2014 Geek-A-Long: Lord of the Rings

week 33 LotR (5)

Welcome to week 33 of the 2014 Geek-A-Long, a mystery blanket knit-along (or crochet-along for you rebels out there)! Can you believe there are only 15 more squares to go after this? If you’re new to the GAL craziness, check out the Geek-A-Long FAQ page for more details and information. For the seasoned pros, let’s talk about LotR.

The Lord of the Rings is one of those book series that just about every literate adult has heard of. First published in 1954, Tolkien’s series has sold over 150 million copies worldwide. There are college courses devoted entirely to analyzing the books and when the movies came out, the books enjoyed a new surge of popularity.

Teenage me was every so slightly into the series…

I actually really like that picture. It was taken right before going to see the midnight showing of Fellowship, but what you aren’t getting to see is how far I was taking the LotR cosplay in those days. I went to my junior year semi-formal as Galadriel and wore a flowing white costume shop gown. I made my date (who’s main attraction to me was his long blond hair) go as Legolas. I know, right? I was super cool. ;)

I had originally thought to put the golden ring on this square, but no matter how hard I tried it kept looking lame. In a burst of genius, Jac suggested I put the elvish word for “friend” on. I love how it turned out, plus, now this blanket will get you into Moria.

week 33 LotR (1)

Lord of the Rings

© Megan-Anne of Lattes & Llamas, 2014

Needles: Size US6

YarnCascade 220 in 2 sharply contrasting colors.

Gauge: 10 sts over 13 rows = 2″ x 2″ square. Final square is 45 sts by 57 rows.  Please note that in the written pattern I instruct you to knit the rows above and below the active color chart.  These rows are shown on the chart as solid color rows above and below the design.

Download PDF of the color chart LOTR. Cast on 45 sts for each side of knitting (with two strands held together CO 45, for a total of 90 sts on needle).

Work 9 rows of double-sided knitting (knit the facing sts and purl the back sts across). Note that the first row is a wrong side row.  You may choose to work the opposite color for the first stitch of each row (I do this), which will keep the edges closed. Alternately, you may choose to knit them without doing this and seam the sides when putting the blanket together. There is no “right” way to do this. It is really just what you are more comfortable with.

Follow color chart over next 40 rows in double-sided knitting.

Work 8 rows of double-sided knitting. BO.

week 33 LotR (2)

Don’t forget to tweet or instagram them at me @Doctor_Llama or Jac @jac_attacking with the hashtag geekalong, so we can all oooh and ah together. We even have a fancy new GAL Participation Button you can put on your blog or your Geek-A-Long posts. You can grab the html out of the side bar or find it here.

If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here and you can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here. We’re even raffling off some sweet prizes for our members at the end of the year! You can learn more about it in the group or on the GAL Benefactors page.

~ Megan-Anne
Ú-bedin edhellen

* * * * *

If you enjoyed this post, please consider making a donation to Child’s Play Charity. Here is a direct link to our donation page benefiting the charity. Please help us raise $1,000 this year! No contribution is too small.
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Seven Rings Cowl

Seven Rings Cowl (3)

Patrolling graveyards at night in search of freshly risen vampires is a thankless job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look fabulous!

Seven Rings Cowl (2)

I am excited to debut the first pattern in the Kniterary Crochet line: the Seven Rings Cowl. Whether you’re Buffy the Vampire Slayer battling the forces of evil or Dean Winchester climbing out of Hell, Dante was there first. Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, the Seven Rings Cowl is made with seven different yarns, which range from fingering to worsted. The varying fibers and weights provide a unique texture and drape. It’s an ideal project for stash busting luxury yarn left over from other projects or to try an array of fine yarns while only purchasing a single skein of each.

I will be publishing the pattern in the Lattes and Llamas crochet store on Ravelry and Etsy at the end of August. But if you’d like it now AND for free, I am looking for testers here.

Seven Rings Cowl (5)

This cowl holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first pieces Megan-Anne and I dreamed up for the Kniterary line. Plus, the sample was crocheted out of the seven yarns I purchased on my mini birthday yarn tour back in March. Now, it’s an awesome souvenir from that weekend. I can’t wait for autumn to arrive so I can start wearing it!

