Friday, June 23, 2017

FO Friday: Look Familiar?

There's nothing wrong with your monitor - this IS the exact same baby sweater I posted last week, but with different yarn and buttons. I had a baby shower to attend recently and needed a project that I could work on while traveling, so I turned to my go-to, the Seed Stitch Yoke Cardigan. I knit the sleeves two-at-a-time on the way to TNNA, and started the body of the sweater on the way home.

A few monkey wrenches popped up once I got home (namely, losing an entire day to being flattened by a nasty cold I picked up at the show), and I very nearly didn't finish in time to gift this to the intended recipient. Somehow it all came together, and my iron had the good graces to break down only after I'd finished steam blocking this project into presentability. That was lucky!

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Tip: Add a sample of wool wash to your gift!
Also lucky was finding the perfect buttons in my stash, something I hadn't thought through when choosing the yarn color (incidentally, I used Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Sour Apple). I'd purchased these cute buttons a year or two ago from Fastenation Studios (I think they're now called Wild Flower Button Studios?) and for some reason I just like the way they look - it all somehow works.

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I do have a few more babies to knit for, but I'm planning to to expand my horizons for pattern choice (and I'm taking suggestions for worsted weight baby sweaters, if you have any).

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WIP Wednesday: MKAL Math

I got a little behind on my June Cashmere MKAL project due to the trade show and a bit of deadline knitting for a baby shower I attended last weekend. I'm now back on track, having started the third clue which came out last Friday:

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Here's what I've been doing so far:

Crochet cast on 180 stitches and knit 1 inch of garter stitch for border, which took 8 g of yarn (so, that's what I need to save for the border and bind-off at the end).

Clue 1: Six repeats of Dot Stitch pattern. Purl 1 round.
Clue 2: Two repeats of Chevron Stitch pattern. Purl 1 round.
Clue 3: Three repeats of Mock Cable Stitch pattern (1/3 of the way through). Purl 1 round.

I am enjoying working this yarn, what's not to love about cashmere? This yarn in particular has a very cool story, as the fibers are collected directly from Kyrgyz shepherds living on small family farms along the ancient Silk Road in Central Asia (learn more here).

There are two more clues left in the MKAL, and I'll be sharing my progress over on Instagram as I knit through them, in addition to updates on this blog of course. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 19, 2017

#ManosMonday: Knitty Sweater

At the end of last year, my friend and colleague Mari asked if I would be willing to knit a sample of a new design of hers that would be coming out in Knitty in 2017. The idea is that my project would combine commercially-spun yarn with a handspun (by me, of course!) accent. I'd get the yarn and fiber to spin and knit with, and could keep the resulting garment. Of course I said yes!

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We both picked out our yarn colors in the Fairmount Fibers/Manos del Uruguay booth at the January TNNA Trade show, and a few weeks later, a lovely box of yarn and fiber arrived on my doorstep. Originally, I think this sweater was supposed to be in worsted weight, but at some point it became a sport weight sweater, so I admit that I was a little nervous about finishing in time for our  photo shoot in early April - historically, I am a pretty slow sweater knitter (see: chunky weight cardigan that's been on the needles since last August).

By some small miracle, I finished in time for our scheduled shoot - Mari lives in Raleigh, NC, but since we had a mutual workshop in downtown Chicago scheduled for April, we thought that would be a fantastic opportunity to work in a quick photo shoot.

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I did much of the finishing work in said workshop, including sewing on the buttons. After our workshop ended, we headed over to Grant Park to take photos before Mari headed to the airport to return home. It was a bit of a nailbiter, but I think we pulled everything together quite well, and I am absolutely loving the result.

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One thing that didn't occur to me AT ALL was the fact that I'd see my face on Knitty (eep!). I was even on the blog, which I wasn't expecting at all!

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The Details
Pattern: Bosco by Mari Chiba (queue here on Ravelry)
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Clara & Merino Roving
Buttons: Akonye Kenya

Besides loving how the hand dyed and handspun yarns look together, I also love that they are Fair Trade. In fact, so are the buttons - when I spotted these handmade bird buttons at the Quilt Show, I knew they'd be perfect for this project.

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I'm really excited to see what colors people choose for this sweater!



Friday, June 16, 2017

FO Friday: The First of Many Baby Things

Seems like there's another wave of babies in 2017, and I haven't been very proactive about preparing it, even though I had plenty of advance warning. My sister's request for a baby sweater and hat to gift to my nephews' babysitter flipped the switch for me, it seems - now I am knitting like crazy to get a few more baby sweaters knit up for my friends who have either just had a baby, or will be having one later this summer.

