Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Rocky Coast & A New Spinning Project!

I made significant progress on my Rocky Coast Cardigan over the weekend - by Sunday night, I was nearly done with the sleeves (I decided to knit them two-at-a-time on magic loop). Alas, I decided that I needed a little more room for my arms in order to be happy with my cardi, so I ended up frogging an entire weekend's worth of work on Monday night. I'm happy to say that it will be worth the pain, since these sleeves fit me much better the second time around. Plus, I'm still optimistic that I can be finished by the end of next weekend!
Since I can't start any of my Malabrigo March projects til Friday, I found myself without a portable project to stash in my messenger bag. As a solution, I decided to crochet a few Owl Hats in the interim with yarn from my stash. I'm using the same pattern as before with the same modifications as well; the yarns used are Malabrigo Worsted in Pigeon and Knit Picks Andean Silk (which is apparently discontinued) in Imperial (foreground) and The Fibre Company's Organik in Algae and Claystone (background).
Over the weekend, I also decided to start a new spinning project! A few years ago, I bought a beautiful merino roving at the Yarn Barn of Kansas; I loved how it looks like a dark charcoal grey, but actually has bits of bright colors mixed in. It's spinning up to be a nice heathery grey, and totally dreamy to spin up! I have no idea if I'll be plying it with something else or spinning a few singles to ply together; I guess I'll just wait to see where things take me!
Looking for more WIP Wednesday inspiration? Hop over to the Tami's Amis Blog for all the WIPs you can handle!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Malabrigo March is Coming!

Last week, I received my order from Doodlebug Yarn's Malabrigo sale:
Top to bottom: Malabrigo Worsted in Cognac and Natural, Arroyo in Plomo.
A pretty modest haul, yes, but this is me trying to avoid buying more yarn when I already have a very healthy stash to knit from. Plus, I have a lot of Finito squirreled away for a rainy day; I fell in love with it last year and bought skeins of several different colors. Of the six skeins I am hoarding, I've decided to pull out one for this year's Malabrigo March celebration.

Here is my plan for next month:

1. Finito in Coffee Toffee: Waiting for Spring mitts for the General Accessory KAL. I might try to convert this pattern into mittens!
2. Arroyo in Plomo: some sort of top-down cropped cardigan (I might DIY it since I haven't found a pattern that matches what I have in mind) for the General Sweater KAL.
3. Malabrigo Worsted in Cognac and Natural: Maple the Moose from Crocheted Softies for the General Crochet CAL.

I still have a sweater's worth of Rios in Glazed Carrot that is earmarked for a Textured Circle Shrug, but seeing as it was my "shot in the dark" project for last year's Malabrigo March knitting list, I don't think it's wise to include it again on this year's list. Perhaps if I can finish my Rocky Coast Cardigan by the end of next weekend, I could possibly conceive of making the three projects listed above and casting on for the Rios sweater, but I am not getting my hopes up!

You can still get ready for Malabrigo March with Doodlebug Yarn's early bird sale - don't forget to enter HBSBLOG at checkout for $5 off your order of $25 or more! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

FO Friday: BFL Gloves & Romney Handspun

Happy FO Friday! It's been a week since I finished Tyler's new gloves, but I wanted to save them for today's post. They were quick to knit - I made them in less than a week! - and I used some lovely hand-dyed BFL yarn I bought at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival last fall. It was a huge skein of yarn, so I have plenty left over for more projects. I used the 5 in 1 Adventure pattern from Marly Bird's Mittens and Gloves Galore class on Craftsy (click here to read my full class review from earlier this week; there is a special affiliate link for 50% off your class registration!).

