Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WIP Wednesday: The End Is Near!

Before the start of last weekend, I was more than a little nervous that I would be finished with the knitting of my 30 Day Sweater, but somehow - against all odds - I am! Last night I bound off for sleeve #2 and wove in the nightmare of ends that was created by alternating skeins. Honestly, it wasn't that bad; all told, it took less than 20 minutes. It was definitely worth it, since there are no weird transitions or pooling between the skeins.
As seen on Instagram: Finish line hands! Those are only a few
of the ends I had to weave in, BTW.
I even had enough time to block it in some Lavender Eucalan; it is now laying it flat to dry in my yarn room. I'm so psyched that I was able to knit a me-sized sweater in 30 days! I gotta admit, I was a bit dubious since I'm a rather slow sweater knitter, historically speaking. However, when you break it into small, manageable daily tasks, it's incredibly easy to reach this goal. I even fell a little behind near the end but still made my goal!
I highly recommend the 30-Day Sweater framework for anyone who is nervous about embarking on their next (or first) sweater adventure; you can download a free sweater planning guide here that contains a discounted link on the 30-Day Sweater eBook and course.

Meanwhile, my other October KAL project is nearing completion, the Scalloped Rib Sock in Baah La Jolla. I'm pretty sure I can get this second sock finished by the end of the day tomorrow, which is great because I received some more pretty skeins of Baah yarn in the mail at the beginning of the week...it's been awfully hard resisting their siren call!
I can't believe October is almost over. I was listening to some podcasts the other day and someone said there was 70 days til Christmas - I hate to think what that number is now. EEK! I need to kick it into high gear for my holiday gift-making! I am really looking forward to starting some new projects (and finishing a few old ones that have been on the backburner all month long - Emmanuelle Sweater, anyone??).

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

P.S. There is another Halloween Craftsy Flash Sale happening today and tomorrow only - click here to check it out! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

SOAR: Hello, Goodbye

The final SOAR (Spin Off Autumn Retreat) took place in St. Charles, IL last week; though I didn't get to take any classes, my pal Lauren and I did shop the vendor marketplace on Saturday. It was a small, well-curated affair that had temptation at every turn. I really wish I had remembered to pack one of the "good" cameras, because all I was able to take was a few instagrams; luckily Lauren had packed her camera and could fill in some of the gaps.
The Marketplace Floor
Sara Natani spinning with a Navajo spindle
I love small shows like this - for one, they aren't nearly so overwhelming (and I get easily overwhelmed since most of my days are spent in my home office with only the cats and my husband for company). Another bonus is that they often have a mixture of small and medium-sized companies with a few larger ones to balance out the mix, while larger (read: more expensive) shows are usually comprised of the bigger companies with a few medium-sized ones scattered throughout. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's just my personal preference to dig the smaller, more intimate setting with more varied (and smaller) vendors.

I chatted with some truly interesting people and learned a lot - for instance, Lauren and I spent a lot of time in the Jefferson Farms Natural Fibers booth; they specialize in Paco-Vicunas, and the owner Jane was incredibly friendly. She told us all about the fiber, and I am hoping to visit the farm in Colorado some day soon because it sounds amazing. I only wish I'd had an endless budget to bring home more of the fibery goodness that caught my eye. Instead, I practiced restraint and only purchased 3 items:
From L-R: Grey Gotland from Spinning Straw Into Gold, CVM/Alpaca/Silk/Bamboo from Fiber Curio and Sundries, and some natural black Huacaya Alpaca from Alpacas d'Auxvasse.

Another booth I spent a lot of time in was Fiber Curio and Sundries; Ellen explained that they source and process everything in the USA without the use of harsh chemicals, which is totally awesome. They had a lot of really unique fibers, and they could even tell me the name of the CVM sheep, Ella, whose fleece was used to make the top I purchased! How cool is that?!

Lauren purchased some really fun Polwarth-blend top from Lucky Cat Craft; they were another booth with a lot of unique fiber options, and though I didn't purchase anything at the show, I made a point to grab their card so I can check out their Etsy shop in the future!

I was so excited about my fiber purchases that I ended up spinning up a single of the black alpaca on Saturday night and Navajo plying it on Sunday:
Next up is Vogue Knitting Live at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago! I will only be there on Sunday in a (probably) vain attempt to minimize the amount of stash enhancement this show is likely to have. Incidentally, if you still haven't purchased your marketplace tickets, you can enter HALFOFFCHI13 at checkout when you buy ahead of time online. See you there!

Friday, October 25, 2013

No FO?!

