Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Here's one more project that I've finished recently but not shared on my blog: the Svalbard Mittens by Kate Gagnon Osborn, which use two skeins of Tundra. They are so soft and warm! I finished them right before Christmas and have been wearing them a bunch on this trip.
We'll be heading back to Chicago tomorrow, this blog should be back to its regularly scheduled programming later this week. Wishing all of my readers a happy, healthy and crafty 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Secret Knitting: Socks!

While most of the socks I knit for gifts this year I could sneakily share on my blog by pretending they were for myself, there was one pair of socks that I didn't dare risk sharing: the ones for my mother. I know that she occasionally reads my blog, and this year she had made a special request for a pair of chocolate brown socks. It would have been a dead giveaway!

Mom's socks were knit with Cascade Heritage using a pattern from Around the World in Knitted Socks by Stephanie Van Der Linder, It's Tea Time. The only modification I made was to make a slip-stitch heel flap rather than continuing the pattern on said flap; I've found that whenever I do that, the socks tend to spring a hole rather quickly, so I'd rather sacrifice a little style for a heel that is extra sturdy.

The other pair of socks which haven't been shared on this blog were knit for my grandfather. He has really large feet and prefers basic stuff, so I freestyled a pattern that was interesting for me to knit that I hope he'll enjoy wearing. They're made out of sport weight Malabrigo Arroyo, which I picked for its superwash qualities along with the pretty color choices. These socks were my 400th project on Ravelry and will be released in 2013 as a new design, just as soon as I can find the time to get everything written up, formatted, and edited. Consider this a sneak peek!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Secret Knitting: Solemate Hat!

Here was my biggest gift knitting conundrum this year: I wanted to knit Tyler a new hat for work, but he gets too hot if I use wool yarn. Cotton and bamboo blends seem to work well, but I am never very happy with the results (even if he is and dutifully wears the finished hat non-stop). Furthermore, he pretty much only wears black and grey, so I'm very limited with my yarn and color choices.

Luckily, I remembered my favorite pair of socks to wear back when I worked at the salon. They were knit out of Lorna's Laces Solemate yarn, which contains Outlast, a fiber technology that interacts with the body to moderate temperature. Problem solved!

I bought a skein of Solemate in Patina (well, it was labeled as Grand Street Ink, but this skein is definitely not an inky purple-black, it is more of a dark tobacco brown, so I'm guessing it was mis-labeled...or perhaps I need to get my eyes checked!) and cast on for Arkanoid by Wooly Wormhead, which was a great pattern that was easy to memorize but wouldn't be too fancy for Tyler, who tends towards the basic.

I got to the end and realized I hadn't followed the pattern correctly - somehow I'd skipped the crucial row which created the interesting horizontal purl stripes as pictured in the pattern. OOPS! I thought about frogging it and re-knitting it, but then I decided that it looked quite nice the way it was and he would still love it. Besides, I have enough yarn left that I can make a correct version of this hat for him to wear as well!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Secret Knitting: Toys!

In today's post, I'll be sharing the toys I made for holiday gifting this year, starting with the Fraternal Twin Monkeys I made for our friends in Portland who were expecting twins next month. However, they got an early Christmas gift this year with the early arrival of said twins on Christmas Eve!

The pattern is Rebecca Danger's Jerry the Musical Monkey, and I used some Cascade 220 that I got on closeout from Doodlebug Yarn earlier this year. It was so hard to send them away to their new home, but I know they will be well-loved.

Early last week, I decided to crochet two patterns from the book I got for my birthday, Stacey Trock's Crocheted Softies; one for my friend Ellen and one to add to Tyler's stocking. For Ellen, I thought that Milton the Slowpoke Snail would be really awesome with a Zombie BBQ shell (and I just happened to have a partial skein of Shepherd Worsted in my stash in that particular colorway!). Who doesn't need a Christmas snail?

