Friday, February 28, 2014

FO Friday: A Multi-Craftual Creation

Weaving with worsted weight yarn is a little tough,
but it's worth the effort!
I'm excited to finally post about a project I've been working on for a VERY long time! I originally began it last summer, when I thought I would be making it to give as a holiday gift. However, I decided to put it on the backburner til 2014. Earlier this year, I pulled it out of hibernation to finish it in time for my grandmother's 90th birthday (which was this past Wednesday).

There is no pattern for this pillow, as I made it up as I went along. It began with the Schacht Zoom Loom I got at the TNNA Trade Show last summer, which I thought would be a fun way to use up leftover bits of yarn. My first squares were made with sock yarn, since that is what I have the most of in my stash, but I decided that using a thicker yarn would make a pretty great pillow fabric. I used leftover worsted yarns to warp the Zoom Loom, then created the weft (woven part) with my own handspun yarn. It was a little difficult to weave with such thick yarn, but the fabric it created was absolutely lovely!
One of the many configurations I experimented with
prior to seaming!
I made 9 squares which I seamed together; then, using a contrasting yarn color, I began crocheting a border in single crochet, increasing two stitches at each corner on every round.
Once I had a piece that was big enough to cover the front of a 12" square pillow, I grabbed some yarn which had been in my stash for quite some time (more on that in a second) and began crocheting a square, also in single crochet. I guesstimated how many stitches to make a square similar in size to the woven squares when seamed together; once the piece was finished, I worked a border in a similar fashion to the front piece, except I used two different colors.
When the front and back were basically the same size, I used the working yarn to crochet them together, saving myself a little seaming. It was a little awkward to do this with a pillow form sandwiched between them, but it was totally worth it to spare myself the odious task of seaming.

I'm pretty thrilled with how it turned out! What's even more exciting is the story behind the light pink, magenta and deep purple yarns used in this project: they were all purchased back when I lived in Portland, OR at a little yarn store in the NW called Lint (which isn't there anymore). I'd originally bought this yarn, Berroco Softwist, to make a project for my grandmother! Obviously, it didn't happen, and it languished in my stash for nearly 10 years...only to be used in a project for the very same grandmother!
These 3 colors of Softwist were originally purchased almost
10 years ago in Portland, OR!

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


Have a crafty weekend! 



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday: New Projects!

I finally have some new WIPs to share this week! While they aren't the most thrilling projects in the world, it's nice to mix it up a little - I was starting to feel like I was writing the same post over and over again! 

First, I started Tyler's new scarf, which most likely won't be finished in time for this season. I am not a fan of knitting long rectangular scarves, so I'm guessing this will be a slow-burner which will hibernate every now and again. Also, it's not super-exciting to look at; while the pattern itself is fun to knit, the jet-black yarn doesn't allow for a whole lot of visual interest (plus, it's tough to photograph).
For some reason, I really hate using circulars to knit a rectangular scarf, despite the fact that I'll knit plenty of other projects flat on circs. It was also the perfect excuse to give these straight Cubics needles from Knitter's Pride a test drive! 

My other new project is a crocheted placemat using some Cascade 220 superwash yarn I snagged during the last Craftsy flash sale (it seems like they have one every few weeks, am I wrong?!). I used this free pattern I found on Ravelry, which is super-easy to memorize - hence I am zipping right along! 
I'm sad to report that all of this is at the expense of my (no longer) 30-day Sweater, which I more or less haven't touched since last week's post. This is mostly because I've been concentrating my crafting time on more time-sensitive projects, but I have also lost my mojo a little bit.

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Crafty Decor

I'm a little obsessed with buttons, and have a sizable collection of (mostly vintage) buttons - probably more than I could ever use in this lifetime, especially considering I often purchase new buttons for specific projects. I used to keep my buttons in a plastic storage container, but one day I decided that they would be a fun and crafty addition to my home decor.
The above container is an antique jar which I found in my grandparents' basement a few years ago, and it has an interesting metal closure at the top; in fact, you can see a few of the crafty items which are doing double duty as home decor: my wooden drop spindle, various knitting needles, and of course - buttons! Since keeping fresh-cut flowers in our house isn't an option (our cats love to eat plants), I've started using vases to display other objects. I've also filled a clear cylindrical vase with buttons and thought that a few wooden needles would add a nice knitterly touch in the absence of flowers (those are some ginormous Basix needles from Knitter's Pride)!

