Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog Week Entry #4: Where Are They Now?

Whee!  Day Four of Blog Week is upon us!  Today we'll be talking about:


Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

How has one of your past knits lived up to wear? Maybe an item has become lost. Maybe you spent weeks knitting your giant-footed dad a pair of socks in bright pink and green stripes which the then ‘lost’. If you have knit items to donate to a good cause, you could reflect on the was in which you hope that item is still doing good for its owner or the cause it was made to support.


Have you seen this hat?
Missing:  Awesome Hand-Knit Hat

Last seen:  Several years ago in a booth at the Grafton Pub in Lincoln Square

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Vaa

Pattern: Foliage by Emilee Mooney, Fall 2007 Knitty

Last known whereabouts
I lost this the last time my parents came to town.  It was a blustery day in December and we went to the Grafton for lunch.  When it came time for us to leave, my hat had magically disappeared into the dark recesses of our booth.  I suspect it fell on the floor under the table, but I really wasn't in the mood to crawl around on the floor while feeling around blindly in the shadows.  I told myself that I could just knit another one - I still had plenty of yarn leftover.  I haven't to date, however.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog Week Entry #3: Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches

Blog Week is rolling right along with Day 3:

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.
A big mess.
I've already posted earlier this year about my attempts to get organized. It's an on-going project, since I have a knack for undoing all my work.  I can't seem to keep my yarn room tidy for more than a few days!  My grandmother used to say that an artist shouldn't be afraid to be messy (in fact, I think she encouraged such things,).  Apparently I have really taken this to heart!  Seriously, there is a table underneath all that yarn.  Previously, said yarn was sorted neatly into bins by weight.  Now it's sitting out on my craft table in hopes of being knit into something rad in the not-so-distant future.  Would that I had more knitting time these days!  Similarly, my books were strewn throughout the house - most of them in the craft room, but then a few piles around the couch where I typically knit as well....perhaps a few on the kitchen table...you get the idea.

I'm not sure if I was fueled by the subject of this entry or not, but on Monday I undertook the Great Reorganization.  I spent over half of the day moving ALL of the knitting books to a shelf near the couch - which I am loving because I can knit and gaze at all the titles, imagining all the awesome things I'll make next.
Books! Glorious books!
I also tidied up the yarn mess, keeping out the skeins I might need in the near future, and putting the rest back where they belong. 
As good as it's going to get.
Finally, I busted out the awesome sparrow clothespins I'd bought from Crate & Barrel and hung up some of my swatches. 

Birds on a wire.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blog Week Entry #2: Skill+ Up

Welcome to Day 2 of blog week, where we have yet another topic to discuss:

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. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year? 
Owl Cardigan:  Adventure in Steeking

Last year I steeked my first sweater, and somehow managed to never write a post about it.  I'm not sure why - it was quite the learning experience!  This seems like as good of a time as any to talk about the ins and outs of steeking a cardigan....for starters, I chose to experiment with steeking because I wanted to knit the cardigan faster in the round - I also figured I should branch out and try something new, and a coworker of mine had steeked her Owl cardigan and gave me some tips.  All in all, considering that this was my first-ever steeked project, it went pretty well.  There are lots of things i'd have done differently, of course- such as making the steek section a little bigger (it's been so long since I worked on this sweater, I can't find my pattern copy where I wrote down all my mods, so I apologize for any vagueness in this post).  I think i would have also added one or two more owl cable repeats - I ended up deleting one by accident when adding in the steek, causing the sweater to be a bit on the snug side.  That is definitely my oopsie and has nothing to do with the pattern as written.
Cutting the steek - eek!

While I'm on the subject of regrets, I do wish I'd cast on about four more stitches for each armhole - I remember at the time thinking as I knit, "wow, that really doesn't seem like enough stitches, I should add a few more!"  Then, of course, I didn't, and the sleeves are just a hair too tight.  This seems to be a common problem other Ravelers have experienced when knitting the pattern - but on the plus side, it's one that is easily remedied.  Plus, after blocking and wearing, the sleeves have gotten a little looser and it's become a staple in my wardrobe!