Seven Rings Cowl (4)

The Seven Rings Cowl was designed to function as a utilitarian yarn tasting. It gives you the opportunity to sample new-to-you yarns before committing to use them for larger projects AND you get to walk away with a comfy, chic cowl. These are the fabulous yarns I used:

  1. Plymouth Yarn’s Worsted Merino Superwash in the “Royal” colorway.
  2. The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze’s Peppino in the “Into the Shadows” colorway.
  3. Stonehedge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Wool Worsted in the “Raspberry” colorway.
  4. Mountain Color’s Mountain Goat in the “Ruby River” colorway.
  5. Spud & Chloe’s Sweater in the “Barn” colorway.
  6. Baah!’s La Jolla in the “Orange Amber” colorway.
  7. Madelinetosh’s Tosh Merino Light in the “Candlewick” colorway.

I’m sure you’ll see them used again in other Kniterary patterns. ;-)

~Jac
Give Dante some slack. He’s been to hell and back!

2014 Geek-A-Long: Supernatural

week 32 Supernatural (5)

Welcome to week 32 of the 2014 Geek-A-Long, a mystery blanket knit-along (or crochet-along for you rebels out there)! Can you believe there are only 16 more squares to go after this? If you’re new to the GAL craziness, check out the Geek-A-Long FAQ page for more details and information. For the seasoned pros, let’s talk about Supernatural and the Tulpa.

Jac got on the Supernatural bandwagon a few years before me. To be fair, in 2004-2006 I was serving in Americorps and I didn’t have cable. Still, there is really no excuse for my late arrival to the show because guys, IT’S REALLY REALLY GOOD. I can’t over stress this enough: go watch this show. She got me hooked on it once she owned a few seasons on DVD, and at this point we’ve seen every episode currently available at least 2 or 3 times.

In fact, right now we are in the middle of re-watching the entire series before the new season starts in October… 58 days from now. Not that I’m keeping track or anything.

week 32 Supernatural (4)

The Geek-A-Long is probably the most appropriate crafty expression of our love for the show, but it is certainly not the first. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the creepiest Christmas angel ever made:

Yes, I am ashamed of this. But if you curious about how knitted Castiel came about and ended up on our Christmas tree last year, you can read about it here.

We will be at the Supernatural convention in Whippany, New Jersey, and I’m really looking forward to it. In my mind, I sort of imagine it will be like the convention that Sam and Dean get tricked into going to in “The Real Ghostbusters.” Let us know if your going to be there, and maybe we can have a Supernatural knitting meet up. On a scale of meeting Misha Collins to knitting with Misha Collins, it would be outright delightful. :D

It was a given that Supernatural would be on the blanket, but what to put on the square was a hard choice. It’s a show that is just rotten with symbols. You can’t swing a dead cat on that set without running into something that would look good on the blanket. We considered them all. Maybe you want your blanket to repulse rogue Angels. Maybe you want it to be protected from possession. Maybe you want it to trap demons. We narrowed the field to eight or so front runners, but ultimately we decided to go with the Tulpa.

The Tulpa is a Tibetan symbol and concept in which a creature is conjured by the sheer will of spiritual and mental discipline. In the episode “Hell House,” it was used to create a homicidal ghost by a bunch of people on the internet, and it was what first brought Sam and Dean together with the Ghostfacers. (Just so you know, I would watch a whole spin-off about the Ghostfacers. They’re awesome.) I like the idea of putting a thought form on the blanket. Think good things while you’re knitting the Tulpa, and it will manifest them for you while you sleep.*

week 32 Supernatural (1)

Tulpa

© Megan-Anne of Lattes & Llamas, 2014

Needles: Size US6

YarnCascade 220 in 2 sharply contrasting colors.

Gauge: 10 sts over 13 rows = 2″ x 2″ square. Final square is 45 sts by 57 rows.  Please note that in the written pattern I instruct you to knit the rows above and below the active color chart.  These rows are shown on the chart as solid color rows above and below the design.

Download PDF of the color chart tulpa. Cast on 45 sts for each side of knitting (with two strands held together CO 45, for a total of 90 sts on needle).

Work 2 rows of double-sided knitting (knit the facing sts and purl the back sts across).  You may choose to work the opposite color for the first stitch of each row (I do this), which will keep the edges closed. Alternately, you may choose to knit them without doing this and seam the sides when putting the blanket together. There is no “right” way to do this. It is really just what you are more comfortable with.

