The Sweatshop of Love Blog

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March, 2011

Sorry, K&C Blog Week, but It’s OPENING DAY!

Luckily the question today for Knit and Crochet Blog Week was lame, because today is the happiest day of the year! OPENING DAY! I can’t possibly talk about anything but baseball! BASEBALL!

Now, I realize that not everyone feels this way about baseball. It’s hard to explain my love for baseball to people who don’t love baseball. Specifically people who don’t love baseball and are reading a knitting blog. But I’m home in Michigan this week with Baby Nolan and my mom’s new pug puppy, Otis, and I might have figured out a good way of explaining it.

Me, on opening day (today), watching the first pitch, knowing that there are like SEVEN MONTHS of baseball ahead of me, is like you looking at these pictures.

Baby Nolan LOVES the Camera

Baby Nolan LOVES Barley

Barley LOVES Baby Nolan

Otis LOVES Looking Cute

Baby Nolan LOVES Sleeping

So Does Otis

So, please excuse me. I’ve got opening day baseball to watch. It’s like you excusing yourself to watch BABIES PLAY WITH PUPPIES!


If I die, though, from the joy of holding a baby playing with a puppy while watching opening day baseball, know I died happy, and that I loved you.

K&C Blog Week Day 3: Organization

It’s Day 3 of Knit and Crochet Blog Week! All week knit and crochet bloggers are going to be blogging answers to the same yarn-y art related questions. And I’ll be doing my best.

Day 3!

Q: How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised?

Well. I’ve got my yarn spread out over two cities, so that helps. I use storage I bought when I had more clothes and shoes from my previous life in corporate real estate. I got rid of my clothes and shoes and now have perfectly functional yarn storage!

Closet Cloth Shelves Hanger Thing

I’ve got one of these nailed to the wall next to my work table in Minneapolis chocked full of yarn.

Over the Door Shoe Storage Pockets

And I’ve got one of these over my closet door also chocked full of yarn, also in Minneapolis.

Yarn Storage... ?

Here is my yarn organization solution in Chicago right now! I bought this Christmas present bag for 75% off after Christmas this year and I stuffed it full of yarn from my stash before I left Minneapolis. I’ve got a few more of these types of bags, big laundry bags mostly, full of yarn in Minneapolis. I put full skeins of yarn I know I’ll get to eventually I buy on super sale in them. I’ve got one full of tiny scraps I dig through for small projects or accent colors.

Leethal's Do Stuff Blog Yarn Cubbies

I’ve had this project on my to do list since it came out almost a year ago! I WANT I WANT! I’ve been saving oatmeal containers and will make these this summer, hopefully. I love how it’s like installation art for your yarn.

It WILL be mine. I just need to build it.

Holy shit, y’all! I stayed on topic! It’s a miracle! And I’m excited to see everyone’s yarn organizing solutions.

Baby Knitting is Tops!

I’ve never really been into babies. When my brother and his then-girlfriend-now-wife Emily told me they were preggers I freaked out about them being so young for about 3 minutes before my brain went: BABY KNITS! And I was sold on the idea of being an aunt.

The baby versions of things are smaller, and therefore quicker and easier. And then there are the toys!

I’m teaching two toys next week! Roaring Dinosaur, the more complex pattern, and Stripy Ball, a fairly simple knit. Both patterns are from Knitted Toys, a book FULL of fun knit toy patterns.

With either of these classes we’ll be working on deciphering a pattern, shaping, construction, and seaming.

As always, email me at allyson [at] thesweatshopoflove [dot] com with any questions and to sign up for a class. I can’t wait to get started!

– Allyson

The Sweatshop of Love’s Spring Class Schedule

Beginner Knitting: Always wanted to learn to knit? This is the perfect time! It’s still cold so you can sit inside and practice your new skillz, and make things for yourself before you get wrapped up in knitting all your holiday presents! This 2 hour class is a great intro to knitting. You’ll learn to knit and purl, the two stitches you’ll be using for all your new projects, to cast on, or start a project, and to bind off, or to end a project. All class times are from 7-9pm and are $25. You can add materials for $8 or bring them yourself.

Wednesday, April 6
Tuesday, April 19


Toys! More Advanced – Dinosaur! Beginner – Stripey Ball: So I lied. There is one class that isn’t meant for you, though I wouldn’t be opposed to keeping that dinosaur for myself! Everyone is always making babies, so I like to keep a bunch of toy patterns at the ready just in case a baby birth sneaks up on me. I recently received Zoe Mellor’s book Knitted Toys as a gift and now I’ll never have to look for toy patterns again! In this two part class we will be making either the Roaring Dinosaur or the Stripey Ball. Tuesdays April 5 and 12, 7-9pm. $40


Roaring Dinosaur: For slightly more advanced knitters, this dino is knit in pieces and seamed together. The pattern calls for sock weight cotton yarn and size 3 needles, but the awesome part about knitting toys is that gauge doesn’t matter! Bring some yarn, any color of course, and needles corresponding to your yarn color, and we’ll do this thing! And of course email me with any materials questions.


Stripey Ball: New to shaping and seaming? This toy is a great beginner project and perfect for practicing your seaming skills, color changing, and pattern reading. Any yarn and needles will work! Email me if you’ve got materials questions.



FULL! Chunky Cabled Cowl: This is a pattern that has been around for a while, but for good reason! It’s a great intro to cables, a fast and simple one skein project, an amazing gift (don’t tell anyone I said that) and so darn wearable! You’ll need a pair of size 15 needles and a skein of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick. Monday April 11, 7-9pm. $20


Group Knitting: Come get help starting a project, finishing a project, picking a project, picking materials, or learning something new! These classes are here for you to make up class time with, especially missed Holiday Present Prep classes, and any scheduled classes you can’t make it to can be rescheduled during these class times. All of these classes are from 7-9pm and are $15.

