Thursday, May 31, 2012

Oh Such Hats!

After spending the last year knitting tons of cowls and triangular scarves, I have upset the ratio of hats to scarves in my house.  Luckily, it's pretty easy to even the keel - just make a ton of hats this summer!  This coincides nicely with the arrival of the Knitter's Pride Cubics Special IC Set I've been drooling over (yet again, I have enabled myself in the course of doing my job*!).  The deal with these is that they have shorter tips that, when used with the enclosed cord, produce a 16" circumference....perfect for hat-making.

Roscoe Village Hat!
I don't think they were in the house a full 24 hours before I had to cast something on to try them out. I've been meaning to make the Roscoe Village Hat from Breean Elyse Miller's Hot Child in the City collection for a while now, so I grabbed my handspun yarn I'd set aside for the project, assembled my needles, and cast on! This hat was a nice, easy knit, though I'm not sure the dark-colored handspun properly shows off the slight texture of the dot stitch pattern.  However, it does look pretty cool with the slight gradations of color, and it will complement the Age of Brass and Steam scarf I made earlier this year using the same yarn.  

Union Long Beanie
This past weekend, I cast on for another hat I've been dying to make: the Union Long Beanie by Connie Chang Chinchio.  Instead of using the yarn that's called for, Himalayan Trail, I'm going to try subbing in Lhasa Wilderness (both yarns are from Bijou Basin Ranch) - I picked up two skeins of a beautiful bright blue color via a Craftsy deal last month.  I have grandiose plans to make even more hats from Weekend Hats (where this pattern is from) over the summer: I've picked out my colors for Gudrun Johnston's Hued Toque, I'm newly addicted to The Fibre Company's Road to China and would love to make a Glashutte Hat, and I'm thinking that the Topiary Beanie would look great in the skein of Graphite Tosh Merino Light I ordered a while back from Doodlebug Yarn. Oh, and I've test knit a top-secret hat - twice - which I should be able to unveil in the weeks to come.

Have I replaced Mad Cowl Disease with Mad Hatter's Syndrome? Let the Summer of Startitis begin! 

*Full disclosure: these were sent to me by a client for free.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Machines & Monsters

Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend!  I promise I'm working only a little and spending the rest of my time crafting up a storm.  I'm working on crocheting several display containers for our TNNA booth, am still (!) finishing my Beulah Cardigan (more on that later), have a never-ending pair of toe-up socks on the needles, and just started a hat.  But, on the bright side, I finished my first Star Wars amigurumi and a monster recently!

R2D2 by Lucy Ravenscar

Yarns Used:
Berrocco Vintage in White, Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe in Mercury, and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Navy

Hook Size: G/6

Geet the Garage Monster by Rebecca Danger (from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters)

Yarns Used:
Cascade 220 in Herb, Pick Up Sticks Small Balls in Chocolate

Needle Size: US #5

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fir Trees KAL Wrapup

Seaming the Fir Trees Cowl took very little time, surprisingly.  As you can see, I'm loving my brand new lacy cowl...

...Perhaps a little too much!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Finished Things: Fir Trees & Wee Gnomes!

I finished my second May KAL project this week, the Fir Trees Cowl by Marly Bird.  It's blocked and ready for seaming this weekend - all in all, it turned out pretty well!  I had a few false starts and some bumps along the way, yet somehow my mistakes are not as visible as I feared they'd be.  Not that I'm complaining!  This was my first time knitting with angora yarn (Seraphim from Bijou Basin Ranch) - it was incredibly soft and held up quite well to multiple froggings.  The Fir Trees Cowl is classic example of a deceptively simple pattern that I just can't seem to stop messing up - I think my final count for re-starts was 4. Even though it's going to be quite hot this weekend, I'm looking forward to wearing my pretty new cowl since I worked so hard on it.  And it was worth it!

