Friday, May 30, 2014

FO Friday: Kitchen Crochet

Over the holiday weekend, I finished up my crocheted bunting for the kitchen! I used some yarn from my stash and did a modified version of the Rainbow Bunting from Modern Baby Crochet, where I made the triangles just a tiny bit smaller. I can't remember what the black yarn is, but the yellow and turquoise are both from Green Mountain Spinnery.
It makes me happy every time I walk into the kitchen!

Also, I've been seeing lots of people posting this around:

If you'd like to find out what Raveler number you are, just go to your page and hit these keys: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, and then enter - your Raveler number will magically appear! Thanks to the Ravelry Crew for this fun Easter egg!

As always, have a fun & crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Keep On Keepin' On

Alert the media: my chevron yak socks finally resemble something you could put a foot into! I grafted everything together on Monday, and it's a nice, snug fit. Now I just need to knit the cuff and toe, although I think I will make the second sock first.
I also made some major progress on my Craftsy class project, the Faux Fair Isle mittens - look, I'm on constrast color #3!:
What helped is blowing up the colorwork chart about 200%, since I always have a problem with how small most colorwork charts are. It's amazing to me how much faster I can work when I'm not squinting at impossibly tiny squares.

Click here for 50% off the Mittens and Gloves Galore class on Craftsy!

I also have a new project, which is this month's FreshStitches kit club! Hopefully this doesn't spoil the surprise if your kit hasn't arrived yet...especially since I just found out that this month's kit is a pattern exclusive!
Last but not least, I replenished my miniskein grab bags in my Etsy shop earlier this week and added a ready-made crocheted basket, too! I plan on adding many more crocheted baskets to my shop in the weeks and months to come as a way of using up the oddballs in my stash, so each one will be totally and completely unique!
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spinning Saturday: Dorper, Done at Last + Sample Spinning

First, I'm super-excited about finishing what I've lovingly dubbed the never-ending spinning project. Last month, for Spinning Spring Training, I began spinning a pound of lovely Dorper fiber from Louet. Turns out, a pound is an awful lot of fiber (duh!) and I didn't finish spinning my singles til the beginning of this month....and then the plying began!
At long last, I have my finished skeins. They are chain plied to match some dorper I'd spun last fall for Spinzilla, and the total yardage is 484 yards. I know, right - a month an a half to make just shy of 500 yards of yarn? That is pretty insane, but chain plying give you 1/3 of your total yardage spun in singles, so if I want to feel better about myself, I really spun 1,452 yards of yarn in that time.
In other news, I picked up several samples of spinning fibers at TNNA, and I thought it would be fun to split each sample in half to spin up in two different ways: first, directly from the roving without any preparation, and then from a rolag created with my hand carders. I thought it might be fun to see if you could tell which is which! Below are also a few quick notes I made whilst spinning the samples, just in case you should find them helpful!

Anzula Baby Camel & Merino: Blending camel with merino is a win in this fiber, as it spun up like a dream into springy, lofty singles. Making rolags out of this fiber was kind of a challenge - they ended up being airy and gargantuan and didn't want to stay together all that well. Despite that, I enjoyed spinning it both ways, though I think I would opt for straight-from-the-top next time.

Holiday Yarns Superwash BFL: This was very light and lofty to spin with; I actually found the rolag easier to work with than the prepared top, since the top wasn't compacted the way commercial fibers usually are. The prepared top was a bit slippery when spinning, but still resulted in a lovely single regardless.

Sweet Georgia Polwarth Silk: First off, I should probably say that I'll have a clear bias on this one, as Polwarth is in my top 5 favorite spinning fibers. This did not disappoint - the addition of silk gave it a luxurious feeling, even while spinning. I think spinning from the top was just a tad bit easier, although the single that resulted from spinning from the rolag felt much stronger than the one which was spun from the top. However,  I do like the effect of both approaches with this particular colorway.