Conductive Thread from Knit Picks
You can't see them, but there are two small silver dots on the index fingers of both gloves; late last year, I purchased some conductive thread from Knit Picks so that Tyler can operate his smartphone and iPod without having to take off his gloves! I know that Knit Picks is getting a beating for their mishandling of a security breach on their site that caused many people (myself included) to discover fraudulent activity on their credit cards, but I've shopped with them from time to time for the last 8 years without incident, excepting this most recent one. So while I would have appreciated being notified by them once they'd discovered the breach, I consider myself lucky because I discovered that my bank has killer fraud protection - they noticed every single fraudulent charge right away and didn't let them go through. Before I even knew what had happened, they had frozen my account, called me to confirm that I wasn't in France, and closed down that account number. I was impressed. That said, when I do place another Knit Picks order (and I'm sure I will at some point), I'll definitely be checking out with Paypal!

UPDATE (3/1/12): Apparently the security issues with KnitPicks are even worse than disclosed or imagined - click here for the most recent thread on this matter to decide for yourself!

In other news, I'm back to spinning! It's been a while since I've mentioned my spinning endeavors; the handspun romney I've been working on as part of my stash-spinning efforts spent about a week waiting to be plied. I wanted to Navajo ply it, which I prefer to do all in one sitting, so it took a while to find a solid block of time where I could sit down and get plying! I'm fairly happy with how it turned out and definitely interested in seeing it knit up!

Celebrate FO Friday by checking out more posts over on the Tami's Amis blog!

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday!

Remember my Calm Cowl? I have been working on it steadily since I last shared it on this blog, but I feel like it will never be finished! I am nearly done with the third ball of yarn (Wisdom Yarns' Limerick), but I think that I'll keep going and dip into my fourth ball. It's certainly been a great project to take on-the-go; it's accompanied me to various places such as our favorite coffee shop, a bowling alley, and the Genius Bar at the Apple store, not to mention countless trips on the CTA.
My Sock Monkey Monkey is nearing completion; even though I feel like I don't work on it very much (it is the "kitchen" project du jour), somehow I am coming down the home stretch at last. I am loving the yarn, which is a hand-dyed worsted with a very nice twist from Haldecraft. Can't wait to finish my monkey!
Just as soon as I finished Tyler's gloves last Friday night, I cast on for the Rocky Coast Cardigan with the Canopy Worsted I scored for 50% via Craftsy last month. This was my primary project over the weekend, and as you can see, I got a lot done: on Sunday, I woke up with a sore throat, so I spent most of the day knitting on the couch (which was kind of a bummer, because a friend of mine was having a President's Day Tea Party that afternoon). I really can't believe how quickly this project is knitting up - chalk it up to project monogamy, I suppose!

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: Mittens & Gloves Galore

Click here for 50% off your class registration!
This review is long overdue; I was originally hoping to post it last December, but holiday gift knitting and crocheting took over all of my brain power, and it became my white whale on my blogging to-do list. Honestly, I have to thank my husband for finally getting me back in the class review swing of things - if he hadn't needed a new pair of gloves because his current gloves (knit in 2008, mind you) kept springing holes, I might still be procrastinating.

I've taken several Craftsy classes in the last year, but I still watched the introduction, even though I feel well-versed in all of the bells and whistles the Craftsy platform provides. It's always nice to get to know the instructor (although in this case, I've had the pleasure of getting to know Marly at trade shows and other knitting events), plus she outlines what the class will cover and shows each of the projects that will be made along the way. I'm very excited to learn how to do thrummed mittens!
I give this class 2 thumbs up while wearing one of my class
projects, the Warm in Here thrummed mittens!

After the introduction, Marly shares some of her favorite supplies and products that aid in successful mitten-making, then then moves on to discussing measurements and sizing in great detail - for example, taking fingernail length into consideration when choosing what type and size of mittens or gloves to make.

The first project covered is the 5 in 1 Adventure, which is a universal pattern written for worsted-weight yarn with five styles to choose from: fingerless mitts, mittesn, convertible fingerless mittens, fingerless gloves, and gloves.  It's also sized from children's sizes to adult men's sizes, making it the perfect go-to for quick gifts or knitting emergencies. I made Tyler's gloves in under a week!