Unexpected Color Combo:  Design from Malabrigo Book 3
As far as my knitting resolutions for this year are concerned - to make friends with colorwork and learn how to do entrelac - I have yet to tackle either of them.  I can't say I have broadened my skill-set hugely in the last year, other than noted above.  While I have a decent base, there is always room for improvement.  I've been trying to focus more on branching out in terms of color choices - I tend to gravitate towards the same colors (neutrals, green, blue) and make 'safe' color choices when working with two or more colors.  In light of that, I've been trying to make a conscious effort to try unexpected combinations, which has been dovetailing nicely with my other challenge to myself: destashing!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blog Week Entry #1: A Tale of Two Yarns

Osprey Pillow!
Welcome to Day 1 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week - for the next seven days, I'll be blogging about all things knitting-related along with several other bloggers who will be ruminating on the same topics. 

Today's topic:
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.

As I was knitting with Quince & Company's Osprey Worsted, I couldn't stop exclaiming about how much I was enjoying working with it.  The entire time I was knitting my project, I couldn't stop squishing as I went along - I can't think of the last time I've been this ecstatic over a yarn.  Besides being easy to work with, the yarn had a fantastic drape to the knitted fabric that stayed that way once it had been blocked.  Ultimately, I also love the story behind the yarn.  I find it incredibly satisfying to know exactly where your yarn is from, and I like being able to support a 100% U.S.-made product.

A yarn I was excited about but ultimately disappointed in would have to be The Southwest Trading Company's A-Maizing.  I bought two balls with the intention of making Amy Singer's Everlasting Bagstopper but abandoned the project about 1/3 of the way through.   I liked the unusual fiber content (100% corn), and I thought the sturdy ribbon would be perfect for such a project, since it was sturdy while still being easy to work with.  Unfortunately, after coming across three knots in the first hundred or so yards of the ball, I began to get frustrated - then I got to a break in the skein where the fiber was held together literally by a thread.  I threw in the towel right then and there!  I know in my rational mind that this ball of yarn was an anomaly, but I can't say I've worked with any SWTC since then.  Sadly, this project was relegated to the bottom of a drawer for many months til I traded the yarn to someone on Ravelry - unfinished project and all (I didn't even want to frog it!).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More Monsters & Mittens

I finished Malabrigo March Monster #2 this week - this time, I used up all of my bits and bobs of Chunky (you may recall seeing this in both incarnations of my Kitchy Pleated Bag!)...with a little bit of Zealana Eco Chunky to fill in the blanks.

Pattern:  Tony the Toy Box Monster by Rebecca Danger - from The Big Book of Monsters

Yarns:
Malabrigo Chunky in Charrua (brown/blue) and Frank Ochre
Zealana Eco Chunky (NZ Merino/Cashmere blend) in Chestnut

Meanwhile, I came across another fantastic FO using my free whale chart...I might have to make myself a pair of these - they're a little too irresistible!

Ravelry user Gatchan knit these up these sport-weight fingerless mitts with two colors of Phildar Tonic.  My favorite detail is the continuation of the checkered detail on the thumb!

Check it out for yourself!

I should also probably share my sheep mitten FO photos - though I'd like to get a few better-quality images!  They turned out well - and they're nice and warm!   They've provided me with hours of entertainment - making them dance around, shouting "sheep attack" as I smack people in the face...I also discovered that they're perfect to drive in, since you have your thumb and index finger handy and don't slide all over the steering wheel.  Bonus! 

Pattern:  Sheep Mittens!  by Allyson Dykhuizen - from The Sweatshop of Love's Hello Winter! eBook

Yarns:
Imperial Stock Ranch Pencil Roving (light grey)
The Snow Leopard Trust Handspun Camel Yarn (black)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning FO Parade

I have two FO's to show off this morning!  First, I finished my Shiatsu legwarmers - they are blocking as I type!  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out - They should be great to wear with skirts in the next few weeks.  I have to say, I'm very impressed with the yarn I used from Knit Picks - it knit up quite nicely and now that it's blocked, it's even softer and squishier!  I'll definitely be using this yarn again.

Pattern:  Shiatsu by Judy Sumner - from Knitted Socks East and West

Yarn:  Knit Picks Gloss DK in Robot (3 skeins) - a lovely (and affordable) merino/silk blend!

