Friday, February 24, 2017

What If I Didn't Add Heels?

Last weekend, I finished the first sock with my Waterlilies yarn, and just for yuks, I tried it on even though it was basically just a tube sock. Much to my surprise, it fit really well, even without a heel. Who knew?

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So, that got me thinking: what if I just didn't add the heels? 

I never thought a tube sock would actually fit nicely, but I genuinely like the fit, so...why spend time to add the heels? As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it....

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Let's say I decide not to add heels once the second sock is done - there will still be placeholder yarn for the afterthought heels, as you can see above, so should I leave it in and just weave in the ends? Or should I remove it, put the live stitches back on needles and at least graft them together using more of the Waterlilies yarn?

I plan on mulling all of this over as I knit the second sock, and I'd love to hear your opinions of what you think would look best (or if you think this whole "no heels" thing is just totally crazy).

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Weaving Wednesday: First Project Off The Loom

After sharing my first Weaving Wednesday post last month, I warped my loom for my first project using some destash yarn:

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I've been meaning to share some of my getting-started resources here, so this seems like a good time to mention them: in addition to Syne Mitchell's Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom, I have also been keeping Liz Gipson's Weaving Made Easy handy (note, I do not have the updated version, but I linked to that since it seems like it would be more helpful to anyone looking to build their weaving library). And my colleague Ben sent over this YouTube video which ultimately helped me get my loom warped. I watched it several times and would pause it as I worked on each step:


Right after I got my loom warped, I had to travel for a few weeks and didn't get much weaving time - I believe this was the last time I blogged about this project. But once I was back at home base, it really started to fly! You know how people tell you that weaving is WAY faster than knitting? That is not an exaggeration! I probably could have finished this in 1-2 weeks if I had been more diligent (and also not gone out of town).

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Someone teach this cat to weave!
I wouldn't call it done, but last weekend I took this project (my very first!) off of the loom:

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So, the question is: what is it? Obviously, it's not done - I need to weave in the ends and do whatever finishing a woven piece requires. I was thinking of cutting it into two pieces to sew together into a pillow, but will have to consult both of my books to see what is possible with my skill level at this moment in time. Worst case scenario, it could be used as a table runner, or I could turn it into a wall hanging of some sort.

Honestly, I just wanted to see if I could weave something to completion....now that I know it's possible (and really, really fast!), I will be planning more specific projects going forward. In fact, I just signed up for Angela Tong's Rigid Heddle Weaving Class on Craftsy (note - this is an affiliate link) and started watching the video lesson already. This coming weekend, I plan to start one of the class projects, a destash worsted weight scarf (provided that the heddle I need arrives by then).

For anyone interested, I'll be writing a review of the class once I finish watching the entire thing and also complete at least one of the projects, so stay tuned for that!

While I don't have an FO to share this Friday yet again, I do have a HO (Half-Finished Object) and I could really use some reader input as to the fate of said project....so please do come back to share your opinions this Friday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WIP Wednesday: New WIPs and Forgotten Projects

Remember the sweater I started last August from Graphic Knits? I've been working on it here and there and finally have a bit of progress to share this week.

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I also started a new top-secret test knit in some lovely yarn from Manos - while I can't share more details wit you here, I can at least show you my gauge swatch showing you the pretty hand-dyed variations of the color I'm using, Black Forest in Clara.

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As I mentioned on Monday, I started a new striped mitten project over the weekend, though I'm still not to the striped part just yet:

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The Waterlilies socks have been coming along, I think I am closing in on the toe for the first sock! -

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And I've just gotten to the next color (#5!) on my Find Your Fade, which I think is pretty remarkable considering how many shiny squirrels have been tempting me of late.