Follow color chart over next 53 rows in double-sided knitting.

Work 2 rows of double-sided knitting. BO.

week 32 Supernatural (2)

Don’t forget to tweet or instagram them at me @Doctor_Llama or Jac @jac_attacking with the hashtag geekalong, so we can all oooh and ah together. We even have a fancy new GAL Participation Button you can put on your blog or your Geek-A-Long posts. You can grab the html out of the side bar or find it here.

If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here and you can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here. We’re even raffling off some sweet prizes for our members at the end of the year! You can learn more about it in the group or on the GAL Benefactors page.

~ Megan-Anne
*Castiel. Castiel. Castiel. Castiel. 

* * * * *

If you enjoyed this post, please consider making a donation to Child’s Play Charity. Here is a direct link to our donation page benefiting the charity. Please help us raise $1,000 this year! No contribution is too small.

Kraemer Yarns Part 2: Behind the Curtain

Kraemer Yarn store front

Last week, I told you about my trip to the Kraemer Yarn Store in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. You can read all about it here, but I had an amazing time learning about their company and meeting the staff. One of the greatest parts of our visit though, was the tour through the yarn mill.

I never realized how much goes into making the yarn that winds up on LYS shelves. I understood at a rudimentary level that yarn gets spun and dyed. I didn’t realize the kind of man and machine power that goes into that though. Kraemer was kind enough to take us every step of the way from fibers to finished products. They don’t open up their mill often, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity.

So grab a coffee, get comfy, and lets make some yarn!

Me and the lovely Eleanor discussing safety before entering the mill.

Me and the lovely Eleanor discussing safety before entering the mill.

- – – Step One – – -

FIBER

Fiber comes into Kraemer’s mill from all kinds of sources. Some of what they spin is for local farmers who raise animals but don’t spin, some is for their own yarn, and the rest is actually for other yarn companies. In fact, Kraemer manufactures the yarn for several other yarn companies! The smallest order they’ll work with is 100 lbs of fiber.

A delightfully magenta bale of fiber getting moved into the building.

The bales pictured above are 400-600 pounds of uncarded fiber. The fibers are blended using a huge scale and then sent on a conveyor belt down to the carder. Blending is a lot like following a recipe, and it’s done to create either colors, or content blends or both. We were lucky enough to see them blending  the fiber for one of my very favorite yarns: Sterling Silk and Silver. The mill staff had recipe cards that would tell them how many pounds of silver, how many pounds of silk, and how many pounds of wool to put in each batch.

Kraemer Yarn Mill Tour 3

Of course, not all the fiber that comes in is good enough to wind up in your yarn. The excess or waste fiber is sold to a paper mill and is used to make sheets of paper.

- – – Step Two – – -

CARDING

Once the right amounts of each fiber has been measured out, it rides on down to the carder. An enormous machine swirls and mixes the fibers together, and as it works little puffs escape making it seem like it was snowing wool. I refrained from trying to catch any on my tongue.

Kraemer Yarn Mill Tour 4

Once the fibers are thoroughly mixed they proceed to the carder. Prior to this tour, I understood the principal of carding, but I didn’t realize just how much of a difference it really makes! They were carding some Nylon while we were there, and it was lumpy and plastic looking in the bales. On the other end of the carding machine it looked like a unicorn’s mane!

carded nylon

Carded to the left. Uncarded to the right.

The carder brushes the fibers and turns them so they all point in the same direction. It’s a lot like combing really unruly hair until it’s straight and shiny. Each batch goes through the carder a few times, until it is soft and smooth. After it’s been carded (now it’s called roving!) it gets coiled into a giant barrel and heads over to drawing.

Carding Yarn

- – – Step Three – – -

DRAWING

Drawing pulls the roving into increasingly smaller strands.  Kraemer draws roving at least three times to get a uniform coil that is ready to be spun.  Once the roving has been drawn into perfectly uniform coils the barrel heads over to the spinning frame.

Kraemer Mill Tour 5

- – – Step Four – – -

SPINNING

The spinning frame creates single plys of yarn (though it looks more like thread at this stage) which is wound onto either bobbins or cones, depending on where it will wind up. They have rows and rows of spinning frames that are working at a terrifying speed. Each week, Kraemer spins 20,000 or more yards of wool. That’s enough to go around the world 1.5 times!

