An Interview with … Me!

As with (I am guessing) many knitters, I have read a lot of knitting blogs. I meant a lot. My feedly feed is full of them. And I have been reading many of them for years. Ever since I had the inkling that I might want to pursue knitting design as a calling I have been following one called “How to Become a Professional Knitter” by Robin Hunter. She posts weekly interviews with professionals in the knitting industry and I have probably read a couple hundred by now.

Imagine my surprise when I received a request to do one of these interviews?! You could have knocked me over with a feather. But interview I did and it was posted today. If you would like to know more about my design process and maybe peep into how my brain works please click over and check it out.

Secondly, I am super behind in blog posting. I have found that I am much better at talking to a camera than getting my thoughts out with the keyboard. The best way to keep up with me is to check out my YouTube channel Watch Barbara Knit. But that is not to say I am giving up on blogging. I just need to get better. Mostly it’s the fact that the Fall festival season is upon us and time has just flown!

I went to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool and had a grand time!

And I went to New York Sheep and Wool and had even more fibery fun.

I have released some new patterns along the way and will be writing up posts about them soon!

Blocking Yarn with Acrylic Content

Can it be done? My answer is yes. Should it be done? Also yes!

I teach a 3 hour blocking class and I am pretty evangelical about blocking. Blocking is the closest thing to magic I’ve found in the world of knitting (unless you count actual spinning – because fluff into yarn is pretty amazing). It is a very rare project that I would say “eh, you don’t need to block that”. I mean, it happens but not often.

Which brings us to acrylic content yarn. Acrylic is plastic. You can get it as wet as you want and there will be no penetration of the fibers. Wet blocking can clean acrylic projects but it doesn’t really do any actual blocking. And when you have blends with acrylic it really fights with you about the blocking. It inhibits the process. But I have read a bit about heat blocking acrylic and it fascinates me.


I received a fun blend of cotton and acrylic from Kraemer Yarns called Tatamy Tweed DK and I decided to go a wee bit mad scientist on it. It is 45% Cotton and 55% Acrylic, which makes it machine washable and that is a major plus for many projects. I knit four swatches and messed about with them a bit.

The first swatch is the “control” (proper sciencing here). I knit it and took it off the needles. Bing, bang, boom.

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK Unblocked

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK Unblocked

The second swatch I blocked using a hot steam iron (no actual physical contact – that would be melty) to see if it would work and it did. But could I leave well enough alone? Nooooooo. I had my husband throw it in the washing machine and then into the dryer. I was not nice to this swatch. It received no special treatment. I think the dryer was on permanent press.

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK, Heat/Steam blocked & Washed

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK, Heat/Steam blocked & Washed

It shrank a bit but overall it did hold out some of the lace and looks pretty good. As long as you take into account the shrinkage I think this is a viable care technique. You would probably get less shrinkage if you were more careful with the temp of the drying.

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK, Wet Blocked

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK, Wet Blocked

For the third swatch I used wet blocking. The yarn bloomed a good bit and drew back some after unpinning. I speculate that this is the acrylic content having a bit of an argument with the cotton about where it wants to be. But it looks nice. I am guessing it will have to be reblocked after each hand washing.

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed, Heat/Steam Blocked

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed, Heat/Steam Blocked

And finally I steam blocked the fourth swatch on camera so that y’all could see how heat/steam blocking works! In short, you pin the knitting out to the final size you want and then use a steam iron to heat set the stitches. You hold the iron about a half of an inch above the surface of the yarn and allow the heat and steam to permeate the fibers. Move slowly and make sure the yarn heats up. When I unpinned it there was no movement and the lace stayed crisp and clear.

So there you have it. You can indeed block yarn with acrylic content. In fact there are several options. To see the heat/steam blocking in action and hear further analysis of my experiment check out the video on Watch Barbara Knit.

I called this Swatch Lab and hopefully it will be the first of many of this style of video. Please let me know in the comments if you like this idea and if you have any suggestions for future yarn experiments.

Road Trip – Wisconsin Sheep and Wool style

It’s true! I’m going on a road trip. Early tomorrow Gale from Gale’s Art will be coming by with her vehicle packed to the gills. We will wedge me in and head off into the wilds of the MidWest to attend Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. I am going to be helping in her booth and she has given me a little space to display my samples and patterns. So very excited about it!

If you are in the area or traveling to this fiber event please stop by and say Hi! I have heard wonderful things about this festival and cannot wait to take pictures and video and everything. If you are interested in my trip you should watch my Instagram for the pictorial story. I am sure there will be yarn, sheep, and silliness. I also talked about the trip on my most recent video blog if you want to check that out.