For my husband, I thought I'd make Zork the Alien, which he seemed to like when I was paging through the book. I originally wanted to make it in aqua, but didn't have enough yarn on hand. The fates decreed I should use the very same green color as pictured, which is not something I typically do! For flair, I decided to crochet the ruffle using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Envy. Tyler loved it and was most definitely surprised!

Finally, my pal Ellen made this awesome bear for me - he's felted and fuzzy, and I love this little bear toes!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Secret Knitting: Pokeball Hats!

My first holiday knitting FO to share while I'm on vacation is these these two Pokeball Hats that I knit for my nephews in Portland, who are both Pokemon fans, needless to say. It's a free pattern I found on Ravelry and I was able to hone my duplicate-stitch skills in the process. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out! They are knit with one of my favorite superwash yarns, Berrocco Vintage.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Solstice/Festivus/Christmas/Generic Holiday to All!

I can't believe that Christmas is tomorrow - it's amazing how much faster this month goes by when you're an adult (or pretending to be one). Tyler and I are staying in Chicago for the actual holiday, then heading down to see our families in Kansas City on the 27th. How will we be starting out 2013, you ask? Why, we'll be up bright and early to catch the Amtrak train back to Chicago! I can only imagine how that train ride will go, considering the train begins in LA and many of those passengers will have spent New Year's Eve on said train. Should be interesting.

 At any rate, I'll be pre-scheduling blog posts to share all of my secret gift-knitting (and crocheting!) projects while I'm away on vacation. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it's wonderful!
Reinbeers! I saw several versions of this on Pinterest and
couldn't resist making a six-pack for our upstairs neighbors! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Last-Minute Gift Alert: Craftsy Class Sale

Ho, ho, ho! If you have a last-minute gifting emergency, Craftsy has come to your rescue with their Christmas Sale. All online classes are $9.99 - $24.99, an excellent deal. I'm a huge fan of Craftsy classes (and I'm also a blogger affiliate), having signed up 11 this year. I'm a Craftsy believer!

Build your skills or learn something new with these class options from Craftsy:

Home & Garden Classes

Enjoy and have a happy holiday! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

FO Friday: Dustland Hat

Earlier in the week, I whipped up a Dustland Hat for my husband's secret santa at work - he drew the new guy who also happens to be his boss. Talk about pressure! Unfortunately, it turned out way too large the first time, so I ended up frogging it halfway to move up the decreases and make it a more normal-sized hat. In hindsight, I should have gauged first, as the first attempt was truly gargantuan - and I only knit the medium size! It's a great pattern though; all of the different stitch sections are easy to memorize and kept me interested so that the hat went fast (both times). I'm happy with the results and will probably make another one for myself at some point. Back in the queue it goes!

Pattern: Dustland Hat by Stephen West
Yarn: Cascade 220, 1 skein in Aporto
Find more FO Friday inspiration over on the Tami's Amis Blog!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WIP Wednesday?

I'm nearly done with my holiday gift knitting....but just as soon as I get closer to my goal, I decide to add a few more project to my list! What is wrong with me?!?

Since I can't really show you those projects, this will be a really short update today (for more WIPs, stop by the Tami's Amis blog). After completing my two biggest holiday WIPs last week, I decided to dedicate some time to work on my neglected Svalbard Mittens. As you can see, they are coming along slowly but surely! I've made a few mistakes on the cables, but they look like an intentional design feature since I'm knitting them two-at-a-time and the mistakes are at least mirrored in both mittens. Plus, if someone is close enough to my hands to notice, I can slap them in the face. That's my plan, anyhow.
On a more serious note, I'd like to direct you to this post on the Fresh Stitches Blog. If you are stunned and saddened by what happened last week in Newtown, CT, here is a chance to use your crafty skills to bring comfort to the children affected by the tragedy. Last I heard, we're still waiting to find out where to send soft & cuddly critters, but in the mean time I'll be raiding my toy shelf and seeing if I can make a few more stuffed animals to send to children in need.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Fun

Just one more week til I can reveal the details of my secret knitting (and crochet) projects! Luckily, I have plenty of other goodies to share between now and then. For example, my first shipment of the Fresh Stitches Just Add Stuffing Kit Club arrived last Thursday - it's a cute little crab!