Kraemer Mill Tour 6

Kraemer Mill Tour 7

- – – Step Five – – -

TWISTING

The single ply’s that were made on the spinning frame move over to another machine for twisting. Gravity pulls yarn from the bobbin or cone and anywhere from 2-16 plys are twisted together to get yarn. Some of the plys are impossibly thin, and I was amazed that they didn’t snap during the process. The twist can go to the clockwise or counterclockwise, and a clockwise twist is called an “R-twist” while a counterclockwise twist is an “S-twist”. Fun fact for any chemistry enthusiasts: this is the same system used to describe the steriochemistry of a molecule!

Kraemer Mill Tour 8

The yarn is then knotted or air spliced to create huge cones and bobbins of spun yarn. We met the oldest employee at Kraemer while she walked up and down a row of winders, knotting the ends as they appeared. At 78 years old, she has been with Kraemer for 58 years, and was described as their hardest and most proficient worker.

- – – Step Six – – -

CONDITIONING

The final step is to skein the yarn, and steam condition it. Have you ever tried to twist your yarn back into a skein so it looks like this?

I have, many times. I was put to shame by a woman who was turning out 3 or 4 skeins a minute without seeming to even try. And I’m pretty sure she slowed way down so I could see what she was doing. After being skeined it goes over to a terrifying “conditioning chamber” that creates an extremely hot, and steamy environment to relax the fibers into the soft skeins that wind up on store shelves. It was warm, but not lethal when we saw it. :)

yarn relaxer

Our tour concluded with a look inside the packing room where the labels get added, boxes get packed, and orders go out. It takes about a week for fiber to make it all the way through the cycle and wind up in this room.

The mill operates 3 shifts a day, 5 days a week. One of the most impressive thing for me was the endurance of the mill workers. They all seemed very laid back while working at an incredible speed. Not only that, we mentioned how hot it was the day we were there and they chuckled a little and told us this was nothing. On a really hot day it can get up to 130 degrees in the mill and everyone is required to drink water like it’s going out of style. The weather even affects what fibers can be worked with, and if it’s too hot or humid they sometimes have to change their work plan to accommodate.

We had an amazing time going behind the scenes at a yarn mill, and I’ll never look at my yarn the same way again. Even the most expensive of luxury yarns seems reasonably priced when you factor in that a team of people worked for a week to make it. Thank you so much Kraemer Yarn, we hope to come visit again soon!  You can find Kraemer Yarn’s store front at:

240 S. Main St. Nazareth, PA 18064

Head on over to RavelryFacebook, or Twitter to show them some love, and check out their  online store to get some yarn of your own. Until next time Caffenistas, knit fast, die warm, and know where your yarn comes from.

~Megan-Anne

“Stop calling him the Wizard, you’ll give him a big head.”

HP LoveVest: Let him devour you!

HP LoveVest (2)

Jac and I have been dropping spoilers about our Kniterary line for awhile now. Basically, we are big ol’ yarn-teases. I am thrilled to announce that as of this moment it is really happening. The HP LoveVest is kicking off our line of Literature inspired knit wear, and you can have the pattern right now by clicking here:

$3.99 USD

A PDF will be emailed to you by Ravelry. You don’t need to be a Ravelry member to order, but if you are, the PDF will show up in your library. If you are a member of Ravelry, you can view the HP LoveVest pattern here.

HP LoveVest (4)

I wrote about the piece about a month ago when we were calling for testers, and I can’t tell you how much it warmed the cockles of our hearts to get such a wonderful response. Thanks guys! With no further ado, let’s talk about warm chests and evil overlords!

Let’s face it, it’s tough to be a woman bent on world domination and the consumption of all joy these days. Between screening new minion candidates, hitting your zumba class, and destroying all the major metropolitan cities in the tri-continental area it’s easy to sacrifice fashion for comfort.

Well, not on MY watch.

HP LoveVest (5)

My model had a blast with the vest… Maybe too much fun. ;)

Mar-Bear pics (1)

This vest is made from Mountain Meadow Wool in Jackson, and I couldn’t be happier with it. It is durable, soft, and the color is even more fabulous in person than in pictures. It’s a perfect yarn for something that you plan on wearing often. And what’s the point of making it if you don’t plan on wearing it? I was thrilled with the yarn, will definitely use it again, and give it my highest recommendations.