Mountain Meadow Wool Merino: This was another case where I preferred working with rolags over top, since the colors in the sample I received were kind of their own thing (in fact, it seemed like there were two strands of top together as one, if that makes sense - maybe I'm just crazy?!). Both spun up pretty nicely, however, and have a similar effect. Can you tell which is which?

Louet Northern Lights: This is an easy-to-spin wool which would be great for outerwear. It's sturdy with a good staple length, and I'm hard pressed to choose which I like best: the effect of spinning from the space-dyed fiber, or the heathery results of spinning from a rolag. Either option is a win in my book!

Yarn Hollow Mixed Merino: This was an enjoyable spin both ways, but I really love the gradient effect achieved from spinning directly from the top. The merino is sooo soft and easy to spin, and I absolutely love this colorway, Mermaid!

L-R: Anzula (2ply), Yarn Hollow (2ply), Mountain Meadow Wool (2ply),
Louet (3ply), Sweet Georgia (3ply) and Holiday Yarns (3ply)
Bonus round: I plied each set of fibers into a 2- or 3-ply yarn, depending on whether or not I had any coordinating leftover singles on hand. Each one is only a couple of yards, so I will keep them around to pet and admire; when I worked at Lorna's Laces we called soft, tiny skeins such as these 'kittens', so now I have a whole litter to snuggle!

Thanks for stopping by today. I'll see you back here on Wednesday, as I'll be taking the holiday off!

Friday, May 23, 2014

FO Friday: Cowl Party!

A while back, I was working on a Berlin Cowl in Baah Shasta worsted for myself, and then it mysteriously disappeared from mention on this blog. What happened, you ask? Deadline knitting relegated it to the hibernation pile. After the dust of TNNA settled, I was able to pick it back up and finish knitting it at last. Please pardon the goofy smile, I was a bit silly at yesterday's photo shoot.
I'm very excited about this FO because it's one of my favorite designs that I've released recently; also, this cowl is for me to keep. Oh joy! 
My other FO is something that I've actually been done with for quite some time - I just couldn't find the right buttons! On a whim, I decided to visit The Needle Shop in North Center on my way to the Windy City Knitting Guild meeting earlier this week, and there I found the perfect buttons....and then some!
Adding to my button stash....
Here I am squinting into the sun and trying to smile whilst wearing my North Hollow Cowl in Extra, the lovely new yarn from Blue Sky Alpacas (I definitely will be knitting with this more in the future!). I'm not sure why I thought this was a good idea, taking the photo in direct sunlight without sunglasses, but sometimes I insist on doing things like this for no good reason. It's just how I roll.
Here is a close-up of the beautiful mismatched buttons I bought:
Aren't they absolutely perfect?!

I will definitely have to go back to The Needle Shop to purchase some fabric, since they had an awesome selection!

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

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WIP Wednesday: How About a Little Color?

I'm still making progress on my yak-tacular chevron socks:
...but I have also started a few new projects to satisfy my craving to work with more colorful yarn options! First, I am crocheting a miniature bunting to hang in my kitchen using a modified version of the Rainbow Bunting pattern from Modern Baby Crochet and some destash yarn:
I also decided to pair some of my most colorful sock yarns with these two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (pictured below at top and bottom) which have been lurking in my stash for several years; the color is something I custom-dyed myself and dubbed "Inky," And I always thought it would be a great choice for some sort of colorwork pattern.
Colors L-R: Louet Gems Fingering in Sunset, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock
in Island Blue, Baah La Jolla in Tequila Lime and
Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Lemon Curd. 
It's been a while since I've blogged about Craftsy, but I recently have been revisiting some of the classes I've signed up for to inject a little excitement into my regular knitting routine. I'm making the Faux Fair Isle Mittens from Marly Bird's Mittens and Gloves Galore class. You can read my full review here - it even includes a special link giving you 50% off your registration fee on Craftsy!

