Wednesday, December 30, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Let the IOU Knitting Begin

I didn't do as much gift knitting as I have in years past, but I did try something new: giving a skein of yarn as a gift and letting the recipient decide what it becomes. My parents are huge Royals fans, so when I found some colorways celebrating the Royals' World Series title, I knew I had to get it for them. Since it was from a small hand-dyer who dyes everything to order, the yarn wouldn't arrive until the middle of December - too late for me to knit anything as a gift. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it inspired me to try a different approach, instead of engaging in some stressful deadline knitting. Plus, they got to pick the exact pattern they wanted!
Royals-inspired colorways from Nerd Girl Yarns.
My Dad chose a ribbed hat pattern, which I have already started in the Blue OKCtober colorway:
My mom chose a pretty cowl design which I will get on the needles soon, but for now I need to focus on this stranded colorwork cowl - this is about a week's worth of work! I didn't realize how long it's been since I did a colorwork project, and turns out I am quite slow at it. This is destined to be a booth sample for Bijou Basin Ranch, so I will need to be pretty diligent with my progress.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I spent the holidays in Kansas City and had plenty of crafting time thanks to a 15-hour Amtrak ride round-trip. I couldn't resist starting some fingerless mitts with the newest yarn from Ancient Arts, Reinvent - but when I went to pull out my pattern, I discovered that I had only printed part of it, and the pattern chart was totally missing. Oops! Luckily, I don't mind winging it, and I ended up creating some simple garter-and-stockinette mitts which fit me perfectly (or they will, once they're done):
I received a lot of awesome gifts this holiday season, among them two new books which will certainly inspire new projects in 2016:
Hope you had a great holiday, too!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Holiday Gift Projects

Nearly all of my holiday gift projects were for the little people in my life, although I have already shared most of them here on this blog (socks for my nephew Rhys, this cute top for my cousin's oldest daughter Dany, and a sweater and frog hat for my newest nephew, James). However, there are a few projects which I haven't yet blogged about, for fear that the surprise would be given away so close to the holiday. Now that most of my holiday projects have been gifted, I can share them with you!

My cousin is expecting in early 2016, and she and her husband are HUGE Royals fans (as our entire family is!). Naturally  I had to knit a baby sweater in Royals colors!
I was pretty psyched when I found the most perfect buttons ever from Wildflower Button Studio:
Upon learning that my nephew Ethan is obsessed with the color red, I quickly cast on for this cute garter stitch hat (available for free here on the Purl Soho blog) in an eyeball-searing fire engine red which defied my attempts at photographing:
My oldest nephew is approaching that hard-to-knit-for age, but thankfully my sister mentioned that he really liked the fingerless gloves I made for her a few years back. So I knit him his own pair using some of my handspun yarn and the free Maize pattern from Tincan Knits:
I think that's it - I was fairly un-ambitious this year when it came to gift knitting. I think that this trend will continue in 2016, as my friend Kim's pick-a-gift idea was a hit over Christmas (if you missed the post where I mentioned this - basically I just knit or crochet a bunch of projects I want to make throughout the year, and then let everyone in my family pick from the pile 'o' gifts). Having this idea in mind at the start of the year should yield even better results, too - I got a pretty late start this year!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays!

For those celebrating today, happy holidays! Here's a spoiler for the holiday cards which were sent out late, late LATE this year. Oops!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Festivus Edition

Today is kindasortnotreally Festivus*, and to celebrate, I can finally share a project I've been working on for Tyler in secret, which is currently at HO status:
Last night, we did our gift exchange and he was the proud recipient of one Christmas Barf-colored sock. WOO HOO! Now I am furiously knitting its mate in hopes that he can wear these socks on Christmas day. The pattern is one of my favorites for gift knitting, Lateral by Cookie A.

I'm planning to start several new projects over the break, but for now the only other one I am working on the Xanadu Snowflake Cowl, though I am not very far along and as you can see above, it really just looks like a mess of tiny, tiny stitches and yarn ends. Here's hoping a 14 hour train ride round trip will yield a more interesting WIP photo between now and next week!
*if you are a nerd like me, you've watched the Seinfeld extras and know that the real holiday has no set date, which makes it all the more ominous!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Feeling Festive: This Year's Holiday Decor

Each year, I try to make a few projects to add to our holiday decor. Christmas is my husband's favorite holiday, and now that we have a big enough apartment, we have a full-size tree, stockings, and an ever-growing collection of holiday decor. This year, I picked four projects to make, but have so far only completed two(ish). The first was a really quick crocheted holiday lights garland using this free pattern from Repeat Crafter Me. It's strung along the bookshelf containing my knitting library, which is opposite the other built-in bookshelf where we've hung our stockings.
After spotting this granny square tree tutorial on pinterest, I thought I could make my own version to hang on our door, using buttons as the ornaments. My idea worked out pretty well, I think!
I was hoping to make all 4 snowball buddies for our tree, but the first three I ended up gifting, and sine then I have only made this cute bunny ornament (hence the ish above):
The final project I want to make this year is this crocheted snowman for the front door. We're not really wreath people, and Tyler and I both really like snowmen, so a lot of our holiday decor has this theme. I am hoping to make this before the end of the year, luckily we tend to leave our decorations up for a while past Christmas, so there is still time!

