Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Another So Faded Sweater

This might be the first time I have ever knit a sweater for myself twice, but I wear the first So Faded Sweater that I made so much, I decided to knit another one!


This time, instead of destashing a hodgepodge of fingering weight yarns, I purchased a set of skeins specifically for this purpose from an indie dyer I discovered at last year's YarnCon, Black Cat Fibers.


My color palette is Vamp, Dirt Nap, Alchemy and Quarry, dyed on the Nomad Sock base, which is a 4-ply fingering superwash merino/nylon blend (75/25). Each skein has a generous 463 yards, so I have a nice bit of yarn left over in each color, and as you can see, this sweater ended up being tunic length! 
Hooray for handknit sweaters!!
Just like the first one, it fits great and I love wearing it (can you tell?!). The yarn feels nice and soft against my skin, but I think it will wear well over time. I can't believe it took me eight months to knit this thing....even for me, that's slow! However, it was usually the first project to go to the backburner once a deadline popped up. I'm just glad I finished it in time to wear on Christmas day! 

Project: Fade Away
Pattern: So Faded by Andrea Mowry
Yarn: Nomad Sock from Black Cat Fibers

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Review: Appalachian Baby Tally Ho Cap Knitting Kit

Last year, I reviewed some delightful organic cotton yarn from Appalachian Baby Designs (click here if you missed it). So when they offered me a chance to review a project kit from one of their 2 new pattern collections, naturally I said yes!


I had a choice of patterns from the Tally Ho and Boho Collections, and picked the Tally Ho Cap in Blue and Indigo, which retails at $19 (I was sent this kit for free in exchange for my honest review). I was hoping for a fun, instant-gratification knit, and that is exactly what I got! Each kit includes a printed pattern and enough yarn to knit the project pictured. I found the pattern easy to follow and well written, there was just one tiny bit of errata I discovered (the Main and Contrast colors got flipped - it happens!), but I alerted the folks at Appalachian Baby so that they can note this in the Ravelry listing and update future printed copies of the pattern.

I knit the hat in about four days' time, and could have finished it sooner if I were a monogamous knitter. It's knit flat and then seamed, which allows you to perfectly match up the stripes without any "jumps" which you would get when knitting in the round.
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This fun and simple hat is perfect for a last-minute baby gift, or you can go all-out and knit the matching Pullover and Blanket to make an adorable (and organic!) layette to welcome baby...and did I mention that the yarn is machine washable AND dryable, too? Here is my finished hat after machine washing and drying:
Finished Hat
This project kit is the perfect quick knit for a last-minute baby gift, or if you have more time, you can knit the matching sweater from the Tally Ho collection -  click here to visit the Appalachian Baby Designs website to shop yarn, kits, and patterns.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Ravelry Challenge / 2019 Make Nine

I didn't make resolutions for 2018, but when Ravelry added the Challenge feature to to the Notebook section back in the spring, I randomly picked a number of projects I'd try to complete before the end of the year. At the time, 50 FO's didn't seem like it would be that difficult, but I suppose it was a lofty goal, especially since I've been focusing more on bigger projects such as sweaters. I fell short of the goal, but came closer than I thought I would with 40 finished projects as of midnight on December 31, although it looks like my 11th hour finish, a test knitting project, didn't get logged in the final count:

I assume that the Challenge feature will be a yearly occurrence, in which case I think I'll shoot for quality over quantity. There are a lot of inspirational #2019makenine posts on Instagram and I think that type of challenge might be more my speed, and also in line with my current goal of wardrobe building.

Besides knitting more sweaters, what would really challenge me in 2019 is to step outside of my comfort zone. For example, I'd like to get better at sewing so I can replace some of the basic tops in my closet that have gotten holes over the years, but I can't bear to toss because I can't find suitable replacements in stores. And while it's not part of my wardrobe-building agenda, I would also like to weave a few projects for the house since I've spent the last 2 years primarily weaving scarves. It's time to explore some new territory with my loom!

