Friday, March 29, 2013

FO Friday: Monkey & Destash Scarf

I've got two FO's to share this week! The first is my finished monkey for my newest nephew, Ethan:
The yarn is Green Mountain Spinnery's Wonderfully Woolly (now discontinued) in Turquoise and a little bit of Malabrigo Worsted in Pigeon. Once again, I used Rebecca Danger's excellent Jerry the Musical Monkey pattern.

I also bound off for my scrap yarn scarf last weekend and have been wearing it ever since! It's nice and soft and a good length; I used the Snippet Scarf pattern (available for free on Ravelry) as a guide, though I used smaller needles and cast on more stitches. Some of the yarns used are: Malabrigo Finito, Dream in Color Smooshy,The Uncommon Thread Heavenly Fingering, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, and The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering.

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

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Destash-a-Rama

Destashing is the name of the game these days! I have been listing more of my stash for sale here on Ravelry in my efforts to streamline my craft room and reduce clutter around the house.

In the spirit of these endeavors, I decided to join in the fun of the FreshStitches Scrap-a-Long, which gets rolling tomorrow! I used Stacey's excellent Russian join tutorial to create my very own magic ball using various red, white, grey and brown worsted yarns (including my leftover Sock Monkey yarn!). Then it was time to decide which pattern to use - after much debate, I decided that a cute monster would be the perfect project, so I'll be making Mixtro the Monster, which is a free crochet pattern from FreshStitches on Ravelry!
Also in the spirit of destashing, I I chose three colors of leftover sock yarn to start Tanis Gray's Constitution Hall Scarf from Capitol Knits. It's going to be three colors (I think), with one half of the scarf being light and dark grey and the other half knit in light grey and bluish-purple. I have no idea what the lace border will be, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!
I also made progress on my experimental Arroyo Cropped Cardigan for Malabrigo March. As I began to assess how much yarn was left, it became clear that I might want to introduce a contrast color as a "design feature" - luckily, I have some leftover Arroyo in Escorias lurking in my stash, which might look cool as a border. My current plan is to pick up stitches all around the body of the sweater and do an i-cord bind-off in the contrast color. I'm also going to save a bit for the sleeves, but I'm not sure if I'll have  a contrasting cuff or not.
Before I sign off, I thought I'd let you guys in on a little secret: you didn't hear it from me (ok, so maybe you did!), but next week I'll have some special deals for my newsletter subscribers in honor of the most dreaded of days...TAX DAY! Click here to sign up so you don't miss out on the awesome!

Thanks for stopping by this week. For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, hop over to the Tami's Amis Blog!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My first Blurb Book + A Special Deal for YOU!

First off, let's start with the disclaimer: as a new affiliate, I was given a special code to create my first Blurb book for free using a preview of their new Designer Photo Book Template. The catch? I had less than a week to use the promo code, which meant that my first book with Blurb would be a whirlwind!

I decided that the best place to start would be with my back catalog of patterns, so after much internal debate, I decided to do a sock retrospective called Super Socks! (what do you want? I was under a deadline). From start to finish, everything was totally easy and user-friendly. I used Bookify to drag and drop each page's graphics (I converted the PDF pages to PNGs for speed, I admit) and added in text and graphics elsewhere as need, easy peasy.

Once I was done, I listed it for sale to the general public; all you have to do is order the first copy and set your price, then folks can choose which type of book they'd like to order. I myself ordered the hardcover with wraparound image with an instant PDF download option; it was estimated to arrive two weeks from my order date, but showed up on my doorstep five days later. Needless to say, I was impressed!

The quality of the book is also quite nice - the colors are true, the text is clear, and the paper is of good quality, complete with that wonderful 'new book' smell. Once I got everything up and running, I decided to set the PDF-only book price at a very modest $12.99 (which means you get six sock patterns for less than $3 apiece!). I will definitely be working on a follow up to Super Socks! to add to my Blurb Bookshelf.

I have a special offer for you! Enter DESIGNMYBOOK at checkout to receive 20% off your order! 