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Whew! That was action packed....I don't have any finished projects to share this Friday, but I'll see you back here next week for more doing-all-the-things inspiration!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Enabling: Mountain Meadow Wool Legacy Yarn Club

Like most of us, I really don't need more yarn in my life, but when one of my clients mentioned that they were launching a new yarn club this year, I couldn't resist signing up. The Legacy Yarn Club from Mountain Meadow Wool will feature themed boxes of US-made, sustainably produced yarns which support family ranches in the western states. I love yarn with a story, and this club has it in spades!
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My first shipment arrived this month, and it did not disappoint in the slightest! I received two skeins of worsted weight yarn (one natural/undyed skein and one dyed skein), two patterns, information about the ranch which raised the sheep, and a discount code to use in their online store - and it was all beautifully packaged in this box:

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While the patterns included in the box were tempting, I fell in love with how the two skeins looked together and decided I wanted to knit a project using both yarns. I found a free pattern on Ravelry, the Lychee Mittens, and immediately cast on:

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The softness of the yarn is really remarkable - it almost feels like a very crisp yet supple cotton. I absolutely can't wait for the next club shipment in April, and when my six-month subscription expires, I may even renew for another 6 months. Thank goodness they are making that option available year-round!

Friday, February 10, 2017

FO Friday: A Match Made at Last

Another long-term project has finally found its way off the needles: the Matchmaker I started in mid-October of last year is done!

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The best smile I could muster - it was cold!
I used 2 skeins of Tibetan Dream sock yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch in some limited edition colors dyed by Miss Babs, Lenore and Raven (I believe both are still available here if you are interested).

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The pattern is Martina Behm's Matchmaker; I didn't make any modifications, unless you count the third color "design element" at the end, when I ran out of both yarn colors and had to sub in something left over in my stash - oops! It blends in surprisingly well...

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I thought about buying another skein of Lenore to finish this project, and I very nearly frogged the light gray pictured above in favor of doing so, but once I slept on it and took another look at this project in the light of day, I realized that I was ok with the 11th hour substitution...plus, if you wear it cowl-style, you don't even know it's there!

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The traditional outtake: a gust of wind came along! BRRR!
For anyone wondering, the hat I am wearing is my project from last December's Muratura KAL (yarn & pattern info here).

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Enter the Bling

This week, I have an exciting Find your Fade update: I finally got to the the fourth color, a skein of stellina yarn that was gifted to me recently:
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I have an instagram buddy with whom I swap beer a few times a year, and we always include something yarny for each other; this skein of hand-dyed yarn from the Susquehanna Knitting Company seemed like the perfect thing to use for the middle color of this project (and I totally dig the color name, Winter Waves).

I've also made it to the heel on my first Waterlilies sock, over the weekend I put in the placeholder yarn so that I can work an afterthought heel. You have to really squint to see the not-so-contrasty gray yarn I used, but I assure you it is there!
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Since there is some sample knitting in my future, I am trying to avoid starting new projects right now in favor of finishing current (and possibly languishing) WIPs. The yarn for one such sample arrived earlier this week - check out this luscious bundle of Clara yarn from Manos!
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Unfortunately, I can't divulge what this yarn is for just yet...all I can say is that I am pretty excited to work with it.

Thanks for stopping by - see you back here for FO Friday!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mini Skein Grab Bags Are Back!

I've finally reopened my Etsy shop, and it's fully stocked with sock yarn mini skein grab bags! Yay!

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There are tons of new yarns and colors, most of which are hand dyed (a few are even one-of-a-kind colors dyed by yours truly!). Each one contains over 100g of fingering weight yarn, which includes postage to the US (Canadian shipping is just a tiny bit more, you can also Convo me for international shipping rates).

Many of the yarns and colors are unique, hard-to-find, one-of-a-kind, exclusive, discontinued....you get the idea! Also, if you have a reasonable request (i.e. colors you love, colors you hate, no variegated colors, etc.), I am totally happy to honor that as I pack up your skeins.

THIS WEEK ONLY: Get $2 off your order with coupon code BLOG2017. Offer good today through 2/12/17. 

