Friday, October 31, 2014

FO Friday: #KPconvosocks KAL

On the Amtrak train back to Chicago, I was able to finish my project for this month's KAL in the Knitter's Pride group! I'm also double-dipping, so these socks are my project for the Seasonal Sock Syndrome KAL in the Delusional Knitter group as well. Best of all....they are DONE!

I used my own Chittery Chattery sock pattern from Conversation Socks and knit this version in two different colors of GEMS Sport, Teal and Willow.

As you can see, Tyler is the model for the socks. After the photo shoot was done, he actually asked me if they were sport weight socks - yes, he knew there was something different from the fingering-weight socks that I usually knit.

Turns out, he likes the sport weight socks better because he felt like they were softer and breathed easier. He actually refused to take them off post-photo shoot. I guess they're his now!

If you want to see more projects from the Conversation Socks ebook, click here. This is the last day to get $2 off your ebook purchase when you enter KPSOCKTOBER at checkout!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WIP Wednesday + Stash Enhancement

I took a quick trip down to Kansas City over the weekend for a friend's wedding and to visit family, so I had plenty of knitting time during the 14-hour (total) train trip! I made the most progress on my test knitting project (which I can't share with you just yet), but my Chittery Chattery Socks are now complete and I started a new fingering-weight baby sweater:

Since returning to Chicago, I've been scrambling to get the house ready for my parents to visit, and of course, paid work needs to happen at some point, too! I've been able to sneak in a few rows here and there for my Excelsior, however:

On my trip, I was able to find a few spare moments to visit the new location of The Studio Knitting & Needlepoint, one of my favorite shops to visit when I'm in town. Since I missed VK Live in Chicago last weekend, I treated myself to a skein of Anzula Sebastian. That's a pretty good consolation prize, I think!

I also came home to this pretty skein of Mountain Colors Winter Silk yarn:

Mountain Colors Winter Silk in the Harmony Cottonwood colorway

...and couldn't resist immediately casting on for a project! It seems like everyone I know is having a baby in the next 6 months, many of which will be gender unknown until their arrival date. I think this is the perfect gender-neutral color for a sweet little baby hat; I am using a free pattern from Tincanknits called Barley:

What's on your needles this week?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Graphic Knits by Alexis Winslow

By Alexis Winslow
Interweave/F+W; $24.99
When I was asked if I wanted to review Alexis Winslow's new book, Graphic Knits: 20 Designs in Bold, Beautiful Color, I leapt at the chance. I had already been admiring many of the patterns on Ravelry, and to be honest, I was planning on buying the book for myself if I didn't get it as a holiday gift this year. Then, of course, a copy shows up on my doorstep courtesy of the kind people at Interweave!

The projects which first caught my eye were several of the designs featuring all-over bold geometric elements: the Rook Pullover, Orly Cardigan, and the cover project, the Trilogy Cardigan all have that "punch" you would expect from a book called Graphic Knits. However, there are many other interpretations of "Graphic Knits" explored throughout the book as the author plays with color and stitch patterns to create a graphic mood.

The designs featuring smaller elements of colorwork such as the Sweetness Pullover and Rockling Cardigan are great examples of this interplay, and incorporating colorblocks within designs is another concept I particularly enjoyed, such as in the Barbet Turtleneck and the Bowerbird Wrap. A third way graphic knits is interpreted is through textured stitches and lace, such as in the Germander Shrug and Minnow Top.

Barbet Turtleneck - Image © Joe Hancock
There are plenty of designs which are suitable for adventurous beginners, but those with intermediate and advanced skills will also find plenty to keep their needles busy: interesting construction abounds, and most designs have notes included to describe the unusual design or construction elements thoroughly, along with a schematic. Up until this point, I've mostly been mentioning the sweater patterns, but there are also some accessory designs included in the collection: a few hats, mittens, and a chevron belt round out the mix.

Patterns, from top to bottom: Woodstar Beret & Mitts, Tanager Shrug, and Danae Mitts.
Throughout the book, there are tips and tutorials specific to a particular pattern aimed at helping the knitter successfully make each design. Flipping thought the pages, I spied a quick tutorial on how to knit jogless stripes in the round, notes about weaving in chunky ends, and how to create twisted-cord fringe - and that's just the tip of the iceberg!
Rockling Cardigan - Image © Joe Hancock
For those of you who are curious about how the donuts get made, Alexis has been sharing fascinating behind-the-scenes looks on her blog for various designs from this book - click here to visit her website!
Bowerbird Wrap - Image © Joe Hancock
I am totally in love with this book and can't wait to make myself something from it (you know, after I finish all that holiday gift knitting first...coughcough). The hardest thing for me will be deciding which project to knit first from this excellent collection!

