Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Craziness

Ah, Black Friday. My least favorite day to be out in the world. You won't find me shopping today, unless it's for groceries. Insane crowds and fistfights over discounted crap just isn't my scene, which I know seems strange since I am obsessed with getting got deals on nearly everything I buy. I'd prefer to shop online as a general rule, and most places are doing Black Friday deals online, too - in fact, many places have been doing them all week, which is just ridiculous if you ask me. What's to stop retailers from making Black Friday a monthlong festival of pain next year?!

Anyway, op-ed piece aside, there are some Black Friday sales I've been looking forward to, such as the annual Craftsy Yarn and Fabric sale - up to 80% off from 11/27-12/2!. There are lots of yarn and classes on sale this weekend, and I just noticed a new product: The Side Swipe Sock kit featuring my pattern and Lorna's Laces Solemate Yarn! It's currently a steal at 40% off, and you can choose from several colorways, too!

I got an email about a random Black Friday sale (today only) at Eat. Sleep. Knit. - basically, you would find out what kind of discount you'd get after checking out! The discounts ranged from 10% to 100%, so I figured it was worth trying my luck. I bought two skeins of Tough Love Sock and saved 20% on my order! I was pretty pleased with that - that's about ten bucks off. My knitting pal Julie also got 20% off her order, so the odds seem pretty good to receive a discount above 10%. 

Last but not least, I'm still offering FREE shipping on most items in my Etsy Shop and discounted shipping on everything else! Click here to check it out!

If you're STILL in the mood for yarn, Marly Bird has compiled a list of Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals here on her blog

Thanks for stopping by this week - for FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Knit & Crochet, Hooray!

It's that time of year when I can't share many of my actual WIPs for fear of the recipient taking note and spoiling the surprise. Luckily, I can't seem to resist starting projects for myself, so hopefully that will keep things marginally interesting between now and Christmas.

First, I've made some noticeable progress on my Marin Shawl:
I'm also participating in the FreshStitches Snowman CAL that started last week. I've already finished five pieces: the head and body, carrot nose, scarf and and hat!
I am using various colors of Drops Nepal, which I ordered from the Nordic Mart. It's become my favorite amigurumi yarn because the colors are lovely, it's easy to work with, and the price is nice, too! Their shipping is also super-fast; I ordered the yarn last Wednesday and had it in my hot little hands a mere two days later. Now that, I really like!

Finally, happy Thanksgiving to those of you who will be celebrating tomorrow! I plan to cook a lovely vegetarian feast for my husband and myself, decorate the house, and - of course! - knit and crochet as much as possible. Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Form + Function Socks

Though I no longer have a daily commute, I still like to have one relatively simple project on the needles which can be worked on while riding the train or bus. Socks are one of my favorite on-the-go projects since they don't take up a lot of space, and I prefer patterns that are easy to memorize so that I don't have to keep pulling out a chart as I knit on-the-go.
I designed these socks to be the ultimate travel knitting project - easy without being boring, all the while resulting in a pair of socks you'll love to wear. The colorwork lice and stripe pattern at the top of the cuff can be easily memorized (and you can just use your first sock as a reference when knitting sock #2); the striped toe allows you to easily work your toe shaping - all you have to do is remember which color is worked for the decrease round! As an added bonus, they are a great way to use leftover sock yarn, as you only need a small amount for the contrast color.
Each pair can be knit up quick (I knit the prototype in about two weeks), making them a great last-
Alternate version in Chocolate Latte and Tequila Lime.
minute gift option. The 100% superwash merino sock yarn from Baah is an excellent choice for gifting, and there are plenty of great color combinations to try!