Click here to visit my Etsy shop, thanks for stopping by! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

FO Friday: Long Awaited Socks

Today's FO is a long time coming: I gave the yarn to Tyler for Christmas 2015 with an explanation of the project - to knit him a pair of socks which commemorated the 2015 Kansas City Royals season; each of the 4 colors would symbolize a win or a loss either at home or on the road. It was an ambitious project, needless to say.

I didn't cast on until March 28, 2016, and I finished them just in the nick of time before we headed to Kansas City last month - the official "done" date is January 26, 2017. Honestly, they would probably still be on the needles if I hadn't had a fire lit underneath me to finish them so that Tyler could wear them to Fan Fest!

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Unblocked socks are ready for Fan Fest!
Why did this take so long? The obvious answer is that wrangling four balls of yarn is a total PITA - and since I decided to knit them two-at-a-time, that meant I was actually dealing with eight balls of yarn on any given day...so, you kind of had to be "in the mood" to work on such a project, and often I wasn't. Also, that meant that they were strictly an at-home project. My final excuse is that this project (and socks in general, unfortunately) hurt my hands.

For all of those reasons, the finish line kept moving further away from me: before the season ended, by Christmas 2016, and finally, the one that worked - Royals Fan Fest.

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There were a lot of lessons learned along the way. As previously noted, managing four colors while knitting two at a time socks was every bit as fussy as I imagined, and then some. Untangling eight balls of yarn quickly became a hassle, even with cutting colors frequently, all the while knowing that I was creating a nightmare of ends to weave in later.

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Honestly, that part wasn't so bad because I packed the socks, a darning needle and TSA-friendly scissors for my flight to TNNA in San Jose and wove in ALL of the ends for one sock on the flight there (it took less than half the flight) and then did the other sock on the way back.

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All that remained were the afterthought heels, which I knitted during the two days I was home before going to KC. There was no time to properly wash and block, but he DID get to wear them to Fan Fest! This was our first one, and I would definitely go again, especially know that I know what to expect.

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The memorial for Yordano Ventura was really lovely, and honestly that sort of helped us all make sense of the tragic and surprising recent events....although I was a little creeped out by the person who dressed up as Ventura and found their way into my photo.

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But there was beer and all of baseball we could handle. Plus, several of my heroes walked within mere feet of me. That was pretty cool.

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Also, I got to meet the manager, Ned Yost, and have him sign a baseball for me.

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Once we got back to Chicago, I was able to finally wash & block the socks properly - here they are drying on some sock blockers!

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I used yarn from Knit Picks and made up my own pattern as I went, but I can tell you that yellow represents away wins, grey represents away losses, blue is home wins and white are home losses. I'm not certain these are 100% accurate, but I think they're pretty darn close. It was a challenge to plan for so many rows in the context of a sock!

Tyler's pretty happy with them, so it was all worth it in the end - but you can bet that I won't attempt a project on this scale again any time soon...which is great because I honestly couldn't replicate this again if I tried, I did a terrible job of keeping track of things!

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Travel Knitting

Traveling two weekends in a row was certainly an ambitious way to start 2017. I spent last weekend visiting family in Kansas City and took 3 projects along. I knit a sum total of 1 row on my Find your Face shawl, but I did start a new pair of socks with some yarn I bought on Etsy from The Fawn & The Fox (fun fact: this purchase was 100% enabled by Instagram!). I am just doing a plain vanilla sock, the base is called Otter Sock and it's a 75/25 merino/nylon blend dyed in a colorway inspired by Monet's Waterlilies.

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Most of my knitting time was spent focusing on the Matchmaker shawl, which I really want to get off the needles so that I can wear and enjoy for the rest of the season! I am closing in on the finish line - I finished knitting with the black yarn, Raven (there is only a tiny bit left, hooray for no leftovers!) and am getting ready to start the final step, the Joining Part, with the variegated yarn.

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That's it for this week, but I have an FO project to share with you this Friday. See you then!