Fiber Factor: Over and Out

This weekend at Vogue Knitting Live, the three four finalists for The Fiber Factor were announced.  Alas, I was not among them.  Truth be told, I’m more than a bit relieved.  Although it would have been an honor/super exciting/challenging/etc. to continue competing into the final round … it has also been exhausting/sometimes frustrating/etc.  I’ve felt constrained by the challenge schedule — I have not submitted many design proposals lately, nor have I started new designs of my own, because of the increasingly intense challenges.  Now that I’m out of the running, I can relax — knit more for my own pleasure, and also feel free to make new commitments to other yarn companies and magazines. It also means I can enjoy next week’s stint at Stitches East (I’m helping out in A Hundred Raven’s booth!) without concern that I’m using up valuable design time. 

I had a great experience — no regrets there!  One of the best things I learned during this competition is that even if I don’t immediately have a good idea for a call (aka challenge), I can come up with something I’m proud of with a little extra effort. In the past if I read a call for submission and it didn’t appeal, I just let it pass by — there are more calls than I can possibly respond to, so I have focused on the ones that spark immediate design ideas for me.  With the Fiber Factor, I didn’t have that luxury, obviously — I had to buckle down and think of something no matter how ?wtf? I felt on when I first read the challenge description.  As a result, I’ve designed some of my best work to date.  I’m trying to take this lesson to heart — sometimes the less obvious/easy road leads to interesting places.

ANYway, I think/hope that judging for round six will go up next week.  In the mean time, please feast your eyes on my submission: the Carillon Cloche and Bow. (Please comment on the Ravelry page for Carillon if you’d like a PM when the pattern becomes available.)






The Fiber Factor: Challenge Six Has Shipped

Yesterday I took my sixth and final(?) Fiber Factor project to the UPS store in Chelmsford. You can see  in my progress video that I’m making a hat, specifically a cloche, out of Leinen Los with a band/bow in softest Kid Seta to set off a pretty little shawl pin from JUL. The hat came together right away, and I love it. I’ve always enjoyed wearing hats, and the cloche shape looks good on me (brim up OR brim down).  (In fact I have plans to make the hat again — must have this hat!)  It took me a while to figure out the right thing to do about the band/bow. I had SO many false starts … and I ended up pulling a knitting all-night on Tuesday night.  I finally landed on a good color combo/design, but I’d had so many wrong turns I couldn’t risk waiting until the next day to finish.  (What if it hadn’t worked? Then I really would have been in trouble.)

ANYway, I want to personally thank theoatmeal  for introducing me to the mantis shrimp, which  helped me settle on a set of four colors for this hat.  Those “harbingers of blood-soaked rainbows” rock my world.


The judging for this round is taking place at VKL Chicago. As always, I’ll be interested to hear the judges’ feedback. Results for Challenge 6 should be online at The Fiber Factor on or about November 9th.  I’ll post more photos after that.

The other thing that’s happening on or about November 9th is the announcement of the three finalists, who will go on to compete in the two-month-long final challenge of The Fiber Factor. At this point, coming off the last three very-short-deadline challenges, I’m feeling ambivalent about moving on to the next round.  Of course if I’m selected, I’ll be thrilled and delighted.  The winner of the final challenge gets a trip for two to Germany! Plus it would mean they like me!  However, NOT being selected would be cool too.  It would mean I’d have a shockingly relaxed holiday season. I could knit on my own projects without feeling guilty or furtive, and I could start submitting to calls without worrying if the deadline will coincide with a Fiber Factor deadline.  I could cheer on the final three and have opinions and just enjoy the competition as a “Watcher.”  Ultimately I’m too competitive to NOT want to play, and too realistic to be sorry if I don’t get to.

It’s been fantastic. I don’t regret a minute of it. My sincere thanks to Skacel (especially Karin, Cirilia, and Chuck) for putting the Fiber Factor together. Honor and glory to my fellow semi-finalists.  Thanks most of all to my friends and family, who have been incredibly supportive over the last seven months. (Oh tiki dog it, seven months! No wonder I’m feeling a bit worn out.)


Cast-on Monday: Fall in Alexandria

So … I got this knitting machine for Challenge #4 of The Fiber Factor.  It’s really good at cranking out stockinette … so obviously, instead of working on the challenge, I packed up the machine and brought it over to Kate’s house. (You know, Kate, the amazing hand-dyer over at A Hundred Ravens.)  We rigged up two swifts and two skeins of her sock-yarn base ( (aka Iachos).  With her managing the swifts and me minding (and winding) the machine with the sock yarn held double, we cranked through 400 yards and created a tube-shaped dying blank about 5 feet long (tall?).

