Ann’s Summer Knitting Plan

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What are you knitting now?

When you think of summer knitting, does you mind automatically turn to linen tops and scarves as light as a feather?  Perhaps you have a simple pattern to follow as you travel to a favorite vacation spot or enjoy evenings out  with your knitting circle. Well, oddly enough, my mind turns to fall and the many sweaters I want to incorporate into my wardrobe for the  cooler seasons.  My summer is filled with knitting swatches, yokes, button hole bands and sleeves.

Since the beginning of May, I have knit two sweaters. The first was the Sunday Cardigan by Petite Knit. This sweater is perfect to pop on when I want a big soft hug. Knit with Rowan Brushed Fleece, on nice, big needles, this pattern was a breeze. Nothing is quite as satisfying as getting a sweater done in about 10 days.

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Ready for blocking and buttons!

Shify, the second sweater I completed, took a little bit of thought as I changed it from a pullover to a cardigan, lengthened it a bit and alternating the bands. I must admit, when I first started knitting the sweater, I thought that I would knit it as a store sample and then give it away when we were done displaying it. Once I got through the yoke, I fell in love with the fabric. The colors in the sweater remind me of a foggy day on our coast. I spent a long weekend at Squam Lake with friends where I had a ton of knitting time.  We sat on the porch of our cabin or on the dock to knit, drink wine and take the beauty of Squam all in…and before I knew it, I had a sweater!

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Ready for blocking and buttons!
(two projects same status, are you seeing a theme?)

(A few people have ask how I modified the sweater and that will be featured in an upcoming blog post.)

Six weeks and two sweaters down… and two shawls for projects of the month. What is next?

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As I was perusing Instagram one Sunday I saw Julie Hoover’s new pattern Ronin. A long cardigan with big wide stripes? It was but a few hours before that was on my needles!  Using Shibui Fern and Silk Cloud held double, I knit a swatch right away and started knitting.  I am almost done with one front and plan to work on it over the 4th of July week.  We have friends coming into town so there will be plenty of knitting time as we catch up.

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For some reason I am obsessed with the idea of having an orange sweater. Fall is my favorite season. When my girls were home, I always loved routine of the start of school and all of the holidays. And I LOVE pumpkins. One of my college friends owns a personalized stationary business and she made me the most darling note cards with pumpkins on them.

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(I just had to share them!)

I had three sweaters in mind to knit Tinder by Jared Flood, Mariechen by Isabell Kraemer and Ebbetts by Elizabeth Doherty. I could not decide between the three so I put them up to a vote on Instagram.  Mariechen was the winner by a hair. I decided to use Rowan Felted Tweed in Ginger.  So that will be my next cast on at the end of this holiday week. Can you tell that I like to have more than one or two or three projects going at the same time?

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Photo by Isabell Kraemer

So there you have it, my knitting plan for summer. By the time Fall sets in, I will have four new sweaters ready for cooler temperatures!

Happy summer knitting, friends!

 

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Welcome Kjerste of Wax&Wool

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It was an absolute pleasure to spend some time getting to know Kjerste, the powerhouse mixologist behind Wax&Wool. Read all about her start in the world of candle making, where she’s headed, and what’s currently on her needles…

What led you to start Wax&Wool?

Wax and Wool really grew out of a hobby that revealed itself over time to be a viable business option.  When we needed to add a second income to support our family of seven, I knew I wanted to work from home. Candles (and originally hand-knits) were a natural choice for me. They were both outpourings of my creativity that had a marketable value. The added benefit was knowing I would love my job. It was (and is!) a win:win proposition.

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From ocean breezes (hello, Pebble Beach!), to floral hints from cherry blossoms to complex sophisticated aromas… how did you develop a love for candles?

I still remember the first time I walked into a candle store as an adolescent. I was captivated by the beauty of the pure white soy wax candles, and by the ability to capture a particular scent that brought back so many memories and feelings, and could transport me to anytime and anyplace. I walked out of that store with a small travel tin candle that I could take anywhere with me, and with a deep love for candles.

