Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Announcing the Downton Abbey Mystery KAL 2014!

Hello! We were so thrilled to announce our next KAL over the weekend, and it seems many of you are excited as well. After all of the excitement over last year's KAL, we knew we just HAD to follow up this year with another. We are glad you all are excited. :)

This year's KAL has a little bit of a different format, with a twist. Starting with a basic shawl pattern, this year's KAL is based on the film drinking games of our college years with a “Choose your own Adventure” element. The difference is that in this case we’re taking a more productive approach: instead of drinking when something happens on Season 4 of Downton Abbey, we'll be knitting a specific stitch pattern into our shawl based on the directions given each week! (Of course, we wouldn’t blame you for pouring a glass of wine or a drink to enjoy with your project and Downton, but all we’ll be focused on is the knitting!!)

Here is the Timeline of Events:
-The final design of our shawl will be based on the events and dialogue of each episode of Downton Abbey, Season 4 (yes, I've watched it already, but I promise, no spoilers)!
-On the morning before each episode airs on PBS, you will receive a set of directions for that evening’s episode.
-Your directions could be something along the lines of: “When Bates sneezes, knit 4 rows of seed stitch.” (Or something like that!)
-There will be 2 options specified in the directions: one will be more of a beginner stitch pattern and one will be intermediate. You can choose either.
-The rules are designed so that rarer events require slightly more complicated, longer, or laborious stitch patterns.
-For those of you that didn’t or couldn’t watch, or in case you missed something in the episode we’ll release the “stitch pattern key” to the episode the day after the show airs.
Timeline and Materials:
-Sunday, Jan 5th: We’ll release the basic shawl pattern instructions (first thing in the morning) on the JBW blog so that you can cast on and be ready to start the game the following week during Episode 2. Rules for episodes #2-8 will be posted each Sunday morning thereafter (just like last year’s KAL, if you participated.)
-Yarn Needed: We’ll be using 2 hanks of Lorna’s Laces Honor in the “Bated Breath” Limited Edition color, but you can also use 550 yds of any DK weight yarn with lots of drape. Alternate yarn choices might include Tosh Pashmina, Lorna's Laces Sportmate, Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blends Multis, or Malabrigo Silky Merino. Yes, the Pashmina and Sportmate are slightly lighter in weight than the DK but from personal experience, they will work fine.  

**Yarn Note: We've already sold through our first batch of this yarn, so if you do not already have any on order, the earliest our next batch will be shipping is 1/10. Please let us know if we can help you choose a different yarn instead, or if you'd like to wait, you should have your yarn and be able to catch up by the 3rd episode. Either way will work!**
-Needles: US 7- 40” circular needles. If you don't have 40" size 7 needles, something longer will be good too. I don't recommend anything shorter though as this shawl will get very wide, very quickly.
Sound fun? Ready to join the conversation? Be sure to check in and join the Jimmy Beans Wool Ravelry Group for all of the pre-KAL chatter! Also be sure to "start your project" on Raverly by going to the Downton Abbey Mystery KAL 2014 project page.

I've had a few questions about how to join the KAL. Basically, there is no formal sign up. Just by saying you are in, you are in! Just be sure to join up in the group on Ravelry above and start your project. Then, try to wait patiently until Sunday morning when the blog post is posted (I know, SO difficult, right?!?!) It's as simple as that!

If you are an LYS and would like to host Downton Abbey KAL Meet-ups or Knit-nights in your shop, that’s great! We are thrilled to have you participate with us! Please feel free to share the pattern with your customers, as long as you give full credit for the content to the designer and Jimmy Beans Wool. Also, feel free to let us know (support@jimmybeanswool.com) you are participating and we’ll happily give you a shout out on Facebook and our other social media accounts. We want your business to do well and receive some attention too! Thank you for participating!

I'll be back here bright and early Sunday morning (1/5) with your first post and your casting on instructions! Hope you'll join us!

Happy knitting,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

4th of the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long from Marcia Harmening

Welcome back to the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long! We know you've been chomping at the bit for the next block, so without further ado, here is the Fourth Block in the Sew Red Sew-a, designed by Marcia Harmening!