Wednesday April 13
Monday April 25
Tuesday May 3
Thursday May 5
Wednesday May 11
Thursday May 12



Reflection Cowl: Ready to tackle a more challenging cable pattern? Even a cable chart?! This beautiful cowl is cable-licious! Using two worsted weight yarns at once, these cables mirror each other, creating two side by side pannels of cabled goodness. It’s not to say this pattern wouldn’t be good for a beginner – this is a two part class, so we’ve got lots of time to get the cables down, read our cable chart pattern, and switch colors. Wednesdays April 20 and 27, 7-9pm. $40


One on One Classes: Is there something you are interested in knitting that you don’t see listed here? Pick a project or a new skill and email me to set up a one on one class! I generally schedule classes weekday nights 7-9pm and weekend days in two hour blocks between 10am-4pm. Send me a few dates and times that work for you. I will match our schedules, pick a time that works for both of us, and give you a class outline. One on one classes are $20 per hour; most classes are two hours long.


Knitting Book Club: We’re reading My Abandonment by Peter Rock for our Monday, April 4th meet up. If you are interested in joining the book club, send me an email. Please don’t come with knitting questions as I won’t be teaching anything (so the book club can be free of course), just come to knit and chat about our book!

Please note that all classes are held at New Wave Coffee at 2557 N Milwaukee Ave / 3103 W Logan Blvd in Logan Square unless otherwise noted.

K&C Blog Week Day 2: Mad Skillz, and a Dinosaur

It’s Day 2 of Knit and Crochet Blog Week! All week knit and crochet bloggers are going to be blogging answers to the same yarn-y art related questions. And I’ll be doing my best.

Day 2!

Today we are chatting about skills.

Q: Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year.

Well EXACTLY a year ago today PT moved to NYC. That is pretty crazy. I just reread that sad blog. I wish I could tell 2010 me that in 365 days you’ll STILL be in an empty apartment, but because most of your stuff is in Minneapolis, and you’ll STILL be in a long distance relationship, but MN/CHI.

That’s better! It also makes me wonder about what will go down in the next 365 days. I’m sure 2012 me will be big pimpin’.

Wait. Knitting! Last year at this time I was designing my Summer Ebook. Now I’m knitting dinosaurs for my nephew and bow headbands for Renegade Brooklyn. I’d say that’s a backward step, really.

But it’s all the process. I’d say I’m making huge strides as a designer every day. Designers learn by doing, because while construction can be taught, being able to design things that people want to knit can not be taught. You have to design and fail and design and succeed and grow from there.

Knitting takes a long time. I’m designing and knitting for Renegade Brooklyn right now, and that is keeping me from designing patterns to self publish. It’s a choice I’m making, and hopefully going to Renegade and doing summer jewelry knit kits will get The Sweatshop exposure. Will it expand my business as much as working on patterns to self publish? Who knows. It’s a gamble business owners take every day.

That Dino Body is as Big as Velma!

So that dino I’m knitting Baby Nolan is turning out awesome! It’s Roaring Dinosaur from Knitted Toys, a book I got for my birthday last year. It’s the first pattern I’ve knit from this book, but it’s chocked FULL of amazing and totally knit-able toys.

I finished the body over the weekend, and now just need to make arms and legs. As you can see, the body is as big as Velma!

Slightly annoying: The patterns are written LINE BY LINE. All flat, as far as I can tell, and lots of, ‘Do that again, only reverse shaping’. It takes a lot of concentration for a damn toy.

Also annoying: I’m NOT knitting a TOY in size 3 needles. I upped this like whoa – worsted weight yarn, Red Heart Super Savor projected leftovers from my Zig Zag Afghan that is about 80% finished, and I’m using size 6 needles.

This dino will be his baptism present. I’m going to be this kid’s Godmother so I’ve got to bring it with the presents. That is basically all I’ve gotten out of googling, ‘godmother responsibilities’.

K&C Blog Week Day 1: Yarn Bashing

A very happy day 1 of Knit and Crochet Blog Week to you! All week knit and crochet bloggers are going to be blogging answers to the same yarn-y art related questions. And I’ll be doing my best.

DAY 1!

Today we’re talking yarn:

Q: Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

And right off the bat I’ve got a problem with the question. I’m not a fibre, or, God forbid, FIBER, enthusiast.

I’m a knitting enthusiast.

A lot of knitters get caught up in the yarn and never even get to the knitting. A question I get a lot is, ‘Why would I spend $100 on yarn for a sweater to knit when I could just buy a sweater for $50?’ And that is a damn good point. I wouldn’t. I never will.

But that doesn’t mean I love knitting less because I use commercial yarn or Knit Picks is my 6th most visited site.

Sale at Knit Picks?! Holla!

I mean, Knit Picks is my 6th most visited site! I love yarn! Nothing is better than getting a huge box of yarn in the mail, or using that 25% off your entire purchase at JoAnn coupon.

I started The Sweatshop of Love as a way to make knitting more accessible to knitters in my age group. Now I’m trying to make knitting more accessible to everyone! We spend a lot of time in my Sweater Club class talking about yarn substitutions, and I almost always use commercial yarn and Knit Picks in my patterns. They’re accessible, and knitters who want to use hand-spun and specialty yarns are more likely to know about them, making substituting UP much easier than substituting DOWN.

… I told you I was bad at this.

I’m the Designer of March over on Worsted Knitt and have a fun interview for you to check out!

And a huge thank you to everyone that donated to Perennial Plate’s road trip last week. Winners have been emailed, but get over there and help if you can!