A+ for service

Of late I have had the pleasure of dealing with Quince and Co‘s customer service rep. I ordered a sweater’s worth of Puffin yarn in the Twig shade a few weeks ago, and while I’d received a confirmation email when I placed the order, I never got a shipping notification.

I emailed the ladies at Q&C, and not only did they confirm that it had indeed shipped, I got a personal message saying they had tracked it down and my package had already reached Australia! I was given the tracking number and an apology.

Honestly I wasn’t too worried about my yarn arriving quickly. Ordering things from my homeland usually takes time. I just wanted to make sure my shade wasn’t back-ordered or something. But as luck would have it, my package came Tuesday, soon after our correspondence. I was absolutely thrilled.

Puffin in Twig

Puffin in Twig

I’ve been dying to try Q&C, as mentioned in previous blog posts. I’m very much looking forward to making several of the new designs that have come out featuring Q&C Owl, which is a worsted weight yarn (50% wool, 50% alpaca) with a lovely halo to it.

But I’ve also had my eye on Kate Davies‘ very popular Owls sweater pattern for quite some time now. It suits my personality completely, and I needed the perfect chunky/bulky weight yarn to go with the pattern. I’ve never knit with a single-ply bulky yarn before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

I hemmed and hawed over color choice, finally settling on Twig since I wanted the owl design, rather than the color, to be the “hero” of the piece. Turns out my decision was a good one.

Tonight I did a circular gauge swatch (Hannah Fettig has just released a great little guide to doing so on Knitbot), and soaked it to see how it came out. I didn’t get perfect row gauge, but my stitch gauge was right on, and I’m confident that I can make any necessary adjustments.

photo 4

Swatchya doing?

The yarn doesn’t retain much water, making it very quick-drying. What was already soft and ever-so-slightly fuzzy material is drying beautifully as a swatch. I couldn’t help but rub it against my check and implore Matt to do the same. It’s 100% American wool and knits up with beautiful stitch definition.

Knitting up nicely

Knitting up nicely

Back to my excellent customer service experience…I wrote back my thanks and appreciation. In response, I was told that oh by the way, did I know that Suzy Hausfrau sells Q&C yarns out of Canberra? Um, NO! I didn’t. But now I’ve got a great new yarn resource within Australia! How exciting. Suzy offers free shipping within Oz, as well as 10% off purchases over $75! What could be better?

In an age when we get pretty much anything at the click of a button, it’s such a great feeling when a company goes above and beyond to help you out. Bravo Q&C, I’m in love!

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Thoughts on summer knitting

If this is your first visit to my site, you may not know that I live in Perth, Australia. Being in the southern hemisphere is confusing to a girl from Minnesota. As we kick off November, rather than entering winter wonderland, I am headed straight for the dead of summer.

I tend to work myself into quite a fury when I’m smack in the middle of a fun knitting pattern. I also run particularly on the warm side. Lately I’ve been positively radiating heat. Matt sometimes has to move away from me on the couch so he doesn’t catch my extreme rays.

All this paired with the temps reaching freakish heights means hand knits are definitely off the table. Or are they?

Dark teal legwarmer anyone?

Dark teal legwarmer anyone?

You other office workers out there can relate to my summer quandary. One minute you’re sweltering on the morning commute, and the next you’re shivering as you sit stationary under an aggressive air vent pumping a frigid stream. So what to wear?

I’m a sundress girl myself, never been too keen on shorts, (not that they’re office appropriate anyway) and dresses quick and easy to throw in my backpack before I hop on my bike and head to work. Lucky me, my office has a shower!

My poor legs and shoulders are freezing once I’ve been sitting at my desk about twenty minutes, so this week it was time for some serious brainstorming. I came up with a few fun projects to get me through the Perth summer months.

I already had the perfect yarn to get going on some very pretty loose chunky legwarmers to leave under my desk. I still need to make the second one, but I just couldn’t wait to share. I used a combination of a few patterns, and I just know they’ll be great for keeping my legs from turning to icicles. Once the second one’s made I promise to model them properly.