Do you have an absolute favorite scent?

Amber Noir, hands down. Runners up are Tobacco, Evergreen State, and Brown Sugar & Fig.

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We love sneak peeks of your workspace! What’s a typical day like in your Studio?

Derek, my husband, aka The Shipping Department, fills Big Bertha, our wax melter, at 6 am. I wander out at 8am to get the heaters running and check in on what needs to be done for the day. Pouring starts just after 9am, and continues off and on through school pick up runs and nap time and after school activities. After 8pm when the kids go to bed, we start labeling stock, pulling orders and shipping. During slow season, we try to be done for the night by 9 or 9:30. During Busy Season (fall, holidays, and early winter), we try to make 11:30 our cutoff, but that doesn’t always happen.

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When you’re not busy being the mixologist and hand pouring wax in your studio, do you find time to knit? Current WIPs, FOs or next knitting project?

I’m an obsessive knitter and never leave the house without a project. I even have an emergency sock project in my minivan! I knit when I’m standing in line or waiting for the kids, sitting at the library and the park, and always before bed. It’s a regular part of my every day, and I often tell people I depend on it for my sanity. I’ve recently branched out into pattern design, and I’m excited to be working with some magazines and stores to get some patterns published in the next 12 months.

What are some of your other hobbies/interests?

I love to entertain, and regularly host the neighborhood over for dinner. We eat together every Monday night, and I love feeding my people! Someday I want to publish a cookbook based on the recipes I’ve developed to feed a crowd.

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Favorite thing to listen to/do while you work/knit …

I love audiobooks and British television: Current audiobook is The Hate You Give, Favorite shows are Foyle’s War and Father Brown.

You’ve hosted several pop-ups over the last year, so exciting! What’s in store for Wax&Wool next? (If you’re ever in Pacific Grove, we’d love to host you!!!)

I would love that! Our upcoming events include Knit City Live, Indie Untangled (fingers crossed!), Stitches West, and Vogue Knit Live Seattle.

Thank you so much, Kjerste! 

Get What You Really want this Mother’s Day: Fill Your Monarch Wish List!

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Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th this year and when thinking of gifts to give for our dear ones, we thought of the perfect gift idea: a Monarch Knitting wish list!  Have you started yours?  It’s not too late!  Start adding goodies and ideas to your list to share with your family and friends.

Then, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, May 4th, we’ll host a wish list event for those shopping for mom.  We’ll have doughnuts, coffee and pretty gift wrapping, too. A perfect little outing for dads and kids to partake!

If your shoppers cannot make it in that day, not to worry – we will have your wish list available at anytime so they can shop for you at their leisure!

We’ve put together some ideas for you to share with your loved ones! Visit our web store anytime for a selection of kits, notions, yummy yarns and more.

Wish List Ideas

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Kits, top left to bottom: Solaris Shawl in scrumptious Sweet Georgia, Iqaluit Shawl in beautiful Magpie Fibers, Morning Walk Hat in Shibui Mix, and Fun Size Bundles from Lux Adorna!

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Notions & Accessories: The Loome Tool Robot, Cheerful pink Bee Bins from Blue Bee Studio, Akerworks Swatch Gauge, and Cocoknits’ Accessory Roll – the perfect carry all!

So receive what you really want this year for Mother’s Day!  Who knows, maybe you can keep a wish list going to other events, too!

Mother’s Day Morning, Saturday, May 4th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

 

Happy Birthday to Monarch Knitting!

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Monarch Knitting is 6 years old on the 20th of April! I cannot believe that it has been 6 years since our little store opened its doors.  I still remember the feelings I had as I unlocked the door for our opening…hopeful, excited and, to be honest, terrified. 6 years later, as I look forward, I still feel the same way, but not quite as terrified!

