By Annie Claire- Sponsor Spotlight and Giveaway

Once again it is the weekend (everyone together...*sigh*), which means time to highlight another sponsor (yay!).

When Annie of 'by Annie Claire' first wrote to me about becoming a sponsor, I was a little inspired.  In her short email, she really conveyed the passion she has for her new adventure in life.

Her goal?  To lessen the gap between 'pasture to pullover'.  Annie makes it her mission to make available yarn from small flock farms around her community.  She then dyes these yarns without the use of chemicals and only with the natural pigments from plants and flowers found around her home.

In working this way, you can imagine that various flowers and foliage from different seasons would produce distinctive color families.  And with that, Annie is about to launch her first seasonal group of colors, focusing on the plants in season around this time of year.

On Thursday (December 22), by Annie Claire will be launching the Winter Collection 2011, a collection of four yarns of the season.  Wondering about the colors??  So am I!  But, I do have a sneak peek of one of them:

This lovely burnt orange is made from the toyon plant, which is at it's prime during winter months when it shoots out gorgeous bunches of berries

Not only is this a sneak peek of the color, but these two skeins are up for grabs!  Annie has sent these my way in order for me to send them on to one lucky blog reader.  What do you have to do to win 500 yards of all-natural worsted-weight goodness?  Just leave a comment on this post by Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 11:59 EST (say hi, offer Annie a bit of encouragement, let her know what your favorite thing in her shop is... anything!).  

Want an extra entry?  Become a fan on facebook and let me know you did so in a second comment on this post.  Winner will be announced on Friday, December 23rd (how's that for a perfect early Christmas present?!).

Want to know more about Annie and her yarn dyeing mission?  Check out her 'About' page and read about Why She Does What She Does.  You can also find Annie on the following websites:

(where she also has patterns available to pair with her yarn!)

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Adirondack Patterns: Spotlight and Giveaway!

December is an exciting time of year- especially for the knitterly/fibery kinds of people.  To help you prep for the holidays, I have sponsor highlights lined up for the next couple weekends.

To kick off this season I am pleased to introduce the lovely ladies over at Adirondack Patterns.

Adirondack Patterns is a collaboration between identical  twin sisters Laura and Julia who's love of sewing and crafting for their children expanded into the creation of a store.  Over the past 2 years, Adirondack Patterns has grown to include over 60 patterns and tutorials; including those on cloth diaper sewing, complete instructions on several variations of Waldorf dolls, crochet and knitting, clothing tutorials, and accessories for little ones.  All of the patterns and tutorials are very simple to follow and almost all of them have detailed photos for every step of the process.

"Our sole purpose in sharing our tutorials at reasonable prices is to inspire and make it possible for other Mama’s to create handmade goods and toys for their little ones.  Because every wee one deserves to have something handmade with love."

  Julia and Laura write about crafting and parenting in their spaces Happiness Comes and Mountain Mama.

Laura and Julia are identical twins who spend much of their time at their jobs as RNs.  When they aren't working or playing with their boys, they are crafting for their Etsy shop where they feature Waldorf, sewing, crochet, and knitting patterns.  

And with that, let me give you the chance to get to know the ladies of Adirondack Patterns:

Hello, Laura and Julia.  Thanks so much for joining me today here at French Press Knits.  When it comes to crafting, I find many people have a past with it- is this true with the two of you?

We both began crafting at an early age. Growing up being Identical Twins, we always had each other to play with. Our mom was always teaching us how to cook, bake, craft. From watching our mom make our many identical dresses/clothes, to helping her make the yearly Christmas ornaments that we would gift for presents to family and friends.  

Our Maternal Grandmother was a knitting goddess.  She taught us how to knit when we were about 9 or 10 years old.  Many days were spent watching her little arthritic hands click the needles showing us how to knit and purl.  Unfortunately the skill was lost in our teenage years, and we gravitated to sewing instead. 

