Shawls and Toys with Susan B. Anderson


Howdy, knitting friends! I just got back from a wonderful weekend in the DC area and am excited to tell you all about it. The centerpiece of the weekend was attending a couple of classes with Susan B. Anderson at Fibre Space, but I also had some great times with family and friends. We’ll get to the weekend adventures in a bit, but first let’s catch up on the other knitting stuff that’s been going on in my world lately.


If this is your first visit to the Knitting Daddy blog, welcome aboard! I hope you enjoy what you see here and keep coming back for more. You might especially enjoy checking out my knitting origin story to learn about how and why I started knitting about four years ago. (Hint: my daughter + preemie hats) For those of you who have been here a while, I’m glad you keep coming back. Thank you all so much.

Recently In Podcasting

Joey and I released a new episode of Unraveling With Greg And Joey last week, and it’s a fun one (Episode 12: I Am Gandor, Thunder Stealer!). We talk about our recent knitting, give away a book in our latest contest, and talk about some of the upcoming things we’ve got going on. There are a handful of knit-alongs that are going on this summer, and we’ve got our toes in a few of them. Joey’s also got a handful of musical activities on his horizon that he talks about. We’re having a great time putting this podcast together, and are so grateful for the support we continue to receive. If you’re not already listening to us, what are you waiting for? 😉 We’re going to kicking off a KAL of our own in the next few episodes, so now’s a perfect time to tune in.

Recently On My Needles

I probably knitted a hexipuff or two since the last time I wrote a blog entry, but I haven’t had much else on my needles. I do have 2 new projects that I started during this weekend’s Susan B. Anderson workshops, and I’ll talk about them in a bit.

Shawls and Toys with Susan B. Anderson

Wow, what a weekend! It’s hard to believe that it’s already come and gone. This is the third year that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend knitting workshops taught by Susan B. Anderson. Susan is a phenomenal teacher, a talented designer, and an all-around wonderful person. I discovered her toy designs shortly after I started knitting, and have been following her designs ever since. I’m an active member of her Itty Bitty Knits (IBK) group on Ravelry, and I consider the people in that group to be my knitting family. When I started knitting and didn’t have any local friends I knew who knit, the people in IBK became my knitting group. When I had the opportunity to attend Susan’s workshops at Fibre Space 2 years ago, I jumped on it. Last year, Susan taught at a retreat in Maryland that I was able to attend. And this year, she was back at Fibre Space — and so was I!

This year, Susan taught 5 classes, and I signed up for two of them. The other 3 were repeats for me (the toy design class being one I’ve taken twice, with the other two being classes I’ve taken once). While I’d love to repeat all of her classes — I learn so much even when I’ve seen the material before — limiting myself to the two new-to-me classes allowed me to have more time on the weekend to spend with my family. It made for a good balance.

My first class was Friday morning, plus I was meeting a friend for breakfast before class (more on that later). My wife and daughter hopped in the car with me nice and early, and we headed over to Alexandria. I dropped them off at the metro station, they took the train into DC for a day at the museum, and I got ready for my day of yarn adventure.

It started at Fiber Space.


After breakfast, I headed to the yarn shop for my class. Of course, I was super-excited about Susan’s classes, but I was also thrilled because I knew that my friend Melanie was attending the classes this weekend, too. Melanie and I met in the IBK group, and met “in real life” at Susan’s classes 2 years ago. Since we knew each other online, when we met for the classes, it was just like having a good friend to take the class with. We met again at the retreat Susan taught at last year. With us meeting for the classes this weekend, it makes three years in a row being able to meet at Susan’s classes. I’m calling it a tradition.


Melanie brought me some preemie hats, too! She knitted them from my Scrappy Sock Yarn Preemie Hat pattern, and I’ll be donating them to Family Support Network of Central Carolina. I’m always humbled when people give me preemie hats, especially when they’re knit from my pattern. Thanks so much, Melanie! These are sure to bring some joy to families in the NICU.


Friday’s class was “Exploring Shawl Shapes Workshop.” It is all about shawl design, and I have been excited about taking this class ever since I learned it was in Susan’s teaching catalog. Susan had a treasure-trove of handouts that explained how 10 different shawl shapes were constructed, how to incorporate lace patterns into a shawl design, and how to use math to make sure you’ll be able to complete your shawl design before you run out of yarn. In addition to the handouts, Susan brings her stunning collection of shawls that uses to demonstrate what the different designs look like when they are knit up. Many of the shawls are Susan’s own designs, but she also shows shawls that she’s knit from other designers’ patterns. Being able to see so many real-life examples of the shawls is inspiring. In the close-up demonstrations, Susan shows many techniques: casting on, binding off, adding beads, etc.

This class met my expectations 100%, and then some! I came out of the class with an idea about the shawl I wanted to design. I worked on it a bit in the class, but didn’t like the way the math was working out, so I frogged it and restarted it Friday evening. I’m still not completely sure this is what I’m going for, but it’s a good start, and I’m excited to see how it develops as I add more inches to it.


After class Friday morning, I headed into DC to catch up with my wife and Blueberry while Susan taught another class — this one on her super sweet Mary, Millie, and Morgan / Ben and Buddy dolls. I took that class at the retreat last year, and the Mary doll I knitted as a result is one of my favorite toys I’ve ever knitted.

Once in DC, I met my family at the Smithsonian — the Museum of Natural History. Apparently, Blueberry had a great time at the museum all day. Everyone was pretty worn out by the afternoon, but not too worn out for ice cream! Blueberry told me I should take her picture and share it with my knitting friends. So, knitting friends, here’s a picture of Blueberry eating ice cream. Enjoy!