The 6th year was filled with fun and tons of projects! Monarch packed up our goods and created a pop-up shop at Stitches West and Vogue Knitting Live in San Francisco.  Learning new skills is at the top of the list for all of us and we were happy to welcome Brooke from Sincere Sheep, Carson Demers author of Knitting Comfortably, Marie Greene of Olive Knits, Vilasinee Bunnag, creator of The Loome Tool, and Elizabeth Doherty of Blue Bee Studio. We also have enjoyed full classes throughout the year… Tunisian Crochet seems to be a new favorite! (I must admit I am a bit obsessed and you might be seeing a Tunisian Crochet project of the month this fall.)

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Being a source of inspiration is key to Monarch Knitting.  All of us here at the store have been keeping our needles busy with some amazing projects of the month.  This photo highlights just a few of our favorites and it makes me realize that I need to put a list up on the Monarch Knitting website.

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Isn’t Koryn’s sweet little boy, Reid, the best knit wear model?

The next year at Monarch will bring a lot of new and interesting things to the store.  We are kicking it off with a little birthday party for Monarch on Saturday the 20th of April.  We will have delicious birthday treats and a drawing for some awesome prizes.  Anyone who makes a purchase in the store or online will be entered to win.  All purchases in our online store will ship free on that day and if you spend over $25.00 in the store, you will receive a Monarch Knitting pin to rep our little store on your knitting bag!

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The next weekend we will still be celebrating with LYS Day on Saturday the 27th of April.  Again, we will have some treats at the store, fabulous drawing for any purchases made online or in-store AND Julie Weisenberger will be at the store teaching her ingenious Cocoknits method.  All in all it is going to be a pretty amazing month ahead.

Turning my attention, now, to the year ahead.  You all will see some little improvements made in the store to help make it more attractive and better organized.  We are going to continue to expand our roster of classes, so please email us if you have any suggestions of new skills or techniques you would like to learn. We are also going to expand and improve the web store for our customers who live outside of our little peninsula. As some of you may know, my husband and I downsized since our daughters left for college and I built my perfect little office.  It is tiny, everything is within reach and I have a huge bookshelf.  It is still a work in progress but here is a little look into my workspace at home!

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The socks hanging on the bulletin board are the first project my mom ever knit  Argyle socks… can you imagine?

I am going to take advantage of some opportunities I have for travel over the next year.  I am going to take some classes at the spring Squam Workshop and then travel to Rhinebeck for New York Sheep and Wool Festival.  In March of 2020 I plan to go to Edinburgh Yarn Festival with friends.  Every time I head out-of-town,  I have the opportunity to meet the many wonderful people who play a role in the industry.  Travel is the ultimate in wooly inspiration.

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Drinks with friends after a busy but fun day at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival.

Thank you, all of you, for supporting us.  My heart is so filled with gratitude and love for little Monarch Knitting. 🧶

 

 

Welcome Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits

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It has been such a wonderful treat to get to know one of our favorite designers a bit more!  Please join us as we welcome the ever so lovely and so very talented, Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits. 

How did you get started knitting/into fiber arts?

I learned to knit while studying at the university in Salzburg, Austria – and completely fell in love!

What led you to Cocoknits/designing full time?

I had several jobs after college, but was always designing and knitting on the side…and one day a shop owner said they’d buy my designs.  So I found knitters in Ireland and had them knit my designs – and sold to Henri Bendel, Nordstrom and many smaller boutiques across the country.  This was all before designing for handknitters-

What’s a typical day like  for you/at Cocoknits?

Oh man, wouldn’t it be nice if I could say I just knit all day?!  Actually, like any business, it’s so much busy-work! Answering emails, paying taxes and bills, making sure everything is running smoothly while planning for the next show or workshop.  Everyday is different, but for me it’s pretty much 7 days a week of at least a partial work day!

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Where do you draw inspiration from or what inspires you the most?

I love to people-watch while traveling, as well as keep my eye on my favorite boutiques and designers and the inspiration is constant – I wish I had more time to knit and design!

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When you’re not traveling and teaching around the world, what are some of your other hobbies/interests?

Well, I’ll never turn down a fabulous meal or glass of wine!  I also love gardens and architecture and wandering through museums…

You’ve taught countless workshops and classes, do you have any favorites?

