHWH group, signup for the KAL (promising to post in-progress and finished pictures of your shawl), and work the shawl during the month of February.  We’ll have prizes for all those who finish the shawl AND post a picture by March 1, 2014 at 5pm EST.  

When you sign up for the KAL, I’ll send you the pattern.  All you’ll need to buy is 440 yards of DK yarn to join the fun ….sig block

Book Review: Op-Art Socks … graphically amazing!

book review graphicGood afternoon!

If you are at all interested in sock knitting, especially sock knitting that goes beyond the usual, have I got a book for you:

Op-Art Socks by Stephanie van der Linden

Op-Art Socks by Stephanie van der Linden

Op-Art Socks: Creative Effects in Sock Knitting is one of those books that is just awe-inspiring. German hand-knits designer, Stephanie van der Linden, has taken 19 classic optical illusion art* patterns and translated them into gorgeous socks for men and women. Some of the designs rely on color-work for their “pop” … while others are knit-purl textural socks, knit in a single color, for a more subtle approach. You could of course do them either way, it’s up to you.

just some of the graphic designs used for inspiration

just some of the graphic designs used for inspiration

The reader/knitter is offered a chance to really delve into color-work and/or textural knitting on a relatively small scale by knitting the socks. The same patterns would translate wonderfully into a bigger project — jackets or throws would be spectacular — with the charting already done by the author. There is a playfulness to some of the patterns … a sophistication or subtlety to others … but all are amazing.

The bulk of the designs are for those who have done lots of socks and want a challenge, a challenge that will reward the knitter with some amazing socks. The directions are well-written and charts are easy to read. The book is replete with tips for improving your knitting, including:

  • how best to strand color-work knitting so as to avoid making the sock too tight to put on
  • how to read charts (and to copy them larger for ease in following)
  • how to adjust the pattern for foot differences (length, width, etc)
  • how to adjust a cool optical illusion color-work design into knit-purl design for a more subtle approach (or vice versa)

This is my favorite type of knitting book — unusual techniques (some of the socks are knit modularly and then seamed) and designs that can translate to other knitted items (such as making a jacket with some of these effects). van der Linden is a pro when it comes to knitting … and she encourages the knitter to go beyond his/her comfort zone, to stretch their knitting prowess, to create a work of art.
I highly recommend this book for the adventurous knitter … a book that is definitely eye-candy for all knitters …sig block

* The op-art movement was big in the 1960s, an artistic movement that “emphasizes the psychological and physiological conditions of visual experience” (pg 6). Very graphic with high contrast, the illustrations were often in black/white or one bright against another. Some of the art is almost psychedelic in nature.

Merry Christmas … from our house to yours …

knitted Claus dolls from Jean Greenhowe's book (shown in Plymouth Encore DK and Dreambaby)

knitted Claus dolls from Jean Greenhowe’s book (shown in Plymouth Encore DK and Dreambaby)