Friday, January 30, 2015

FO Friday: Lace Leaf Edge Shawl

This week's FO is pretty spectacular: my Lace Leaf Edge Shawl in Lhasa Wilderness Yarn (say that five times fast)!
This shawl was designed by Jen Lucas, who actually lives in the Chicagoland area as well, and it appeared in the Knit Accessories 2014 issue of Love of Knitting. When I saw that it specified one of my favorite yarns from Bijou Basin Ranch, Lhasa Wilderness, I had to put it in my queue!
It's knit top-down, and then the lace edging is worked across the live stitches. It took a long time - I think I spent at least a week on the edging along - but you know what? I'd prefer that to binding off a billion stitches any day! Also, the lace pattern was fairly easy to memorize and became pretty addictive the more I worked it!
The wingspan is pretty impressive - longer than my built-in bookcase - and the fabric drapes fantastically! I used the Natural Brown color of Lhasa Wilderness (which is also known as Sassenach from the Outlandish series), and I cannot even begin to impart to you how soft, lightweight, squishy, and overall delightful the knitted fabric actually is. I'm looking forward to wearing this lots, especially in the spring.
Yarn: Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Basin Ranch in the Sassenach colorway
Pattern: Lace Leaf Edge Shawl by Jen Lucas from the Knit Accessories 2014 issue of Love of Knitting.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway this week - click here for your chance to win a copy of Curls by Hunter Hammersen!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Curls Giveaway + WIP Wednesday

Did you miss my review of Hunter Hammersen's new book, Curls, earlier this week? If so, I highly recommend clicking here before you read any further. Ok, all caught up? That's great, because I have one print copy of Curls to give away to a lucky blog reader! Use the widget below for your chance to win this awesome prize which was generously donated by Hunter herself. I'll announce the winner next Wednesday, February 4. Good luck!

And now, on to the WIPs! I couldn't resist casting on for the first shawl in the book, Caesious, using some of my handspun yarn:
I love how it's knitting up! I spun this super-sproingy 2-ply using Malabrigo Nube, and it's more or less a sport weight. I chose US 6 needles so that the fabric was just the right amount of light and airy. I'm participating in the Caesious KAL which is happening here in the Violently Domestic Ravelry group, and it's been fun to see everyone else's projects shared in the thread.

It's been a while since I posted a progress shot of my Block Island Pullover, and I am still plugging away! On Monday, I noticed a small mistake in the stripes, but decided to keep it as a "design feature." Can you spot it?
No? The second set of stripes (from the bottom up) is just ever so slightly thinner than the set below them. OOPS! Honestly, it doesn't really bother me that much, and by the time I noticed it, I was way too far along to justify ripping back, even if it did keep me up a bit at night. Thankfully, I haven't been losing sleep over it.

I've also made some progress on my sock yarn baby sweater! Ironically, it looks less sweater-like as I knit, but I think it will all come together nicely when it comes time to seam.
Hope your own projects are going well this week!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Curls by Hunter Hammersen

It's true, I live in something of a fiber arts bubble: my world is 24/7 yarn and fiber. So when someone tells me they aren't familiar with the work of Hunter Hammersen, I am a bit shocked - especially now, with the huge success of her new book, Curls. Since its release near the end of last year, Curls has entered its third printing, and it hit the number-one spot on Amazon in the knitting books category. It's been mentioned on tons of blogs and podcasts, and we all pretty much agree: Curls is awesome and we want to knit every single one.

The concept is both simple and amazing: easy-to-wear wraps which can be knit at any gauge. Whether you prefer a sock weight shawl or want to whip up a quick bulky wrap, all you have to do is grab your needles, pick a pattern, and cast on (I'm especially looking forward to putting some of my skeins of handspun yarn to good use). As Hunter explains in the introduction, she came across an interesting shape while swatching and quickly realized just how versatile it could be - not only when it comes to knitting, but also when you're wearing it! The books shows tons of inspiring styling ideas throughout to help you wear your Curl with pride.
In addition to the 14 patterns, there is a wealth of information at the beginning of the book. The detailed explanation of the "Anatomy of a Curl" is something I wouldn't recommend skipping, especially if you have knit several more traditional-shaped shawls. As I cast on for my first Curl, I found my only issue was reminding myself that I am knitting a totally different shape than what I'm used to; referring back to this section (which includes a color-coded diagram and detailed explanations) was really helpful to get me back on track.

Hunter also includes information on how to modify your Curl as you knit, a page of helpful hints, an explanation of gauge and sizing for the patterns, a thorough explanation of how to read the charts, and finishes off with a section on blocking. The eBook version also includes a section explaining Stitch Maps, which are basically knitting charts, minus the grid. They're a relatively new development from JC Briar, and the eBook version includes Stitch Maps for each pattern, conveniently located next to the chart (more detail on that here).