The fine print: This coupon code is good for 20% Off Designer Book Templates only and expires 3/31/13*.  Click here to get started! 

Click here to check out my bookstore!

You might also like to know: Besides receiving free product for review, I was offered a nominal fee to share my experience with my blog readers. Rest assured, if I had been less than thrilled with my experience with Blurb, I would have passed on the offer. 

*The EXTRA fine print: Get 20% USD, AUD, CAD or EUR off your Blurb Designer Bookify product total up to $150. Offer expires March 31, 2013 11.59pm local time. May only be used once per customer and on books created by you. May not be combined with any other coupons, volume discount or applied retroactively to previous orders.

Friday, March 22, 2013

FO Friday / FreshStitches Friday!

This week, I have two amigurumi projects, both of which use patterns by one of my favorite crochet designers, Stacey Trock of Freshstitches.

First, I finally got around to making my February kit club project, Dale the Mosquito! I spent last Saturday afternoon baking and crocheting in the kitchen. A few hours later, I had a new friend, complete with poseable nose and legs!
In other crochet news: the moose is done! The moose is done! It took much longer to put together than I was expecting, mostly because I had to reattach pieces more than once. I think he's cute, but a little on the wonky side; part of that is because I still managed to have a pretty loose gauge, despite using a smaller hook than recommended (used an F instead of the recommended H). I probably should have noticed sooner and switched to an even smaller hook, but it's a little too late for that now! The pattern is Stacey Trock's Maple the Moose from Crocheted Softies, made with Malabrigo Merino Worsted as one of my Malabrigo March projects.
(Click here to view project details on Ravelry)
The question now is - should I give this guy a ride in the washing machine in an attempt to felt him a little? It's either so crazy, it just might work....or just CRAZY. I am having a hard time deciding, and have been wrestling with this question all week, so I will open it up to the general public: to felt or not to felt? What will be his moosey fate?

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

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday + Spring Destashing

I think I'm about halfway through the fingering weight scrap yarn scarf! I try to work through a few rows each night at the very least, so there's a good chance this will be done by the end of this month if I can just keep my momentum going. Of course, it's a little tough to photograph, but I think you get the idea!
My top-down Arroyo Cropped Cardigan is coming along well - I am just about ready to take off for the sleeves. The rest should be downhill from there, as they say. I've made a few minor changes to the pattern as written, mostly because I'm not joining in the round for a pullover. Last night I took off for the sleeves and tried it on - success! It fit! And it's even looking more sweater-like! After taking off the sleeves, I split the remaining skein in half by weight, figuring I could knit the body til I ran out of yarn, and then I would be able to use the other skein I wound off to finish the sleeves and collar.
Mr. Monkey is nearing completion, too - all of the pieces are knit, I just have to get down to stuffing and seaming. I think I will be washing each piece before I assemble them, since the turquoise yarn could use a little softening. I probably won't get a chance to finish this little guy til Sunday at the earliest, though.
Even though we've had another cold snap this week, I have the urge to do some spring cleaning. I've been cleaning up the house for visitors, too, but beyond that, I feel the need to get organized and pare down. To wit, I have a lot of lovely stash yarn that I doubt I will ever knit with in this lifetime, so I'm going to start listing it for sale on Ravelry. Click here to see what's available this week - there are some nice luxury yarns, indie dyers and discontinued yarns to choose from. As you can see below, I've pared down my laceweight and sock yarn bin to just the essential!
Looking for more WIP Wednesday inspiration? Hop over to the Tami's Amis Blog!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I think I can get this in just under the wire....instead of my usual Monday post, I thought I'd wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day today! Though it's a pretty huge holiday here in Chicago, Tyler and I prefer to stay as far away as possible from the insanity. On Saturday, I made Guinness brownies and Chocolate Stout Cupcakes and we enjoyed the remaining Guinness pints from my baking adventure. Today, we spent some time with family (including our new nephew Ethan!).
See you back here on WIP Wednesday!