But before I hit the road I have a few things I have to share here!

First – the Fix-a-Stitch Give away has come to a close and I posted the video announcing the winner this morning!

In the video I ask for a little feedback about give-aways. Specifically, do you want more? If so, what should I give away? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Going to the Post Office this morning and mailing off the package left me with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Which is a feeling I would like to have more, so I am on the side of more give-aways.

When I get back from Wisconsin I have sooooo much going on. I cannot wait to share all of the awesome with you. I have no fewer than SIX patterns slated for release in September. Can you believe that? Hopefully it will make up for the slow summer. At least it is proof that I was knitting all summer.

Finally, I need to make plans for the winter. Do y’all have any thoughts on what kind of new patterns you might like to see? We started up a great chat in my Ravelry forum about what kind of shawl shapes people like and if you want a little peek into what might be coming down the pike you might want to mosey on over there. And the conversation can continue, please feel free to jump in!



Win a Fix-a-stitch (and bonus yarn)

I am hovering somewhere between excited and nervous. I am doing an official give-away! But of course me being me I had to do research into how to do it. And then I ended up reading pages and pages of legal mumbo-jumbo and getting a wee bit scared about the whole prospect. But then I talked to some individuals more experienced in this process and managed to deescalate  from scared down to nervous. But mostly I am excited!

A couple of weeks ago I made a video on how to use the awesome Fix-a-stitch tool. I just realized I never put it on this here blog so here it is!

As you can see, you need one of these in every knitting bag and I am perfectly happy to enable you in this regard. The lovely people at Fix-a-Stitch gave me one to give away to y’all! Additionally, what is a knitting blog give away without yarn? Not really a knitting blog give away, eh?

Recently I was pawing through my stash and came across an unfortunate circumstance. You see, I have a tendency to fall in love with yarn in color combinations when I am in yarn stores. So I purchase said pairs of yarn and frankly they are married in my eyes. Those two yarns simply go together. And I have every intention of designing something with them. You know, after they have had the appropriate aging time in my stash (stash is like wine, none shall be used before it’s time). The unfortunate thing is that often that aging time allows the yarn manufacturer the opportunity to discontinue the yarn.


I can’t design with discontinued yarn. I mean, I could but y’all wouldn’t like it very much. If a knitter likes my pattern and yarn selection so much that they want to knit the exact same thing, well I want them to be able to. Starting with a discontinued yarn really isn’t meeting that need. But my stashes loss is your gain! So to keep the awesome Fix-a-stitch company on it’s journey to the winner’s home I have selected a married pair of discontinued yarn to go along for the ride.

Click the picture to get to entry form!

This is Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool XL in two fabulous colors. I adore the green and charcoal together and in my mind it was going to become a cowl, or maybe a hat, or possibly finger less mitts. It’s bulky so there is plenty to make a nice accessory. Or you know, live in your stash, it has experience.😉
I am running this as a Rafflecopter giveaway so there is more than one way to enter. When you click on the link it will take you to Rafflecopter and you will be prompted to either sign in with FaceBook or your email. If you win I will be using your email to contact you, so you might want to consider what email address is associated with your FB account. I recommend using your email.

You can get one entry by subscribing to my YouTube channel Watch Barbara Knit. You can get a second entry by subscribing to my e-Newsletter. And then you can get a third entry by using Social Media to share one of my Ravelry patterns. This third option is a repeatable option in that you can do it once a day for the entirety of the give-away. If you want more specific information you can check out my YouTube announcement by clicking here.

And of course – there are official rules. They are in the description of the YouTube video but I will put them here also. I apologize in advance for their boring-ness. If you have any questions please ask in the comments and good luck!

Contest Rules:

This contest is being run through Rafflecopter, a full list of Terms and Conditions are available on entry. To enter click on link provided and select one (or more) of the three options provided. If you are already a newsletter and/or YouTube channel subscriber go ahead and select those options. These two entries can only be used once. The Social Media option can be used once per day for the duration of the contest.

Entries will be accepted starting on or about August 17, 2016 and ending September 1, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST. This give-away is free to enter, no purchase is required. Open to US residents 18 and older. Void where prohibited by law.

The prize includes: (1) Fix-a-stitch set, approximate retail value of $14.99 and (2) balls of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool XL, approximate retail value of $20.

Winner will be selected through Rafflecopter on September 2nd and announced within 5 days following winner selection. Winner will be announced via YouTube and contacted via email to the email address they entered with.

Any personal data collected through entry in this give-away is only for use in running the give-away. No information will ever be shared or sold to any third party.







