Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Gift Round-Up, Part 1

As I mentioned before, it's going to be difficult to post about each and every holiday gift I knitted or crocheted this year, but here are a few of the highlights which I haven't blogged about yet...can you guess this year's unintentional theme?

Dinosaurs for my nephew Ethan (patterns by Rebecca Danger):

Monster Tissue Cozies (patterns by Rebecca Danger):

Narwhal for my knitterly friend Lauren, which I apparently forgot to photograph as an FO before gifting (pattern by - you guessed it! - Rebecca Danger):

I also crocheted several cotton washcloths and a few more handspun baskets to incorporate into our gift-giving this year:

On my last post of 2013 this Wednesday, I'll share a few of the fiber-related gifts I received PLUS my booty from a trip to The Studio while I was in Kansas City last week!

Friday, December 27, 2013

FO Friday: Star Wars Amigurumi

I knitted and crocheted nearly all of my holiday gifts this year, but I'm not sure if I will get a chance to photograph and blog each and every one now that there's no risk of spoiling the surprise. There are just too many, and my photographer extraordinaire has been working so much that finding time for proper photo shoots has been difficult.

Excuses, excuses....at any rate, I will be cherry picking a few of these gifted projects to share over the next few weeks, starting with the Star Wars amigurumi I made for my nephews in Portland using patterns from the Lucy Ravenscar etsy store.

Most of the yarn I used was already in my stash, with the exception of the gold sparkly yarn I bought at VK Live earlier this fall for the express purpose of making the world's greatest C-3PO.

I had a hard time deciding which nephew should receive which toy, so I ended up randomly selecting three for each package, which I then wrapped up, juggled a bit, and then had my husband stick on gift labels, having no idea what was inside the package. In hindsight, that might have been overkill, but it seemed appropriate at the time!

If I had to make these over again, I think I would have bought the correct size of safety eyes to use instead of embroidering or glueing on round pieces of felt. Especially for the storm troopers, I think this would have been a better approach, but unfortunately I didn't realize it until it was too late!

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


Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

To those who celebrate the holiday today, Merry Christmas! Here is the holiday card my husband designed and silkscreened this year:
It was his first year being in charge of the holiday cards, and his ambitious design took more than a little doing to come to fruition. You can bet next year's card won't be a four-color process, but I love how they turned out and it was well worth spending an entire snowy day printing.

Here are some of the process photos I instagrammed along the way; it is typically my job to document the process as well as assist in any way I can: grabbing a clean cloth if Tyler gets ink on his hands, running freshly-printed cards to the next room to dry (which is always a challenge since the cats always try to follow me in....Tilly LOVES trying to walk through the drying cards).

Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, I hope it's wonderful!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Year of the Babies

Once again, there are a LOT of new babies and babies on the way in my life: In addition to our newest nephew and my good friend's little one who were both born at the beginning of 2013, a few (more) of my friends are due in the new year, my cousin is due in February, and Tyler's cousin just had a baby boy this fall. Needless to say, I have been doing a huge amount of baby knitting these last few months! Here is the sweater and owl hat which I sent to welcome baby Ritter to the family:
Pattern: #21 Raglan Cardigan by Therese Chynoweth
Yarn: Brown Sheep Serendipity Tweed 
JHB Button Closure
Pattern: Crochet Owl Hat from Repeat Crafter Me (free pattern!)
Yarn: Leftover yarn from sweater + Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted
Rest assured, there will be more cute baby knits to share in the new year! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Winners + Marin Shawl

First off, congratulations to our winners! I have contacted these three folks to arrange for the delivery of their prizes: Carrie P, Sweetpurls and Ellie Raine Knits. Thanks to everyone who entered and shared this contest, and thanks very much to the folks from Stash2Go for generously donating the prizes!

If you didn't win the giveaway this week, I hope you'll check out the Stash2Go app on iTunes; downloads are just $3.99 and they're going to be adding some really great new features in the near future!

At long last, I am pleased to share my finished Marin shawl! I love how this turned out, and despite some crazy-looking charts, it was actually a fairly simple project to make. I did run out of yarn just as I was finishing up, but that was only because I'd used a bit of this skein to knit a few rows on a snippet scarf earlier this year - otherwise I would have had plenty of yarn to finish this project! The yarn is lovely to work with, so I don't mind having a mostly-full skein of yarn left over....I just need to remember that it's missing a bit of yardage so that history doesn't repeat itself!