Since I'm concentrating on my two October KAL projects, I don't have any FOs to share this week. I can't even think of the last time this has happened! Luckily, I have a consolation prize to offer you: today only, there is a huge flash sale happening over on Craftsy!
Craftsy
From time to time, I blog about Craftsy: the classes I've taken, the yarn I've bought, etc. I usually just assume that everyone knows about Craftsy since I've been obsessed with it since its early days, but for those of you who are just now discovering it, today seems like a good time to give a more formal introduction: in a nutshell, Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a pattern marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supply shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a project section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. They have over two million members, and they aren't just focused on the world of knitting and crochet: categories range from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.

Why do I love their online classes so much? With Craftsy, I have 24/7 access to a host of knowledgeable instructors in the comfort of my own home. I can learn at my own pace, re-watch segments whenever I need a refresher, and if I ever get stuck, I can post questions in the course platform for the instructor or my classmates to answer. It's win-win!

Online learning is a great alternative to on-location craft classes, especially for people with busy schedules or who have difficulty leaving the house; Craftsy's classes are also much cheaper than the average in-depth workshop. If you still need convincing, you can check out my reviews of Craftsy classes or check out one of their FREE mini-courses!


Thanks for stopping by this week - if you were hoping for some FO Friday inspiration, come back next week or visit the Tami's Amis blog.


Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WIP Wednesday: KAL progress, a new project & the Sweater Knitting Show!

When you're participating in two KALs, the thing to do is start a new project, right? That's what I thought! Over the weekend, I was had the uncontrollable urge to start an entrelac cowl with some of my handspun yarn from Spinzilla. It's been a while since I've made an entrelac project, so I re-watched several lessons from Gwen Bortner's Entrelac Craftsy class to refresh my memory for each step. I decided to use the Cloudlover Polwarth (which is two dyed colorways inspired by The Nightmare Before Christmas), though I might not have enough to finish the cowl - I might end up knitting the next tier in the alpaca/silk handspun before finishing off with more of the Cloudlover handspun.
Despite this distraction, I made some great progress on my Baah KAL sock - the first sock is finished and I'm already working on sock #2! I had to take the cats to the vet yesterday and managed to work through two repeats of the leg; my goal is to be completely finished by the end of this weekend, which may or may not be a reasonable goal.
I did get a little behind on my 30 Day Sweater, unfortunately - on Monday night, I finished the body and picked up stitches around the armhole for the first sleeve, but I should have already been working on the sleeve by then. In fact, today I should be finishing up the this first sleeve, but that is going to be a tall order since I have to work, sleep, and eat. It's times like this that I wish I were a knitting robot.
You might not be able to tell from the photo, but everything about knitting this sweater design (Uma by Bonne Marie Burns) is interesting, construction-wise. For example, the sleeve caps use short-row shaping before joining in the round to work the arm. It's something I always wondered if it would work, and now I know that it does!

As I mentioned on Monday, I was a live guest on the Sweater Knitting Show yesterday, and talked about my sweater progress, my favorite Knitter's Pride needles, and knitting in general. If you missed the live show, you can watch the archived episode below (you can also click here to watch all of the past episodes, all of which have great guests and lots of useful information). 



Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Spinzilla Recap + Sweater Knitting Show

It's been a week since Spinzilla wound down (last Sunday night, October 13 at midnight EST, to be exact). Since then, each team has calculated and submitted their yardage for a grand total of nearly 1.4 million yards of yarn! For those of you who were wondering, the exact number for all participating teams was 1,373,175.06 yards.

I'm proud to say that my team (Team Louet) was in the top five with a grand total of 63,964 yards. For my contribution, I spun through every bit of fiber I'd set aside for the event (but don't worry, my fiber stash isn't totally depleted) for a total of 2,390 yards. Before you're too impressed with that number, I should mention that one of my teammate spun over 11,000 yards (over eight pounds of fiber) during Spinzilla! Not only that, the winning team was Team FancyTiger; they earned the golden niddy noddy by spinning a whopping 94,939.73 yards total!

All in all, it was a really great event that I look forward to doing again next year.
In other news, I am excited to be a live guest on tomorrow's Sweater Knitting Show, which is a daily event each week this month during the 30 Day Sweater Challenge KAL. We should be broadcasting at 12:30 CST on Tuesday, October 22, click here to join us!

Edited to update w/correct date for my Sweater Knitting Show appearance (I had the wrong date written down)!

Friday, October 18, 2013

FO Friday: New Sock Design!