Pattern Details: 

2 (2) skeins Baah! La Jolla in Tequila Lime (color A) and Night Sky (color B) (100% Superwash Merino, 400 yards (100 grams)
US #1 Double-Pointed Needles
Stitch marker
Darning Needle
32 sts = 4” in stockinette stitch

Purchase on Ravelry.
Purchase on Craftsy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

FO Friday: Destashing Edition

I've spent the last couple of weekends working on quick projects which may or may not become gifts this holiday season. First, I became obsessed with crocheting baskets using some of the handspun yarns I've added to my stash this year:

My other goal has been to use up the leftover bits of yarn that are inevitable when one is a compulsive crafter such as myself. I've determined that Mochimochiland's tiny things series make perfect fridge magnets when knit with worsted weight yarn on #4 or #5 needles, so I am working on making various sets. I started with making a trio of colorful fish based on the Tiny Fish pattern from Teeny Tiny Mochimochi:

Next, I made some Tiny Cupcakes:

I plan on making even more tiny things this weekend - it's kind of addictive!

Thanks for stopping by this week - for more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Old & New

Over the weekend, I cast on for the Marin Shawl by Ysolda Teague, which is the only big project left on my gift knitting list. I'm using some lovely sock yarn from Hazel Knits and my Karbonz interchangeables. So far, it's knitting up fairly quickly, considering it's a pay-attention/stay-at-home project due to the amount of charts involved.
Here is a progress shot of my Mystery KAL cowl project - today the third and final clue is released, so I'll be able to share this again on Friday as a FO, with any luck!

What's conspicuously missing is my crocheted socks - or perhaps they weren't conspicuously missing til I pointed it out?! At any rate, after much debate over the weekend, I decided to frog them. It wasn't an issue with the pattern - it was easy to follow and I gained a lot of new skills in the process! I just wasn't loving the yarn/pattern combination, and coupled with the issue of fitting my absurdly small feet, I decided this was the best option.

Hopefully I can revisit this pattern (and crocheted socks in general) sometime soon, but for now, I need to focus on holiday crafting. To that end, I'll be joining the FreshStitches Snowman CAL that's starting tomorrow as well as finishing up my final two designs for 2013. Stay tuned!

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, November 18, 2013

How To Say It: Pattern Writing For Knitters

How To Say It: Pattern Writing For Knitters covers every conceivable detail a pattern writer needs to consider from start to finish. It's important to note that this course does NOT cover how to design a garment - that's another topic for another day. Rather, consider this a master's course for all knitters, whether you are a self-publishing designer or a knitter simply looking to understand why patterns are written the way they are so you can learn the lingo and knit them with greater ease.

I'm not going to lie, this is extremely dry subject matter, but instructor Edie Eckman does her best to make things interesting. Each lesson is extremely thorough as Edie shares her collective experiences throughout the class. Rather than simply saying "this is the right way to do X, Y or Z," she explains why one option might be preferred over another in a given scenario (and also why the opposite may be true in a different situation).

This course could almost be called "Critical Thinking For Designers," because it's clear that she wants everyone to understand each aspect of writing a pattern so that they can make the best choice to suit their own needs, not to mention the needs of their audience - and how to balance those two needs while writing said pattern.
It's important to note that the course is geared more towards writing patterns for garments - the example used throughout the course is a sweater pattern. Sock designers such as myself will still find useful information with regards to general pattern writing, but if you are looking for specifics about sock construction and the like, you'd do well to begin with any of Donna Druchunas' three sock classes. That's not to say that you can't apply many of the principles to whatever you're  designing - socks, hats, toys, what have you - but if you are looking for mathematical formulas, measurements, or other such information specific to anything outside of the realm of garment-making, you may be disappointed.

Personally, I have never designed or published a sweater pattern, so I felt as though I learned a lot from this course, despite that fact that I've been publishing other types of designs for years. I do think that absolute beginners stand to benefit the most from this class - honestly, I wish this had been around years ago when I was first beginning to self-publish! As I mentioned above, you will still need to take the initiative to find information specific to whatever you're designing, but if you know how to google, it shouldn't be a problem (and if you are google-averse, I've collected some of the standardized size charts I've come across here on pinterest, or you can check out the other Craftsy classes focusing on pattern designing here).

Course materials include a stylesheet PDF which you can use to select your preferred options, a sample pattern template, and some excellent resources which includes a list of events and books designers might find useful, plus recommendations for charting software. Even if you have already published several designs as I have, there is still plenty of useful information to take away from this course.