Click here to purchase on the Interweave website.

You might like to know: I was given a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my review. I assure you, the love-fest is genuine, however!

Friday, October 24, 2014

FO Friday: Wedge Socks

I was psyched to finally get this project off the needles, especially before embarking on a long train trip down to KC for a wedding this weekend. That means I get to start some new projects, right?!

Last month, I was able to snag one of the limited-edition skeins of Tibetan Dream yarn hand-dyed by Miss Babs, and I couldn't resist immediately casting on for a pair of soft, warm, and yak-y socks.

I love the way they turned out! The pattern is perfect for a variegated yarn such as this, and it's also interesting to knit. For the most part, it was my on-the-go project, and now they are going to be my go-to socks for fall!

Pattern: Wedge by Cookie A from knit. sock. love.
Yarn: Tibetan Dream from Bijou Basin Ranch in Seaside, a limited-edition color dyed by Miss Babs

Have a fun & crafty weekend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spinzilla Results + WIP Wednesday

The results from Spinzilla 2014 are in!

Congratulations to Team Fancy Tiger Crafts, who defended their title well and won the golden niddy noddy for the second year in a row with a total of 171,492.6 yards.

I'm pleased to say that Team Louet came in third place with a total of 156,852.920 yards. My own total turned out to be 3,404 once I'd added in the leftover singles from all of my Spinzilla projects, putting me in the Monster Mile club along with 881 other spinners; you can see all of my finished Spinzilla yarns here on last week's post.

Click here to check out the rest of this year's Spinzilla results!

Yesterday I came down with a bug and was out of commission for most of the day, and now I'm scrambling to get caught up on work and chores before I head to KC for a friend's wedding this weekend. It's amazing how much losing just one day can throw things off! I thought about not posting a blog today at all, but in the end decided I could spare a few moments to share the good news about Spinzilla and maybe a WIP or two.

Over the weekend, I finished the first Chittery Chattery sock & promptly started #2, though I haven't had a chance to photograph my progress just yet. I have, however, made some headway on Excelsior:

Believe it or not, that's it for this week!

Monday, October 20, 2014

All The News That's Fit to Blog

While we all wait anxiously for the results of this year's Spinzilla (which should be announced later today with any luck!), I have a few random news items to share this week:

I was thrilled to discover - nearly a week after the fact - that one of my designs was featured in Threadpanda's Friday Finds! What's funny is that the Friday Finds feature is one of my favorites to check on a regular basis, but the one time it slips my mind - BOOM! There's my patterns! At any rate, I couldn't be more flattered to be included in such a lovely collection of patterns. Be sure to follow the Threadpanda blog for more great inspiration and enabling, it's definitely worth adding to your reading list.
Sample grab bag from my Etsy shop
In the world of podcasts, my Mini Skein Grab Bags were recently mentioned on 2 Tangled Skeins, and they said such nice things about them that I couldn't resist creating a special coupon code for their viewers to use in my Etsy shop! Click here to watch the podcast (the review is around the halfway mark) and click here to view the coupon code in the 2 Tangled Skeins Ravelry group!

My fellow Chicagoans are getting ready for the return of Vogue Knitting Live next weekend, which I won't be attending this year. I'm looking forward to hearing a full report from those of you who are lucky enough to go, however! If you haven't purchased your Marketplace ticket yet, be sure to use coupon code GUILD50 for half-off your admission. Click here to purchase ahead of time online!

Click here to view all 5 patterns on Ravelry. 
Last but not least, there is still time to snag the Conversation Socks ebook for just $12 (regularly priced at $14) when you enter "KPSOCKTOBER" at checkout! The concept is simple: 5 unisex designs which knit up quickly in sport-weight yarn. The stitch patterns are interesting to knit, but not so complicated that they make you cry (I promise) They're great for travel projects, knit night, and that 11th hour gift you nearly forgot to knit. There is also a KAL happening now through October 31, and some awesome prizes are up for grabs - click here for more details!

I'll meet you back here for WIP Wednesday!