Marly shares lots of great tips along the way that beginners will find especially useful; for my friends who are new to the world of knitting and intimidated by working in the round on DPNs, I would wholeheartedly recommend this class because Marly covers everything completely, from cast-on to bind-off. Speaking of which, she demonstrates the long-tail cast on in great detail with Crafty's signature close-up shots to show you exactly what you need to be doing. This is one of my favorite cast-ons because because it provides a nice, stretchy edge for mittens, gloves, and socks. There is also a very cool demo to show you how to cast on stitches to multiple DPNs. Slick!

I think this is the first time I've seen various comments and questions from classmates that have really caught my eye; for example, someone commented w/ instructions to do and "endless tail" long-tail cast-on using both ends of the ball. It sounds pretty crazy, but it certainly would prevent the annoying issue of running out of yarn before you've completed your cast-on, which has happened to me on many occasions. I might have to give that a try!

My Class Project: Faux Fair-Isle Mittens
After finishing all of the options in the 5 in 1 Adventure, Marly kicks it up a notch with the remaining projects and lessons:

  • Lace Arrow Mittswhich demonstrates a few ways to cast on provisonally, pick up stitches, work from a chart and incorporate short rows for a better fit.
  • Tanglewood Cabled Mittswhich demonstrates how to knit in the round with two circular needles, a gusseted thumb, yarnover increases, and how to cable. 
  • Thrummed Mittens, which uses spinning fiber and hand-dyed yarn from Lorna's Laces. Marly demonstrates how to make thrums, then shares her tips for successfully incorporating them into your project.
  • Faux Fair Isle Mittenswhich begins by picking out contrasting colors and discussing gauge with colorwork, then moves on to demonstrate a two-color cast-on, corrugated rib cuff, and reading a fair isle chart.
  • Bonus Lessons: Duplicate Stitch and Adding a lining to Mittens or Gloves.

The overall emphasis of each lesson is trying something new and not being afraid to customize for your personal preference; each lesson also builds on the next, adding new skills to your toolbox. By the end of this class, you'll be a mitten and glove-knitting superstar!

To start your own adventure, click here to sign up for Mittens & Gloves Galore on for 50% off your course registration. Happy knitting!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Malabrigo Sale Alert + FO Friday

Happy FO Friday! I finished my first project from Amigurumi On The Go, which I bought recently via Craftsy Deals. This is the Cat Roundie Bag, which I modified a bit, mostly because I didn't want to sew on pieces of felt. Instead, I decided to crochet as many features as possible and embroider the rest. Below is what I did if you decide you'd like to do the same!

The main yarn used is a lovely space-dyed purple from Manos Del Uruguay (just in time for their Fair Trade February celebration!); the contrasting colors are all bits and bobs from my amigurumi stash. This was a very quick project to make, though I highly recommend blocking the finished pieces (especially the round bag pieces) so that they lay nice and flat.

Modifications - To Make Cat Features
Cat Muzzle: Work first 6 rnds of bag front instructions in contrasting color. Fasten off.

Cat Triangles (worked flat - make 5):

Ch 2.
Row 1: SC 3 sts into second stitch from hook.
Row 2: CH 1, SC 3 sts.
Row 3: CH 1, SC 2 sts into first st, sc 1 st, sc 2 sts into last st.
Row 4: CH 1, SC 5 sts.
Row 5: CH 1, SC SC 2 sts into first st, sc next 3 sts, sc 2 sts into last st.
Row 6: CH 1, SC 7 sts.
Fasten off.

Attach pieces to bag front. Embroider eyes, nose and mouth as you see fit!

Did somebody Say 'Malabrigo Sale?' 

Why wait til Malabrigo March is here? The early bird gets the skein of yarn! Right now, Doodlebug Yarn has marked down all of their luscious, lovely mmmmmmMalabrigo - they even have some Finito left in stock! I just placed my own order, so it's safe to enable spread the word. Don't forget to enter "HBSBLOG" at checkout to receive $5 off your order of $25 or more! 

Celebrate FO Friday by checking out more posts over on the Tami's Amis blog! Have a crafty weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sale Alert: Crafty Classes for up to 75% off!

Craftsy Valentine's Day SaleHappy Valentine's Day! What better way to celebrate than the Craftsy Valentine's Day Sale, am I right? I thought I'd pass along these awesome deals on classes which start at $9.99.