Click here to sign up for How To Say It: Pattern Writing for Knitters with Edie Eckman.

Friday, November 15, 2013

FO Friday: Overdue Projects Edition + Winner!

I finished my Emmanuelle Sweater a few weeks ago, and it's been in heavy rotation ever since. It's hard to believe that this is the first chance I've gotten to take proper photographs, but that's just how things have been lately.

This is the second sweater pattern I've knit by the designer, Mercedes Tarasovitch-Clark, and I really like the way it fits. I'm not super-great at intarsia, so I do find myself wishing that my chevrons were a little neater; if I were doing it all over again, I think I would knit the front and back pieces and then add in the chevrons with duplicate stitch afterwards just because I hate intarsia so much. I realize that is a totally insane notion to even entertain, but that should only speak to my true feelings where intarsia is concerned. Maybe someday I'll make friends with this technique, but it's not likely to happen any time soon.

At any rate, the instructions were easy to follow and I had no issues with my yarn substitution; the only change I felt to the need to make was to knit full-length sleeves (which was easy to incorporate into the instructions as written). All in all, I am totally thrilled with how my sweater turned out and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves chevrons.

I thought it would also be  fun to share the four FO's from last month's Scalloped Rib Sock KAL in the Baah Yarn Ravelry group. It was so great to see everyone's color choices, and my pal Lauren even went the extra mile to knit her socks two-at-a-time with an afterthought heel.

Our four KAL finishers are (clockwise from top left): AmeKnits' socks in La Jolla Pink Tourmaline, LaurenS's socks in The Wool Dispensary Useful Stimulant in Wild Rumpus, Avalanche's socks in La Jolla Raspberry Toffee, and Kittycait's socks in La Jolla Cape Cod. There are a few more socks-in-progress that I'm looking forward to seeing soon, too. Thanks to everyone who joined in the KAL next month! 

This is probably a good time to mention that all of the patterns in my Ravelry Pattern Store are on sale for 50% off through November 30th if you enter NOVEMBER at checkout. Now is a great time to buy the Scalloped Rib Sock pattern, plus there are lots more quick-to-knit options for your holiday gifting needs.

Last but not least, it's time to announce the winner for the Lucky Cat Craft Giveaway. Congratulations are in order for Sharon Harris, whom I'll be emailing to arrange for the delivery of the prize: two luxury rovings from Lucky Cat Craft! Don't forget, you can visit the Lucky Cat Craft Etsy Shop & save 15% on your order with the coupon code LUCKYCAT now through November 30!

Whew, that was an action-packed FO Friday - thanks for sticking with me! For more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Oh, the WIPs!

I've made some pretty good progress on my Spooktacular Socks from Rohn Strong's Holiday Crochet Sock Club:
Since these are my first-ever crocheted socks, I have no idea what to expect. I'm a little nervous about the fit (I admit, I didn't gauge beforehand - I like to live dangerously), but I'm learning a lot of new crocheting skills along the way, which makes it all worthwhile.
The second clue for the Blissful Cowl Mystery KAL comes out today, so here is a spoiler photo of Clue 1. I was able to knit through the entire first clue in one evening, so you could definitely join in at this late date and get caught up fairly quickly! 

Finally, I am making lots of little amigurumi bits and bobs as I kick my holiday gift-making into high gear this month. I probably won't be sharing the specifics till the end of December, but here is what my WIP basket looks like this week:
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, November 11, 2013

30 Day Sweater Wrap-up

I haven't gotten a chance to properly wrap up my 30 Day Sweater Challenge experience from last month, so now that I've had plenty of time to collect my thoughts, I thought I'd take today to finally blog about it.

I have been wearing my 30 Day Sweater pretty much every day since I finished it (it's already pilling a little!). October was such an inspiring month for me because of this KAL - I can't say enough good things. I was even inspired enough to take the pieces of a sweater that I'd knit in August and September of this year and finally finished it the weekend after the 30 Day Sweater challenge ended, so now I have TWO wearable sweaters for this fall.