One quick and easy way I decorated this year was to hang wooden cutout snowflakes (which I bought during World Market's crazy Black Friday online sale - 50% off and free shipping!), then use burlap ribbon (which I bought on Amazon for about $6) as a simple garland.
Burlap ribbon + ornaments = instant xmas cheer.
What are your favorite DIY holiday ideas?

Friday, December 18, 2015

FO Friday: Fox Hat

On Wednesday night, I put the finishing touches on this adorable crocheted fox hat! I used a pattern from Knit Simple, and a new(ish) yarn from Knit Picks called Mighty Stitch, which turned out to be a pretty good choice for crochet. There were a TON of ends to weave in on this project, but I think it was worth it, since the end result is totally cute.
Late last night, I finished the Suitable for Use hat from Hunter Hammersen's new book (click here for my review) in some yarn I can't tell you about yet. I know, I know...what a tease! But that hat is blocking and I think it'll be a lovely gift for someone in my family. I'll have to get a better shot of it in natural light since the deep forest green is hard to pick up indoors.
Have a crafty weekend!




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

WIP Wednesday: New Yarn!

I basically have the same ol WIPs as last week: fox hat, green hat, snowball buddies. Not too exciting, amiright?! Instead, today I'll be showcasing some of the exciting yarns that have recently showed up on my doorstep.
First, two skeins of Xanadu cashmere yarn arrived, and I plan on knitting the Snowflake Cowl pattern by Julie of the Knitted Bliss blog. Hooray for colorwork!
Then, a HUGE box of yarns from Ancient Arts Yarn arrived - too many bases to list here! There are skeins to match each of my cats from their Meow Collection; a squishy skein of the new bulky weight yarn, Big Squeeze; and even a sample skein of a soon-to-be-out yarn which contains recycled fibers. It's quite the motivation to finish my holiday gift knitting and crochet projects.
I also neglected to share this amazing project kit here, though I feel a little bad doing so at this late date - it's completely sold out! I was fortunate to snag a limited-edition Odyssey Cowl Kit from Bijou Basin Ranch, which includes all of this cool stuff, including Tibetan Dream sock yarn dyed my Miss Babs and my first-ever pair of Signature Needles. It's pretty awesome, and I am looking forward to knitting the Odyssey Cowl by Laura Chau once I finish my holiday gift projects.

The list grows ever longer!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Winners & Broad Shoulders KAL Wrapup!

First up, thanks to everyone who entered this month's giveaway and all of our wonderful sponsors - Gleener, Love + Leche, Allure Fiber Wash, and Knitter's Pride! 

The Random Number Generator has selected our lucky winners: 
  • Prize Pack 1 - Gleener Dapper Dog Tote, Knitter's Pride Nova Platina fixed circular needles, and Love + Leche lemongrass mini lotion bar. Congratulations SaturnLu1!
  • Prize Pack 2 - Gleener Rockin' Owl Tote, Knitter's Pride Nova Platina fixed circular needles, and Love + Leche cedarwood mini lotion bar. Congratulations Laura M!
  • Prize Pack 3 - Gleener Ultimate Fuzz Remover in Punch Buggy Pink and Unscented Allure Fiber Wash. Congratulations @nanoadri!
  • Prize Pack 4 - Gleener On the Go Travel Fuzz Remover and Woodland Mist Allure Fiber Wash. Congratulations spiralstrings108!
I'll get in touch with you to arrange for the delivery of your prizes! 

In other news, yesterday was the last day for the Broad Shoulders KAL in the Midwestern Knits Ravelry group, and I finished my sweater just under the wire: 

I can't wait to try it on once it's dry! 

There are some great finished sweaters posted in the thread by some of the KAL participants: 
CurrentlyPurring

Mercourier

Sockhopper
OriginalCin

If you don't already have this book in your library, click here to see all the patterns on Ravelry & buy the eBook (or, if you prefer, you can order hard copies at midwesternknits.com).