 Our Paternal Grandmother, as well as our mom, showed us how to sew a few basic items.  We started making "scrunchies" (you remember scrunchies, RIGHT????) as one of our first projects, and gave them out to anyone who wanted one.  A few years ago we picked up sewing again, and whipped up a whole bunch of baby items to sell at the local craft fairs.  We came up with our own designs, and patterns, and made booties, bibs, bags, blankets, dresses, coloring wraps, burp clothes, you name it, we made it!  Unfortunately we closed up shop after the first year due to the huge amount of restrictions on selling handmade items, especially for babies. 

 Still having an itch to create, we decided to sell our patterns on ETSY, so people could make their own items for their babies. and loved ones.  Over time it branched out to include over 60 patterns and tutorials for a variety of sewn, crochet, and knit goods.

What craft takes the largest portion of your time these days? 

Julia has an affinity for making her Waldorf Inspired Dolls, and Laura tends to gravitate towards crochet.  But we both are equal opportunity crafters.  If we understand it, or someone can show us how to do it, we will try it, Julia is more broad in her craftiness, where as Laura is strictly Crochet and Sewing.

Besides crafty things, what other hobbies do you have?

  Laura loves play with her boys, bake, to rearrange her furniture, and honestly a large amount of time is spent in front of her laptop/T.V.  Julia likes to play with her boy, cook, read, listen to music, and enjoy the outdoors.

What inspires your creativity? 
Babies....there we said it.  We recently had a new baby (Laura's baby boy) join the family, and he is our main inspiration. We love making things for little ones to wear, or play with. We also find inspiration on Blogger, Etsy, and Pintrest is FULL of incredible ideas.   

How did you decide to start a shop together?

I began with a few crochet items, and asked Julia if she wanted to add in her sewing tutorials.  The rest is history.

What can we expect to see in the shop in the future?

More crochet patterns, including some items for little girls, and more Waldorf Inspired Dolls accessories and patterns.

Anything else new and exciting we should keep our toes for? 

We are holding a giveaway for a beautiful Waldorf Inspired Doll four times a year over at Windfall Dolls http://windfalldolls.blogspot.com/2011/11/windfall-doll-giveaway-meet-holly.html

And now, for the stuff you've been waiting for.  Laura and Julia have graciously offered gifts for 4 readers.  The prizes are as follows:

1.  Baby vest (in size 2-4 months)

2.  Simple Baby Doll

3&4:  Two winners will get to pick any pattern in their Etsy shop.

Wanna get in on it?  Here's what you need to do:  Leave a comment in the comment section below.  Give Laura and Julia a shout out, let them know what pattern you are itching to try your hand at, give them a word of encouragement, etc.  

While you're at it- make sure you check them out at the following places:

For an extra entry, hop on over to their facebook page and "like" them.  Leave a separate comment in the section below to let us know you have done so.  

The contest will be open until Thursday December 8th, 2011 at 11:59 EST when the winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday. 

Elegant Economy Designs- Introduction and Giveaway!

What a pleasure it is to once again introduce you to a new sponsor.  Maria contacted me a while ago to let me know that she was interested in sponsoring FPK in order to share the word about her new design line.

The time has come, Maria's designs are up on Ravelry, and I get the pleasure of introducing and sharing Elegant Economy Designs with you!

Maria's tale is a bit of a fairytale (well, to me at least!).  Although she has been a knitter most of her life, Maria has recently decided to try her hand at designing.  For her, it is the perfect combination of math, creativity, and art.  After designing some prototypes, Maria set out with a goal: build her design portfolio.

How would she start?  With four patterns and a due date of April 2011.

How would she accomplish this goal?  Maria decided to quit her day job to pursue her dream of knitwear design as a full-time endeavor.

Outcome? Unique and gorgeous handknits.  Just have a look at her 4 premier designs:


Now for the exciting part:  Elegant Economy Designs will be giving away a download of the entire collection to one reader.  What must you do to enter?  Just leave a comment here with a message to Maria.  Say hi, give her a word of encouragement as she jumps into this new career, or let her know what design you like best- the sky's the limit!  Let's show our support to a newbie in the industry. 