I still LOVE teaching the Cocoknits Method…at some point the lightbulb goes on – whether it’s the shoulder construction or the ease of the worksheet – almost everyone falls in love and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that!

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We absolutely love the Cocoknits Method!  How did this come about?

Years of teaching and designing – and listening to my students!  I’m always paying attention to what they like and dislike – so my challenge was to find the easiest and most seamless way to knit the most flattering sweaters!  It all came together in one class at Clara Parkes retreat several years ago – and then I knew I had to write a book.

What’s your most favorite fibers and colors to knit with?  

Um, my favorite today?!  😉 I can say I will never tire of WOOL and I’m a sucker for un-dyed or very natural colors – especially naturally dyed…

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Current WIPs, FOs or any sneak peeks?

I just launched Olivia, Amy and Renee…and have two more coming soon.  And I’m never not working on new designs, so stay tuned!!

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Can we just take a moment to gush over all of the wonderful cocoknits knitting accoutrement?  We love them all! Can you share a bit about them? Any new ones?

Thank you!!  At some point I just got so frustrated with the lack of quality tools for knitters – I decided to just jump in and make my own.  I avoid plastic and garish colors in every other part of my life, so why was I accepting it in my knitting life? No more bright green or pink plastic, please…I would like knitting to be taken seriously as a craft for women – not seen as a joke.  No one laughs at a man for his woodworking hobby – it should be the same for women and knitting.

The latest are the 4-corner linen/leather bags and the washable kraft Accessory Roll and Project Portfolio – which I hope people will use for everyday life beyond knitting!  

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Favorite thing to listen to/do while you knit … podcast/book/movie/show/etc

I “watch” tv while knitting – and love pbs, netflix, prime, hulu….there is so much good stuff.  I’m bad about listening to podcasts and I should probably start listening to books on audible since it’s hard to keep up with my reading!

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Where can our readers find you?  Any sneak peeks/what’s in store for Cocoknits?

Find us at Cocoknits.com and we have a BRAND NEW website launching hopefully the first week in March so please give it a spin and let us know how you like it.  We are hoping it is a more streamlined experience for people and you’ll still have all your patterns in your cocoknits account whenever/wherever you need to access them…

We’re so excited to see your new website!  Thanks for visiting our blog and we hope to see you soon, dear Julie!

 

A Short But Busy Month

Hi Friends!

February for most is a quiet winter month filled with hearts and, for us here on the Monterey Peninsula, a  golf tournament. If you are active in the fiber arts community February means….. STITCHES WEST!

We, as a team, love having a booth (or four) at Stitches.  It is a ton of planning and preparation but once we hit the market floor the event is a blast.  We get to see our friends, see some of the amazing knit and crochet projects worn by the attendees and catch up with other retailers.

Once again we are partnering with our good friends at Shibui. The lovely Sandy Barnes and Britt-Marie Brehmer will be there providing inspiration and assisting you in finding the perfect mix of yarns.  Shibui will be offering a free pattern download to anyone who buys their yarns at Stitches.  You’ll also be automatically entered into a drawing for a gift from them!

Sandy and Britt-Marie will be bringing some fantastic new knits…

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Marie Green of OliveKnits will be joining us for a meet and greet and  signing of her new book, Seamless Knit Sweaters in Two Weeks. She will be at the booth on Thursday Evening from 5:00pm to 8:00pm.  If you are not attending the market preview, we will have signed books in the booth the rest of the weekend. We are so excited to see her again!

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We’ll also have a ton of new things in the booth, many of them exclusive to Stitches…

Kits made with gorgeous Sweet Georgia Yarns…

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New Blue Bee Studio Bee Bins as well as a selection of yarns for Elizabeth Doherty’s wonderful sweaters…

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Beautiful cashmere kits from the lovely Lux Adorna…

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Quince Sparrow, Kestrel and something new!

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All of this and so much more!