Pattern: Marin by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Jam Session
Close-up detail: love the subtle shading of this yarn!
It was a challenge to get this entire shawl in frame!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Last-Minute Gift Idea: Craftsy Classes!

Right now you can Gift Any Craftsy Class and save big while you're doing it! Want to give someone a Craftsy class, but not sure which one to pick? With the "Gift Any Class" cards, you can buy a loved one any Craftsy class of their choosing for just $30! It has never been easier to give the gift of crafting fun!

Gift 1 Craftsy class for $30 (save up to $30)
Gift 2 Craftsy classes for $55 (save up to $65)
Gift 3 Craftsy classes for $75 (save up to $105)

Features
• Gifted classes never expire
• Give one, two, or three Craftsy classes
• Deliver on any date (up to three months in advance)

Click here to Start Gifting!

Free Gift Tag Printable from Craftsy

Giving handmade gifts? Use the super cute gift tag below from Craftsy on your gifts this year and let your friends and family know their gift was handmade with love! 

*Please note that you must register with Craftsy (which is free!) in order to print the Gift Tag below. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Last WIP Wednesday of 2013!

This is my last WIP Wednesday for 2013, can you believe it? I sure can't! I'll still be blogging next week even though I'll be visiting family for the holiday, but my posts from now through the end of the year will be focusing on projects I've finished recently (and not-so-recently) which I am finally at liberty to share. Don't forget to follow my blog to keep up!

I am thrilled to report that the yarn I ordered to finish the Marin shawl arrived on Monday afternoon:
Oh, look at that - the yarn for my next shawl arrived too! I'm planning to make the Velocity Shawl from Interweave Crochet with those lovely skeins of Seraphim yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch which I purchased during their December sale (free shipping + everything's on sale!). I have no idea how to do Tunisian crochet, but I guess I'll be learning in the new year because I've become obsessed with the pattern and won't rest until I've made one!

At any rate, I promptly finished the Marin shawl on Monday night and gave it a nice bath in some Wrapture wool wash from Eucalan:
It is now blocking in my yarn room, so you can expect FO photos in an upcoming blog post for sure!

My only other shareable WIP is the handspun scarf I mentioned last week - as you can see, it has grown quite a bit since then!
Also, don't forget to check out this week's Stash2Go app review & giveaway - there are three chances to win a free download from iTunes. The Stash2Go app gives you easy access to Ravelry and is a paid app for iPhone and iPad users, so this is a fun little freebie for you or a friend!

Click here to read my review & enter the giveaway, too. 

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

App Review & Giveaway: Stash 2 Go

The developers for a paid Ravelry app for iPad and iPhone called Stash 2 Go contacted me earlier this year to see if I was interested in writing a review or their app on their blog. While I don't own an iPad or iPhone, I was able to gift a download to a knitting friend who had an iPad and was willing to let me play around with it for the purposes of this review!

This is the first time I've ever accessed Ravelry via an app (on my Android phone, I typically use the m.ravelry.com site), and I found most of it to be easy to use. Some of the features weren’t intuitive to me at first, but once I got the hang of the idiosyncracies, it was smooth sailing.

Stash 2 Go makes the most of API functions Ravelry has opened up to developers (there are still several areas which have yet to be completed in the Ravelry programming interface, so developers can only implement what is available through www.ravelry.com/api). Most of the app's functionality allows the user to view the site easily, i.e. if you are on the go and wondering what needles or yarn you have in your stash, the app is a very simple way to view this. Some areas can be updated (such as the project page), while others are still a work in progress (such as the needle inventory or ability to add new friends), pending access from the Ravelry developers.

There are some interesting bells and whistles that come with this app which make it worth the price of admission. The photo uploader allows you to take photos with your device's built-in camera (or use a photo from your gallery) and upload it directly to your project page; you can also change the order of your project photos or delete them. Each project page has 2 optional row counters which function independently of one another.

Another interesting feature is the pooling calculator, which allows you to input the measurements and gauge information for multicolored yarns so that you can plan your pooled projects to create interesting designs as you knit (the developer also informed me that there are more handy calculators in the the works for future updates!). There is also a yarn shop search which was easy to use and could certainly come in handy when traveling. The background color theme can also be customized (it just requires a restart of the app), and for our international friends, the app is available in German, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian, with French being added to the list soon!
Furthermore, they have a very hands-on approach to user support via the Stash 2 Go Ravelry group; the developer encourages customer feedback to not only troubleshoot, but to build a better app with each update (and they do update the app frequently!). Apparently Casey will be adding more features to the API in the next week, and there are several requests from users which will hopefully be included (click here to view the thread).