The rest of the book is filled with the patterns: there are 14 patterns in all, and each one includes full-color photographs, written instructions and charts. They are all concise and easy to follow, and to me, it appears as though they are arranged in order of difficulty - some of the charts for the final few Curls look quite complex! I can't think of the last time I picked up a knitting book and truly loved each and every pattern within it, but I can totally see myself knitting all 14 designs, hopefully before the next Curls book comes out!

There is a currently an informal KAL for the first design in the book, Caesious (more on that here), and each subsequent design will have their day in the sun as well (you can see the full KAL schedule here).

Ready to join in? You can order PDF or print copies via the links below; print copies ordered through the Pantsville Press website will also receive a PDF version for immediate download .

Purchase Curls from the Pantsville Press Website (PDF & Print).
Purchase Curls here on Ravelry (PDF only).
Purchase Curls from Amazon.

All images © Hunter Hammersen.

You may like to know: I was gifted a copy of this book, although I would have bought it anyway! Also, I was not asked to write a review in exchange for the free book.

Friday, January 23, 2015

FO Friday: Tokyo Tower Bandana

This week's FO is the project I knit during my trip to Kansas City at the beginning of the month: the Tokyo Tower Bandana by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, which I knit with a skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Extra yarn.
If you haven't used this yarn before, it's worth seeking out - oh, the softness! It's really delightful to knit with, and once I blocked my finished project, the fabric just got squishier. I've been wearing it a bunch ever since.
The pattern was pretty easy to follow, with the caveat that there is a lot of counting once you get to the lace detail. I got off on my stitch count a few times, but was able to catch it each time to rip back and fix the mistake to get back on track. The frogging was well-worth it - my eyelet Tokyo Tower looks perfect!

Pattern: Tokyo Tower Bandana by Olga Buraya-Kefelian
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Extra yarn in Lake Ice

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January Spinning Project: Manos Del Uruguay Merino Roving

I haven't really blogged about my craft goals for 2015, but one of them is to start and finish a spinning project each month (I supposed I'll get around to blogging about the rest of the goals at some point!).
Left: Two different dye lots of the Bramble colorway
Right: The resulting singles, ready to ply on the new Schacht Lazy Kate I got for Christmas!
I decided to start with some merino roving my husband gifted me for Christmas from Manos del Uruguay; through a series of unfortunate events beyond his control, he ended up receiving two very different dye lots of the same colorway (it was either that or wait til long after Christmas was over to get matching dye lots). Luckily, I am not one to be daunted by such things, and I rather liked each version of the colorway - it was kind of nice to see the full range of variations! Not only that, but I was sure that they would look just lovely spun into singles and plied together.
Since it's been a while since I've dusted off the wheel, I was a bit rusty to start. The singles are not as uniform as I was aiming for, but I think they came together well in the finished 2-ply yarn. I spun the singles on my regular Ladybug bobbins and then used my bulky plyer to make this ginormous skein (approx. 173 yards), also on the Ladybug:
Every time I look at it, I think Christmas. I was thinking of using it to crochet some sort of tree-shaped wall hanging for Christmas 2015 - here and here are my main pattern contenders at the moment.

I'll have a finished project to share with you on FO Friday this week, see you then!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: New Directions in Lace - Hats

It's been a while since I've written a review of a Craftsy class; to be honest, it's been a while since I've logged in and watched any of the 17 (!) classes I'm registered for! However, when I was offered the change to review a new class by Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley of Kelbourne Woolens, I couldn't say no. I'm a huge fan of their patterns, of which I have purchased and knit several, plus I own both of their books, Vintage Modern Knits and November Knits, and I'm pretty obsessed with The Fibre Company yarns, which Kelbourne Woolens distributes. Calling me a fan girl is probably putting it mildly.

My Spiral Lace Hat
Their new class is called New Directions in Lace: Hats, and it includes 3 great patterns:
  • Spiral Lace Hat - a bottom-up basic lace hat that is super-easy and fast to knit
  • Medallion Crown Hat - a top-down hat wit ha more intricate lace chart
  • True Lace hat - a bottom-up lace hat which includes patterning on every round
Even for experienced knitters, there are plenty of new and useful tips and tricks to be gleaned from the 7 concise lessons (the total course length clocks in just shy of 3 hours). My personal favorite was an awesome trick for guesstimating enough yarn to do a long-tail cast on near the beginning of the class. I have been successfully using it non-stop ever since! Another interesting lesson demonstrated an invisible cast on for the top-down hat which I admit I am still in the process of mastering. 
My True Lace Hat (Still Drying!)

In particular, the charts are really well explained - not just what you do, but the how and the why. There is a thoroughness in general to the patterns, which include written instructions plus charts. In one instance, there are a few different versions of the same chart to demonstrate a few different approaches to both making and reading charts. They also cover how to modify lace patterns to suit your own taste. I found the instructions on how to use the gauge swatch to modify even the more difficult patterns to be very helpful.