I'm so excited to announce that I have a new sock pattern! The Windmill of the Autumn Sky Socks are a celebration of my favorite time of year, and I chose a nice, autumnal color from Fleece Artist (the sample is knitted in the "Rust" colorway of Nova Sock).
They feature a simple lace pattern that will keep you interested as you knit, but won't stress you out by being overly complicated. I'm all about lovely, soothing knits for fall. 
The stitch pattern also lets the subtle variations of hand-dyed yarns take center stage. Plus, they make a great gift if you're starting to panic about your holiday gift-making! 
The name of this pattern is kind of a mouthful, but I became obsessed with a song by Asteroid #4 and couldn't get the song title out of my mind whenever I thought about these socks! Somehow - long though it is - it just suited them perfectly, and the name stuck. Plus, the lace pattern kind of looks like windmills!
Unfortunately, this yarn has been discontinued, but you can substitute your favorite hand-dyed sock yarn to knit your socks (or see who's willing to share their Nova Sock yarn stash on Ravelry, perhaps!).

Skill Level
Intermediate
Sizing
Women’s S/M (M/L)
Cuff circumference approx. 7” (8”)
Materials
1 (1) skein Fleece Artist Nova Sock - 100% Merino, 355 yards (115 grams). Shown in Rust colorway.
US #1 Double-Pointed Needles
Stitch marker
Darning Needle
Gauge
30 sts = 4” in stockinette stitch
Pattern includes both written and charted instructions.


Thanks for stopping by this week - for more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.


Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Back to Knitting

It's been nice to get back to knitting after spending the better part of my free time spinning last week for Spinzilla (more on that later). I'd worked ahead on my 30 Day Sweater so that I wouldn't fall too far behind; while I'd like to be further ahead, I think it's doable to finish the body by October 19th, which is the catch-up day before starting the sleeves. It's certainly starting to look more sweater-y, don't you think?
I did manage to work on my KAL sock during Spinzilla, since it was a good project to take out of the house. Over the weekend, I finished the gusset shaping, so I should have a finished sock by the end of this weekend! Incidentally, it's not too late to join our KAL - there is even a yarny prize! 
Of course, I have a big 'ol pile of projects that need finishing work - ends woven in, buttons sewed on, and seams seamed. A few of these projects are top-secret baby gifts, but one also happens to be my Emmanuelle Sweater which has been sitting around, waiting for me to get the sweater finishing mojo. Hopefully this weekend I can make some headway on the ever-growing finishing pile! 
There's one more exciting bit of news for this week - my band is playing on WZRD 88.3 FM tomorrow night! You can get the details here on Facebook. This is our first proper show in over a year and we are excited to promote our new 7" singles which came out this year. If you aren't in the Chicago area, you can still listen online at http://wzrdchicago.org/; we'll be playing at 10pm CST!

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's Baaaaack - HBS Etsy Shop is open for business!

I spent the weekend adding LOTS of great stuff to my newly-reopened Etsy shop: Mini skeins for hexipuff and zoom loom enthusiasts, hand-knit and -crocheted accessories and toys, and supplies for makers.

Here are just a few of the items that are currently for sale:
Click here to check out the Handmade by Stefanie Etsy Shop (be sure to add me to your favorites, too)!

I'll be adding new items weekly; the best way to stay updated is to follow me on twitter or pinterest. I'll also be posting photos and links on the HBS Facebook fan page!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

This Weekend Only: Craftsy Flash Sale

Click here to check out the Craftsy flash sale! There are plenty of classes on sale for less than $20 (many of which I've already reviewed, so you already know how great they are) - whether you knit, crochet, bake, or sew, you're sure to find a class you'll love.

A couple of my top class picks for this weekend's sale are:




But be sure to click here to see everything that's on sale: Craftsy Flash Sale October 12th & 13th - Up to 63% Off Your Favorite Classes!

Friday, October 11, 2013

FO Friday: Felting After The Fact

Waaay back in Malabrigo March, I had a crocheted critter who didn't quite turn out how I was expecting - apparently, I am a very loose crocheter! I wrestled with whether or not I should try felting my Moose so that he wasn't so floppy, but decided to sleep on it....for almost six months!
Finally, I decided it was time to take a chance and give this little Moose the ride of his life in my washing machine. I'm actually pretty happy I did, because look at how he turned out! His antlers are no longer floppy and he looks even cuter!
I'd had a similar issue with my FreshStitches Mystery CAL project from earlier this summer, so guess who was next on the carnival ride? They turned out fairly well, though I discovered that the Lopi yarn I'd used was not such a great choice for felting (I ended up having to shave off a considerable amount of fuzz). I already have found the Roos a new home and somehow managed to forget to photograph the felted version before they went on their merry way - oops!