I also ordered some yarn from Doodlebug for the express purpose of crocheting even more amigurumi projects. I did a test knit for Kelbourne Woolens earlier this year and fell in love with Organik, which is a luscious blend of organic merino, alpaca and silk. Needless to say, it's a really beautiful yarn!

Aaaaand if you still need some gifties for your fibery friends (or perhaps yourself!), Craftsy has some cool new stuff on sale! Today is the last day to place your order for guaranteed delivery by Christmas, incidentally. You're welcome.

Friday, December 14, 2012

FO Friday: Fresh Stitches Mystery CAL Project!

Last week I received the final clue for the Fresh Stitches Mystery CAL, but it wasn't until this week that I had enough time to sit down and assemble my mystery stuffie. Now I have this super-adorable puppy to keep me company!

I also received an early Christmas present from my fiber friend Leanne - a Schacht Ladybug Wheel! Holy moly, I sure didn't see that coming, so you can imagine the look on my face when the UPS guy showed up on my doorstep with a ginormous box from The Woolery (one of our clients!). Woo hoo!

Don't get me wrong, I've loved my Heavely Handspinning wheel - it's served me well these past three years. However, I've been wanting to upgrade for a while now, and even though I've only just set up my new wheel and tinkered a bit, I am already in love with my Ladybug. It's so smooth (and quiet!), not to mention adorable...I can't wait to spin my first project on it!

I have a big ol' container of fiber that is ready to be spun on my pretty new wheel, so be expecting lots more handspinning inspiration in the new year!

If you're looking for more WIP Wednesday inspiration, head over to the Tami's Amis Blog!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wishful Thinking Wednesday!

Since I can't share my WIPs today, here are a few projects I'm looking forward to starting the second my holiday knitting is complete:

Yoga Socks: I really need some yoga socks for the winter months, as my living room is a bit drafty! The late Judi Sumner's Obi socks have been in my queue since August 2010....perhaps it's time to finally make a pair!

Entrelac Mittens: Since taking Gwen Bortner's Entrelac Craftsy Class, I've been wanting to make a pair of these entrelac mittens using some Malabrigo Finito and Lhasa Wilderness that have been lurking in my stash.

Chunky Cowl: I have the yarn to make the Arctic Circle Cowl, though I should probably finish the coordinating Svalbard Mittens I have on the needles first!

Stripey Hat: I've had the yarn in my stash for over a year, but somehow I haven't made Veera Valimaki's Here and There hat (which has been in my queue since February of this year) yet.

What will you be casting on when you've finished with holiday gift knitting or crocheting?

P.S. Don't forget to visit the Tami's Amis blog for WIP Wednesday inspiration!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two weeks?!

Are there seriously only two weeks left to finish my holiday gift projects?! Now would be the time to start panicking, but I made a lot of progress on my remaining two 'big' gift projects over the weekend. I still have a few things that may or may not get done in time, but I'm much further along than I was around this time last year, plus I have a few days' extension since we aren't heading down to KC til December 27. If anything, that seven hour train ride will be the perfect time to finish things up!

Lately, it seems like I am glued to Pinterest (downloading the Android app certainly didn't help with my obsession) - there are so many great holiday craft ideas on there...far more than I could ever hope to accomplish, though sometimes I entertain the delusion that I might spend an afternoon making a pom pon wreath or crocheting some cute little garland for our tree. Maybe next year, but for now I need to stay on task!

I still haven't assembled my Fresh Stitches Mystery CAL project (though it's going to be adorable when it's finished!), so here is a photo of ferrets in sweaters from my newest Pinterest board, Awesome Animals:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fiber Friday!

I'll share my completed project for the Fresh Stitches Archer Mystery CAL next week (I'm still assembling it!), and of course, I don't have any FO's that I am at liberty to share today. Hence, I decree today to be Fiber Friday!