I'm pleased to announce that I have finished my first Malabrigo March project!  There were a few hiccups along the way, as I ran out of yarn twice!  oh, the perils of destashing - usually I don't have this problem when making toys or monsters with leftover skeins of yarn.  Murphy's law decided to pay me a visit, and I did have to make a trip last week to Nina to snag one more skein of Twist. Of course, I had two stripes to go on the last arm and ran out of Rios.  Noooooo!  Why must the yarn gods be punishing me?  After some initial panic, I thought I remembered seeing a tiny little bit of Rios somewhere in the house.   A fruitless 30-minute search ensued, and then an impassioned plea for someone to send a few leftover bits my way via snail mail.  And then, as I was digging through my Malabrigo bin to start another monster using leftover skeins (do I ever learn??), that tiny bit of Rios came tumbling out!

Pattern:  Gort the Gym Bag Monster by Rebecca Danger - from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters

Yarns:  1 skein Malabrigo Twist in Sunset, 1 skein Malabrigo Rios in Cumparsita

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sheepish

I should preface this blog post by stating that I enter a lot of contests - you know all those five-minute surveys they print links for on your receipts and you can be entered to win a gift card or cash prize?  I do those pretty consistently.  Every product giveaway that sounds mildly interesting, every "comment on my blog" contest...I'm there!  I started this campaign last summer as I entered the "slow season" at work - seeing how many contests I could enter per week is apparently the best use of one's time.  Obviously.  I did end up winning some body wash last year, so at least I have something to show for all my efforts. 

The law of averages has yet again bestowed on me a prize - this one's about a hundred times cooler than body wash, though - by leaving a comment on Threadpanda's awesome blog, I won the new eBook from The Sweatshop of Love, Hello Winter!

Is anyone surprised to learn that I've already started a project from the book?  I didn't think so.  As a master justifier of such things, I can assert that casting on for the irresistible Sheep Mittens is totally ok because I finished my Shiatsu Legwarmers (I'll post FO photos as soon as I block those bad boys!) and I'm using yarn from my stash. 

Meanwhile, I think now is a good time to mention that I'm going to be participating in the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week - it sounds pretty fun!  Basically, I'll be posting every day for a week on specific topics.  It sounds like it's going to be pretty fun, and this is my first year participating, so if anything, it should be a fun experiment!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I cheat on yarn diets. I said it, and I feel free.

I've been remiss in sharing my latest purchases on here - too many distractions I guess! 

It's been nearly a month since I was browsing through the craft section at the Half-Price Books near my vet and happened upon several copies of Stefanie Japel's Glam Knits for $7.  Who can resist a killer deal like that?  Obviously, not this gal! 

I also have caved - TWICE - on my yarn diet.  The first time, Purl Soho's spring cleaning sale got me...but it was such an amazing deal on Imperial Stock Ranch's pencil roving, I couldn't resist.  I already have a light-grey skein, and I thought it might be cool to make some super-warm colorwork mittens for next season.  Plus, check out the free samples they included in my package!  I was thinking of using them for making some beginner entrelac swatches. 

The second time was a total fluke of an accident.  My husband and I were out running errands and the car wouldn't start - we have a '96 Saturn that tends to overheat quite easily when it's even marginally above freezing, and the only thing you can do (well, other than take it to a mechanic to get it fixed!) is give it some time to cool down.  Typically this takes at least thirty minutes, but sometimes can take up to a few hours - there are many factors that influence the amount of time you have to wait, among them are how many stops you've made previously, whether or not you were in stop and go traffic, and where the temperature gauge happened to be before you turned it off. 

At any rate, we found ourselves marooned by the Trader Joe's on Lincoln Avenue - which is also, incidentally, fairly close to Knit 1.  I thought I'd just pop in to see what's new, squish some yarn and be on my merry way....but while I was there, another customer came in and asked for the Box of Secret Sale Sock Yarn.  Uh oh! 

And that's how I came to buy this lovely skein of Trekking Pro Natura for eight bucks - now that's a steal! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Help a knitter out!

On the eve of the anniversary of my grandmother's passing, I came across this blog post by Benjamin Levisay, CEO of XRX (they're responsible for Knitter's Magazine, countless books, and the fabulous Stitches Expos), which hit close to home for me.  It's been 13 years since my grandmother died of ovarian cancer, and I can't help feeling that it wasn't a coincidence that I stumbled upon this story tonight.  I've seem some really amazing examples of the knitting community banding together to help those in need - crafters and non-crafters alike - and I hope that everyone will spread Sue's story and help her get the treatment she needs.  Please consider purchasing a raffle ticket to help defray the cost of her medical bills and let her know just how many people are wishing her well in her battle. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Pattern!