I also whipped up a trio of Tiny Gnomes from Teeny-Tiny Mochi Mochi this week.  A simple, fast knit - the perfect project to start after finishing a lace project, really.  I glued magnets on their backs and gave them to my friend Ellen for her birthday on Wednesday (she was pretty psyched!). For some reason, I decided the gnome with the harvest gold-colored shirt needed a grey beard because he was from the 1970's.  The other guys are much more traditional (and, I suppose, much older) with their bright white beards which producing a kooky glowing effect when photographed.  Clearly, I had a lot of fun making these...there is probably more gnome-making in my future, since it was kind of hard to give them up!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spotted in the Wild, Part II: The ones that got away

A few finished projects flew in under my radar, which is a shame since this first one especially would have been timely if I'd shared it on here when it was still fresh.  Presenting Zipper the Easter Bunny, who was knit in a day on March 28th (see what I mean?) by Rav user mimulus.  Oh so adorable! The main color is Plymouth Encore Worsted Tweed with some mystery yarn for the contrast pocket.  Take note for next year, I suppose!

(you should also check out mimulus' blog - there is an awesome pattern for a Distinguished Gentleman's Wig awaiting you!)

This second finished project was the March Monthly Mystery Project for Tangled Purls in Salem, OR.  A while back, they contacted me for permission to use my free pattern for the Reversible Cabled Wrist Warmers in a class - and naturally, I said yes!  Then, as is my wont, I completely forgot about it til I came across BlueDragon's finished project on Ravelry.  Hoping to see more finished wrist warmers from the Pacific Northwest (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter)!  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spotted in the Wild, Part I: Bags, Bags, Bags!

It's been a while since I've shared the latest knitter projects from Ravelry.  Here is the latest crop of Kitchy Pleated Bags from Malabrigo Book Three.

First up, Rav user annedonn made a spring-y version with Cascade yarns, fancy purse handles, and some seriously rad buttons:

Rav user Kelly0706 combined 1 skein of Rasta in Lettuce with a pretty color of Cascade Bulky to make this cute bag.  The super-cute buttons are the perfect finishing touch!

Finally, I can't resist a project photo with an animal in it - here is Rav user Knotjustknits' destah version using Kraemer Yarns Bear Creek.  I'm a little intrigued by the yarn/colorway; it looks like the lighting in the photo is a little off, but it's a cute Kitchy nonetheless!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Knitspiration: Soul Power!

Last week, we watched Soul Power, which was a documentary about the Zaire 1974 concert featuring James Brown and BB King (among other notable musicians) leading up to the famed George Foreman/Mohammed Ali Fight.  Besides featuring some really awesome music, I got a dose of unexpected knitspiration from the Pembe Dance Troupe - check out their amazing costumes, which appear to be totally crafted (knit? crochet?) out of grasses.  Truly incredible!

Monday, May 14, 2012

World's Biggest Scowl

I'm still convinced that this whole scarf/cowl combo needs to be commonly referred to as a scowl. I'm probably alone on that one, but at any rate, I have finished my second Zuzu's Petals.  As you can see, it got a little out of control:

That tiny cowl is the first Zuzu's Petals I knit (using US #4 needles and a skein of Finito for a closer fit, i.e. more cowl than scarf), which I've included it for scale.  What happened with Zuzu the Second, you ask?  I'm not sure how this is possible, but I used the wrong needle size.  Like, REALLY wrong.  Four sizes too large wrong, in fact.  It puzzles me that I didn't think at any point "hey, these needles are awfully big!"  Actually, I think think that a few times, but instead opted to knit away blissfully.  Go figure.

So, long story short, kids:  6mm needles and US #6 needles are NOT one in the same.  I do, however, like the finished product - it's probably the closest thing to a poncho I'll ever make.  Now if I can just figure out what to call it a sconcho or a scowl?!

Pattern: Zuzu's Petals
Yarn: MadelineTosh Sport in Cousteau

Friday, May 11, 2012

Kitty Appreciation Society

Remember those pillows I knit for my cousin who got married last year (here's a refresher if you haven't memorized every one of my blog posts)?  She recently sent me this photo of her cat Marley enjoying a nap:
Few felines can resist the prime napping real estate a hand-knit pillow provides (mine certainly can't).  Happy upcoming first anniversary to Alex & Derek!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Morning Check-In

After a weekend filled with knitting, here's where I stand on my many WIPs:

Zuzu's Petals KAL for MadMay & Doodlebug Yarns:

Prior to the start of the weekend, I was all set to join for the round when I noticed two botched stitches I knew would bother me if I left as-is….so I ripped out half of my work, also known as the entire evening's progress.  So frustrating!  The beginning section is probably the easiest part, too - stockinette with a few RS increases. Nevertheless, I got back on track and had a finished scarf/cowl by the end of the weekend. 