Have you incorporated any of your craft supplies into home decor? I'd love to hear your decorating ideas!

Friday, February 21, 2014

FO Friday: Domo Arigato, Mitten Roboto!

I'm super psyched about my newest FO! The Robots vs. Downtown pattern has been in my queue since September 2012, so when the designer had a sale last year during the Indie Designer Giftalong, I snapped up the pattern and set aside some yarn from my stash so that I could cast these on in the new year.

As I do with pretty much any chart, I ended up enlarging it as much as possible for ease of following along. The pattern was very well-written and included some helpful notes at the beginning, but I did find the chart difficult to follow (even the ginormous 11x17 version I made) due to the gray-on-gray happening with the MC and grid. Luckily, the designer included some guide lines to help with this issue, so I just placed markers with different designs on them to help me follow along. I also relied heavily on my Magma Chart Holder, as you probably noticed in my WIP photos.

My only modification was to pick up fewer stitches for the thumb due to my abnormally small hands (and, subsequently, abnormally small thumbs). I ended up picking up only 6 stitches to add to the held stitches. Since the total number was easily divisible by 5, I ended up doing decreases similar to making a rounded toe on a sock.

I love how these mittens turned out and I know that I'll be wearing them a lot in 2014!

Pattern: Robots vs. Downtown by Annie Watts
Yarn: ShiBui Knits Sock in Wasabi and Peacock (1 skein each)

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


Have a crafty weekend! 



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday: & Then There Were 2

Earlier this week, I finished my robot mittens, so I'll be sharing those with you on Friday. In the mean time, I've been focusing my efforts on my two remaining WIPs, though I'm sure I'll start something new soon. It's inevitable!

My Canopy Fingering sweater is now past the 30-day point, and alas, I'm not even close to being done. However, I'm happy with the progress, even if it is slow. I'm still a little nervous about the fit, but I've tried it on and I think it should be ok. My swatch grew a bit in size, so I'm sure that means it will be perfect once it's blocked, even though now it's a slightly close fit. Here's hoping these aren't famous last words, anyway!
I've seen the most progress on my crocheted blanket in Berroco Vintage; over the weekend, I passed the halfway point, not counting the border. There are a few shaky rows here and there, but I am confident that they'll block out just fine. Vintage is one of my favorite yarns to knit with, and it turns out to be pretty awesome for crocheting, too! The blanket is incredibly soft and squishy, I kind of wish I was making it for myself!
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!


Monday, February 17, 2014

App Review: Ravulous & Ravulous Hot Right Now

I finally upgraded my smartphone, after three years using my trusty (and durable!) HTC G2. It was my first smart phone, and it served me well - I'm not normally into "techie" stuff, but I had really grown attached to my phone and was reticent to part with it. However, I could no longer deny that it was past its prime - several apps I wanted to try out weren't compatible with my outdated Android OS, not to mention it had grown sluggish in recent months. It was time to bite the bullet and pick out a new phone.

After a little research, I decided to go with the HTC Sense....and I wish I had done so sooner! Seriously, I didn't think I could like a phone more than my last one, but I'm already in love. Better camera, better interface, and I can finally download Vine! 

I suppose all of this back story isn't necessary for my review, but when I was configuring my new phone, I decided to treat myself to a few paid apps, too.

First, I purchased Ravulous for $1.55 in the Google Play store; this is the only Android app I've seen for accessing Ravelry. It's definitely similar to the iPhone apps I've seen (Stash2Go and WoolyApp), and there is a free companion app (Ravelry Photo Uploader) which allows you to easily upload photos of stashed yarns or projects to your notebook using your phone's camera or gallery. They also have a companion widget (available for $0.99) called Ravulous Hot Right Now which will keep you up to speed with the patterns which are trending on Ravelry via a widget you can add to your home screen. I have downloaded all 3 apps to my phone and been using them non-stop on my Android device ever since.

The focus of Ravulous is primarily a reader app; you can check out your notebook, queue, needle inventory and stash when you log in. A handy new feature allows you to purchase and download patterns, which I've been using quite a bit. The free Ravelry Photo Uploader makes it easy to upload photos to projects and stashed yarns using your phone's camera or gallery (another feature I've been using heavily in the past few weeks). Another great feature is the ability to access your information offline once you have looked something up in your projects queue, stash, or needles/hooks.