The lessons I've learned are this:
1. When I crochet through the back loop only, I make my stitches way too loose and need to go down two or three sizes from the recommended hook if I don't want to have that happen.
2. When I crochet through both loops, I am still pretty loose and need to go down at least one hook size from what's recommended.
3. Felted amigurumi critters are cute! I might have to do this more often!

Thanks for stopping by this week - for more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.


Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

WIP Wednesday: More -alongs than you can shake a stick at...

Happy Spinning and Weaving Week! I am celebrating by spinning as much as possible for Spinzilla in addition to working on my two knit-along projects for October.  So far, I have spun and plied 380 yards of yarn, not counting these singles I spun up last night:
In the "totally complete" pile, I have 4oz. of natural black alpaca and the 4oz. Columbia/Rambouillet painted roving (bought last month in Kansas City at The Studio) which are both spun and plied. The black alpaca yarn is really giving me fits when it comes to photographing it - hopefully I'll have time to do a better job, but for now this is going to have to do:
I'm using the Louet Victoria wheel to spin my singles, and then plying them on my Ladybug. It's proving to be a really efficient system, since I tend to spin my singles at night (which takes longer), then ply in the morning whilst feeding the cats (which is markedly speedier). Currently, I'm working on an alpaca/silk blend on the Victoria; unfortunately, I haven't gotten any time to spin today as I've been mired in technology issues in addition to having all sorts of surprises pop up throughout my work day today (which is why this blog post is so late). 
Over the weekend, I worked ahead on my 30 Day Sweater project, since I'd most likely have less knitting time this week due to Spinzilla. That proved to be a good move, as I'm pretty much where I should be at this point in time; I've pretty much got til the 19th to finish the body completely before it's time to move on to the sleeves. Naturally I forgot to pull it out to photograph this morning, so this instagram of the Yarn Pop bag I've been carrying it around in will have to suffice. There is kind of an exciting story about it - this photo was featured on today's Sweater Show and I got some warm fuzzies for helping them coordinate prizes and guests. Also, I'm going to be a guest myself in a few weeks - stay tuned for more details!
I've also managed to keep up with my Baah Yarn Scallop Rib Sock KAL project and was even able to film this short video this morning to better explain the tricky business of getting stitches moved around and ready to go for instep knitting/gusset shaping. Of course, it took most of the day to get it uploaded onto YouTube, but that's another story entirely. The important point is that it's finally live, and there is even a cat videobomb in the middle of it. Enjoy!
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Captain's Blog: Spinzilla is here!

Last night at midnight EST (which is 11pm my time), I started spinning some alpaca that's been in my fiber stash for a few years now. It only took an hour to fill up my first bobbin - and thus, Spinzilla has commenced!
Natural black Alpaca single - so hard to photograph!
Tomorrow I plan on finishing this alpaca and then starting on one of the many pretty handpainted rovings I've earmarked for this event; I believe I've neglected to mention two very recent acquisitions from last week when I succumbed to Cloudlover's special Spinzilla deal for 15% off orders. I couldn't resist this dyed Polwarth in special colors inspired by The Nightmare Before Christmas. Since they're local, I also got my fiber super-fast - as in, the very next day!
Cloudlover Dyed Polwarth Roving in Sandy Claws & Zero.
I'm quite excited to be the team captain for Team Louet during this first-ever event celebrating Spinning and Weaving Week. We have a fantastic team filled with talented spinners PLUS I'm pretty sure we've got the best prizes of any team around ($400 fiber prize pack, anyone?). Sorry for bragging, but I just can't help it!

Last week, a few of my teammates were chatting about something that hadn't occurred to me yet: the importance of self-care in the midst of so much spinning. Stretching, yoga, a hot bath, or a few well-timed hot tub sessions (if you're lucky enough to have access) are all great way to keep yourself in prime spinning form. I'm also a big fan of icing whatever is ailing me, and for the really bad symptoms of overuse, I swear by acupuncture. Whatever your preference, I just want to make sure everyone takes a little time out of each day for self-care!

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone spins this week and sharing my own progress, too. ETA: I created a worksheet to keep track of my yardage this week based on my 1.33-yard niddy noddy. Click here to download a PDF version to use (just remember to check your niddy noddy's yardage and use the correct number in your calculations). 