If you've been wanting to explore the world of crochet, both of my personal favorites, Crochet Lab with Vickie Howell and Amigurumi Woodland Animals with Stacey Trock, are currently on sale for $9.99.

I myself just signed up for How To Say It: Pattern Writing For Knitters by Edie Eckman for $14.99 (and yes, there will be a review on my blog sometime soon!). I know I have said it many times - I am in love with the Craftsy platform and am a serial Craftsy class-taker. I know that once you sign up for your first class, you'll fall in love, too!

Enjoy the savings and have a happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WIP Wednesday: 2 New Knitting Projects

After making the decision to put my Destash Dolman to sleep for a bit, I comforted myself by casting on for two new knitting projects. The first is a pair of gloves for Tyler, whose current gloves keep springing holes (they were, after all, knit in 2008). The new gloves will look an awful lot like the old ones, being that they're his favorite color (or not-color, if you prefer), black. I am, however, using a different yarn entirely - this time, a 100% BFL worsted-weight yarn that I purchased at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival last fall. It's a huge skein, so gloves are just the beginning!

As you can see, I've accomplished a lot in just a few days' time - I'm already on the second glove! I'm using Marly Bird's 5 in 1 Adventure pattern, which is a part of her excellent Mittens and Glove Galore class on Craftsy, in which I am enrolled, so be looking for my full review here on this blog soon. In the mean time, if you can't wait to hear my thoughts, sign up for yourself using this special affiliate link giving you, my dear readers, 50% off your registration fee!

Project # 2 is a knit monkey made with a skein of yarn I received as a gift from my SIL - a skein of Haldecraft Tepper in Sock Monkey! I've had my eye on this colorway for a long time, and it's no secret that I am obsessed with monkey, especially sock monkeys. Worlds are colliding in this project! I'm using Rebecca Danger's Jerry the Musical Monkey Pattern to make myself a new office buddy. I'm not too far along, but this is my "kitchen" project, which I only work on when I'm waiting for food to cook, water to boil, or fussy cats to eat their food.

I also swatched for my next sweater, the Rocky Coast Cardigan using the Canopy Worsted I scored last month for a whopping 50% off via Crafty Deals. I'm trying to wait til I've finished a few projects on the needles before I cast on, but it's becoming pretty difficult to be patient. I love the bright blue color and I could really use a new cardigan while winter is still here!

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

Monday, February 11, 2013

On the Backburner

I dedicated most of this weekend to working on my Destash Dolman, only to realize that I'd miscalculated the amount of yarn I needed when substituting. Oops! On the plus side, it fit very well when I tried it on, so I know I'll be pleased with it when it's completed...whenever that is!

The problem is, the yarn I ran out of (Anzula Squishy in Clay) is apparently not one that is sold in many shops. Also, it's $36; kind of a bummer to drop that kind of cash on a skein of yarn from which you'll only use about 100 yards! Usually in this type of situation, I can track down a skein in someone's Ravelry stash that they're willing to sell, but no such luck. Ah, well, these things happen. I'll put this project on hibernation for a bit and concentrate on other swatching for my next sweater, the Rocky Coast Cardigan!

I thought I'd share a few photos from the barista throwdown at Metropolis that I mentioned last week. In this one, you can see Tyler pulling his shot:

In this one, Tyler and I are taking it all in (and I am, of course, knitting):

And here is a lovely example of a 'winning' latte - this won the first round of competition:

Friday, February 8, 2013

FO Friday: Slug-a-Long & Legwarmers

On Tuesday night I put the finishing touches on my slug for the Fresh Stitches Slug-a-Long:
The yarn is a combination of various leftovers in my stash - Organik from the Fibre Company, Cascade 220, and Berrocco Vintage. This was a fun little project that took me only a few hours to complete and it's already found a home with my crafty pal Susan!