My go-to book is 60 Quick Baby Knits, and I used two skeins of Berroco Vintage to knit the Seed Stitch Yoke Cardigan and Rolled Edge Cap. Aren't they cute?

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I happened to have the perfect buttons on hand, which I'd bought last summer with the intention of getting ahead of this baby wave - then I got distracted by a bunch of other things, as so often happens (at least for me). Here's hoping I'll have a few more cute baby knits to share later this month!

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Thanks for stopping by - have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer 2017 TNNA Recap

Yesterday I got back from the TNNA summer trade show, which returned to Columbus to the delight of pretty much everyone, judging by how busy and lively the show floor was for most of the weekend. My measurements are 100% unscientific, but it seemed like there was way more activity when compared to the rather quiet January show in San Jose.

The company I work for, Stitchcraft Marketing, created a community art installation called #StitchLove, which was on display in the TNNA lounge in the center of the show floor. It was the brainchild of my colleague Mari and I am so proud of how it turned out - we all are!

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L-R: Mari, Me, Leanne & Ben.
Seeing everyone's contributions was really cool, and by the end of the weekend, the wall was quite full!
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Although I'm pretty sure I didn't get a chance to check out every single booth, I did see some pretty cool things while I dashed from meeting to meeting. I was really psyched to spot Katrinkles, whom I discovered on Instagram last year. They had some new stitchable ornament kits - a cardigan sweater and socks - that I simply must get!!

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And I loved this display by Artfil in the What's New section - what an awesome use of Weavettes, and a clever way to display yarn in general (sure wish I thought of it first).

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Besides seeing all of my friends at the show (which was awesome), one of the highlights was having my photo taken with an alpaca, who also let me pet him a little. He was very soft!

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There was also a very handsome llama who was not as cooperative when it came to photos:

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You wanna take my photo? I don't care!!
He might be entertaining notions of photobombing Pearl Chin in this one, though - naughty llama!

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I was trying really hard not to bring home tons of yarn, since I already have plenty in my stash, but several mini skeins ended up in my luggage thanks to the quick thinking of Benjamin, who happened to be in the right place at the right time when Dream in Color posted on Instagram that they were leaving some yarn that didn't fit in their luggage in a specific location for the first person who could get there! If Ben hadn't shared this yarn booty with the rest of us, I would have brought home way more beer than yarn; this way, I think I achieved the correct ratio.

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I'll be sharing a post about the trends I spotted on the show floor over on the Stitchcraft Marketing blog soon, so keep an eye out!


Monday, June 12, 2017

Tips for Overdyeing Yarn

It's inevitable that some DIY dyeing experiments don't go as planned - sometimes, the multicolored palette doesn't look as good in real life as it did in your head, or your semisolid color turns out lighter or than intended, or your skein has unfortunate dye spatters or, worse yet, bare spots. Oops!

When bad things happen to good yarn, don't fret - you can always overdye your skeins to cover a multitude of dyeing mishaps. You may even get a prettier color in the process, as adding layers of color can add depth that simply can't (easily) be achieved by a single dye session.

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My crock pot that's dedicated for dye projects!
When I dyed yarn at Lorna's Laces, we would frequently overdye mis-dyed skeins of yarn to create one-of-a-kind colorways which almost always ended up coming home from me. In fact, the first time I dyed a multicolored colorway (Mixed Berries), I forgot to add one of the colors to the repeating sequence. Once the dye is set, it's pretty tough to fix such a big oopsie, so we overdyed it with a deep purple and it looked a-MA-zing. I ended up knitting my grandmother a pair of socks with it; you'll have to forgive the poor quality of this photo - this project dates back to 2008 and my photography skills were not so great back then.

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The key to overdyeing is to choose a color that is complementary to the color or colors in your skein - otherwise, you'll just create a big brown mess. Of course, if a big brown mess is what you're going for, go head and overdye that yellow skein of yarn with green! But it would probably be much prettier if you used an orange or red color to overdye it. 

A while back, I dyed these 3 skeins of yarn with Kool-Aid and didn't achieve the full-strength green I was going for. What's more, there were lots of bare spots on the yarn where the dye didn't set properly. While they would probably knit up into a lovely variegated natural-and-baby-green fabric, I would really prefer a deeper hue.

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If you want to get a deeper version of the same color (and remember what your original dye recipe was), that's easy - mix your dye at half-strength.