On a professional level, I worked with Johnny and Lacie to connect them with prize donors and morning show guests from my client base. They were so great about mentioning the sponsors and telling folks to thank them and share the love, which I think is win-win for everyone. Through my correspondence with them and by watching the morning show, I felt like I got to know the Yarn Nation crew; I don't think you can find a group of people who are more excited about knitting!

I've knitted several sweaters over the years, but I've never made an adult-sized sweater one month. The 30 Day Sweater framework broke everything down into manageable daily tasks, which I think was key in completing my sweater on time. Another factor which helped immensely was the community of fellow KAL-ers: I'm kind of a competitive person, so I wanted to keep up with the challenge, and knowing that I was sharing my progress online (which was then shared on the morning show) held me accountable and gave me that little extra push to keep going. Being able to see others' progress was also helpful; there were some really amazing sweaters being created with the 30 Day framework.

One more aspect I'd like to single out is the level of support that was available along the way - during every morning show and virtual knit night, Johnny and Lacie would set aside some time to answer questions from participants; if there was something that couldn't be addressed in the time allowed, they would help troubleshoot via email or their Ravelry group.

Now that the KAL is over, I am kicking my holiday gift-making into high gear, but I am already planning my next 30 Day Sweater. This time, I'll be using the framework to design it myself! Johnny and Lacie very kindly sent me my very own 30 Day Sweater tote bag; I've put the yarn for my next 30 Day Sweater in it (which I'll be designing with the framework) so that it's ready for whenever I finish my holiday gift-making!

You can start your very own 30 Day Sweater any time; click here to download a free sweater-planning guide which includes a discount code for 25% off your purchase of the 30 Day Sweater Workbook!

Friday, November 8, 2013

For All the Lucky Cats

Robin is one tough kidney cat!
Today is the three year anniversary of Robin's diagnosis of Chronic Renal Failure, so I wanted to do a little something different than my usual FO Friday post to celebrate how we'll he's being doing since we stabilized him after his last crash.

I'd been puzzling on what that might be for a while, but hadn't come up with anything that seemed quite right. Then, I wandered into the Lucky Cat Crafts booth at SOAR and started talking to Kim, the owner. We talked about yarn, fiber, and cats, although at the time, it didn't occur to me to ask if she wanted to be featured on my blog, much less sponsor an awesome giveaway AND provide my readers with a special discount code towards anything in the Lucky Cat Craft Etsy Shop.

After returning home, I emailed Kim and pretty much suggested all of the above to Kim and, clearly, she said yes! Turns out, she has a kitty of her own who has a seizure disorder - so we both have the common bond of a special (lucky) cat in our lives.
Kim being photobombed by Tiger Man.
What drew you to the fiber arts? What craft did you start with? I have a degree in Fashion Design and a minor in Textile Design from Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia. I've loved to make things my whole life, from sewing doll clothes when I was little to making my own clothing in high school. Moore is the last all Women's private art College in the country and I'm the 3rd woman in my family to graduate from there. I fell in love with weaving and textiles and was able to create my own fabric to use for my clothing designs. I actually had enough credits to graduate with a major in both, but the college didn't offer a double major so I had to choose. At the end I went with Fashion and have had a great career as a designer. Professionally I've been a Sweater Designer for 13 years working for companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale & JCPenney's. I weave, knit, sew, crochet, spin, etc. at home in my free time.

The Lucky Cat Craft booth at SOAR 2013.
Your Etsy Shop has been around for almost 4 years. Do you have any plans for expansion? I've really only been focusing on Lucky Cat Craft in the last year or so. I began doing fiber festivals and trade shows last year and have been working on creating unusual fiber blends and finding unique fibers. I would like to have my own web site within the year, but working full time and running a business takes up a lot of time. Etsy is a great community and offers a lot of support and a one on one shopping experience. It's also got a great group of fiber enthusiasts - I've got great customers who have become friends- we chat and meet at shows when we can! My favorite part is when someone comes by at a show and says they are an etsy customer! I love to meet people in person and hear about what they are doing with their Lucky Cat fiber! It's always inspiring.