I also finished my Spanish Moss Legwarmers from November Knits. I completed the knitting portion at the barista throwdown on Monday night, and then did the sewn bind-off the following evening when I was at home and had access to the instructions, which I always need to reference. I love, love, LOVE the yarn and colorway - The Uncommon Thread's Heavenly Fingering in Zitouni. It's so very luxurious and soft. I'm excited to wear these around my home office with my favorite skirt.

Celebrate FO Friday by checking out more posts over on the Tami's Amis blog!

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I've made some major progress on my Calm Cowl, which recently joined me for a few journeys on the CTA and a barista throwdown at the coffee shop where my husband works. Just last night I started on my third ball of yarn!

I've made a little more progress on the Destash Dolman, which I'll be focusing on for the weeks to come so that I can get it off the needles finally. I'm halfway through the 19th stripe!

My only other WIP is the Roundie Bag that I'm crocheting for my grandmother's birthday. I haven't made much progress since Monday, but I'm hoping to finish it over the upcoming weekend. The yarn is Manos Yarns' Maxima, and I just happened to get this started in time with their Fair Trade February event!

That wraps it up for this week, see you back here on FO Friday!

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

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013: The Year of Amigurumi

I'm getting serious about amigurumi this year! In January, I decided to set up an amigurumi station in my living room so that everything I need - safety eyes, crochet hooks, and YARN of course! - is all in one place (not pictured: poly-fill stuffing, but it's been added to the general vicinity since this photo was taken).

Each drawer is filled with worsted-weight yarn that has been earmarked for amigurumi: the top drawer contains small bits and bobs of leftover yarn; the middle drawer contains half-used skeins that would be suitable for accent colors; and the bottom drawer is stuffed with full skeins of yarn just waiting to become something cute.

My husband bought me Stacey Trock's Crocheted Softies book for my birthday last year (which incidentally was the anniversary of its publication!), and since then it has been my #1 source for cute amigurumi patterns. Several holiday gifts were made from this book, in fact!

Recently, I purchased Amigurumi On The Go via Craftsy; it's chock-full of adorable patterns to make bags, purses and pouches with adorable animals on them. I know it's supposed to be for kids, but I want to make darn near all of the patterns for myself! Of course, my many friends who are having babies this year will also benefit, so it's win-win.

Over the weekend, I started a Roundie Bag to give my grandmother for her bithday. She's in a nursing home and I think she'd like a cute little friend to stash chocolates or other treasures in. The strap will make it easy for her to transport via wheelchair, too - and of course, I chose her favorite color, purple. Rather than a zipper closure, I might opt for velcro, which will be easier for her to operate.

I also decided to join the FreshStitches Slug-A-Long, albeit a little late to the party. Last night I started working on a wee little slug using some of my scrap yarn (yes, it was from the top drawer!). Hopefully I'll have some photos to share with you later this week!

Friday, February 1, 2013

FO Friday: Crochet Owl Hat (with modifications)

Happy FO Friday!

Last weekend, I finished the crochet owl hat using one of my favorite superwash yarns, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted. It is so unbelievably cute, I don't know if I can stand it! This was a very easy-to-follow pattern (Crochet Owl Hat by Sarah Zimmerman, available for free), so I would definitely recommend it for those of you who are new to crochet. I made one small modification - rather than sewing on buttons for eyes and then crocheting a border to attach around the buttons, I made my eyes all in one piece like so:

With a few yards of black yarn, use a sloppy slip knot to get started. Ch 2. SC 6 times in 2nd st from hook, join for rnd.

Rnd 1: SC twice into each st. 12 sts.
Rnd 2: Switch to your CC (in this case, green). SC 1, SC twice in next st. Repeat til you reach the end of the rnd - 18 sts.
Rnd 3: Switch to white. SC 2, SC twice in next st. Repeat til you reach the end of the rnd - 24 sts.
Rnd 4. SC 3, SC twice in next st. Repeat til you reach the end of the rnd - 30 sts. Fasten off and weave in ends. Attach to hat!

Thanks for stopping by - you can celebrate FO Friday by checking out more posts over on the Tami's Amis blog!

Have a crafty weekend!