For another summer project, I’m considering doing some wristers in an equally fun color (or two). Bare arms can be just chilly as bare legs, after all. These are pretty cool. I’m really digging Loyal 10 ply yarn at the moment. It’s based out of New Zealand and comes in spectacular colors.

I even bought some Loyal in a nice ecru shade to swatch my Rocky Coast Cardigan by Hannah Fettig. Hopefully I can finish it by the time we come back after Christmas. I plan to leave it hanging on my chair to throw over my shoulders. Escaping the draft is crucial as being cold makes me distracted and, let’s face, hungry.

I’ve got my eye on Hannah’s new Knitbot book through Quince & Co., but we’ll discuss that when I actually get my hands on it.

If you have any other great summer knitting ideas to share, please do!

Itching for prep

Ever wake up and realize your wardrobe needs a makeover? (or a lobotomy?) I feel like that’s been me the last two years.

Growing up a Minnesota girl, the preppy fashion scene was hardly on my radar. It seemed to nest in a mythical boarding school realm and the far northern east coast regions I had never visited.

Then I went to university in small town Virginia, and suddenly prep was everywhere! Popped collars, pants that looked like patchwork quilts and ensembles akin to horseback riding uniforms. I get nostalgic thinking about my capris with little turtles on them or my endless supply of polo shirts.

After graduation I moved to France for two years where it was all about black and converse sneakers (neither of which did I choose to wear). I tried to maintain my own identity, but the prep look in a small country town would have pegged me as “l’américaine” instantly, and I really wanted to immerse myself in la vie quotidienne of Decize (my little French town).

Following my stint in Europe, I came home for a few months to say my goodbyes and pack up the bare minimum before again relocating to Perth, Australia.

During my time in Perth, I have not been able to devote much time money to developing my personal style. It’s changed a bit over the years, but simple and classic is definitely my scene.

Lately I find myself wandering into preppy clothing sites on my lunch break, desperately wishing I didn’t have to order things all the way from America. I blame The College Prepster. It’s her fault I’m drawn once again to the prep.

Here are a few staples I simply MUST to get my hands on.

LL Bean boots - perfect for rainy Perth winters

LL Bean boots – perfect for rainy Perth winters

I have never owned a pair of these but have always wanted to. I put them in my “shopping cart” nearly every time there’s a string of grey rainy days. We’re entering Perth summer pretty soon, but next winter I’m taking the plunge and just getting them.

Jcrew

J. Crew embroidered cap

Let’s face it, there will always be bad hair days. Most of my caps are ruined from being worn during my hot summer runs. I really need a clean classic one for all occasions.

Bracelets from Kiel James Patrick

Bracelets from Kiel James Patrick

I love the entire bracelet range from Kiel James Patrick. These are sturdy and well-made and are 100% American. What could be preppier than sailing? And speaking of KJP…

Seafarer collection

Seafarer collection

I am loving the new collection. I do not own nearly enough collared shirts anymore.

Other sites I’ve been trolling are Vineyard Vines, Ralph Lauren, Madewell and even Brooks Brothers. Sadly many sites do not ship to Australia. I’m going to have to get creative, not to mention look for online bargains. It’s all about the look, not the tag.

One thing I never gave up was my puffy vest. I love it and still wear it all the time, even in Australia. The vest trend seems to be more dudely over here, but I don’t care. I also have a beautiful pair of tall brown “riding” boots, which are a wardrobe essential.

I recently bought a very tame Lilly Pulitzer dress for Melbourne Cup (a popular Australian horse race that the whole country celebrates), which is the first sign of my dipping my toes back in prep-land.

At the end of the day I just need to mix it up, and the classic preppy look never goes out of style. I need to start making some new wardrobe investments. Are you due for a change?

knits by emma hits the streets!

Picture 8

I’m proud to announce that knits by emma will make its first public appearance at the Smart Street Parties series happening down in Mandurah’s Smart Street Mall.