What fiber shows are you planning to attend in 2014? 2014 is still up in the air! I'm definitely going to be at DFW in Texas,  A Wool Gathering at Yellowsprings, Ohio and the Kentucky Sheep & Wool Festival. It will be interesting to see what happens with SOAR.

Murray is a pretty kitty!
Tell us about your lucky cat! Our lucky cat is Murray, we found her at a friend's house here in Ohio and she just wouldn't let us leave without her. One day we came home and found her sitting on the floor not moving. We rushed her to the vet and discovered that she has a seizure disorder and probably had a seizure while she was up exploring a shelf and fell, breaking some of the bones in her tail. That was 7 years ago! She can move and feel only about the first 1/4 of her tail, but it sure doesn't slow her down! She has a seizure maybe every 3-6 months, they are quick and they don't seem to get in her way of being a playful, curious, crazy cat. When our other cat, Ozkar, was a kitten, he would sit under Murray's favorite chair and play with her tail hanging over the edge, she had no idea he was doing this because she couldn't feel it!! Murray likes to carry things around the house- mostly shoes & boots. We often wake up to find slippers and shoes moved all around the house. At night you can hear her climbing the stairs with Andrew's big work boots! I don't know how she does it- size 11 1/2 heavy steal toe boots- they are bigger than she is, but she moves them all around. Most mornings begin with one of us asking Murray where a shoe or a slipper might be. She is a unique little being and we just love her, floppy tail and all!
50/50 yak & angora luxury roving


Lucky Cat Craft specializes in some truly unique spinning fibers: muga silk, yak, camel, and possum, just to name a few. She also offers a selection of natural and dyed luxury yarns for those who aren't handspinners. Best of all, you can try them out for yourself and save 15% with the coupon code LUCKYCAT now through November 30.
50/50 yak & muga silk luxury roving


Kim has generously donated these excellent prizes to give away to one lucky reader: one 2 oz 50/50 yak & muga silk luxury roving and one 2 oz 50/50 yak & dehaired angora luxury roving. To be eligible, you simply have to click any of the buttons below to connect with each social media channel (and yes, you can gain multiple entries, the more buttons you click!). I'll randomly select one lucky winner from the pool of entries to announce next Friday, November 15. Good luck!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Holiday Gifting - a Deal for You!

I've spent the better part of this year knitting and crocheting holiday gifts for my friends and family, but I have been thinking about using some of my husband's excellent photos to create unique gifts to supplement my fibery creations. The Blurb Gift Center has plenty of good ideas to explore, so I was pretty excited when they emailed me with a special offer I could share with my readers (and use myself!).


There are many types of books you can create: recipe books, travel journals, baby books, and more! Bonus: you can use one of the coupon codes below to save on your total purchase. Enjoy!

Save 20% when you spend $40 or more on print books at Blurb
When you use the coupon code: MORESAVINGS
**Offer valid through November 11, 2013 (11:59pm local time). Valid for printed books only. A 20% discount is applied toward your product total with a minimum order of $40. Maximum discount is USD $100 or CAD $100 off product total. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

Save $25 when you spend $100 or more on print books at Blurb
When you use the coupon code: EARLYSAVINGS
**Offer valid through November 11, 2013 (11:59pm local time). Valid for printed books only. A $25 discount is applied toward your product total with a minimum order of $100. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders. 

Note: I was compensated for this blog entry, although I wouldn't have shared this with you if I didn't think Blurb was awesome! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WIP Wednesday: New, New, NEW!