I'm not totally sure how I'll work the color block striping just yet, but I think I'm off to a good start with my corrugated ribbing:
Right out of the gate, Marly's demo for the two-color long-tail cast-on totally blew my mind - I have no idea why I never thought to try it before, but now it's pretty much the only way I want to cast on for socks or mittens for the rest of my life, no exaggeration! I can't wait to pick up some more clever colorwork tips and I work through the remaining lessons for this project.
Last night, I ventured out to the Windy City Knitting Guild monthly meeting - this month's speaker was one of my personal heroes, Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochiland! Her presentation was outstanding and inspiring, and I wish I had taken better photos, but alas, these few that I snapped on my cell phone will have to suffice. Also, I need to make a big, squishy gnome immediately.

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Yarn Review: American Lamb from Made in America Yarns

One of the yarns I discovered at TNNA earlier this month was American Lamb Bulky, a 100% merino yarn from Made in America yarns. They were kind enough to let me take home a sample of yarn to review on my blog.

I'm sure you won't be surprised to find out that this yarns is 100% grown and processed in the USA, a trend which continues on the American knitting scene. Quoting directly from their Ravelry page:
Our sheep are raised out west of the Missouri river. Their sheared wool comes to South Carolina for carding and cleaning. The cleaned wool is sent to Rhode Island where it becomes our roving and singles. It then comes to our mill in Philadelphia where we twist and dye it. From here we distribute it to local yarn stores around the United States where you can purchase it.
What's interesting about this yarn is its texture: it is described as a soft wrapped 22-micron merino wool, meaning that it consists of a fat, lofty ply of yarn wrapped with a thinner ply which is almost thread-like. This creates a charming, almost hand-spun effect (minus the thick-and-think inconsistencies):
Surprisingly, the knitted fabric produced is quite uniform and provides excellent stitch definition. Cables are especially lovely in this yarn (click here to view the projects page on Ravelry to see what I mean!).
Rather than knit a swatch, I decided to see how this yarn would perform when used to make a small toy from Rebecca Danger's 50 Yards of Fun. If you're not into knitting toys, you may not be aware that it's best to use needles which are at least 2 sizes smaller than what is recommended for the yarn; this can often mean knitting a tight gauge which can hurt your hands in the process, especially if the yarn you're working with is stiff to begin with.
© Made in America Yarns
I'm happy to report that knitting this yarn on US#8 needles (the recommended size is US#10) was a dream; the fabric created is soft and snuggly, too. I would definitely use this again to make another toy project, though it would also be fantastic for accessories and sweaters. I used destash yarn scraps for the contrast colors, and it played quite well with them. I think American Lamb would also be an excellent choice for a colorwork or striped project.

Yarn Stats:

American Lamb Bulky from Made in America Yarns

Yardage: 146 yards in a 99g hank

Gauge: 14 sts = 4 inches

Recommended needle size: US#10

Recommended hook size: 6.5mm (K)

Care: Hand wash in cold water; dry flat.

Friday, May 16, 2014

FO Friday: Owl, Mitts, and the Finishing Technique I Never Knew I Needed!

Happy FO Friday! I have been dying to share this crocheted Owl Basket by Deja Jetmir, but had to wait til after mother's day since I made it for my mom! Isn't it cute? She was pretty excited about it, as I knew she would be - she is not only a huge fan of owls, but arguably my biggest fan, too!

I also have finished the Maine Morning Mitts from Wednesday's post - oh my, they are heavenly. I don't think I ever want to take them fact, I am wearing them right now as I type!!
The craziness of the week has been such that my regular photographer (aka my husband Tyler) wasn't able to take FO photos of the gloves. I actually had to resort to using the self-timer on the fancy camera! It hadn't been going terribly well, but then Robin decided to help out. I wish I'd gotten him entirely in frame, but on the plus side, you can see the mitts quite well! Thanks, buddy!