Friday, October 17, 2014

FO Friday: Chase Those Chills

With a few weeks left before the official KAL end date, my Chill Chaser is complete! Over the weekend, I wove in the ends; on Monday night, I sewed the sleeves onto the body. On Tuesday, I blocked it out, but it wasn't totally dry until yesterday. Last night, I sewed on the buttons...which means I wasn't able to get photos taken of the totally-finished sweater til this morning, which is why this post is a little later than usual.
As you can see, it fits me perfectly. I used the same colors of Spud & ChloĆ« Sweater as pictured in the pattern photo, Manatee & Turtle. I'm knitting it as part of the Chill Chaser KAL which is happening here on Ravelry - and if you'd like to participate by knitting a child-size version of the sweater, it's not too late to join in, since the KAL ends on October 31. 
Check out those awesome robot buttons - do they look familiar? I used them earlier this year on a friend's baby sweater, and I've been obsessed with them ever since. I was able to special-order the size I needed from Fastenation Studio since I needed something smaller than what was currently available on the website. They arrived in less than a week, and there were even two extra robot buttons included with my order! 
I am totally in love with this project - I think it might be one of my favorite and best-fitting sweaters to date. I look forward to keeping the chills at bay all winter long! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Socks & Single-Points

Now that Spinzilla is officially over and I have double-checked my yardage calculations to include the leftover singles from my plied yarns for a total of 3404 yards, I am returning to the projects which have been forlorn in my knitting corner for the past week.

Over the weekend, I finished the Chill Chaser sweater I had on the needles (spoiler alert for Friday!) and made some serious progress on my Chittery Chattery socks for various KALs which I'm participating in (more on those here).

I have only knit a few more rounds of my Wedge socks since last week's WIP Wednesday post, so it's probably not worth posting a photograph today. However, I did start something NEW as a reward for finishing a project over the weekend. For quite some time, I've been wanting to cast on for  Excelsior from the Holla Knits Home Collection, and the Sweatshop of Love Fall KAL which started at the beginning of this month is the perfect excuse! I'm using 3 colors of Spud & Chloe Fine from my stash: Orangutan, Goldfish and Ice Cream, and some Bamboo single-point needles from Knitter's Pride. Admittedly, straight needles are not normally my jam, but I am kind of enjoying the departure from the norm for this project. It doesn't look like much just yet, but I'm hoping it knits up quick: 

Also on my to-do list this week is to make sure that all of my new handspun skeins of yarn are properly entered into my Ravelry stash! 

How are you keeping it crafty this week? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spinzilla: Handspun Eye Candy

The results won't be in for the team totals til later this week at the earliest, but last night I finished up my final Spinzilla project and tallied up my finished yardage for a grand total of 3372 (unofficially; I will probably be checking my math before submitting my final tally!).

During the course of the week, I spun approximately 3 pounds of fiber total, most of which I plied, though some of I decided to leave as a single ply. The cats were not terribly thrilled that I was spinning so much this past week; when I knit, they often snuggle up to me on the couch, but it's a bit tougher to snuggle whilst I spin - not that they didn't try!

Spinning with cats: is there any other way?
I began the week with some easy projects to get back into spinning: pencil roving (Louet Northern Lights), Louet Cheviot, and a Corriedale Cross braid from YarnHollow were among the first projects I embarked upon.

The Malabrigo Nube roving took longer than I was anticipating because working with the finer fibers (which for some reason I decided to spin into a laceweight single) was pretty hard on my hands. I know some Spinzilla spinners are hard-core and are willing to push themselves past the point of pain, but I am not one of them. The Nube necessitated frequent breaks, shorter sessions, and a slower pace overall.

Once the Nube was plied, I began to get a little panicked about my running total, so I rushed through a couple of braids and unintentially spun them in opposite directions in the process, creating an opposing ply yarn once I paired them together. The result is a really energetic and interesting textured skein of yarn which used up all of the BFL single, but left a significant portion of the Organic Polwarth/Silk single from Cloudlover.

On Saturday night, I decided to try my hand at spinning 2 gradient braids from Fairy Yarnmother directly from the top, which turned out to work quite well at preserving the color changes, both in spinning the singles as well as when I plied them together. Also, I had less than 2 yards left from one of the bobbins when it was all said and done - usually I have one bobbin with several yards leftover, even when I split the fiber by weight ahead of time, so this was rather satisfying for me.

Yesterday, I plied the Fairy Yarnmother yarn, then spun through the final batts in my fiber stash, splitting them into two singles which I also plied together that same day (which is not my usual MO, but I made an exception for Spinzilla).