And it wouldn’t be a grand event without a some little giveaways from us!  Any purchase you make with us during Stitches enters you into a drawing to win some Monarch swag!  We will also host a some giveaways for our friends who are unable to attend Stitches.

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Unable to attend Stitches West this year?  You’re in luck!  We’ll be posting some fantastic giveaways for anyone who shops from our Stitches booth collection online or in store the week after we return, February 25th to March 3rd.  It’s our way to bring a little Stitches to you!  So be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook

So yes, February will be full of frenzy but so full of fun!  During our time at Stitches, the shop will be closed from Thursday 2/21 through Sunday 2/24. We cannot wait to see many of you at Stitches!

Until then,

Ann and the Monarch Team

Knitting Intentions for 2019

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I typically do not make new year’s resolutions, but rather I look to intentions for the coming year…watch my water intake, exercise, reduce stress and unplug from my phone and computer every day. In that same light, I always think about my knitting intentions for the New Year. What would I like to learn, improve upon and complete in 2019.

This process starts with looking back and doing a bit of organizing.  I start by taking out all of my knitting bags (I have just a few) and looking at each project.  Is this a project I want to continue working on in the new year?  Am I still excited about it?  If the answer is yes, it stays. If no, which is quite rare, it will be returned to my stash or I will donate the yarn.  Lets face it, there is nothing worse than knitting on a project you don’t like. It is a lovely feeling to keep only the projects you love in your knitting rotation. And it is a liberating feeling to get rid of those that don’t inspire you.

Once that is done, I go through my notions and needles.  I collect my stich markers from around the house and return them to the proper tins. (Trust me, I find them  everywhere!) Then I ensure that my notions bag is all stocked up and that I have everything I need to complete my projects.  I also wipe my metal knitting needles down with a damp cloth to remove any oils that have been left behind after a lot of use. The few wooden needles, get a wipe down with a clean cloth.

 

Now, I am ready to think about the year ahead.  In my planner I create a “Knitting Log” for the year.  I start by listing the projects that are being carried from 2018 to 2019.  I note the pattern name, yarn, needles, cast-on date and cast-off date.  This year I have included a “Ravelry Post” column.  One of my 2019 knitting intentions is to be better about posting finished projects to Ravelry.  I get so much knowledge from other knitters on the site, it is a great way to give a little back to the community.

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Next, I think about what I want to knit for the year ahead.  My best inspiration comes from my friends in the Monarch community and from Instagram.  On New Year’s Eve morning a client came in with a sweater in progress, Tensile by Emily Greene, and I fell in love.  That project will be on my needles soon!  Sweaters will continue to be a priority for me this year.  I just love being able to wear something that fits me and cannot be purchased off a shelf at a store.

 

In 2019, I want to learn how to knit in the Portuguese Style.  It has always fascinated me as a way of tensioning and I look forward to learning more about it.  I am lucky enough to be attending Squam with some friends for a relaxing weekend of classes and knitting. Lo and behold…there was a Portuguese Knitting class offered. I am also taking another class at Squam that takes me WAY out of my comfort zone because it involves…drawing. The class is called “creating a sketchbook practice”.  I have always been interested in visual journaling, and this is the perfect, low-stakes opportunity to explore it.

 

I am also going to do a bit more selfish knitting this year.  Almost everything I knit is for the store and, with the store schedule, it must to be done quickly and by a deadline.  Part of my overall intention to “reduce stress” in my life falls perfectly in line with these knitting projects.  This year process, not product, is important to me, but don’t worry, we will still have plenty of samples to show off at the shop!

So, as you enter the New Year, first, take a look back at your knitting and see what you loved and made you happy.  Then, think about what you would like to learn and explore. Challenge yourself to knit a couple of more challenging projects.  If you have never knit a sweater, cast one on, perhaps try fair isle or cables.  However, do not let go of the fundamental piece of our practice: let your knitting bring you joy and calm in 2019.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2019 to all of our Monarch Knitting friends,

Ann

Photo credits – Squam, petiteknits and Jared Flood