Why, you ask? Because with such a blank, we could do a fabulous gradient dye job! What fun!  It took about 40 minutes (with two people) to make the blank, which is longer than it took to dye it.  Later on Kate & Company reversed the process and made skeins out of the blank.

0158 fall in four colors

My desire was to emulate the beautiful fall leaves against a slate-gray stormy sky. With Kate’s guidance (and editing eye) we focused on the leaves on the test skein (dyed “normally” with short color repeats), starting with a pale yellow, moving through bright oaky orange and a cherry maple red, and finishing with a more mahogany color. I begged for a second skein of the slate gray to do colorwork with the short-repeat skein.

Here are those two colorways, skeined and then caked:



The gradient colorway is AMAZING in person — here it is in skein and cake:




I have selected Alexandra by Dee O’Keefe (shawlette size) — so far, I’m in loooove!


CO Monday: a vest and yet-another-cowl

I’m done with the knitting (and finishing) for my project for Challenge #3 of the Fiber Factor.  We had the photo shoot on Friday just before sundown — my friend’s daughter modeled for me, and my other friend took the pictures.  I knew we were getting great shots while on site, but the actual proofs were even better! I’m looking forward to the time when I can share.

Still on the to-do list for this challenge:

  • finally finalize the all-important name
  • arrange for and complete my “for the public” session with our mentor, Josh Barrett
  • make the video for the judges (I have some footage, but probably need more)
  • select the 12 best photos, and decide which two will be the “main” and “supporting” photos
  • finish up grading and pattern writing (just have sleeves to go)

So, I cast on two new projects this week!

First-off is a new(ish) design project — it’s destined to be a Classic Elite Web-letter pattern, sometime this fall.  I’m using scrumptious squishy-soft Chalet to make a cable-edged squared-off vest — a layering piece for fall and early winter. I swatched for this design some time ago, but now is the time to get the thing done. So far, so good!

Second, I started yet-another-cowl.  This time, I’m using glorious Llyr in the new-ish colorway “Aphrodite” (drool at it, I command thee):


I’m making a Song of the Sea with it — perfect combination of yarn and pattern, IMHO.

CO Monday: Challenge #3 (Blank Slate)

This week I started a new challenge for The Fiber Factor!  The theme for challenge #3 is “Blank Slate.” All twelve contestants were told “no need for a color card this time.” I knew this meant we would either be working with a yarn we already had a card for — or, more likely, we didn’t have any choices.  On Challenge Day, we each got a box with 15 skeins of Kenzie in a gorgeous oatmeal-cream:



I’ve been doing a lot of swatching — used up almost a whole ball! Of course I’m saving the swatches just in case I need the yarn, but I think I’m going to be ok. I actually sewed a mock-up of my design in caramal-colored knit fabric from my local JoAnn’s. I am in LOVE with the shape I’m working towards, and I have a great “special detail” in mind that I haven’t seen before….

Fiber Factor: “Hillcrest” (co-)wins Challenge #2

I am so, so excited to announce that my sweater, Hillcrest, was selected by the judges as one of the two winners for Challenge #2 of The Fiber Factor!

Mad props to my co-winner Tracy Purtscher, whose “Boxes ‘n Boxes” sweater will forever be the Megan Draper sweater to me, thanks to the judges.

Hillcrest Prototype

As one of the winners, the pattern for Hillcrest will be published at some point in the near-ish future. If you’d like a PM when that happens, please comment on the pattern page on Ravelry.

I’ve really enjoyed competing on the Fiber Factor thus far — new challenge starts Monday! Thanks to Skacel and all the judges for their kind words!

KAL: Evolution Shawl

Hey everyone!! My shawl Evolution is available as a FREE download from The Fiber Factor.


I will be hosting a KAL in the Remily Knits forum — let’s make the official start date June 24th, so people have time to get their yarn together and clear some WIPs off their needles.

You are, of course, welcome to use any yarn your like — but if you haven’t tried it, please consider Unisono. It’s fantastically sproingy and comes in beautiful solid colors (as well as the self-striping, which I chose for the design).

What you’ll need for the KAL:

  • US #7 needles (or there-abouts)
  • 975 yards of sport-weight yarn
  • a generous handful of stitch markers

The pattern is currently published with CHARTS ONLY, with the right-hand side of the shawl shown — the left-hand side is mirrored. 

However, I’ve been given the go-ahead to write out directions for all the charts. I’ll be working on this over the next week or so — I’ll get them done as quickly as I can. The written translations of all charts will be made available through an updated download from The Fiber Factor, as soon as they are complete and have been proofed.

For more details and to officially “sign in” — go see the forum!