If you want to get a totally different color, that's ok too! Depending on the level of intensity desired, I would mix the dye anywhere between 1/2 - 3/4 strength. If you can spare a little bit of yarn to do a test dye before hand, that will help you adjust the strength accordingly. Of course, if you don't mind the occasional surprise, you can mix up a batch of dye, toss in some yarn, and hope for the best. I do this quite a bit and have yet to be disappointed with the results.

Recently, I attempted a gradient set of skeins using the mis-dyed yarn mentioned above and some Gaywool dye I had on hand (the color I used is Lucerne). I started with the recommended dye recipe on the package for the amount of yarn I wanted to dye (12g) and got a fairly nice green color. From there, I mixed stronger batches of dye for the other two skeins of the gradient. This will only help you if you're using the same kind of dye as me, but here are the water-to-dye ratios I used to overdye my skeins: 12g dye, 10 cups water; 15g dye, 10 cups water; 18g dye, 10 cups water. Basically, I used the same amount of water, but added 3g more of dye each time to get these results:

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There are tons of ways to dye yarn; here are some resources to help get you started:
I'd love to hear about your favorite dye tutorials in the comments!

Like this post? Pin it!
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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Weaving Wednesday: Handspun Edition

The ginormous yellow handspun wrap is still on the loom. I've woven about 35 inches, which is not quite halfway, but it's getting there. For the most part, I am loving how it's weaving up, although there is some warp wonkiness here and there: while it started out being very uniform in terms of tension, I now have a few misbehaving strands that need to have weights added to them. It's not the end of the world, but it seems like every time I advance the warp, a new issue pops up!

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I can deal with the many opportunities to learn something new from this project (even if it's what not to do), so long as I am liking the results - after all, this is only my fourth weaving project! I'm sure it will be many years before I have a weaving project that goes smoothly from start to finish.

The weft yarn is spun from 8 oz of superwash merino from Cloudlover Fiber in the Quick's Point colorway she dyed for Knitting Sarah a few years back. I'm so bummed that Cloudlover is no more; apparently I was under a rock last September when she announced that she was taking a break from dyeing, and I totally missed the boat on hoarding more Cloudlover fibers in my stash. I think I have just a precious few unspun braids that I'll have to ration out til she come out of hibernation - though I noticed that the website no longer exists. That's not a good sign!

I know there is a lot of amazing hand-dyed fiber out there, and I love trying it all out, but there was just something special about Cloudlover. It was the kind of fiber I would go back to again and again, always with amazing results. I was really hoping to see the Cloudlover booth at YarnCon this past April, but no such luck. I guess I'll have to cross my fingers for Wisconsin Sheep and Wool this fall!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday Motivation: Must! Finish!

There have been a lot of long-term projects in my knitting basket, and I've been working through them one by one (for the most part) in my attempt to Finish All The Things. Mostly this is because I want to start new projects, but I feel guilty about how long certain projects have been on the needles, and I also get weirdly stressed out if I have more projects in progress than I can count on one hand.

The good news is that I'm very close to finishing the chunky cardigan that's been on the needles since last August; next in my sights is a lace weight striped scarf that's been in progress since last September - it's great mindless knitting, although it is a bit long and becoming tough to wrangle, especially on the go.

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Later this week, I'll be heading to Columbus, OH for the TNNA trade show, and this will be coming along with me. With any luck, I'll come home with another FO!

Friday, June 2, 2017

June Cashmere Mystery KAL

At this point in my knitting life, I've determined that mystery knit-alongs (MKALs) just aren't my thing. I've had too many unpleasant surprises in the past: being tricked into doing intarsia (I'm looking at you, Mr. West), discovering that the project is really a hideous dickey rather than a wearable cowl (designer name redacted), feeling meh about the resulting project and not finishing it, or worse yet, finishing a project that I totally don't love....you get the idea.

Long story short, I'm making an exception this month for the June Cashmere Mystery KAL, and here's why: it's choose-your-own-adventure. That means I'll have a reasonable amount of control on the resulting project. I'll be using using just 1 skein of lace weight yarn in Moss (just as soon as it arrives), and the pattern is free! I plan to weigh my skein as I knit each weekly clue - that way, I can use every bit of beautiful cashmere without worrying about playing yarn chicken when it's time to knit the final border and bind-off!

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It's not too late to join the MKAL! If you sign up for the free pattern, you'll also get free shipping on your yarn! Click here for more info on Ravelry.