Thanks for joining me - happy spinning!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fall Preview @ Windy Knitty

Last night, I actually went out instead of doing my usual Friday night (or any night) routine of knitting and Netflixing. My favorite LYS, Windy Knitty, was previewing their fall yarns (The Fibre Company, Rowan, Noro, Titus, etc.) and the Knitter's Pride line, including the new Nova Cubics, Bamboo and Karbonz. I took the fancy camera and everyone was a good sport about me taking photos.
Since I'm usually working in the vacuum of my home office, it was really awesome to be a fly on the wall and hear everyone talk about what needles and yarns they preferred. Sometimes, the conversation is a lot different than the one that takes place online, since the anonymity of the interwebs often begets a higher incidence of complaining. I'm speaking in generalities, of course - and it's true that most people don't go out of their way to share positive feedback, both online in real life (revenge-seeking Yelp-ers, I'm thinking of you!). For the most part, the fiber community doesn't fall under that last umbrella (thankfully), and I'm fortunate in that most of my clients make such awesome stuff, people actually DO make a point to post about how happy they are.
BUT, I am getting off track. There was yarn! Yarn to squish and test out! Little mini skeins to take home to enable future purchases! Yarn that wanted to come home with me to be my next project! I resisted most of the yarny temptations, although this skein of Fleur de Fiber yarn in Dirty Martini is now my latest stash acquisition.
The event was so popular that they'll be hosting another one tomorrow morning - you might be able to snag yourself a spot still! Click here to check the Windy Knitty Facebook page for more details.

Friday, October 4, 2013

FO Friday: Angry Birds Revisited

You may recall earlier this year when I crocheted a few Angry Birds for my nephew Rhys' birthday, but just in case, here's a photo to help jog your memory:


For his brother Jake's birthday last month, I thought I'd send out a few more to complete the set. Now they'll have something to catapult their angry birds towards (plus one more bird to add to the arsenal).


Patterns are available for free here from Adorable Amigurumi. They are really well-written and great for beginner crocheters!

Thanks for stopping by this week - for more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog!


Have a crafty weekend! 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WIP Wednesday: KAL Fever

I can't believe I'm blogging for the third day in a row this week (I also can't believe it's already October, but that's another story entirely)! As I'm sure you guessed by yesterday's post, today's WIPs are none other than...KAL projects! I was able to knit the cuff of my Scalloped Rib Sock yesterday:
Incidentally, it's not too late to join in the fun - did I mention that there are prizes?

Then, after I finished work for the day (around 7:30, mind you), I got cracking on my Uma Sweater for the 30 Day Sweater Challenge. I also went through the pattern instructions to assign a date to each section to help keep me on track. I'm pleased to say that I made it to my goal for day one with flying colors and even started on Day 2 before it was time to go to bed!
In other news, I thought I'd try to do the Yarn Photo a Day Challenge this month....because Spinzilla, two KALs, and a possible new pattern launch simply aren't enough, especially when your in-laws are visiting for a month and your band is playing a live radio show in just a few weeks....am I right? Anyway, I think it will be fun, so you can use the guide below to join in, or just keep tabs on what I'm up to via Instagram if that's more your speed.

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

KAL Kick-Off!

Today is a special post, since I'm starting not one but TWO excellent KALs this month!

Lorna's Laces Fisherman in 36ns Chocolate.
I'm joining thousands of knitters as we take the Yarn Nation 30 Day Sweater Challenge, and you can, too, by clicking this link! I'll be using some yarn from my stash (two skeins of Lorna's Laces Fisherman in Chocolate) and the Uma pattern from Chic Knits.

Originally, I was going to follow the recipe found in the 30-Day Sweater eBook (available here), but I had a hard time deciding what to do - did I want to do some colorwork? What about cables or some sort of stitch pattern? Did I really have time to figure all of this out, even with the easy-to-use formula provided in the eBook? Probably, but I must admit that I am kind of lazy when it comes to sweater-knitting: I'll wing it for just about any other project, but for sweaters, I prefer to use existing patterns. I know that I should step outside my comfort zone this time, but there is just too much happening this month and I'm worried I won't finish my project in 30 days if I bite off more than I can chew!

Baah La Jolla in California Poppy.
Is that enough of a mea culpa? I hope so!

The second KAL I'll be doing this month is happening in the Baah Yarn Ravelry group using my Scalloped Rib Sock pattern! It's not too late to join us - click here for all the details (there are prizes!). I'll be using a skein of Baah La Jolla in California Poppy, and if you haven't made a lot of socks, I'm here to help you through the process! We'll start with this tutorial video I made to show my favorite stretchy cast-on method for socks, the long tail cast on:


I look forward to seeing your sock progress here in the Baah Yarn Ravelry group!