Here are all of my finished skeins - they fit into one of my Thirty-One storage bins:

Even if I don't end up winning any prizes, I am pretty happy with everything I accomplished during this year's event. Unbelievably, I still have some fiber left in my stash (three pounds to be exact), and everyone on #TeamLouet received a generous thank-you gift from Dave at Louet which I am excited to spin up in the near future:

Pippi Project Kit & Limited-Edition Spinzilla LaviShea Bar
This fall, I plan to explore some new spinning territory which I was reticent to attempt while competing in Spinzilla; for example, this week I realized that I have never set up my Ladybug to spin double drive, so that is something I definitely want to try out. I also want to spin some fingering-weight yarn; the lightest weight I've been able to accomplish thus far has been a sport.

In the mean time, I'm eager to see everyone else's results from this past week, and to find out how my team placed, too! It won't be long til we find out which team has won the Golden Niddy Noddy for 2014!

Friday, October 10, 2014

FO Friday: Small Things Are No Sweat

I finished my first (of many) October KAL projects this week! This first one is for the Hops & Hanks Fall KAL, and it's knit with a new exclusive base of yarn available at A Good Yarn Sarasota called A Good Yarn Fingering. You can choose from a 50g skein for $15 or a full 4oz skein for $32. I used a 50g skein in the Autumn Jewels colorway, and I have enough left over to knit another pair of socks or perhaps even a matching hat!
Knit with A Good Yarn Fingering in Autumn Jewels
Speaking of which....this pattern is from my back catalog, the Sweetest Baby Socks. When I originally designed these socks, I used one of my favorite superwash yarns for gifted items, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock.

Knit with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Sunshine
While I would still very much recommend this yarn, the put-up has changed for Shepherd Sock, which makes purchasing a skein of it specifically for this project a tad impractical (however, if you have a leftover skein lying around, go ahead and cast on!!). At any rate, I have updated this pattern to include both yarn options, and I have also added a chart and revised some of the instructions for clarity and ease of knitting.

Anyone who has purchased this pattern before I release the matching hat pattern I'm working on for later this year will receive a coupon code to purchase the forthcoming Sweetest Baby Hat for only $2!

In other news, I also finished the one-skein cowl I started during my trip to Minnesota last week! The pattern is the Cupid Cowl by Bobbi IntVeld, and I used one skein of Spud & Chloe Sweater in one of their new colorways, #7532 Pine Needle. It turned out to be the perfect travel project because the pattern stitches were so easy to read that I didn't have to constantly refer back to the written instructions as I knit. Also, it was interesting enough to keep me entertained during some pretty long delays, but not so complicated as to bend my mind into a pretzel!

As you might have guessed, I also have several finished skeins of handspun yarn at this point, but I will be saving them for my post-Spinzilla blog post this coming Monday. I hope everyone has a fun and fibery weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Progress Aplenty + Craftsy Kits

Since I was traveling last week, I strategically packed only two projects to work on in hopes that I would come home with as many FOs. Despite encountering a lot of delays in my air travel, my plan didn't quite work out as I thought it would, although the Wedge Socks are now at HO status!

The lighting in the photo above doesn't really do justice to the colorway, so here is a close-up shot which is a little more true to color:

My Chill Chaser is much closer to being done; I finished knitting the sleeves and just need to attach them to the sweater - but first, I want to finish knitting the hood:

Last but not least, my Chittery Chattery socks are knitting up nice and quick, especially considering the fact that I've had very little time to work on them!

In other news, Craftsy is offering some great deals on project kits which are only available by clicking on my affiliate links below. I thought I'd share them for anyone who is looking for simple & affordable gifts to make this holiday season now that there are less than three months to go!

Prices are only good through October 10, so don't delay - a few of the other affiliate-sale kits have already sold out!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Time to Spin!

Spinzilla starts today! I spent all of this past weekend making sure my fiber was prepped, though I'm not doing anything terribly fancy for this year's event: most of the fibers I am spinning with are hand-dyed roving, so I've just predrafted them into thinner strips to spin directly from the top. Since the focus is on speed and yardage, I had earmarked a few easy-to-spin projects for this week especially.

First, the final set of batts from earlier this year:

Next on my to-do list, some Louet Northern Lights in Icy Winter, which I'll spin as-is since it's already pencil roving:

My latest fiber acquisition is two braids of Malabrigo Nube which I purchased when I was in Minneapolis last week:

I was just in town for a few days on official Stitchcraft business, but managed to stop by Crafty Planet for a little fiber stash enhancement. They have a really amazing selection of fabrics, sewing and embroidery supplies in addition to yarn, of course. It's always fun to visit a LYS or two when traveling to pick up a fibery souvenir. Bonus: they also have a well-stocked online shop!

Good luck to everyone spinning during this week's event. I'll be sharing some of my non-spinning WIPs this Wednesday, see you then!