Friday, March 15, 2013

FO Friday: Mittens & Yoga Socks

Happy FO Friday! I finished my finito mittens for Malabrigo March and have been wearing them all week! They are so soft and warm, and it was surprisingly easy to convert the Waiting for Spring fingerless mitt pattern to mittens (and I still only used one skein of Finito!).
I also made some yoga socks over the weekend - these have been in my queue for quite some time, and I can't believe I waited so long to make them. The pattern is from one of my favorite books, Knitted Socks East and West by the late Judy Sumner. I used the Obi pattern with just a few minor modifications to whip these up! They were a great way to destash some mystery yarn, too; I'm 98% certain this was a skein of alpaca yarn from Blue Sky, but of course the label is long gone. I split the skein by weight and used the whole thing up, save a few yards. I'm excited to test them out; it's been way too long since I've dusted off the yoga mat, in part because our living room is a bit drafty in the wintertime. I'm hoping that this will inspire me to be more active!
Unfortunately, I didn't quite finish assembling my moose for today's post, but I'll definitely be finishing it up over this weekend so that I can share it next Friday.

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

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Malabrigo and more!

It's week two of Malabrigo March and already I've finished my first project, with the second one close on its heels. Here is the pile of moose parts I need to assemble this week, ideally in time for my FO Friday post...though that might be a long shot, considering how many fiddly bits there are to assemble:
Since I was without an "on-the-go" knitting project, last week I decided to cast on for a scrap yarn scarf  based on Becky Herrick's Snippet Scarf, a free pattern on Ravelry. For some reason, I had the insane delusion that carrying around several leftover skeins of fingering-weight yarn was a really good idea. The reality, of course, is the complete opposite, and I think this will become my kitchen knitting project instead! I have been saving lots of bits and bobs from luxury skeins of yarn - Malabrigo Finito, The Uncommon Thread Heavenly Fingering, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, and The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering, to name a few. Already, it's become rather unwieldy, as you can see, but I think the end result will be a very pretty (and warm) scarf that I'll wear a bunch!
My new nephew finally made his appearance this week, and of course that means he needs a monkey, right? I had bought some brightly-colored yarn from the Green Mountain Spinnery at the beginning of the year, and I think this skein of Wonderfully Woolly is perfect for monkey-making. I'll be pairing it with the never-ending skein of Malabrigo Worsted in Pigeon as the contrast colors, which means that this monkey will be soft AND sturdy! This also happens to be the perfect project for on-the-go, so now I am back in business for the next time In need to venture outside of the house.
Finally, I haven't made much progress on my third (and final) Malabrigo March project, the cropped cardi in Arroyo. For those of you who missed Monday's post, you can get the scoop here (I also review the Raglanify app, which I used to generate the pattern I'm using for this project!).

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

Monday, March 11, 2013

App Review: Raglanify Knitting Sweater Pattern Generator

For Malabrigo March, I bought a beautiful skein of Arroyo in Plomo that was begging to become a sweater of some sort. Of course, I only purchased one skein, so that means I'll be making a cropped cardigan or shrug of some sort. After scouring Ravelry for something that matched what was in my head, I decided that I needed to DIY it.

As luck would have it, I was researching apps for an article that will soon be published, and came across Raglanify from ShhStudios, a knitting pattern generator for making top-down sweaters with raglan shaping, as the name would imply. I purchased this app from the Google Play store for $0.99 (there is also an iPhone/iPad version for the same price) and immediately fired it up! 

The screenshots provided in the app store are pretty much exactly what you get: after choosing your design elements and gauge information, you simply input your measurements and written instructions are generated. A lot of reviews mention the fact that it doesn't account for bust shaping unless you want to add ease to the back; I found this to be true as well. After playing around with entering various measurements based on some of my favorite sweaters I've made, I still was only able to get a bust size that was 3" less that my actual measurement. It does seem odd that bust circumference wouldn't be one of the measurements you could specify, considering the fact that most published patterns list bust size as the measurement. I'm pretty sure I can make adjustments as I go along since I won't be making a pullover, but less experienced knitters might find themselves at a loss at this point. 