So with all of that in mind, here is my 2019 Make Nine:

1. Linden Sweatshirt (sewing)
2. Lark Tee (sewing)
3. Weave a Bath Mat
4. Hitofotude Cardigan
5. Snow Thank You Pullover
6. Undone Sweater
7. Weave a Towel
8. From Another Place Sweater
9. Sweetness Pullover


Of course, I'm pretty sure I'll make more than just 9 things in 2019 (but definitely less than 50!). Maybe 30 or 40 FOs in 2019 would be more realistic...I can always bump it up if I need to!

What are your crafting plans for 2019?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Curls 3 Review & Giveaway

Hunter Hammersen does it again! In Curls 3, you'll find 11 new designs that were created specifically for speckled and gradient yarns. Of course, they can also be knit with any other type of yarn you desire - and just as in the first two Curls books (Curls and Curls 2), you also aren't limited by yarn weight, because each design can be knit at any gauge.

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Each shawl is knit with the same formula, which is described in depth in the Anatomy of a Curl section at the start of the book. Once you are familiar with the basic setup, you can easily follow the  color coded charts and schematics as you knit your chosen pattern (all of which are explained clearly in this section of the book). If you's someone who likes to modify patterns here and there, make sure not to skip this section!

Also worth a read is the section on Speckles and Gradients, which is also found at the start of the book. Hunter clearly defines each type of yarn and shares a lot of great tips for choosing and working with these beautiful and tempting colors, which can sometimes be a challenge once you start to knit with them.

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The patterns are grouped by the type of yarn they were designed for, beginning with speckles (the first four designs) and then continuing with single-skein gradients (the next 2) and multi-skein gradients (the final 5) - but that is only a guideline, and substitutions are strongly encouraged!

I took that note to heart when deciding to cast on for the cover project with a single-skein gradient of Lhasa Wilderness yarn (a test dye lot from ModeKnit Yarn) and paired it with an undyed skein of the same yarn base. Cacoxenite is actually written for a multi-skein gradient set, but as you can see, the pattern works just as beautifully with a single-skein gradient:

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Hunter was sweet enough to send me an extra copy of this book, so I'll be giving it away with some lovely hand-dyed yarn today over on my Instagram feed - click here to make sure you follow me so you don't miss my post!


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Weekender Sweater in Brown Sheep Prairie Spun DK

Last winter, I reviewed Prairie Spun DK from Brown Sheep, which at the time was a new yarn in their lineup. I enjoyed using it so much, that I ended up purchasing a sweater quantity from Webs during their year-end sale, not knowing which pattern I would use it for. I kept this yarn squirreled away while mulling over my options and changing my mind more than a few times.

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Eventually, I realized that the perfect pattern had been under my nose the whole time: Andrea Mowry's Weekender Sweater! Of course, that didn't mean I started it right away, but then the stars aligned yet again when the Corner of Knit & Tea blog/podcast announced a Brown Sheep Sweater-Along that began on September 1 of this year. I knit my swatch in August and was ready to cast on once the calendar turned to September.

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Then I got a secret sample knitting commission and had a few other distractions pop up, and didn't get to work on this sweater as much as I thought. By the time November rolled around, it seemed like the November 30 end date would not be realistic for finishing this project, because I'm a really slow sweater knitter.

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And I probably would STILL be knitting this sweater if I hadn't taken some time off last month for my birthday and Thanksgiving, which I used effectively to zoom through Sleeve Island. I even knit my sleeves one a time, which is something I haven't done in years because I tend to get Second Sleeve Syndrome. Unfortunately, I've found that magic loop knitting (which is how I usually knit two sleeves at a time) really aggravates my arm/wrist/hand issues, so I thought I'd go back to one-at-a-time sleeves on DPNs to see if that allowed me to work pain-free....and naturally it did, so that means no more two-at-a-time sleeves for me.

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The sleeves turned out a bit long - I probably could have started the ribbing sooner than specified in the pattern, but I don't think that's enough of an issue to warrant ripping things back and reknitting the cuffs. Also, I've been wearing the sweater non-stop since I finished it, so I don't think I could bear to take it out of the rotation for a cuff fix! This is definitely going to be a sweater I wear a lot - the boxy shape is cozy (even if it does make me look a bit wide) and the yarn is warm, soft and sturdy. I'm so happy I finished this project relatively quickly so that I can enjoy it all winter long!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Knitting With Sock Blanks

In all of my 10+ years of knitting, would you believe that I have never tried a sock blank?! I've admired them on Instagram and at fiber shows but have never actually used one until I was sent a very lovely and luxurious blank to try out from Zen Yarn Garden.