After you leave a comment here, pop on over to Elegant Economy Designs website where you can read more about Maria's design process and get to know the face behind the knits.

The contest will be open until Thursday, April 14 2011 11:59 PM EST.  I will then choose a winner at random that will be announced on Friday.   Only one comment per person, please.

Where to Find Elegant Economy:

Tanis Fiber Arts

I'm very excited to share another wonderful sponsor with you today.  I probably first clicked over to Tanis Fiber Arts when an ad caught my eye on Ravelry.   Not too long after that, Tanis wrote me an email letting me know she had knit up my Anthro-Style Plaited Headwrap- see?

Around the same time, Julie posted pictures of her Stripe Study Shawl done in Tanis Cashmere Sock.  With all of these online encounters, I knew a new knitterly friendship would soon be forming.  I started following Tanis' blog since she first contacted me and I have to admit that it has quickly become one of my favorites.  She posts often with beautiful projects and to share wonderful new colorways. 

Just last week I had purchased the Wispy Cardigan pattern.  A few days later, Tanis posted her Wispy Cardigan done in her own Silk yarn, Tidal colorway and I fell in love with the Wispy Cardigan all over again!

Tanis Fiber Arts is a small family run business started by Tanis Lavallee.  In its humble beginnings, you could find Tanis dying yarn in the kitchen of her apartment. She is now joined by her husband and mother, and have grown into a larger studio:

If you click on over to Tanis Fiber Arts, you can shop by color- take a look:

Have you ever seen a cooler yarn set up?  This was a recent  re-do to her online shop and whoever was in charge should get major kudos.  

New for 2011, Tanis has introduced the TFA Year in Colour Club.  Every other month, subscribers will receive a single skein of fingering weight yarn along with an exclusive pattern created just for that yarn.  The pattern designers are all-stars:  Tanis herself, Julie Crawford, Laura Chau, Glenna C.,  Patti Waters, and Kristen Kapur.

Although the first month of the club was January, it's not too late to jump on board. Previous months will be mailed in with your first package.  You can find prices and more details about the club here. 

How exciting to conclude another week with another fabulously talented knitter.  I love having the privilege to meet and highlight so many wonderful artists.  Make sure you hop on over to Tanis Fiber Arts and say 'hi'.  Here's where you can find more Tanis:

tanisfiberarts on Ravelry

Sunnie Fairy Spinning Supplies

As many of you know, I have recently started taking sponsors here at French Press Knits. What I didn't expect was to meet so many new fiber-y sorts in the process of choosing sponsors.  It is more than a pleasure to introduce you to the Sunnie Fairy shop on Etsy.

Andrea started her shop on Etsy over two years ago- and you wanna know what's really cool about that?  This is Andrea now:

Andrea is a teenager from Southern California with an entrepreneurial spirit. When Andrea started her Etsy shop a couple years ago she sold crocheted stuffed toys that she personally designed.  Somewhere along the way she added to her fiber repertoire when she began spinning.  She had discovered a new passion and wanted the opportunity to share it with others.  

In Andrea's shop, you will find top whorl drop spindles, bottom whorl drop spindles, and learn to spin kits.  The kits include everything you will need to get started- Drop spindle, roving (in your choice of colors), and detailed instructions to get you started. 

To learn more about Andrea, you can find her over at Andrea's Garden where she blogs about things she makes, wears, and likes (make sure you get a glimpse of some of the yarn she has spun- her beautiful color choices makes me want to drop my needles and learn to spin!).  I'm not sure how she does it all (she does say that she has great parents who don't mind taking her to the post office when she needs to ship out multiple orders), but I know that in about 13 years I'll be sending Elise her way for a talk about how to run and Etsy shop and still manage middle school/high school!