You can see my weekly project on Instagram or here on this blog. I look forward to seeing your mystery cowl, too!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

WIP Wednesday: In Place of Frogging.

Last weekend, I discovered a pretty major mistake in my Dillinger Hat and put it in time out until I am ready to frog back and fix it. Can you spot where I went wrong?

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I don't always mind frogging, especially when I know it'll be worth it in the end (and it always is), but I'm having a hard time with this one because I was so excited to finish this hat over the weekend. I still managed to finish the baby sweater my sister requested, which meant that it was time to face my second sleeve syndrome head-on and pick the Rockling Cardigan back up.

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I'm not very far along, but that's only because Tilly keeps using it as a pillow every time I set it down for just a moment! I never have the heart to disturb her when she looks so blissful.

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So, I started a baby hat to match the afore-mentioned sweater I just finished. It won't be long til I see my sister in Kansas City, and I would like to hand deliver them if I can!

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With TNNA just around the corner, I'm trying not to start too many new projects. I will be casting on something special later this week, though. I'll meet you back here on Friday to reveal what it is!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Free Wash Cloth Knitting Pattern!

Happy Friday! I have a new free knitting pattern over on the Knitter's Pride blog today: the Spa-Riffic Wash Cloth can be made in just 1 weekend using two strands of a cotton fingering weight yarn held double.

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I used one skein of Patti, a 100% organic cotton yarn from Kraemer Yarns, and it was probably one of the most enjoyable cotton-knitting experiences I've had in a while.  Like all of their yarns, it's made in the USA, so you can feel good about supporting a homegrown business. I am pretty sure that I have enough yarn left over to knit another wash cloth, too!

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The pattern was created especially for the Knitter's Pride Spring Home Decor KAL/CAL, which is happening now through June 30. You can knit or crochet ANY home decor pattern of your choosing for your chance to win some pretty great prizes (more on that here). Also, double dipping from other KALs is encouraged!

Click here to favorite or queue this pattern on Ravelry.

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I also guest blogged for Bijou Basin Ranch this week, sharing some of my tips for weaving the Lhasa Wilderness scarf I finished a while back - click here to check it out.

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Home Stretch

I'm coming down the home stretch on several projects, which means I can start something new, right? Of course! Late last week, I cast on for a simple pillow using my May Legacy Club Yarn Club shipment and a free pattern I found on Ravelry, the Basketweave Pillow. It's my new on-the-go project, so it'll probably be on the needles for a while, but hopefully I will finish before the end of the Knitter's Pride Spring KAL.

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Second sleeve syndrome has set in with my Rockling Cardigan, as I feared it would. Two-at-a-time sleeves are where it's at, but obviously that ship has sailed and I need to make the best of it! I will say that I 'm loving the Sirka Row Counter for keeping track of the various "at the same time" instructions, though. It rocks!

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The baby sweater is looking oh-so-sweater-y and I should have it off the needles by the end of this week, hooray!

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I finally started this super-cute Dillinger Hat that I got from last year's 1 Knit 1 Kit Club. It uses a gradient mini-skein kit from Wonderland Yarns, and it's been a really fun knit so far!

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Apparently, I'm in a bit of a blue phase, which is something I didn't notice until just now when I sat down to blog about all of my WIPs. Funny how that happens sometimes...

That's it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 19, 2017

FO Friday: Handspun Aspen Cowl

Between launching a new free hat pattern and celebrating Tyler's birthday (which was on Wednesday), it's been a rather busy week. Also, I totally forgot to share my first guest post from the Interweave blog that went live last Friday - click here to check it out!

Anyway, in the midst of everything, I managed to squeeze in a quick photo shoot for this fun cowl that I recently knit with some of my handspun yarn:
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I can't seem to find any record as to what this fiber is, or where I purchased it, since it was spun for a Tour de Fleece long before I stated to keep better records in my spinning notebook. BUT, I can at least tell you what pattern I used: the Aspen Cowl by Andi Javori (note: affiliate link).
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This was a fairly easy knitting project, and it was fast, too - I just love patterns like that!. The stitch repeats were easy to "read" as I worked, so a lot of mistakes I would normally make were easily avoided just by taking a minute to count stitches or compare to the previous section.