It should be noted that the Ravelry API currently does not allow access to certain features for app developers: for example. while you can view your queued projects to see the recommended yarn and yardages required, it is not possible to add a project to your WIPs from this screen. There are also certain fields in the project page which cannot be updated - for example, I had a project that had been hibernating and was not able to change it back to a WIP whilst in the app.

I messaged Polly the developer (rubbishknitter on Ravelry) to ask her a few questions about the app, and she was kind enough to grant me an interview. In her own words: "I wrote Ravulous to fulfill some mobile-specific knitting needs I had. I don’t usually knit in front of my computer, I get most knitting done either on the sofa or on the bus, so I wanted to be able to update my Ravelry project notes easily from my phone. Then there were a couple of occasions where I went to wool festivals in beautiful but remote rural locations. I wanted to check my Ravelry queue to see what yardages I needed for particular garments, but was frustrated at the lack of mobile network coverage. So I made Ravulous store this info so that you could access it offline. It’s quite a different situation to how you would normally use a website. The next festival, I used Ravulous offline to look at my queue & bought far more yarn than I should have. So then I added the stash feature, to help me make more selective and informed purchases, knowing what I already had in the drawer!"

The app features a quick pattern search which allows you to look up any pattern by the name or designer. This is especially great if you'd like to view a pattern someone has mentioned to you while you're out and about. Advanced pattern browsing featured are not available, however, but this is something which the developer feels is better suited to using the desktop site on a bigger screen, which makes sense to me.

Speaking of patterns, I am kind of addicted to the Ravulous Hot Right Now widget ($0.99 in the Google Play store). I love checking it every morning! Polly said she created the widget "mainly for money saving purposes - it’s great for grabbing popular patterns which are free or on special offer for a limited time, and if it’s on your phone home screen you tend not to miss anything." It's true, I have snapped up a few lovely patterns which were free for a limited time since downloading the widget. It's also interesting to see what's trending, both for personal and business reasons.

Ravulous Hot Right Now
I had a small issue getting the Ravulous Hot Right Now widget added to my home screen; immediately after downloading, it didn't show up on the list of possible widgets - an issue which was fixed by a quick restart (as so many tech-related issues are resolved!). Once I got it added to my home screen, I had great fun swiping through each pattern (this may be obvious to the tech-savvy, but a simple swipe up or down will cycle through each pattern; to view the details on ravely, simply touch the pattern photo when it is at the front of the line). It should be noted that you cannot add the pattern to your queue from this app; it is solely for viewing and purchasing/downloading purposes.

Ravulous also has a group on Ravelry where you can request new features, submit a bug report, and connect with your fellow app users.

I highly recommend this trio of apps; at just under $3 for the whole shebang, they're not only useful but cost-effective!

Click here to view the Ravulous site; click here to purchase in the Google Play Store.


You may like to know: this review was not solicited by the developer; I purchased these apps and wanted to share my experience with my fellow Ravelers who use the Android OS. 


Friday, February 14, 2014

Flash Sale Alert: Save Big on Craftsy Courses!

Heads up Craftsy fans...This weekend only, it's your chance to get up to 50% off pairs of Craftsy online classes, or you can opt to purchase even more classes for a bigger bundle discount! Act fast, the offer ends at 11pm PST on February 16, 2014.

Click here to shop the Craftsy Valentine's Day Flash Sale

You may like to know: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thanks for supporting this blog! 

FO Friday: Tough Love Baby Sweater

I made this adorable sweater for my friend's baby Nora, who turned one in January; I'd been dying to share this project on my blog, but had to wait til it was gifted, just to be safe. The birthday party was delayed a week due to snow, although it ended up snowing on the day of the party anyhow (at least it waited til later in the day so that everyone could get there without issues). At any rate, it is finally safe to share publicly!
When I saw this sweater pattern in the Kelbourne Woolens Baby Collection, I knew I had to make it for Nora because she'd look incredibly cute in it! Since it's a little girly, I decided to make it in some less traditional colors - plus I had two skeins of Sweet Georgia's Tough Love Sock which would be perfect: Lemon Curd and Cayenne.The colors are actually a little lighter/brighter than shown here, but you get the idea.