It feels like ages since I've released a pattern - this one has been in the works for a while now.  At last it is tested and ready to go - just in time for Malabrigo March!

I designed these wristwarmers to coordinate with my Nest Egg Beanie - in fact, if you knit the smallest sizes of each pattern, you can knit the set using only two skeins of Malabrigo Rios!  This pattern features a nice ribbed cuff, stockinette palm, and a cabled panel that runs along the back of the hand.  There is a chart to work from, and the pattern is perfect for showing off the beautiful variations of hand-dyed yarns.

The details:

Pattern:  Nest Egg Wristwarmers, $6

Yarn:  Malabrigo Rios (Superwash Merino) in 'Solis'

Needles:  US #7 DPNs

Notions:  Cable needle, different-colored stitch markers, darning needle.

buy now | add to cart | show cart

Friday, March 4, 2011

swearing off sport-weight sweaters

...at least for a little while.  I've been working on this bad boy since last October, and while I'm loving the finished product, I'm ready for some faster-knitting projects.  It's going to be a while before I get back on the sport-weight sweater horse, despite the fact that I have at least two more sweater's-worth of sport waiting in the wings.  Luckily, I have even more sweater's-worth quantities of worsted to keep me busy 'til I'm ready to re-open this door!

 This was a fairly easy pattern to follow - all measurements were in the metric system, which I find I kind of enjoy - it really doesn't make sense that we're one of the few countries that still insists on clinging to the English system of measurement.  I mean, the English don't even use the English system these days!  Come on!

My only critique of this pattern would have to be the cables in the charts -  I found the yarn overs to be a little fussy and awkward at times, especially for the first set of cables.  This was especially true on the return row, where you had to knit all yo's through the back loop.  Be sure to get yourself some bamboo needles for the yoke - my metal needles were a little too slippery for the task at hand.

Another thing that really helped me knit the yoke quickly was to put in stitch markers for each chart repeat.  I'm sure you don't need me to tell you to do this - but believe it or not, it didn't occur to me until after that first cable was completed that stitch markers might be a good idea.  Once I did that, the yoke just knit itself!  It made those return rounds where I was trying to make sense of all the yo's and cabled decreases so much easier - re-establishing the pattern was much simpler.  If you look closely at the yoke, you can see why I decided to try putting in the stitch markers - I got off a stitch on the return-row and the rest of the cables are slightly offset from the bottommost cable.

My only other critique involves my pet peeve in the realm of pattern instructions:  "decrease X number of stitches evenly across the row" - I find it incredibly frustrating to come across that in a pattern.   I know it's probably hard to give those calculations for a range of sizes, but as a knitter, I find it very irritating to have to stop what I'm doing and get out my calculator.

All in all, still a great pattern -  honestly, you can't ask anything more of a pattern you don't have to pay for.  I didn't come across any errata, so that's pretty impressive. I am loving this sweater already and practically sleeping in it.  Sorry, tea leaves and owl cardi - it seems I'm a fickle girl.


the details:

Pattern:  Drops Knitted Jacket with Raglan Sleeves and Cables

Yarn:  Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Superwash Sport in Japanese Plum

Buttons:  Vintage buttons from my stash

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Malabrigo March!

What will you be doing to celebrate your favorite yarn this month?

I will be releasing a wristwarmer pattern any day now, using the wonderfully machine washable yarn, Rios!  Keep your eyes peeled!  (For my fellow junkies, I am offering 40% off ALL patterns in my Ravelry Shop - check out my twitter feed for the coupon code to enter at check-out!)

Speaking of Malabrigo Rios, today I'll be starting a new sweater for myself (yes, the sport-weight cardigan is done and blocking - more on that later!) - I've got a bunch of beautiful skeins of Glazed Carrot I picked up at Nina to make Hilary Smith Callis' Koukla Cardigan from Brave New Knits. 

Since I already have several non-Malabrigo projects on the needles, I won't be going too crazy with my cast-on projects this month - but I will be using my many and varied Malabrigo leftovers to knit some monsters from Rebecca Danger's Big Book of Monsters, which arrived the other week and significantly lengthened my Ravelry queue.