Friday, December 11, 2015

FO Friday: Snowball Buddies

After admiring this pattern on Ravelry/Pinterest/etc for many years, I finally purchased it to make some to give as gifts this year. I whipped up this cute trio of Snowball Buddies in about a week and gave them to folks at my salon, who loved them!
This is a really great project for leftover bits of yarn. I plan on several more with my worsted weight odds and ends this holiday season!

You can purchase the Snowball Buddies pattern here on Ravelry.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Nothing To See Here

The good news is that I finished a lot of projects over the weekend. The bad news is that I didn't start any new ones in their place, and instead just plodded along on any WIPs that remain. So this is going to be a very, very short post!

I'm about halfway done with the sleeves for my Broad Shoulders cardigan. Will I be finished in time for the KAL's end date of next Monday?! Place your bets now!
There's no change in the granny square situation, and though I have been working on my Hunter Hammersen hat (say that five times fast), you really can't tell...so there's no use in boring you with a photo. The only project which has truly made a stunning transformation is the crocheted fox hat, which is a few more pieces (and a nightmare of ends to weave in) away from being done.
That's it for this week. If you are looking for a little more excitement, I recommend checking out my Monday blog post, which has 4 really great prizes up for grabs!
These 4 prize packs are up for grabs!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway

Giftmas is almost here! This year, my gift guide does double duty, as many of the products can reasonably be gifted to someone outside of the fiber arts world - but don't worry, there are still some great ideas specifically for the knitter or spinner in your life...or maybe you!Make sure your wish list has plenty of options for last-minute shopping with my top picks...and be sure to check out my awesome giveaway for you chance to win some fun goodies as my gift to YOU this holiday season!

Allure Sampler Pack
Every fiber artist needs a good wool wash, but so do regular folks! A no-rinse wool wash such as Allure saves time, water, and also money, because it allows you to wash tons of items that you would otherwise pay to dry clean. Allure is specially formulated to leave absolutely no residue behind, so those fancy fibers such as silk, cashmere, yak, qiviut, and alpaca benefit especially. The sampler pack allows you to try all 3 scents for less than $15, which is a pretty sweet deal!
Image by me!

Gleener Ultimate Fuzz Remover
Everyone has a sweater (most likely, several!) which need to be de-pilled. Whether they are store bought or hand made, the easy-to-use Gleener will make them look like new! They've recently introduced several fun new colors, plus a compact travel-friendly version for folks who travel frequently.
Image via Gleener.com

Lotion Bars
Speaking of travel-friendly products, lotion bars are perfect for air travel because they are a TSA friendly way to keep your skin moisturized. Fiber artists who work primarily with wool will need a stash of lotion bars to keep their hard-working hands moisturized year-round, as wool can really suck the moisture out of your hands! Non-knitters will still love the natural, fast-absorbing moisture in great scents. I'm still loving the Love + Leche Citrus Rose lotion bar from earlier this fall (click here for full review) - they also have mini lotion bar gift sets and a new monthly subscription option that are both perfect for gift-giving!!
Image via LoveandLeche.com.

Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers
These are hands-down one of my favorite time-saving tools for blocking my projects. I can't even remember back to when I didn't have a set of Knit Blockers...or rather, I don't want to! This clever set makes blocking straight edges a breeze, and I've timed myself for some pretty big projects have yet to break the ten-minute barrier - try THAT with just some T-pins!
Image via Yarn.com
Gleener Tote Bags
It's safe to say that these bags are the. cutest. thing. ever. I have yet to find someone who doesn't exclaim in glee when they spot my Cool Cat tote - and Gleener also has two more adorable designs, Dapper Dog and Rockin' Owl. Everyone can find a use for a well-made tote bag, and these are as sturdy as they come with plenty of room for a sweater project, books, or groceries. They would even be a great stocking stuffer!
Image via Gleener.com.

Jar of Inspiration
I spotted this intriguing product on the pages of Spin-Off magazine right after I'd gotten my Louet Blending board, and it was the perfect solution to the problem I now found myself facing: I hardly had any fiber in my stash which could be used for blending purposes - it was all large quantities and/or earmarked for specific projects. Each Jar of Inspiration is stuffed to the gills with a variety of fibers in a family of colors - for example, I bought the blue colorway in the Mielke's Fiber Arts booth at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival earlier this year. Adventurous handspinners will love a chance to try so many different kinds of fiber!
Image via Mielkesfiberarts.com.