Pattern: Colette by Kate Gagnon Osborn

Yarn: Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock

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

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday: New & Old

I finally finished the first robot mitten over the weekend (well, except for the thumb....for some reason, I like to save the thumbs for very last)! I even started the second mitten since my WEBS order was delayed by USPS, thus preventing me from starting anything new over the weekend. 
To that end, I made some good progress on my 30-Day Sweater, although I still won't be finishing it in 30 days...especially since I have some more pressing projects which will be jumping to the top of my priority list in the next several weeks. However, I am pleased with the progress and it will give me some time to decide if I want to make a hem or a knit ribbing at the bottom of my sweater. There are merits to both, and I have been weighing both options pretty heavily. I was also thinking of working a single two-row stripe in the contrast color before finishing off the bottom of the sweater, something that I think would work much better with a stockinette hem. 
Once my WEBS order arrived, I was able to start one of the three projects for which I purchased yarn. This is a very modest start to the Asymmetrical Basket-Weave Blanket from Stacey Trock's Modern Baby Crochet; I'm using eight skeins of Berroco Vintage in Neptune and a US I/9 Waves crochet hook from Knitter's Pride. It's incredibly soft and squishy and I think it's going to be awesome once it's done! 
I also purchased yarn for the Holla Knits KAL (#HKKAL): 3 skeins of Valley Yarns' Charlemont in Purple Passion to crochet the Cute Girl Squares Tank from the Holla Knits! Crochet issue. 
The other project I purchased yarn for is a new super-warm scarf for Tyler; not surprisingly, it will be jet black, as everything I knit for him is, and it will probably not be done til next fall, since I am not a fan of knitting flat rectangular scarves. I'll be using Jared Flood's Pavement scarf pattern, which features lovely reversible cables (not that you'll be able to see them on such dark fabric) and will be long enough to keep him toasty on wintry commutes for future winters. 
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, February 10, 2014

DIY: Coffee Dyeing Yarn

Over the weekend, I decided to put some of our expired coffee to good use overdyeing some of my handspun yarn. After doing a little research* into the specifics of coffee dyeing, I combined this reconnaissance with my general dye knowledge from the 4 years I was a dyer with Lorna's Laces and dove headfirst into the Great Experiment.

First, I added extra ties on the skeins to keep them neat and tidy during the dye process, then soaked them in a tub of tepid water and vinegar for 30 minutes. 
While the skeins were soaking, I prepared my dye. I'd been collecting small quantities of coffee beans over the last several months; my husband works at a local coffee roaster, so we always have an overabundance of coffee beans in the house. Since they are no longer considered "brew-worthy" a few weeks after their roast date, I decided to use them for dyestuffs before sending them to their ultimate resting place, the compost heap. 
I can't say I was terribly scientific with this part of the process - basically, I ground all of the beans I had available (I'd guess about a quarter-pound) and split them into two groups to be brewed in the French press for about ten minutes each. When they were finished brewing, I strained the coffee grounds out and poured the resulting mixture in to the crock pot to cool down.
Once the dye was cool and the yarn was soaked, I gently squeezed the excess water out of the skeins and transferred into the dye bath, adding a little extra water to make sure everything was submerged. I let the skeins slowly heat up in the crock pot and cooked them for two hours, being careful not to boil (aka felt) the wool. 
I allowed the yarn to cool down overnight, rinsing the excess dye from them in the morning before hanging them to dry. 
Before (left) & after (right). 
The resulting skeins are a warmer, reddish-brown color that is pretty, though I wish they were a tad darker. According to my most unscientific findings and calculations, that would probably require at least a half-pound of coffee to be used, maybe even a full pound!

All in all, I'd give coffee dyeing a second try; preparation and cleanup was quite easy, plus it made the house smell great!


*Check out this article from the AntiCraft and this photo tutorial from Instructables.com for some good coffee dyeing tips!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Monster Friday!

Last weekend I finished the monster from Modern Baby Crochet - look at how cute he turned out!
I decided to crochet the eyes all in one piece, which meant that he couldn't be googly-eyed as in the pattern photos, but it did save me some additional sewing, which is always a good thing in my book.
The triangular shape makes it easy to put his cuteness on display; he kind of looks like a cross between a monster and a slug or snail! I used nearly the entire skein of Lindon Merino from Three Irish Girls; the name of the colorway is "Rhys," which just happens to be the same name as one of my nephews. The rest of the yarn came from leftover bits and bobs in my stash.