Stash 2 Go is available on iTunes for $3.99; it is compatible with iPhone, iPad & iPod devices. With any luck, an Android version may become available in 2014!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Topsy Turvy FO Friday

I thought I would be sharing my finished Marin shawl today since I am so close to being done! However, I ran out of yarn (doh!) and have to wait for my order to arrive before I can get back to work. If only this had happened before I posted my only shareable FO earlier this week, the Berlin Cowl, which also happens to be my latest design in Baah yarn! Perhaps I should share some of my WIPs today since I posted my only FO on WIP Wednesday?!
Alas, the only WIP I can safely blog about is one that I started over the weekend with some handspun yarn. I needed something simple to knit at the bar, so a chunky garter project on size 13 needles seemed like the obvious choice. I'm planning to make a rather long scarf which has buttonholes on one end, allowing me to convert it into a long cowl if I'm in the mood. I'm using the hand-dyed Falkland handspun I made during Spinzilla earlier this year, and it's delightful to work with.

Incidentally, there is a Craftsy Yarn Flash Sale now through 12/16 which you might want to check out! I myself am trying to resist, but there are some great deals and this is the last chance to order for Christmas delivery!

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


Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Last-Minute Gift Knitting: Berlin Cowl

This week, I released a new pattern that is perfect for last-minute gift knitting emergencies: the Berlin Cowl can be knit up in a weekend using just one skein of worsted weight yarn. Named after one of my favorite Lou Reed songs, the Berlin Cowl is simple yet complex at the same time - you can definitely take this project to knit night! The statement cable is easy to work amidst a garter stitch background, a combination which will perfect show off any of the hand-dyed colors Baah Yarns' Shasta worsted. I chose this yarn not only for the gorgeous color options, but because it is easy-care, too!

My husband and I decided to do our photo shoot at the Christkindlmarket, which is our favorite holiday tradition here in Chicago. It's modeled after open-air markets in Germany, and you can get traditional food, beer, and hot spiced wine to enjoy while browsing all kinds of traditional goods such as cuckoo clocks, glass ornaments, candies and more. Naturally, the day of the shoot was incredibly cold, with windchills in the single digits!


Skill Level
Intermediate
Sizing
One Size Fits Most: Approx. 22” Circumference
11” width x 8” height when measured flat
Materials
1 skein Baah Shasta Worsted in London Blue
(100% Superwash Merino, 200 yards (100 grams)
US #8 16” Circular Needles
Stitch markers
Cable Needle
Darning Needle
Gauge
18.5 stitches and 20 rows = 4” in garter stitch

Click here to purchase on Ravelry.
Click here to purchase on Craftsy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: The Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler

I had the good fortune to meet the author at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago last month, and we ended up exchanging emails and hatching some plans for future promotions together (you can read my recent guest post on Gwen's blog here). Gwen kindly gifted me an eBook version of her beautiful new art book, The Fine Art of Crochet, so that I could share a review with my dear readers.

First, let me say that I always have a hard time getting into reading digital versions of books. I know I'm old-fashioned, but I just love a real printed book - the smell of the paper, the turning of actual pages, the experience of sitting somewhere and reading something that you can hold in your hands (not that you can't hold a Kindle or an iPad in your hands, but it's just not the same). I was a little worried that I'd find it hard to get through a hundred-or-so page book that I only had access to on my laptop, but it turns out that the subject matter was so fascinating, I was practically giving myself eye strain to keep reading.

This is Gwen's third book; the author learned how to crochet in Honduras while serving in the Peace Corps and went on to immerse herself in the fiber arts world by researching art crochet, making her own art, and founding the Crochet Guild of America.
Desert Doily by Carol Hummel.
Used with Permission.

This is an exquisite art book featuring 20 crochet artists; each profile includes background information, interviews, and full-color photographs of the artists' work. The introduction provides a brief but fascinating history of the craft to set the mood, from ancient beginnings to the early days of the crochet revolution through the present-day collaborative community of artistic endeavors and yarnbombing. Each turn of the page will surprise and astonish, giving new respect for a craft which is not always given its due.