While at the Smithsonian, I happened to stumble upon an exhibit about creating purple dye. It was complete with a little yarn that was dyed purple. Of course I took a snapshot.


On Saturday, I was back to Fibre Space for another workshop with Susan. I didn’t attend the morning workshop, so I was able to enjoy a leisurely morning before heading in. Still, I arrived a bit early, and enjoyed some time to work on my shawl some more before my class started. The time passed quickly, and soon I was ready for the Egg to Owl Workshop. I’ve knitted a bunch of Susan’s toys, including a few reversible ones, but this was a new pattern for me. Plus, I can always use a refresher on the toy knitting techniques that Susan includes in her workshops.

This class had homework: we needed to knit our eggs before class started. Ever the procrastinator, I knitted my egg in the car ride up to DC. (Thanks to my wife for driving, so I could knit!)


Having the egg finished before class was a great idea, because the rest of the toy is built off of the egg, including learning how to pick up stitches in the garter opening of the egg. We were able to jump right into knitting the owl. One of the great things that Susan does in her workshops is break the larger group into small groups for close-up instruction. We all gather around her at a table and look over her shoulder while she demonstrates a particular technique. In her toy knitting classes, this approach is especially valuable, as there are so many techniques that benefit from being able to see them close up.


I made great progress on my owl during class — by the time class was over, I had completed the body and was well on my way to completing the head. I’ve been working on him off and on since class and can see the end. I need to give him feet and embroider a face. His head is a little wobbly, so I might reinforce it, too. I’m going to try to keep him on the forefront of my knitting so that he doesn’t languish unfinished.


I am absolutely thrilled that I was able to attend these workshops this year. You better believe that I’ll be keeping my eye on Susan’s teaching schedule for more opportunities to attend her classes. Her teaching style is a wonderful mix of large group instruction and discussion, combined with small group demonstration and personal attention. She wants her students to succeed and works hard to make sure that everyone gets something out of the class. If you ever get the opportunity to take one of her classes, jump on it.

Thank you so much, Susan, for coming back to the East Coast for some classes. I’m glad that I was able to attend again this year. I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity.

Breakfast With TwinSet Jan

I mentioned earlier that I had breakfast with a friend on Friday morning. That friend was none other than TwinSet Jan!


Along with her sister Ellen, Jan is 1/2 of the talent behind the TwinSet Designs Podcast. I’ve been a fan of their podcast for a few years. When Jan saw that I was going to be at Fibre Space for Susan’s workshops, she reached out to me to see if we could get together. Our schedules worked out, and we were able to grab breakfast Friday morning. As a bonus, Jan’s husband Dale was able to join us!

We found a cafe a few blocks away from the yarn shop and settled in for some coffee, breakfast, and great conversation about podcasting. Jan and I made the same observation about the interesting world of knitting podcasting — even though this was the first time we met each other “in real life,” it felt like we were already good friends. We already are comfortable with each other, having been listening to each other on our podcasts and interacting with each other in the various Ravelry boards. It really just felt natural to hang out. It was fun to talk with another podcaster, and Jan was so kind and encouraging for the work Joey and I are doing with Unraveling. I could have talked with her for hours.

Jan and Dale brought an example of the new Darning-Pinne — a combination nostepinne/darning egg. It’s an ingenious idea, and I’ve already ordered one. Dale’s work on the lathe is wonderful, and I’m excited that this tool is destined to become an heirloom that I’ll be able to pass down to future generations. Even more exciting about this tool that I have an immediate use for a darning egg, but that story will have to wait for a future blog post.

Jan also kindly gave me a set of stitch markers celebrating the Down Cellar Studio Splash Pad Party. They’re really fun, and I put one of them to work in Susan’s shawl class a few hours later.


Our time together flew by too quickly. Before we knew it, we were saying our good-byes as I got ready for class and Jan headed to work. Thanks, Jan, for catching up with me and our time together. I’m looking forward to the next time we can hang out — I’ve already started talking with my family about being able to plan a family trip for TwinSet Summer Camp in the next year or two. And Blueberry would love to visit Fair Winds Farm and see all the animals.

Oh, Darn!

It’ll be the subject of a post sometime down the line, but learning how to darn socks is in my future. Here’s a sneak peek.


These holes are totally the fault of my carelessness. No one wants holes in their hand-knit socks, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn a new skill.

Upcoming KALs and Events

The Down Cellar Studio Splash Pad Party, which runs from June 1-31, is just around the corner. Joey and I are the official Pool Boys for the KAL. We’re already having a great time in the discussion threads. The Actually Knitting Pal Kal 2016, which runs from June 15 – September 15, will be picking up right after the Spash Pad Party starts. I’m pretty sure you can “double-dip” in both of those KALs, so check out the links and start planning on how you’re going to participate.

In a couple of weeks, I’m planning on attending the TNNA Summer Show in Washington, DC. I’m already making plans to meet up with a handful of people throughout the weekend. If you’ll be there, get in touch, and we can meet up, too.

Until next time, keep on knitting for the ones you love!


2 thoughts on “Shawls and Toys with Susan B. Anderson

  1. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed having you and Melanie in class again. It’s comforting and familiar and just plain old fun to see friends like you show up to knit with me. Great blog post, too! I appreciate you so much and I look forward to seeing your cool shawl designs popping up in the future!!
    xo, susan

    • Thanks, Susan! We have so much fun together in your classes. It really is like hanging out and knitting with friends. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just all live in the same city and hang out and knit all the time? 🙂

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