My only other FO for this week is this slouchy hat which I designed with my grey Gotland handspun yarn; the pattern is available for free right here on this blog and you can queue it here on Ravelry!

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


Have a crafty weekend! 



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Glacial Progress

I feel like there's hardly been any progress since last week's WIP Wednesday post, but sometimes that's just the nature of crafting, isn't it?
I actually had made some progress on my 30 Day Sweater - on Friday night I took off for the sleeves and got a few inches of the body knit on Saturday before I decided I needed to rip back and add a few more raglan increases. As you can see, I've caught up to where I'd been pre-frog (and maybe even gotten a little further!), though I feel like I've made very little progress on this project.

My only other WIP this week is the slow-but-steady Robots vs. Downtown mittens:
Hey, look! That's most of a robot! I must be the world's slowest mitten knitter, because it's taken me three weeks to get to this point. I really need to pick up the pace, because I have a lot of KALs and design work which will need to get done in the weeks to come...and I hate to leave these mittens languishing in hibernation!

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

Monday, February 3, 2014

Free Pattern: Handspun Gotland Hat

Photo courtesy of the American Gotland Sheep Society.
I was thrilled to come across some Grey Gotland roving at the SOAR marketplace last fall. Gotland is very similar to the breed of sheep used to make Elven cloaks for the Lord of the Rings, Stansborough Greys. Gotland sheep originated in Sweden (and are still raised there today); they were brought to New Zealand in the 1970s, where they developed their own distinctive traits, in part due to the breeding practices by Barry and Cheryl Eldridge. The Stansboroughs came to be recognized as a breed of sheep in their own right in 2005.

While I have yet to come across bona fide Stansborough fleece to spin, I was quite happy with my experience with Gotland. It's very dense and silky - almost heavy-feeling, yet it was fairly easy to spin. It has a halo similar to mohair, and though I've read that commercially-prepared Gotland top has a matte, slightly coarse quality, I didn't find this to be true of the fiber I spun (if you're wondering, I purchased it from Spinning Straw into Gold).
Grey Gotland Roving from Spinning Straw into Gold.
The resulting yarn is substantial and slightly glossy with a bit of a halo. Once it was spun up, I knew it wanted to become a nice, warm hat to ward off the next polar vortex!

Slouchy Grey Gotland Hat 
by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter

Materials: 
  • Approx. 150 yards (6oz.) two-ply Grey Gotland Handspun Yarn (8 WPI); an Aran yarn would be an appropriate substitute if you are looking to use commercially made yarn
  • US #8 (5mm) circular and DPN needles
  • US #6 (4mm) circular needle
  • Darning needle
  • Stitch marker

Gauge:

15 sts and  24 rows = 4" in pattern stitch.

Finished Measurements: 

Approx. 19.5" circumference; however, it is very easy to customize this hat as you go since it is knit from the top down.

Stitch Pattern:
Rnds 1-4: K all sts.
Rnd 5: P all sts.
Rnds 6-7: K all sts.
Rnd 8: P all sts.

Instructions: 

With US #8 DPNs, cast on 6 sts. Divide evently among 3 needles and join for rnd. Place marker.

Rnd 1: *Kf&b all sts.
Rnd 2: *Kf&b, k1, rep from * to end.
Rnd 3: *Kf&b, k2, rep from * to end.
Rnd 4: *Kf&b, k3, rep from * to end.
Rnd 5: *Pf&b, p4, rep from * to end.
Rnd 6: *Kf&b, k5, rep from * to end.
Rnd 7: *Kf&b, k6, rep from * to end.
Rnd 8: *Pf&b, p7, rep from * to end.
Rnd 9: *Kf&b, k8. rep from * to end.
Rnd 10: *Kf&b, k9, rep from * to end.
Rnd 11: *Kf&b, k10, rep from * to end.

NOTE: It is very easy to customize the size of this hat by working more or less increase rounds than listed above.

Switch to US#8 circular needles (if using) and work in stitch pattern without increasing til hat measures 7.5" or desired length.

Switch to US#6 circular needles and work *k1, p1 rib for 1.5 inches.

Cut a tail of yarn that is three times the circumference of the knitting to be bound off. Use a sewn bind  off or your favorite stretchy bind off method.

Weave in ends and block. Enjoy!

Click here to queue on Ravelry.