However, for the measurements provided, there is a very clear  graphic the shows you where to take said measurements, which is always helpful! There are several options you can turn on and off, such as waist shaping and sleeve tapering; there are also 3 neck options provided (boatneck, crewneck and v-neck). It would be really cool if you could also specify pullover or cardigan, but that capability is not currently supported. However, you can refer to (and modify) the pattern at any time on the app itself, or you can email it to yourself to print out, which is a pretty nice touch.

Off to a good start on my Arroyo Cropped Cardi!
The instructions themselves are very easy to follow, so you'll get a well-written pattern that can be built upon and easily customized - I'm adding a cable panel down each sleeve for a little added interest while I knit. 

The real test will be when I finish my project, of course - if it fits like a dream, I'll be sure to add an extra star onto my rating! For now, I'd say this app is totally worth the 99 cents I paid for it, and it has a lot of potential if the developer is willing to listen to customer feedback and roll out more options in the future. For now, I'll give it 3.5 of 5 stars!

Friday, March 8, 2013

FO Friday: Sweater & Owl Hats + Craftsy Flash Sale

It's done, it's done, it's DONE! On Monday night, my yarn order arrived and I set to work finishing up the final bits of my Rocky Coast Cardigan. By the end of Tuesday night, all of the ends were woven in (and there were many!) and it was time to block in some lavender Eucalan! All in all, it was totally worth reknitting the sleeves and purchasing one more skein of yarn at the 11th hour. It's the perfect cardigan and I'm so excited that I finished it with plenty of time to enjoy it before warm weather arrives, though I think I will add some sort of closure at the top.
I also finished a few more owl hats, which were made in the interim before Malabrigo March began. From R-L: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Douglas Fir & Growth; The Fibre Company Organik in Algae and Claystone, and Malabrigo Worsted in Pigeon and Knit Picks Andean Silk (which is apparently discontinued) in Imperial.

Deal alert! 

I'm excited to offer you an exclusive deal on Craftsy Classes that you won't find anywhere else: right now, select classes are marked down to $14.99 during the Craftsy Flash Sale! You'll only be able to access the sale via this special link. Donna Druchanas' Knit Sock Workshop and Stacey Trock's Amigurumi: Woodland Animals are both included in the sale, so don't miss out on the fun!

The fine print: sale ends tonight at midnight.

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

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Malabrigo March is in full swing!

Two of my three proposed Malabrigo March projects are in progress! I started the Finito mitts over the weekend; since I couldn't work on my Rocky Coast til the extra skein of yarn arrived, I spent most of my knitting time on this project. Since I was hoping to convert the Waiting for Spring pattern to mittens, I split the skein by weight and was happy to discover that I would have enough yarn to do so! The first mitten is complete save the thumb, and mitten #2 is proceeding quite nicely as well. 
I also started Maple the Moose over the weekend; I am nearly done with the second main body piece! I love crocheting with singly-ply yarns such as Malabrigo's Merino Worsted, and this particular colorway - Cognac - is working up beautifully.
On a different note, I've come across some really great photos this week via various internet wormholes that it would be criminal not to share here. You can see even more unbearably cute animal photos on my Awesome Animals Pinterest board if you dare!
Looking for more WIP Wednesday inspiration? Hop over to the Tami's Amis Blog for all the WIPs you can handle!

Monday, March 4, 2013

On The Importance Of The Safety Skein

Confession time: I had to order an extra skein of Canopy Worsted in Macaw to finish my Rocky Coast Cardigan (luckily there were still a few skeins of Malabrigo Worsted on sale to make my order worthwhile). At this point in my knitting life, I should have known to purchase an extra skein of yarn from the beginning; I cannot tell you how many calls we'd get at Lorna's Laces from people who needed just one more skein of a particular dye lot to finish their sweater - let's just say I'd be retiring quite early if I had a dollar for each call, and that was just in the four years I worked there.
So close to being done: sweater mess-in-progress
I would have been fine with the recommended 900 yards of worsted-weight yarn, except I decided I wanted roomier sleeves. I figured I'd be cutting it close, but on Friday night, there was no denying that I was going to run out of yarn. I even wound off my final skein of yarn and began to knit the collar, but it was still clear that I'd be short. In one last desperate attempt, I frogged the gauge swatch and began to knit with that. No dice. Time to order one more skein.