The series includes four events spread out over the next four months, and I will be showcasing at the January and February Suitcase Markets next year. I will fill a suitcase of beautiful knits to sell and display. 1 suitcase=1 stall. It will literally be a trunk show!

Check out their blog for more information. The Twilight Markets will take place on Fridays from 5-9pm on November 8th, December 6th, January 17th and Valentine’s Day.

I’ll post more info as it gets closer to the date. If you’re a Perth-based crafter looking to participate, I encourage you to apply quick as places are limited!

My first marathon: A look back

This morning my alarm went off at 5:40am, and I was lucky enough to have a small pocket of clear skies between the dreary downpours that have plagued us Perthians (Perthans? Perthites?) off and on for days weeks on end.

Now I know that getting up at or before dawn is most people’s worst nightmare, but for me this has been the norm until recently. Between the end of February and the end of August, I was rigorously training for my very first marathon.

I love running races. Even though I’ve been a runner for years, my first race as an adult was in May 2012. It was the HBF Run for a Reason, one of the most fun runs in Perth. This year I did it again, with plenty of friends to celebrate with at the finish line.

Post-12km race celebration with mates

Post-12km race celebration with mates

As a descendent of an avid marathoner (my mother), it was only a matter of time before I took on this monstrous task of 26.2 miles (42km). I am a running and fitness freak, a goal-setter and, if I’m being honest, quite a competitive person. Let’s just say that if I were a “Friend,” I would be Monica. I especially love to compete against myself.

I am a Monica, which friend are you?

I am a Monica, which friend are you?

Halfway through my training, I signed up to do a half marathon in Joondalup, and I have to say I fell in love with that distance. It’s amazing how back in May that was the farthest I’d ever run. By June I was running 13+ miles every Sunday and loving it. The incredible high from being at such peak running fitness was rewarding enough to keep me motivated despite all the early mornings in the dark, the wet and the cold.

Half-marathon finisher

Half-marathon finisher

The greatest gift at the end of this solo training journey was that my mom came over from Minnesota to run the race with me. After months and months of putting in all the hard miles by myself, it was such a pleasure to share this experience with her. I am so grateful she came all the way to Perth to be with me.

About a month before the race, I was really starting to hit a slump. Running had become all about training and just getting in the mileage. Normally I run because I enjoy it and it clears my head. This slump happened around the same time that I took up knitting again. I think subconsciously I needed an outlet that wasn’t running. Fortunately I got a second wind as I got swept up in the excitement of the race and my mom’s visit.

Me and Mom at the finish

Me and Mom at the finish

In the few days after the race, I recovered quickly and was itching to get back out there. But my first few runs felt sluggish and foreign. I became easily fatigued, and my legs didn’t seem to have the same effortless spring. I think it was the post-marathon blues.

But like I said, I am very goal-oriented, and my crafting goals have replaced marathon training as my latest obsession. I think about yarn all the time, and I count down the hours until I can back to my projects.

I have also gotten back into other exercise realms. I kept up with yoga and a bit of cycling during my training, but last week I was finally able to rejoin a gym and get some strength training going. So far this year I just have not had the time to devote to fitness activities outside running, and after so many setbacks in the past, I wasn’t going to risk injury with too much cross-training.

It feels amazing to be back at Body Attack (my favorite class at the gym) and going for runs just to feel good and have fun. It’s been almost a month and I still can hardly believe I did it. I ran a marathon! But even more amazing is that I was able to do so by putting in all the training on my own. Remembering the entire journey is what gives me the greatest sense of achievement.

I’m currently in the process of devising a schedule which will help me make enough time for crafting, exercise, writing and reading. Not to mention Emma/Matt time and social activities. But I’m lucky to have fit friends, so it’s easy to combine the social and fitness components.

This post is getting long, so I better wrap it up. As it says at the top of my blog, this is Knits by Emma and everything in between. Most of the time I want to focus on things that aren’t just about me. But in this case, I have had a very meaningful life experience, and I want to cherish it forever.