I wanted to share a video tutorial I came across earlier this week which helped me finish this project - if you aren't familiar with the Very Pink Knits YouTube channel, I highly recommend you check it out. Not only does she share incredibly useful tutorials on a regular basis, there are also product reviews and giveaways aplenty. Here is the tutorial which I used this week to finish off my mitts: 

It's funny to me that I have been knitting for as long as I have (ten or so years), and yet I have never sought out the answer to this problem which is constantly cropping...and then one day, I just accidentally stumble across it while browsing YouTube! I suppose it didn't occur to me that there would be such a simple solution, as silly as that is, but now that I know this handy little trick, I wonder how I ever got by without it!

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

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WIP Wednesday: The Luxury Edition

My needles are spoiled this week! I'm (still) working with some heavenly yak yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch and making sloooooooooow progress on my chevron socks:
As if that weren't enough, I was given a skein of Zealana AIR Chunky at TNNA, which is pretty much the definition of luxury. It's a blend of cashmere, possum and silk, and as the name would imply, it truly is light as air. It's also incredibly soft and warm! Late last week, I decided to make a pair of fingerless gloves and cast on for a pair of Maine Morning Mitts by Clara Parkes from the Knitter's Book of Yarn. Little did I know that tagging Ms. Parkes herself on instagram would elicit a response!
This simple knit is just flying off the needles - all I need is to make the thumbs and I'm good to go! 90% of mitt #2 was completed last night at knit night, if that gives you any indication to just how quickly these can be made.

In other news, I have - at long last - finished spinning the singles for my pound of dorper top. Not only that, but the plying has begun! I am trying to match the weight of the chain-plied dorper I spun last fall for Spinzilla, but I'm not totally sure I'm hitting the mark; these might actually be a little thinner, if you can believe it!
I'm stilly plying with 2 bobbins to go, but that hasn't stopped me from beginning the prep work for my next spinning project: I've made some lovely rolags from half of the Organic Polwarth I dyed earlier this year with easter egg dye. I was thinking of spinning the other half as-is to compare and contrast the finished single, at which point I would decide whether or not I would ply them together or chain ply them individually. It could be a fun experiment!
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: Retro Metro Bag from Thirty-One

I know I spent most of last month talking about Thirty-One, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the grey Retro Metro Fold-over Bag I purchased during my virtual party. It's a good thing I ordered mine when I did, because this color is no longer available - I'm guessing they swapped out grey for natural for spring and summer, so perhaps we'll see grey return in the fall.

As I've mentioned in this previous post, I am always on the prowl for a good knitting bag which can also be used for everyday activities. It needs to be durable, roomy (but not too big!), have plenty of pockets, and a crossbody strap since it's a little more secure when you're walking around the city. I also prefer to avoid animal products (i.e. leather) whenever possible. 

This bag certainly hits all of those marks, although I do wish it had just a few more pockets on the interior. The size is big enough to carry my wallet and knitting bag essentials, plus 1-2 projects. I like the foldover top, since it gives me the option to stuff more in if I'm willing to carry it as a tote. It's easy to wear and isn't awkward against my body as some bags can be. I like the casual look of the canvas fabric and the slightly distressed detail at the top.
There are two pockets in the front for easy access to keys, lip balm etc. On the inside, there is one large zipper pocket where I can safely stow my transit card, iPod and cell phone (or anything else that needs to be secured). Since there isn't a secondary pocket inside, I have put all of my knitting tools into a zipper pouch, which makes it easy to arrange it in the bag alongside my project bag and wallet. 

It's probably too soon to make the call on durability, but I've inspected the seams pretty closely and it appears to be a very well-made bag. I'm a little concerned that there is no lining on the inside, but I think the canvas fabric should be able to survive the abuse I'm about to put it through. I plan on taking it with me on a road trip later this summer, so I will keep you posted on how it performs under pressure!

Click here to find out more about Thirty-One.

You may like to know: I was not compensated (nor asked) to write this review! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Coffee with Stacey + Happy Birthday to Craftsy!