I can say with 99% certainty that this final skein will not be the same dye lot as what I've been knitting with, but I've got a plan: for both the sleeves and collar, I have left a few yards of  un-knit yarn to alternate skeins for a few rows as I integrate the new with the old. That's usually enough to trick the eye and minimize any visible dye lot differences. Some may say this is an annoying extra step to take, but I think it's worth it. I've come so far to make the perfect cardigan for myself, it would be a shame to start half-assing it when I'm so close to reaching my goal.

File under: I should know better by now! 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Have you heard of Blurb?

One of my family members used Blurb to create a book of photos a year or so ago, which is the first I'd heard of this website. Since then, I've been wanting to give it a try, but always got sidetracked. Earlier this week, I received an invitation to become an affiliate for Blurb and figured that was the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at this site. Here are my first impressions:

1. Affordable & User-friendly. Books prices start at $3.95; there are a number of ways you can create your book, including an optional Adobe InDesign plug-in (which I am excited to try out).

2. A viable way to self-publish. Whether you have a pattern collection, photo tutorials, a collection of recipes or photos of cats in bowties to share with the world, allows you to create printed books and e-books easily. There are options to create books using your Instagram feed and Facebook photos, as well as ways to create calendars, brochures, magazines, and more. 

3. Possible source of extra income. Think there's a market for your instagram feed? Make a book using Blurb's book-making tools, purchase the first copy in whichever format you'd like to sell it in, then set your price and let the money roll in. You keep 100% of the markup for printed books and keep 80% of the purchase price for eBooks. Blurb will also help you submit your eBook to the Apple iTunes store. 

In the months to come, I'll be exploring everything that Blurb has to offer and sharing my exploits with you on this blog! Have you used Blurb? I'm excited to hear what you think of it! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

FO Friday: Calm Cowl + Sock Monkey Monkey!

I finished two long-term projects this week - all the better to make way for my Malabrigo March projects! My crocheted Calm Cowl seemed as thought it would never end, and that's partially because I didn't want it to! It was the perfect type of project to take on the CTA, so I ended up making it considerably larger than the pattern specifies. The yarn was perfect for this project, a nice subtle gradation of emerald green and occasional turquoise hues. You may recall that I ordered this last fall from Craftsy's Thanksgiving sale - I'm not sure if I mentioned it at the time, but they accidentally sent me an extra ball of yarn, something that ended up coming in handy after all!
The other project I finished this week is my Sock Monkey Monkey! I had been wanting to try the hand-dyed yarns from Haldecraft and fell in love with the Sock Monkey Colorway. When my SIL bought a skein of worsted-weight yarn in my color of choice, I knew I had to make myself a stuffed monkey. Using Rebecca Dangers's Jerry the Musical Monkey pattern and a few odds and ends from my stash to round everything out, the Sock Monkey Monkey project was on! I don't recall when I started this project, and for some reason I never entered the date in my Ravelry notebook, but I can guesstimate that I've been knitting in this for about a month.
I also repaired two more pairs of socks in my Darn-a-thon efforts: the Mineshaft Socks were originally knit in 2009; the lace section near the back of the heel was starting to get threadbare, so I thought it would be better to reinforce everything now instead of trying to put back the pieces once a hole cropped up.  The other pair of socks I repaired last weekend were begun at the tail end of 2009 and finished in January of 2010 using some really cool yarn I bought at a yarn store in Kansas City that is no longer in business. They're just simple stockinette, but I love these socks and am happy to have them back in the rotation!

By the way, there are some really awesome Craftsy Deals that I am trying not to be tempted by: Brown Sheep, Manos del Uruguay, Spud & Chloe, and yes, even Malabrigo awaits you if you are brave enough to take a peek at the latest yarn deals from Craftsy

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

Have a crafty weekend!