HP LoveVest (3)

The vest is a quick knit, worked flat on US 8 needles and seamed down each side after blocking. The cables aren’t nearly as complicated as they look, and employ a 20 stitch repeat that is very user friendly. The pattern is written for sizes Sm-XXXL, and we base our sizes on bust size. I feel strongly about designing for real human women of all sizes (sorry Twi’leks, maybe next time we’ll include sizing charts for you too) and I keep full figured ladies such as myself in mind when I pattern. I think the HP LoveVest will flatter just about anyone, and I can’t wait to see your projects!

HP LoveVest (1)

One last thing…

I flew solo on the photo shoot this time. Normally that is Jac’s jurisdiction. We had a full out fist thumping, lip pursing, nostril flaring argument about this photo:

HP LoveVest spare pics (3)

I think it’s fierce.  Jac says it looks like our fantastically lovely model is taking a fierce poop.  Weigh in and tell her she’s wrong give us your opinion.

~Megan-Anne

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl knitting.”

2014 Geek-A-Long: Slytherin

week 31 Slytherin (5)

week 31 Slytherin (1)

I wish I were a Gryffindor, or a Ravenclaw.  Those are the socially acceptable houses for a girl such as me, but the sorting hat doesn’t lie.  My name is Megan-Anne, and I am a Slytherin.

Megan-Anne’s Sorting

The In Depth Results:
Slytherin – 18
Gryffindor – 9
Ravenclaw – 7
Hufflepuff – 3

You’ll probably recognize these results from week 7 of the Geek-A-Long when we debuted our first Harry Potter square, Gryffindor. If you haven’t got yourself sorted yet, take the quiz and share your results in the comments section!

week 31 Slytherin (4)

I turned 30 yesterday, and to celebrate we are knitting up my Potter house.  I’m spending my birthday in the Pocono mountains, and it’s delightful here. :)  I’m a little sad that we are done with all the Harry Potter squares now, but I’m glad we are going out with greatness. So get yourself a slice of cake, grab your needles, and I’ll see y’all next week!

week 31 Slytherin (2)

Slytherin

© Megan-Anne of Lattes & Llamas, 2014

Needles: Size US6

YarnCascade 220 in 2 sharply contrasting colors.

Gauge: 10 sts over 13 rows = 2″ x 2″ square. Final square is 45 sts by 57 rows.  Please note that in the written pattern I instruct you to knit the rows above and below the active color chart.  These rows are shown on the chart as solid color rows above and below the design.

Download PDF of the color chart Slytherin. Cast on 45 sts for each side of knitting (with two strands held together CO 45, for a total of 90 sts on needle).

Work 2 rows of double-sided knitting (knit the facing sts and purl the back sts across).  You may choose to work the opposite color for the first stitch of each row (I do this), which will keep the edges closed. Alternately, you may choose to knit them without doing this and seam the sides when putting the blanket together. There is no “right” way to do this. It is really just what you are more comfortable with.

Follow color chart over next 53 rows in double-sided knitting.

Work 2 rows of double-sided knitting. BO.

week 31 Slytherin (3)

Don’t forget to tweet or instagram your finished squares at me, @Doctor_Llama, with the hashtag geekalong, so we can all oooh and ah together. We even have a fancy new GAL Participation Button you can put on your blog or your Geek-A-Long posts. You can grab the html out of the side bar or find it here.

If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here and you can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here. We’re even raffling off some sweet prizes for our members at the end of the year! You can learn more about it in the group or on the GAL Benefactors page.

~ Megan-Anne
“We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not stupid. For instance, given the choice, we will always choose to save our own necks.”

* * * * *

If you enjoyed this post, please consider making a donation to Child’s Play Charity. Here is a direct link to our donation page benefiting the charity. Please help us raise $1,000 this year! No contribution is too small.

Kraemer Yarns

Kraemer Yarn store frontMy love affair with Kraemer Yarns is no secret. I chose their Sterling Silk and Silver yarn for my wedding shawl, and a year later for Jac’s. What you don’t know is that it was the project that changed the standards for my yarn-based needs.