All About Marcia

Marcia Harmening is the talented designer behind Happy Stash Quilts and Queen of All Things Applique! Marcia says she fell in love with quilting many years ago as a means of staving off insanity during the long, dark Alaska winters. What better way to beat the long, snowy season than by surrounding yourself with colorful fabric! In 2010, after 23 years in Alaska, Marcia, her husband and their three children relocated to Reno, Nevada. We are lucky to have Marcia as a frequent visitor to our shop! She has commemorated our local are in The Tahoe Collection of “Flip & Fuse” Fun, which includes 4 quilt patterns and a table runner. You can keep up with all of the exciting things Marcia dreams up on Facebook and her blog at www.happystashquilts.com.
Marcia's design from Sew Red

Marcia and Sew Red

Marcia and Sew Red are a match made in the stars! Marcia came into our shop to browse fabric shortly after moving to Reno, and it happened to be the very day we were looking for designers to be a part of Sew Red. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Little did we know that when Marcia's father was just 50, he suffered his first heart attack; 10 years later he underwent quadruple bypass open-heart surgery. Watching her father's health drastically improve through exercise, dietary changes, and weight loss has been a major motivating factor for Marcia! We're so glad she chose to be part of Sew Red. We were simply blown away by her Queen of Hearts mini quilt for the Sew Red book—it is pure elegance in applique form!

Marcia's block for the Mystery Sew Red Sew-a-long

If you love Marcia's Queen of Hearts quilt as much as we do, you will be blown away by her block for the Sew Red Sew-a-long. It is a beautiful hand-appliqued heart motif that would make a staggering visual centerpiece for the quilt top. If needle-turn hand-applique isn't quite your thing, consider raw-edge fusible applique as an alternative!

To get started, check out Marcia's blog (
http://www.happystashquilts.com/blogs/news) for her tips and tricks, as well as a tutorial for making perfect circles! You'll also need to download the heart block template from the Jimmy Beans Wool website.

Ready, set, applique!

Heart Block from Happy Stash Quilts

1 Fat Quarter of Red Fabric
1 Fat Quarter of Cream Fabric

Cut Red Background Fabric 7” x 17”.
(This will be trimmed to 6 ½” x 16 ½” after the block is appliquéd and pressed.)

White Appliqué Pieces
A Make 1
B Make 1
C Make 1
D Make 1
E Make 6
F Make 6
G Make 37

Needle-turn Hand Appliqué Technique

1. Trace all shapes from the Appliqué Diagram onto the matte side of freezer paper. Make sure to write the identifying letter of each piece on the freezer paper templates. Only one freezer paper template is needed for each shape.

2. Cut freezer paper templates out along the lines using paper scissors.

3. Place the shiny side of the freezer paper template on the right side of appliqué fabric and press with an iron.

4. Draw a line on the appliqué fabric around the freezer paper template using a water-soluble pen or chalk pencil. For dark fabrics, Clover makes a water-soluble pen with white ink.

5. Peel off freezer paper template and cut out appliqué shape a scant ¼” beyond the marked lines. (Templates can be used multiple times.)

6. Tape the Appliqué Diagram in a brightly lit window. Center the background fabric over the diagram and tape to window. With the window as your light box, use a water-soluble pen to mark the appliqué placement.

7. Appliqué pieces onto the background in alphabetical order using matching colors of light-weight thread. Start with piece A and finish with the G circles.

8. To appliqué, select a long edge on the appliqué piece to begin your stitching. Avoid beginning at an inner V or outer point. Finger press the appliqué piece along the drawn line. Bring your needle up through the edge of the appliqué piece where it has been turned under. Then make a downward stitch into the background right next to the turned-under edge of the appliqué. The thread travels on the back and the upward stitch comes up to catch the turned edge of the appliqué piece. Pull your thread taut enough to sink the stitches, but not so hard that puckering occurs.