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Part of a Zulily event, these blanks were produced in limited quantities and I'm not sure if the exact blank I used is currently available. They're approximately 400 yards of a 90% superfine superwash merino blended with 10% nylon, and the colorway I received was Midnight Stroll. BUT the good news is that Zen Yarn Garden is offering a new kind of sock blank in their online store right now, called Luxe Blanx, and they're a blend of merino, cashmere and silk (oh my!) and have a whopping 750 yards per blank.

Before I talk about the pattern I knit and how much I loved the yarn, let's have a quick conversation about what a sock blank is and how to use it. A sock blank refers to a piece of fabric that has been knitted up (usually by machine) prior to the dyeing process. This allows dye to be applied to the yarn in a different way than in a skein form, and also creates a different type of patterning when knitting or crocheting with the dyed blank. A lot of dyers treat sock blanks as a canvas, where they write out words or draw pictures which then knit up in an interesting way. I really liked the painterly approach that Zen Yarn Garden brought to the sock blank I used to create a pretty gradient.

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You have a a few options for working from a sock blank. Some folks prefer to wind the blank into a skein so that they can wash and try it to remove the kinks (since it arrives knit up, the yarn will look a bit like ramen noodles as you unravel it), and then wind it into a center-pull ball once it's dry. This step obviously takes the most time, but it can be worth the effort.

A less time-consuming option is to wind the blank into a center-pull ball which you knit from; this won't solve the issue of ramen noodle yarn, but it will make your project a little bit more portable.

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Or, if you are extremely impatient like me, you can just start unraveling your blank to knit directly from it! Sure, I was worried that using ramen noodle yarn would result in wonky stitches or uneven gauge, but for the pattern I chose (the Itty Bitty Picoty Shawlette, available for free with newsletter signup here), this wasn't an issue at all. Garter stitch is very forgiving, as was the soft and squishy yarn. A quick wet block worked out pretty much any kinked stitches, if any, and the shawlette grew to a very lovely size as a result.

I honestly didn't know what I was missing out on all these years....needless to say, I would definitely knit from a sock blank again!

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Knitting With Sock Blanks

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Color Block Cowl in Brown Sheep Stratosphere

I was really excited to try out the new superwash yarn from Brown Sheep, Stratosphere. In fact, this yarn was sent to me near the end of the summer, and I am a bit overdue in posting my review (oops!). That's not the yarn's fault, however; I happened to bite off more than I could chew in my pattern choice, the Color Block Cowl from Purl Soho.

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It's not that the pattern was difficult to knit, but it was fussy. Each stitch pattern used the technique of knitting into the row before, which is actually quite easy to do - but again, fussy. Especially when you are working from all 3 skeins. Also, I don't know if it was just my newness to the technique or if this is typical of patterns like this, but I found that the fabric edges were a little messy looking when working with more than 1 color.

As a result, there were some days and even weeks where I just didn't feel like picking it up to work on, which made me feel a but guilty, because I loved the yarn and I knew I would love the end result....I just didn't enjoy the process of getting from point A to point B!


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Let's talk more about the yarn. Stratosphere is inspired by the Nebraska sky with its cloud-like softness and loft as well as its interesting color palette of bright solids and soft kettle-dyed color ways. It's a superwash DK weight spun with a soft, fine grade U.S. washable wool, and if washability and durability is your concern, this is the yarn for you!

And you don't have to sacrifice softness, either: while I know the softness is subjective, I was impressed with how my finished project softened up after washing. There's no hint of "prickle factor" when I loop it snugly around my neck. As you can see, the finished cowl is easy to wear and really pretty. I think the yarn is going to hold up really well and I doubt it will pill, even years from now.

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Stratosphere checks off a lot of boxes for me: Made in the USA, good quality, easy care, great color palette....I would definitely reach for this yarn again, both for myself or for a gift project.

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Click here to find your nearest Brown Sheep retailer; click here to view yarn details on the Brown Sheep website.

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