I started my shawl about a year before my wedding and that was right around the time when I was making the transition from being a “big box knitter” to an “LYS knitter.” I think the majority of us go through that transition at some point or another, and it can be sort of weird to look back on it. Like most of my knitting friends, I like to pretend that it all started one magical day when I wandered into a local yarn store and purchased a skein of cashmere along with a set of artisan needles. Then I sat down with a circle of women who laughed and drank tea while I made my first shawlett.

Of course, the real story was that my grandma gave me a skein of “100% unknown fibers,” which probably cost about $1.50, and some plastic needles. Then, she told me to sit down and be quiet because her Bridge Club was coming over. Thanks to Grandma Betty I can now both knit a sweater and hustle cards, both important zombie apocalypse skills.

Fast forward two years and Jac was crocheting her first blanket. I nearly spilled a Coke on her project bag (thus beginning a long and delightful tradition of me managing to spill a beverage on just about everything we have ever made). She shrieked and threw her notebook at me because:

That yarn is $3.75 a skein!

Like most knitters, as my skill improved, I wanted to use better materials. Soon the coveted $3.75 per skein yarn became $6 per skein yarn, but it was all bought from the same big box store.

Then, everything changed when the fire nation attacked when I met lace in my early twenties and became interested in designing. Suddenly, there was nothing at JoAnns, or Michaels, or AC Moore that could quench my thirst for lace, but my wallet hadn’t quite caught up with my fiber needs. The point of telling you all this is so you’ll understand just how wonderful a skein of yarn had to be for me to spend over $100 for a single project. That was equivalent to a week of groceries and utilities. That was a quarter of my months rent. And when I met Kraemer Yarn, none of that mattered anymore.

megans shawl

My wedding shawl was the first real luxury project I ever knitted. It took almost a year to complete and by the end of it, I was hooked. I finally got it. Why spend a year making something that’s always going to look cheap? I’ve gone back to Kaemer Yarns over and over again, because I know I’m going to be happy with what I get every single time. They aren’t expensive compared to many other luxury yarns, but the yarn holds up. I’m also lucky enough to live super close to the Kraemer yarn mill and store front located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

Seriously, how cute is the inside of this store?

Kraemer doesn’t offer yarn mill tours to the public anymore, but they were kind enough to let Jac and I in anyway to see how yarn is commercially manufactured. The lovely Eleanor took us through the mill, the store, and even the work room where they invent new yarns and colors! This time next week we will publish a follow-up feature on the mill itself. I tried to write the review of Kraemer’s yarn and our experience at the mill as one article, but it just couldn’t be done. Honestly, I didn’t know that so much goes into making it, and I don’t want to short change you. While we were there, I met the wizard of yarn, Kraemer President David Schmidt, and got a step by step tutorial on what happens between the sheep and the LYS shelves.

Megan-Anne and Kreamer President, David Schmidt

Jac and I spent some time in their storefront, where the staff was busily working away making swag bags for an event. The ladies who work in the shop often do knitting for hire and their latest project is a car cozy. You know, like you do. Not only that, this is their second car cozy, since the first one was such a big success. Not only are they some of the friendliest LYS staff I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with, they are also some of the most professional.

Kraemer Yarn takes quality seriously. I was shown a bin of yarn on heavy discount. Every skein in it was $3.00 (teenage me squeed with joy), but the skeins looked just like the ones at regular price. Eleanor explained that each one had a flaw and they didn’t feel comfortable selling them at market price. In this case, “flaw” meant the color or texture was slightly uneven in one spot, the yardage was off somewhat, or that the skein had a knot in it. It was almost funny since those are issues I assumed were par for the course, even with much more expensive brands. Kraemer, however, will only put out a skein that is exactly right, and I have nothing but respect for that.

And then I bought several skeins because seriously guys, they were only $3.00!

Of course, I could go on all day about how great the yarn is, but you don’t have to take my word for it. How about the US Olympic Team though? Pretty hard to ignore them.

Yep. Kraemer Yarns spun the wool that was used by Ralph Lauren to make the 2014 Olympic Sweaters! They have one proudly displayed in their shop and it is breathtaking. I touched it. I can now add “rubbed Olympic Sweater on my face” to my resume.

If you are in the Nazareth, PA area and want to check out all the amazing stuff Kraemer has to offer, they are open Monday-Friday from 9-5 and Saturdays 9-4. You can also check them out on Ravelry, Facebook, and Twitter. Their yarn is available in many local yarn shops and in their online store.  Come back this time next week for an in depth look “behind the curtain” of how your yarn is made.