Fir Trees Cowl KAL:

I had to frog and restart a few times because I kept twisting the cast-on.  Why is it that, in my many years of knitting projects in the round, I am only now becoming prone to this annoying problem? WHY? I finally gave up and decided to knit flat - which is how the pattern is written anyhow....quite possibly for a reason!  I will say, though the angora laceweight seems delicate, it held up surprisingly well to multiple froggings.  The lacy pattern is quite simple, but I still found ways to botch it.  After the afore-mentioned false starts, I was finally able to get something i could work with - though imperfect with the occasional mistake, this is still far better than my previous attempts.  Sometimes the easiest thing are also the hardest!

Beulah Cardi:

Last week I finished both sweater fronts! I knit them at the same time, which I have to say is the best. idea. ever.  For one thing, it makes the decreasing much easier, and for another, I know that they both are identical in terms of length as well as shaping...all good things when making a sweater you intend to wear a ton (or even a little, for that matter).  I took a breather for a few days before casting on for the sleeves - I know I'm going to be making them a bit shorter than called for, and wanted to take some time to figure out what, if any, modifications needed to be made.

In other news, our beloved kidney cat Robin continues to do well - both he and Tilly had their wellness checkup at the vet last week (she's doing well as always!). While some of Robin's numbers are elevated, a few have actually improved since his last checkup 6 months ago. Our awesome vet assured us that we are managing his kidney disease quite well, which is something I'll never tire of hearing from her.  He's still a happy guy (except when we take him to the dreaded vet), and his daily care is surprisingly easy, not to mention totally worth it.  He did somehow lose nearly two pounds in six months, which arguably needed to happen, but is also something to keep an eye on.  I suspect it has something to do with his self-imposed "diet" - he often doesn't finish his dry food at night. That's probably more than you needed to know about the health and eating habits of my cat, so if you made it this far, you've earned a gold star!  And possibly a grooming headlock from Robin - it was a little tough to capture but a sight to behold:

Friday, May 4, 2012

KAL Crazy

I am participating in two KALs this month - both for cowl projects!  Finally, I found the perfect way to combine my Mad Cowl Disease, Startitis, and new-found addiction to KALs into one perfect storm.

Both KALs involve patterns I've been ogling for quite some time.  The Zuzu's Petals KAL was the perfect excuse for me to finally knit with Madelinetosh yarn.  Yes, you read that correctly:  up until this very point in time, with some eight-odd years of knitting under my belt, I HAVE NEVER PURCHASED, STASHED, OR KNIT WITH ANY MADELINETOSH YARNS.  Even I don't know how that is possible, but alas, it is so.

Fortunately, it has also been remedied, as I cast on May first with a gorgeous skein of Tosh Sport in Cousteau.  Here is a very early progress shot:

My second KAL cowl project is a lacy cowl design by Marly Bird using one of Bijou Basin Ranch's newest yarns, Seraphim.  A hazard of my job is self-enabling, and I confess that this is a prime example of that very thing!  I've never really knit with angora, but after seeing so many adorable puffballs recently at the Wisconsin Spin In, I was champing at the bit to cast on for the Fir Trees Cowl (follow the link for all the details, including info on how to get a free pattern with KAL yarn purchase).  I'm not too far along, as you can see - and I've also made a few modifications to knit in the round, since I am averse to seaming.  So far, so good, however.  I'm looking forward to getting a lot more done this weekend!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tightrope Socks KAL Wrapup

April's Tightrope Socks KAL has resulted in a few new lovely FO's using Wool Dispensary Yarns!  Two Ravelers from the Fans of Doodlebug Yarns Group successfully completed their Tightrope socks last month:
Gayla's Spring Tightrope in Miss DeForest 
Pambill's Tightrope Socks in Circus Popcorn
So nice to see some fresh FO photos in the wild!  If you're feeling particularly inspired, you can purchase my Tightrope Socks pattern on both Ravelry and Craftsy!