9. Hand-stitch the edges of the appliqué pieces, turning the edge to the marked line as you go.

10. Continue in this manner until all of the appliqué is complete.

Stem Stitching

Now that the appliqué is complete, use DMC or other brand of embroidery floss to sew a stem stitch to create the stems to the little heart flowers. Refer to the Appliqué Diagram for dashed stitching lines. Cut an 18” segment of embroidery floss and separate out 3 strands of thread. Thread needle and make a small knot on one end.

To sew a stem stitch, work from left to right in ¼” or smaller increments. Bring the threaded needle up at point A and take it down at point B along the stitching line. Bring the needle up at C – halfway between A and B. For the second stitch, insert at D and pull up at E. Continue in this manner until the stem is created. Keep the thread either above or below the stitching line while sewing.

Happy stitching everyone!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Last Minute Hats & Headbands!

I swore up and down that I wasn't going to knit any gifts this year. There is just not enough time, and unfortunately I am not one of those people who is disciplined enough to begin my holiday knitting in August or September. But, in the last few days, I've broken down and decided to knit a few gifts. I just can't help myself I guess.

Searching Ravelry for the right hats and headbands to make, I stumbled upon some amazing and beautiful options and figured I would share them with you in case you were also in my predicament--needing some last minute gift ideas. Here are a few of may favorites:

The Magnolia Hat by Maria Socha. This one is gorgeous AND it's a Freebie on Ravelry. I may have to make this one for myself when the holidays are over!


Windschief  by Stephen West is a long time favorite of mine and it's a great guy hat. We carry hard copies of this pattern at JBW if you prefer that option instead.


Molly, by Erin Ruth is nice because it's mostly simple, but with a little bit of cabling to keep things interesting. Plus, as a bonus, it's a free pattern on Ravelry. Score!


Bristol Ivy's new Illyria hat is nice. Again, mostly simple design, with some fun cables to keep it interesting.


I am making the Parisian Twist headband by Elisa McLaughlin for my Sisters-in-Law because they are super into headbands, and this one will look especially cute on them.

Parisian Twist

Calorimetry is another awesome headband pattern, a classic by now, really. It's free from Knitty and you can't go wrong with it.


If cowls are more up your alley, the Princess Franklin's Plaid Collar by Franklin Habit from the latest issue of Knitty is mostly garter stitch, with the plaid stripes sewn in. It looks like a fairly quick project that could be a great way to use up some yarn scraps!

Princess Franklin

Hopefully this gives you some good ideas for last minute knitted gifts. Any of these could be done in a weekend. Oh wait, it's the weekend now (or it's Friday at least.) See ya later...I'm off to knit!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Yarny Gifts to Give This Holiday Season!

We've been hard at work in our yarny-style Santa's Workshop creating all kinds of fun holiday gifts to give this year. If you haven't yet checked these out yet, be sure to do so for your favorite knitter, or add some of these items to your wishlist for Santa.

Blue Sky Alpaca Gift Boxes:

Rachel, showing off her shawl, and the
Alpaca Silk Colors that inspired it.

These have an exclusive free pattern to go with them, the Asymmetrical Stripped Shawl, designed by our very own Rachel of Unraveled Designs.

Debbie Bliss Snowman:

We just love these little guys! So cute!

The snowman can be knit into the Frosty Slouch Hat (another exclusive free pattern designed by our very own Kristen of Marinade Designs) once the holidays are over.

Cascade 220 Superwash Holiday Wreaths:

Huck makes a great model, eh?

This is Kristen's favorite.

These are truly beautiful works of art that will look just darling on your door or decorating your mantle this holiday season. True to our style, we also have a free pattern to go with these wreaths. Once the holidays are over, you can knit a cute Mod Striped Christmas Tree Skirt with the yarn! This pattern is also free and was also designed by Kristen of Marinade Designs.

Tosh Tea Cakes:

Even Huck likes them!!!

Mojito Mint Green... yum!

These adorable sets come in 6 different colorways of the ever popular Tosh Merino Light and each one comes with a Biscoff cookie and a bag of Stash tea to enjoy while you knit! Need a pattern idea for these? Use them to make colorful versions of the Luxury Holiday Garland!

We hope you'll find that our special holiday gifts are just what you need this holiday season!

Happy holidays from all of us at Jimmy Beans Wool!