Book Look – Unexpected Cables by Heather Zoppetti

When I decided to do books for YouTube I was definite in my desire to not be putting a lot of negativity out there. I want to share with other knitters books that I think are awesome and the things in the book that I thought were on point. If I get a book and don’t care for it, why would I put in all of the effort that it takes to make a video saying such a thing? I had fun with the two book videos that I did, but I really wanted to do, as they say, kick it up a notch. I am a firm believer that all dials should go to 11.

Cue brainstorming on how I could change up the book “reviews”. And it occured to me, if I am definitely not going to be all Anton Ego on screen why not see if I could get the actual author/designer of the book to chat with me? Sort of a hybrid interview/book review. What could be better than sitting with the book and having the ultimate authority for that book on tap to answer any questions that might come up.

And Heather Zoppetti did not disappoint. She shed light on all of my questions and provided fun and interesting insights into many of the choices she made in the book. And at the end she was kind enough to share what she is working on now and even give us a sneak peek into what is coming down the road. So make sure you watch to the end of the video.

FYI, she has “serious” glasses and these awesome kitty glasses. I put in a request ahead of time for the kitty glasses and she totally went the extra mile with the amazing headband. Seriously, if you don’t feel like watching the video I totally understand. But you should at least check out her Ravelry page because her sense of the fun and unexpected really comes through in her design.

Vacation with me?

Two weeks! I was in Florida for two whole weeks and while it was awesome, I am really glad to be home. Home with my yarn and my work and this glowing box that allows me to communicate with the entire world!

We went to the beach and played putt-putt. We went to pools galore and ate all of the shrimp we could get our hands on. And it was awesome! But you know what? I was still knitting. Of course I took knitting. And I took my video camera so I would have stuff to show y’all when I came back.

I made a vlog while I was down there.

And of course I visited a yarn store

or two

Stash - A Place for Yarn

Stash – A Place for Yarn

Actually three

Roxy's Yarn

Roxy’s Yarn

In order top to bottom I visited A Good Yarn in Sarasota, Stash – A Place For Yarn in St. Petersburg, and Roxy’s Yarn in Tampa. Each one was a completely different feel but each one was fabulous in it’s own way. A Good Yarn carries an almost overwhelming array of yarns (almost, I can totally take it). Stash is a meticulously curated selection of lovely yarns in a funky, arty part of town. And Roxy’s impressed me with their diverse range of yarns and impressive list of classes classes chalked up behind the register. I would be wonderfully happy if I lived in any of these cities and was able to call the store “my” LYS.

Local Yarn Stores are the heart and soul of the knitting community. There is no denying that I frolic in the knitting cybersphere but there really isn’t anything that can replace the importance of the brick & mortar store. Do you have a local yarn store that you love? I hope you do.

I really want to make more store/shopping videos like the one above at A Good Yarn. Hopefully I will be able to travel more and see stores everywhere. If you have a great yarn store near you that I need to check out please let me know in the comments. Maybe I can convince my family to plan our vacations around yarn stores?😉


Scarab Shawl Revisited Again

It is an unfortunate fact of life that yarns get discontinued. I don’t blame the yarnies, they have to do what their customers want. But it can create some issues. When I re-knit the Scarab Shawl for independent publication (it was originally published in Knit Now) I was lucky enough to receive yarn from one of my favorite dyers Miss Babs.  The alpaca/silk blend that we decided to pair with the pattern brought a whole new look to the shawl and I adore it. I sometimes take it out and pet it. But alas, all good things must pass

But let us not look upon it as a loss, but as an opportunity! An opportunity to see Scarab knit in an entirely different yarn! This time the crack team at Anzula just happened to be introducing a brand new Sport weight MCN called Ava. And you know, the difference between DK & Sport weight is in the “close enough” category considering the non-fitted nature of this shawl. It was a bit of a gamble, but one that paid off.

Scarab Shawl - a lace shawl by Barbara Benson in Anzula Ava

I still love this delicate lace.

Look how beautifully the yarn paired with the pattern. This color is called Misfit and I am totally in love with it. I kinda don’t want to mail the sample back to California but it needs to be reunited with its owner. It was such a pleasure to do a photo shoot with this shawl and my model Fatimah is just the picture of beauty isn’t she?

Scarab Shawl, a knitted shawl from Barbara Benson in Anzula Ava

We do have about as much fun as it looks.

Really, I don’t need to say much, the pictures speak for themselves.

Scarab Shawl, a knitted shawl from Barbara Benson in Anzula Ava

But of course, before it departs on its journey I decided to make a pattern tour video.

In the video you will see the two shawls side by side. There are subtle differences in how the yarn behaved but both are beautiful. I think that you should knit two!