I didn't do the best job of blocking the edges of the cowl because my favorite blocking tool, the Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers, were in use by a different project at the time. Also, I had to let it dry on the floor of my knitting room, and I kept finding it in slight disarray, no doubt from a certain cat who likes to run through the house a breakneck speed.
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However, it lays quite nicely and is easy to wear, plus I love how the colors in the handspun yarn worked up! I had been digging through my bin to find something that would be a suitable substitution for the yarn that was called for in the pattern, and I wasn't totally sure that this skein would be a good match. I'm glad I gave it a try, because I think it turned out great. Two thumbs up!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jinxproof Hat: Free For a Limited Time!

I'm really excited to introduce the Jinxproof Hat pattern with everyone today, because I've been working on it for what seems like for-EV-er! I started it over the holiday break, but it grew from being just a simple slip-stitch hat pattern in a chunky weight yarn to a choose-your-own-adventure short story that allows you to custom-make a hat based on your preferences and whatever yarn weight you have on hand (sport, worsted, or chunky).
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The Jinxproof Hat is available for FREE now through June 15 to anyone who signs up for my newsletter, after which the pattern will be available for $6 in my Ravelry store (Note: if you already subscribe to my newsletter, an email with a free download link will be arriving in your inbox later today - I got your back!!).

I asked the kind folks at Briggs & Little Woolen Mill to supply the yarns for each hat sample. They're Canada's oldest mill and seriously the nicest people ever (full disclosure: I work with them in my day job at Stitchcraft Marketing). I wanted to spotlight their well-made, affordable yarns in a simple hat pattern that looks good on anyone. If you need help sourcing their yarns, I recommend googling "Briggs + Little" plus the name of the yarn you're looking for to find online retailers, or you can call or email them and they will gladly look up your nearest LYS (or take your order over the phone if there's no one nearby).

Here are the yarns and colors used in each of the three hat samples:

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Sport Weight: 1 skein each Briggs & Little Lite n’ Fancy 
in Ocean Blue (Color A) and Cream (Color B)

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Worsted Weight: 1 skein each Briggs & Little Heritage 
in Light Grey (Color A) and Grape (Color B)

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Chunky Weight: 1 skein each Briggs & Little Super yarn 
in Jade (Color A) and Light Green (Color B)

The pattern features instructions that are color-coded your choice of 3 yarn weights; I also include lots of tips for making adjustments to the pattern to suit your own tastes. It's a bottom-up hat that is knit in the round using an easy-to-memorize slip-stitch pattern.

If you follow the instructions exactly, you will have a comfortable fit that doesn't give you crazy hat head; however, I know that some people really like a snugger-fitting hat, and that is completely doable by just going down a needle size from what's recommended in the pattern.

My sample knitting (who is a a superstar) knit TWO versions of the worsted weight size: one as written (the larger sample below) and another one following the same set of instructions but using a smaller needle size (the smaller sample below):
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If you are nervous about signing up, don't worry - I don't send very many newsletters out, so I promise I'll only email you if there's something truly noteworthy (for example, when I have a new pattern!). If you decide you just want the pattern and don't want to be on my list, that's fine, too - just unsubscribe and enjoy your free pattern, my feelings won't be hurt!

I hope you'll share your Jinxproof Hats with me on Ravelry or on Instagram using the #JinxproofHat hashtag. Happy knitting!



Friday, May 12, 2017

FO Friday: A Potpourri of Projects

Last weekend, I finished a several crafty projects (all the better to start new ones, right?!). First, some fingerless mitts which used the leftover yarns from the Fade:

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The pattern called for US 4 needles and fingering weight yarn, and I thought that might be a little too loose for my liking so I went down a needle size. I should have knit a few more rows to make up for the gauge difference, but that didn't occur to me til I had already grafted both mittens together. There was no way I was going to rip them back to knit a few more rows!

I also finally finished the destash scarf that's been on my loom for several weeks now. All it took was an afternoon baseball game to knock out the final 20 inches of weaving!
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Since I was able to get the loom cleared off on Saturday, that left Sunday for warping a new project:

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I'm using handspun for both the warp and the weft. The warp is a two-ply Louet Merino and I'll be weaving with a skein of Cloudlover Superwash Merino. I got a little crazy and decided to use the entire width of the heddle since I had so much yardage in both skeins, so I'm expecting a nice-sized wrap.

And, I finally found time to ply together two 4oz singles of Polwarth from Bee Mice Elf that I'd recently spun I bought both braids a month or two ago with the intention of plying them together, but when I spun them into singles they didn't look like they'd go together so well. I decided to try plying them together despite this fact because most of what I think won't work usually ends up looking amazing....and I am quite pleased with the results!
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That's it for this week, thanks for stopping by. Have a crafty weekend!