~ Megan-Anne
We’re off to see the Wizard.

 

2014 Geek-A-Long: Star Trek

week 30 Star Trek (2)

Welcome to week 30 of the 2014 Geek-A-Long, a mystery blanket knit-along (or crochet-along for you rebels out there)! If you’re new to the GAL craziness, check out the Geek-A-Long FAQ page for more details and information. Then, meet us back here when you’re ready. For the seasoned pros, let’s talk about Star Trek.

week 30 Star Trek (5)

I’ve been a Trekkie for a long time, and I come by it honestly. My uncles were super into sci-fi when I was little and they passed on their love of the USS Enterprise to me at an early age. I was always into The Next Generation, which may or may not be connected to my deep and abiding pubescent love of Wesley Crusher.

And who could blame me?! When you rock out in sexy sweaters like that, there’s nothing a young girl can do but swoon. Mr. Llama quietly tolerates my Wesley crush, and even bought me this for Valentine’s Day a few years ago:


It now hangs proudly in our bedroom, but that’s only because we were forced to move it from the dining room due to complaints of “creepiness.” Haters gonna hate, I suppose. Anyhow, next week Wil Wheaton will be celebrating his birthday, and to honor the man who was the boy that I had so badly wanted to go to the school dance with, I bring you the USS Enterprise:

week 30 Star Trek (4)

I opted not to differentiate between Enterprises. I’m a TNG girl, but I have nothing but respect for my TOS peers. Not only that, I’ve got an alternate square for you this week. The original design for Trek was based on the federation emblem, and you can download that chart by clicking here.  Download the chart for the official square below.

week 30 Star Trek (1)

federation

Enterprise

© Megan-Anne of Lattes & Llamas, 2014

Needles: Size US6

YarnCascade 220 in 2 sharply contrasting colors.

Gauge: 10 sts over 13 rows = 2″ x 2″ square. Final square is 45 sts by 57 rows.  Please note that in the written pattern I instruct you to knit the rows above and below the active color chart.  These rows are shown on the chart as solid color rows above and below the design.

Download PDF of the color chart Star Trek. Cast on 45 sts for each side of knitting (with two strands held together CO 45, for a total of 90 sts on needle).

Work 3 rows of double-sided knitting (knit the facing sts and purl the back sts across).  You may choose to work the opposite color for the first stitch of each row (I do this), which will keep the edges closed. Alternately, you may choose to knit them without doing this and seam the sides when putting the blanket together. There is no “right” way to do this. It is really just what you are more comfortable with.

Follow color chart over next 51 rows in double-sided knitting.

Work 3 rows of double-sided knitting. BO.

week 30 Star Trek (3)

Don’t forget to tweet or instagram them at me, @Doctor_Llama, with the hashtag geekalong, so we can all oooh and ah together. We even have a fancy new GAL Participation Button you can put on your blog or your Geek-A-Long posts. You can grab the html out of the side bar or find it here.

If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here and you can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here. We’re even raffling off some sweet prizes for our members at the end of the year! You can learn more about it in the group or on the GAL Benefactors page.

~ Megan-Anne
“My very first friend was a warp coil.”

* * * * *

If you enjoyed this post, please consider making a donation to Child’s Play Charity. Here is a direct link to our donation page benefiting the charity. Please help us raise $1,000 this year! No contribution is too small.

Free Stuff: Zippy Pins

Bumper Stickers by Zippy Pins

You could get your hands on three of these super sweet bumper stickers!

It’s the end of the month and that means it’s time to announce another fabulous Geek-A-Long prize! If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can read all about it here, but this is the gist of it:

When you post a picture of your finished Geek-A-Long blanket to the group in any of the three sizes (baby blanket, afghan, or full sized), you will be entered into the raffle for that sized blanket. Everyone in the group, however, is eligible to enter the drawing for the fourth prize basket as our thank you for just being a member.

I’m super excited to announce our July benefactor: Zippy Pins!

buttons and magnets by Zippy Pins 1

Seriously guys, the ladies over at Zippy Pins get me.

They are based just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the L&L office and have a huge selection of awesomely cheeky yarn themed accessories available in their Etsy shop.

buttons and magnets by Zippy Pins 4

About Zippy Pins

Zippy Pins is a mother and daughters collaboration born out of our creativity and boundless passion for enhancing peoples ability to share and connect over what matters to them – hobbies, sports and collecting as well as social and environmental causes with our own special brand of humor on a pinback button-badge.