Everything-You-Need Project Kits
There are some really cool project kits out there - probably too many for me to list in this post. Recently, I reviewed a project kit from Skeino (click here to read more about their Aloha Entrelac Kit); they have a ton of really cool project kits such as the Gala Scarf, which uses super bulky alpaca yarn with a hint of sparkle to create a quick-knitting scarf. Each kit includes yarn and a pattern, and I believe that some also come in a nifty project bag!
Image via Skeino.com.
I'm also enamored with the beginner-friendly embroidery kits from Red Gate Stitchery, which I spotted at TNNA over the summer and have been coveting ever since (I got a bamboo necklace kit for my birthday which I'm excited to try!). Their cross-stitch ornaments are definitely on my own wish list!
Image via Red Gate Stitchery Etsy shop.
For anyone who might be interested in sewing (and they should probably also have a well-established fondness for cats), this Cat Head Garland Kit from Chick Chack DIY is so easy, even I could complete it. Seriously, I am the worst at sewing, but I was able to stitch this project in a week's time and it is now hanging proudly in my living room.
Image by me!


Giveaway Time!

I am super psyched to offer FOUR awesome prizes just for my blog readers this month!

Click here to enter by signing up for my newsletter and unlock additional entries for your chance to win one of these excellent prize packs:

Prize Pack #1: Gleener Dapper Dog Tote, Knitter's Pride Nova Platina fixed circular needles, and Love + Leche lemongrass mini lotion bar.


Prize Pack #2: Gleener Rockin' Owl Tote, Knitter's Pride Nova Platina fixed circular needles, and Love + Leche cedarwood mini lotion bar.

Prize Pack #3: Gleener Ultimate Fuzz Remover in Punch Buggy Pink and Unscented Allure Fiber Wash.

Prize Pack #4: Gleener On the Go Travel Fuzz Remover and Woodland Mist Allure Fiber Wash.

Many thanks to Gleener, Love + Leche, Allure Fiber Wash, and Knitter's Pride for donating prizes! Be sure to visit their websites and follow them on your social media channel of choice to thank them for their generosity.



Winners will be announced next Monday, December 14. Good luck! 


Thursday, December 3, 2015

FO Friday: Miya Shawl

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, I finished my Miya Shawl for the KAL that recently ended in the Bijou Basin Ranch Ravelry group!

This is a great one-skein pattern for their luxurious new 100% cashmere yarn, Xanadu. I'd never worked with a cashmere yarn before (I'd only used blends previously), and this was nothing short of delightful. I blocked it out over the weekend using my Knit Blockers and some T-pins for the lace border (show here on Instagram).
I've been wearing it as a scarf this week (footage not found), but I was unable to snap a modeled shot due to all sorts of life craziness, but I can tell you that it's very lightweight, yet incredibly warm. This will be a great scarf to wear around my drafty office this winter. What's crazy is how I took both of these photos on the same day outside, but depending on how the light hits the yarn, it looks one way or the other! Honestly, I'd say the true color on any given day is very close to one of the 2016 Pantone Colors of the Year, Serenity - but just a touch more grey than blue. Just in case you were wondering!
The KAL is over, but you can get this yarn on sale right now at bijoubasinranch.com! They are offering free shipping AND a discount with coupon code YULE2015 (more details here in their Ravelry group). Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

WIP Wednesday: December is Here

EEP! It's December! I have absolutely no idea where November - or the rest of this year, for that matter - went. I'm still kind of in denial that it's Decemeber, but I really can't ignore it for now since it's crunch time: I have two weeks to finish my Broad Shoulders sweater, plus I have to do all that holiday gift knitting I've been procrastinating. Luckily, the list of outstanding holiday projects isn't as long as it usually is this time of year, but I am still beginning to panic a bit as the countdown races on....and I am totally ok with indulging a raging bout of startitis, apparently.

To wit: over the weekend, I started knitting some adorable Snowball Buddies by Susan Claudino:
I also cast on for a pair of fingerless mitts using the free Maize pattern from Tin Can Knits and some of my handspun yarn from Spinzilla:
After seeing this granny square Christmas tree idea on Pinterest, I decided to make my own version to hang on our door using some leftover yarn - I just have the first two granny squares crocheted so far:
As I mentioned on Monday, I also started a hat from the new Hunter Hammersen book (click here if you missed my review):
If that's not enough new projects started, I am also nearly finished with this cute crocheted fox hat:
And I spent most of Thanksgiving knitting the first sleeve on my Broad Shoulders sweater, only to rip it all out and start over again - but this time, two-at-a-time, which means it's downright impossible to photograph at this early stage (witness the amorphous blog of knitting below). Thanks to the shenanigans of my cat Tilly, I have a considerable amount of tangled yarn to contend with now. Believe it or not, that's not from the frogging and restarting of the sleeves - rather, it's from Tilly getting tangled in the yarn, then running the full length of the house with it attached to her. I always appreciate such contributions to the process, though they are usually (mercifully) rare.
Whew! That's a lot of WIPs to start out the month!