While I was at TNNA earlier this month, Stacey Trock (from FreshStitches) asked me to be a guest on her new podcast! We sat down to record a quick interview on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis amidst all of the hoopla and mayhem that is TNNA. I had a great time hanging out with one of my crochet heroes, I hope you enjoy the episode!

If you have any questions for us, you can post them here in the FreshStitches Ravelry group!

Save Up to 50% on Select Craftsy Classes!
Don't miss out on Craftsy's Birthday Flash Sale! Get select online classes at up to 50% off for a limited time only. You won't see so many classes with prices this low again soon. Hurry, offer expires May 11th at 11:59pm MT. Shop Craftsy's Birthday Flash Sale!


(This post contains affiliate links which means I will be compensated if you purchase after clicking these links. Thanks for supporting this blog with your purchase!)

Friday, May 9, 2014

FO Friday: Spindleberry Shawl

It's the first FO Friday of May, and I'm pretty excited to share my latest FO: the Spindleberry Shawl by Joanna Johnson! I snagged this pattern for free when it was first released (it is now available for purchase for the low price of just $4) thanks to my handy Ravulous hot right now app, and it turned out to be the perfect one-skein project for a lovely hank of Skein Merino Cashmere Fingering that has been bouncing around my stash.

I really enjoyed knitting this pattern, and I found it to be the perfect mix of mindful/mindless knitting. Making the fringe as I knit wasn't nearly as fussy as I thought it would be, and the mesh design was fairly easy to memorize. I do wish there had been a chart in addition to the written instructions, but I also feel that beggars can't be choosers when it comes to a free pattern.

I do wish I had added a garter stitch border opposite the mesh, as the fabric curls quite a bit, even after a good blocking. That's mostly on me, since I knew the second I read the pattern that curling would be an issue, yet I chose to proceed as written! 
That said, the curling doesn't really affect the scarf when I'm wearing it, as I like to wrap it around a bunch and then use the button to secure it in place. I was pretty excited to find the perfect vintage button in my stash, too - it's perfect for the colorway! 
The yarn is incredibly soft and silky, a real delight to wear close to the skin. If you ever have a chance to grab yourself a skein of Skein, this particular base is worth a try. It can be a little tough to track down stateside; I was fortunate to snap up a few skeins from Doodlebug Yarn before they closed. 

In other news, I had a really cute visitor on my back porch the other day - this little baby squirrel was making quite a racket trying to get someone's attention! He seemed a bit dazed after falling from a satellite dish that was on the second story of my house, so I kept a close eye on him until he snapped out of it and wandered back to his momma (at least, I hope that's what happened!). Apparently squirrels are quite durable critters! 

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

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

TNNA Indy Recap

I just got back from the TNNA Summer Trade Show in Indianapolis this past weekend; I'm guessing a lot of my readers are on the consumer side of things and will probably never attend this type of trade show, so I thought I'd give you an inside look on today's blog post. As my friend Liz said in this amazing photo (right) she posted of the show floor over the weekend, this is where your LYS goes to shop!

The Summer show is usually in June, so this year's show was about 6 weeks earlier than terms of planning and preparation, that's pretty significant! There was also a venue change from the Columbus Convention Center (and the beloved North Market/Jeni's Ice Cream).

Despite all of these issues, the show turned out well. While I definitely missed some of my favorite places from Columbus, it was nice to explore someplace new and Indianapolis is actually quicte nice. There was even a really cool coffee shop across the street from the convention center called Bee Coffee Roasters, and I found several local beers to sample, too. It's all about priorities, I guess!
Zealana yarns at the
"What's New" table. 

I usually try to walk through the entire show floor and spend at least a few minutes in each booth, but that just didn't happen this year. The size is pretty daunting - think of a convention like Stitches, but perhaps a bit bigger. Between scheduled meetings and running into folks on the show floor and networking, networking, networking, it can be quite a challenge to walk down just one aisle without interruption. It's pretty similar to being at your wedding reception: everywhere you go, there is someone to talk to or something to distract you!