The author with artist Pate Conaway.
There is such a huge depth of terrain covered; each artist has a unique style and philosophy which underpins their work. You'll find pieces created not only with yarn, thread and wire, but with more unusual materials such as found objects, a garden hose (yes, it's crocheted!), plastic bags and even human hair, but it's not always the materials which take center stage. Many artists choose to combine surprising imagery within a more 'traditional' context. Nathan Vincent's "Men at Work" piece comes to mind: a delicate triangular-shaped doily version of the "men at work" road sign which is crocheted with fine cotton thread. Another piece by Karen Searle entitled "Body Bag" is also an interesting example: in this piece, the artist has filled a crocheted flax bag with cast paper body parts, an arresting image indeed. Of course, these two examples are but a few of many interesting, beautiful and thought-provoking pieces of work explored throughout this book.

If it sounds like I am gushing, it's because I am! I have always had an interest in fine art, even though I didn't pursue an Art History degree in college (it's a long story, but I had an instructor who was obsessed with fingernails in Peter Paul Rubens paintings which ultimately caused me to change majors). This book is absolutely perfect for art lovers and fiber artists alike - and if they're both, you'll definitely score some brownie points. If you are looking for some new patterns to crochet, this isn't the book you'll find them in: what you WILL find is endless amounts of inspiration and creativity to motivate you in your next project.
Table Husks by Tracy Krumm.
Used with permission.
The Fine Art of Crochet is available in softcover and eBook formats at AuthorHouse, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, December 6, 2013

FO Friday: Crocheted Snowman

I finished my snowman crochet-along project for the FreshStitches choose your own adventure CAL - isn't he adorable? I plan on making at least one more this holiday season once I finish my more pressing gift projects!
The yarn I used is Drops NEPAL, which is a nice-quality, affordable worsted weight that comes in a wide range of colors (I ordered mine from the NordicMart). It's really easy to crochet with, and I've been liking it for amigurumi projects especially.

In other news, I snapped up a FreshStitches project bag just before the holiday when they were on sale for only $6! Isn't the fabric adorable? I know that I have quite the collection of project bags, but it was time to retire a few from the rotation. While I was justifying things to myself, I remembered I had a paypal balance, and before I knew it I'd bought myself this cute new bag. 
Speaking of things I don't actually need...my SweetGeorgia sock yarn arrived earlier this week! I had been enticed by last week's Black Friday mystery discount sale at Eat Sleep Knit (I ended up getting a nifty 20% off when it was all said and done), despite the fact that I have plenty of yarn in my stash. When it comes to sock yarn, I'm always game to stock up...it comes in handy sooner or later! As an added bonus, I won a $5 store credit towards my next purchase with the scratch-off card that came in my package. Not a bad deal all around! 

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


Have a crafty weekend! 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WIP Wednesday + Guest Blog

My Wednesday posts are going to be kind of boring between now and Christmas, though I will try to spice them up any way I can. I suppose it's exciting to see how much progress I've made on my Marin Shawl in the last week - I'm officially past the halfway point, hooray!
I had to take Robin to the vet on Monday and needed a simple knitting project to stash in my purse, so I ended up starting a Monster Tissue Cozy by Rebecca Danger using some hand-dyed yarn in my stash from The Wool Dispensary. I think it's going to be quite cute!
Here's one more fun piece of newsiness: I wrote a guest post on the Crochet Queen blog this week - click here to check it out! It's more or less a social media primer for crafty folk, so hopefully you will find a few nuggets of wisdom there.

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

Monday, December 2, 2013

Inspiration: Pom Poms

Lately, I've become more than a little obsessed with pom poms. Ever since I got this new set from Knitter's Pride, I've wanted to put pom poms on everything I own!
Rejoice Pom Pom Maker Set from Knitter's Pride.
I used the tiniest size to make these wee little pom pom magnets using leftover handspun and other scraps of yarn.

The largest size made for the perfect tree topper:

And I used some funky novelty yarn I'll never knit with to make this ornament, too:

I've been seeing all kind of interesting uses for pom poms on pinterest. Below are are just a few of my favorite ideas, but you can see more on my new Inspiration: Pom Poms pin board!
Pom Pom Garland
Button Bunnies with Pom Pom Tails
Pom Pom Tree Garland
Pom Pom Wreath
What are your favorite uses for pom poms? I'd love to find more fun crafts to put my new pom pom maker to use!