After a month of project monogamy during October, I was pretty excited to start some new projects! I started with a pair of colorwork socks, which are a new design that I'm hoping will be out before the end of this year. Therefore, I can't show you too much of it, but here is a little sneak peek - it's being knit in Baah La Jolla Tequila Lime (my favorite!) and Night Sky.
Today I am casting on for a Mystery KAL that's happening in the Bijou Basin Ranch group. Though MKALs aren't really my thing these days, I am excited about this one because it's going to have lots of options so you can customize your cowl throughout the KAL. Another bonus it that's short and sweet - there are only three weeks of clues, so it should be fairly easy to be finished before Thanksgiving! I'll be knitting mine with a skein of Bijou Bliss in Steel.
Last night I finally started my first-ever crocheted socks, Spooktacular from the Rohn Strong Holiday Sock Club. It took a while to do the foundation crochet, but once I watched this video and then re-read the instructions, I started to get the hang of it! I didn't get too far along, but it's a good start. I'm using Sincere Sheep Tenacious Sock in Vit. C; since I don't have two skeins on hand, I'm thinking I'll use some contrasting brown sock yarn to make contrasting heels and toes.
Incidentally, I have a VERY special surprise for my dear readers this Friday...I can't wait to share it with you...but you'll just have to meet me back here to find out what it is!

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

VK Live Chicago #2

Welcome back! There were so many local yarn stores with booth space at the show who allowed me to take photos, so I wanted to be sure to share them here on my blog.

Wool and Company: In addition to having lots of lovely yarns, they had a Knitter's Pride needle tasting in their booth!

Windy Knitty: This is a great shop in Andersonville with an amazing selection of yarns. They stock local yarns from Lorna's Laces and Fleur de Fiber, plus plenty of other hand-dyed yarns, luxury fibers, as well as the bigger brands such as Berocco, Cascade, Noro and Rowan. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, too!

Nina: Another great Chicago LYS; this one is located in Wicker Park, and they feature a well-curated selection of luxury fibers. Their booth looked great; a large portion of which was devoted to the amazing yarns of possum-y goodness from Zealana!

Knitche (Downer's Grove, IL): I thought their booth was absolutely lovely, and I'm looking forward to taking a yarn field trip someday soon to visit their shop!

Something that sets VK Live apart from other shows is the emphasis on displaying the craft as art. This year, they had MochiMochiLand's amazing Gnomes vs. Snowmen installation on display:

I was also in awe of this crochet installation by Ashley V. Blalock:

Finally, I had a nice chat with Gwen Kinsler, who just published a fascinating book focused on fine art crochet pieces (which I will be reviewing in a later post):

This is the last yarntastic show for 2013, and a great note to end on, I think!

Monday, November 4, 2013

VK Live Chicago #1

I've been looking forward to Vogue Knitting Live's return to Chicago all year; it's so nice to have a show of this caliber that is easy to get to for us non-car-owning city folk (I won't bore you with the same plea as last year, but if the good people at XRX are listening - please move Stitches Midwest back to Rosemont).

This year, I didn't sign up to be a booth helper, and I only shopped the Marketplace on Sunday morning in an attempt to minimize damage to my bank account; my main goal was to see my clients and friends, take photos, and test my resolve to not come home with a truckload of yarn. To that end, I think I was fairly successful - here's what I came home with:
My biggest splurge was the limited-edition Super Mario Slipped Stitch Studios sock project bag from the Windy Knitty Booth; I'm so glad they had a few left when I stopped by on Sunday morning! I had seen these project bags earlier this year when they were for sale in a limited run in the Slipped Stitch Studios etsy shop; at the time, I wasn't able to buy one, so I was pretty excited to see I had a second chance to get one this weekend.

I've been wanting to try the new Weekend Wool from Green Mountain Spinnery; I might make two-color mittens with these two skeins, or I might wait til the new year when I can justify buying two more colors to make these colorwork mittens from their new ebook.

Finally, I bought a skein of yarn that is pretty uncharacteristic for me: gold sparkly yarn isn't usually in my wheelhouse, but I want to crochet a C-3PO and I think it would be super cool to use metallic yarn to do the job right. I'm planning to split the skein (Filatura di Crosa's New Smoking) in two and work with two strands using this pattern from Lucy Ravenscar. The ladies in the Friends & Fiberworks booth were quite nice and had a really great selection of yarns (many of which are available in their new online store), plus they even threw in a handy needle gauge with my yarn purchase!

Tomorrow I'll be sharing part two of my VK Live experience which will be all about the artist installations and Chicagoland stores who had booths at the show. Below is a sneak peek - I hope you'll come back to check it out!