While searching for a name, the word Zippy became the obvious choice since Zippy literally defines both the strikingly fresh, lively, and appealing product design styles offered as well as the speedy, friendly service that Zippy Pins delivers.

Wanting to establish an online marketplace dedicated to celebrating people’s interests, we began offering our pinback button-badges on eBay in January 2008. Very quickly, the ever-expanding design/product selection and customer/retailer demand made it apparent that we should create an e-commerce website, as well. Zippy Pins have been delivered to every continent, except Antarctica, and continue to make their way to homes and businesses around the globe.

buttons and magnets by Zippy Pins 2

Zippy Pins sent us a super generous addition to our prize baskets and each person who wins this year will get a selection of pins, magnets, bumper stickers, and a tiny key chain.

buttons and magnets by Zippy Pins 3

If you’re anything like me, chances are you don’t want to wait until January to get your hands on these pins. You can get yourself a few (or a lot!) now to add to your collection by heading over to their Etsy store. You can also find them on twitter and facebook.

Thanks so much to Zippy Pins for your generous donation! You are geeks after my own heart. :D

~ Megan-Anne
I’d put these ladies on my zombie apocalypse team without question.

 

2014 Geek-A-Long: DNA

Over the course this year’s Geek-A-Long, we are honoring math and science 5 times.  Caffeine, Pi, and the Periodic Table appeared earlier this year, and there is one more to come after this.  When we sat down to decide what the 2014 squares would be, there was actually some contention over how much space certain genre’s and fandoms ought to get.  But there were 2 areas we were in total agreement on: sci-fi/fantasy literature and science/math.  We would be failing you if we didn’t give adequate space to the 2 pools from which the original geeks sprung.  Of course the issue of which aspects of those to include was a much harder decision. ;)

week 29 DNA (3)

For my science squares, I tied to hit on some of the most important contributions to the scientific world.  There are too many to name, but I think the discovery of DNA is pretty high up there.  By understanding DNA we are able to begin to treat and even prevent genetic disorders.  Honestly, the applications are endless, and as a future doctor they are near and dear to my heart.

dopamine

I hope you guys love this square as much as I do. Getting that DNA to run diagonally across the square was a real headache to design, but totally worth the effort. As a fun bonus, there is an alternate square this week as well! :D  By popular demand we are including another molecule to complement the Caffeine molecule from week one.  Click here to download the alternate pattern, Dopamine, and get the DNA chart below.

week 29 DNA (1)

DNA

© Megan-Anne of Lattes & Llamas, 2014

Needles: Size US6

YarnCascade 220 in 2 sharply contrasting colors.

Gauge: 10 sts over 13 rows = 2″ x 2″ square. Final square is 45 sts by 57 rows.  Please note that in the written pattern I instruct you to knit the rows above and below the active color chart.  These rows are shown on the chart as solid color rows above and below the design.

Download PDF of the color chart DNA. Cast on 45 sts for each side of knitting (with two strands held together CO 45, for a total of 90 sts on needle).

Work 2 rows of double-sided knitting (knit the facing sts and purl the back sts across).  You may choose to work the opposite color for the first stitch of each row (I do this), which will keep the edges closed. Alternately, you may choose to knit them without doing this and seam the sides when putting the blanket together. There is no “right” way to do this. It is really just what you are more comfortable with.

Follow color chart over next 53 rows in double-sided knitting.

Work 2 rows of double-sided knitting. BO.

week 29 DNA (2)

Don’t forget to tweet or instagram them at me, @Doctor_Llama, with the hashtag geekalong, so we can all oooh and ah together. We even have a fancy new GAL Participation Button you can put on your blog or your Geek-A-Long posts. You can grab the html out of the side bar or find it here.

If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here and you can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here. We’re even raffling off some sweet prizes for our members at the end of the year! You can learn more about it in the group or on the GAL Benefactors page.

~ Megan-Anne
Hey girl, let’s coil like Watson and Crick. 

* * * * *

If you enjoyed this post, please consider making a donation to Child’s Play Charity. Here is a direct link to our donation page benefiting the charity. Please help us raise $1,000 this year! No contribution is too small.