My order from the Craftsy Holiday Sale arrived last weekend: Skacel Hikoo SimpliWorsted, Cascade Covington and Universal Yarns' Limerick....all things I don't need (or have specific projects in mind for their use, for that matter), but they're certainly good for keeping the stash healthy. The price was certainly right - and, if you missed out on the sale, I notice that a lot of these yarns are still available to purchase via the links above. C'mon, you know you want to join me down the slippery slope!

The Craftsy photos are nicer than mine!

While I'm shamelessly enabling, Craftsy has some great deals on knitting books such as Rebecca Danger's Knit a Monster Nursery! Too bad I already got my copy, but at least you can benefit from this knowledge. I also spied Cap Sease's Cast On Bind Off and some Knitter's Pride DPN's for a nice price....yep, that slope is just impossibly slippery.

Getting back to the realm of fiber.... I started taking Felicia Lo's Spinning Dyed Fibers Craftsy Class last weekend, which inspired me start spinning the Merino/Silk roving I bought from Miss Babs at Stitches Midwest this past August. I'm going to give Navajo plying a try once I've spun through this fiber, so stay tuned for an update on how that goes (I might practice on a few leftover singles first, this stuff is too nice to goof up with any plying mishaps).

I hope you have a wonderfully crafty weekend! If you're looking for a little FO Friday fun, be sure to stop by the Tami's Amis blog!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Too Cute!

Breaking news in the world of Craftsy Deals - these Lantern Moon Cool Sheep kits (shown below in black, also available here in white!) are a-dor-able!

Looks like there aren't very many left - but I think they'd make a great gift!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fresh Stitches Mystery CAL

It's been a while since I mentioned it, but I've been working on each clue for the Fresh Stitches Archer Mystery CAL and I stil have no idea what I'm making!

All will be revealed tomorrow when the final clue comes out. Here are all of the pieces:

Yep, I'm totally stumped. What is your best guess?

Looking for a little more WIP Wednesday inspiration? Hop over to the Tami's Amis Blog for all the blogginess you can handle!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kickstarter Update + Renegade Holiday Craft Fair

Our Kickstarter project's funding deadline was 11 AM this past Friday; I'm pleased to report that we reached our goal! It was a bit of a nail-biter, but it all ended well. I cannot tell you what a huge relief it is to have that phase of the project complete. It was hard work, but will definitely be worth it - we've already started phase II, wherein we begin pressing the first single!

Since Tyler made the video and set up the project, I was in charge of the promotion. I'm certainly glad that I had the help of our friends and family, who shared our updates and project page to help get the word out. It's nice to know we have so much support! I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that only one of our four former strings players took the time to share the project with their friends and family. Even though they are no longer in the band and we don't see them socially, it would have been nice if everyone could have pitched in and at least posted the link to our project a few times during the 30-day funding period. Tyler and I each messaged them to let them know it was live, and they each played on several of the 7 songs, so.....oh well, we still made our goal, so I'll try not to dwell on that.
Crazy Crowds at RCF - Photo courtesy of my friend Dan

Moving on....yesterday Tyler and I went to the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair, which I've been eagerly anticipating! I went on Saturday afternoon last year and it was impossibly crowded - you could barely walk through, much less elbow your way into a vendor booth to purchase anything. This year, it looked like it was similarly crowded for most of the weekend (judging by my friend Dan Grzeca's photo at right), so Tyler and I waited til late Sunday afternoon before we mustered the courage to drop by. We breezed in and out in less than 30 minutes, if you can believe that. I think I might have craft fair fatigue - there is literally some sort of handmade craft fair in Chicago every weekend, it seems. While I don't go to the lion's share of them, I did attend the DIY Trunk Show in mid-November, which is probably why I didn't feel compelled to linger, much less buy anything. We did see a few of our friends, which is always nice (and, quite honestly, why we make a point to go at all). I'm glad to know that so many people are buying handmade for the holidays, though!