There is a lot more to TNNA than the show floor, however: there are classes on topics ranging from business and marketing to technique-based courses; there is a "What's New" table where you can check out the latest products which will be hitting the market soon; plus there are lot of events and parties in addition to popular events such as the Fashion Show and SampleIt!

SampleIt! is the only part of the show that is cash and carry, meaning you cannot buy any of the products on the show floor and take it home with you. I've heard it's a pretty wild event, but since it's open only the buyers (i.e. shop owners), I've never gotten to attend until this year - I was able to sneak in during the last five minutes! I didn't end up buying anything, however; in fact, most people were completely sold out of their SampleIt! kits by the time I made it in.

Despite the lack of cash and carry, it's inevitable to walk home with a bunch of goodies. Many of the pretties pictured below will be blogged about in more detail at a later date, since that is the reason why those folks were kind enough to send me home with yarn or fiber.
The TNNA booty...
For the first time this year, the company I work for, Stitchcraft Marketing, hosted an event where we invited designers to come hear about our services which are geared towards their needs. They also got a goody bag filled with information and samples of our clients' products! It ended up greatly exceeding my expectations in terms of attendance, and I met a lot of people I hope I'll be hearing from once the dust of TNNA settles.

I also attended a meetup for Spinzilla team captains, and there will be a lot of exciting news to share with you on that front once the team registrations open. For now, I can tell you that that they have taken everyone's feedback from last year's event into account as they plan Spinzilla 2.0 - it will be even bigger and better than last year! If you're thinking of participating, I'd like to invite you to join our informal Spinning Spring Training event which is happening right now over on Ravelry (there are prizes!).

You can see more photos from TNNA here on my instagram feed; if you have any questions about what the show is like, feel free to ask them here!

Thanks for stopping by, I'll return to my regularly-scheduled blogging this Friday!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tip: Use a Safety Pin to Tighten Interchangeable Needles

Today I'm heading home from TNNA, so I will just be sharing this quick craft tip with you - be sure to look for a TNNA-tastic blog post from me later this week!

Recently, I was getting ready to start a project and realized I had packed my cord and needle tips in my project bag, but didn't have the tightening key handy. Luckily, I had a safety pin within
arm's reach - and it did a great job of pinch-hitting!

Friday, May 2, 2014

New Pattern + FO Friday: Pedi Purl Socks!

I'm heading down to the TNNA Trade Show in Indianapolis today, so I have pre-scheduled this post to unveil my newest design: the Pedi Purls socks!

My feet often  get cold while waiting for my nail polish to dry; a bright pair of toeless socks are a fun solution to the problem!

I designed these socks in Baah Sonoma especially for the trade show; they will be on display in the Lavishea booth because they were inspired by a new Lavishea product making its TNNA debut, I'll try to get a shot from the booth to share for you next week.

The concept behind these socks is something I'll be exploring more this summer (hint, hint): quick-to-knit sock projects which have interesting stitch patterns that are easy to memorize, allowing you to work on them while on-the-go. 

The pattern is written to fit the average woman's foot and can be easily customized for size if you are familiar with sock-knitting. There are also instructions for adding a toe to your socks, but please note that to do so will require an additional skein of yarn! 
Pedi Purls by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter

Skill Level
Women’s M/L
Cuff circumference approx. 8”
1-2 skeins Baah Sonoma in California Poppy (100% Superwash Merino, 233 yards (100 grams) - see notes below
US #3 Double-Pointed Needles
Stitch marker
Darning Needle
22 sts = 4” in stockinette stitch
Other Notes
If you choose to make socks with toes, you will need an additional skein of yarn. Pattern includes instructions for toe shaping.
Sock sizing can easily be adjusted by adding or subtracting 10 sts from the pattern repeat.
Nail polish pictured is Lizanne from Julep Nail Color.