The course closes with a really good discussion about finishing your projects: weaving in ends (and how to hide those ends), fixing the float from joining to knit in the round, and blocking in general were covered in great detail.

I would definitely recommend this course for intermediate and advanced knitters who are looking to refine their lace knitting skills and pick up new ones along the way!

Click here to register for New Directions in Lace: Hats on!

You may like to know: I was given a free course in exchange for this review; I am also a Craftsy affiliate and your course registration using my affiliate links help to power this blog. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

FO Friday: OMG!

I finished my OMG Heel Socks on Monday night! I used the yarn my nephews gave me for Christmas, two skeins of Crystal Palace Sausalito.

I made the intentional decision to make fraternal twins, and I really like how they turned out, colorwise. I also like the sock pattern itself - I got a lot of questions about it on Instagram about what I thought of the OMG Heel (which stands for One-needle Mini Gusset).  The short answer is yes - I ended up being happy with the heel it produced, and I would definitely it into other patterns.

The pattern itself (by Megan Williams of the Stockinette Zombies Podcast) is really well-written for both cuff-down and toe-up; the instructions are written for working on two needles via magic loop, but it's very easy to translate to DPNs for those of us who prefer that (ie, me). I will definitely be knitting the OMG Heel Sock pattern again: it's perfect for variegated, self-striping and hand-dyed yarns and it's easy enough to follow along when knitting on the bus/train/what have you.

Pattern: OMG Heel Socks by Megan Williams

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WIP Wednesday, Wherefore Art Thou?

It's been a while since I posted a WIP Wednesday - but don't worry, the disappearance of this weekly feature was only temporary! At the moment, I have just two projects on the needles, and best of all...they are both for ME! The first is something I started in December, about 5 seconds after finishing my last holiday gift project:
The pattern is the Lace Leaf Edge shawl by Jen Lucas which appeared in the Knit Accessories 2014 issue of Love of Knitting; I'm using the yarn called for in the pattern (Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Basin Ranch) in the Sassenach colorway. It's at the extremely hard-to-photograph stage since I've finished knitting the body of the shawl, and am now working across allllll of those stitches to create the lace border. I have a ways to go, but the chart is starting to go faster for me!
My next WIP was started during my trip to Kansas City last week - my first sweater of 2015! I'm really hoping that this year will truly be the Year of the Sweater for me, and I've been eyeing the pattern from Knitscene for quite a while.
The pattern is the Block Island Pullover by Allyson Dykhuizen which appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Knitscene; I'm using Peace Fleece Worsted yarn in Indigo Smoke and Patience Blue.

I can't wait to share this week's FO with you this Friday - see you then!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Eye Candy: Plains Indians Exhibit

While in Kansas City last week, I was fortunate to catch the Plains Indians exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which was in its final week. There was plenty of eye candy for the craft enthusiast: beautiful beadwork, exquisite quilts, and colorful painted motifs. Below are just a few of my favorite pieces; if you have a chance to check it out when it arrives in your neck of the woods, I highly recommend it!

Friday, January 9, 2015

FO Friday: Baby Buffet & Jive Mitts

I'm sure I've mentioned more than a few times that pretty much everyone I know is expecting a baby in the next 6 months (if they haven't already had one). Now that I've finished my holiday gift projects, I'm all about some selfish knitting in the new year, but I can't let my friends and their new little ones go entirely without something handmade! The Baby Sweater Buffet pattern by Allyson Dykhuizen is perfect for all of my baby sweater needs (and yours, too) - it's totally customize-able and knits up quick in worsted weight yarn. I made this cute little Calico Cat sweater recently using some Brava yarn from KnitPicks and three vintage buttons:

I also whipped up a pair of mitts in Blue Sky Alpacas Techno yarn - which is on sale for 50% off at WEBS right now (well, discontinued colors anyway). The yarn itself has an interesting construction I just had to try out for myself: it's a tube of whipped alpaca fiber! It was rather nice to knit with, but the real treat comes with blocking, where it blooms and becomes even softer than it was in the skein. I used the Jive Mitts pattern, which is a quick-knitting mock-cable design.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pamper Yourself in 2015

Breaking news! I've teamed up with the Feel Good Yarn Company to bring you a delightful indulgence in the new year. The Pamper Yourself sock kit features my Say What sock pattern (which originally appeared in Conversations Socks) and two skeins of therapeutic SilverSpun yarn. Making this kit extra luxurious is the inclusion of a Lavender LaviShea® lotion bar (my favorite scent!). The bar melts with your body heat and absorbs quickly and completely without leaving a greasy residue, penetrating deep into the skin to re-hydrate, moisturize and induce relaxation.

Say, Ahhh, to pampering - you deserve it!

Kit Contents:
  • Feel Good Yarn Company® SilverSpun [87% combed cotton, 5% silver, 5% Nylon, 3% Spandex; 173 yd per 50g skein]; color: Natural; 2 skeins
  • LaviShea® Lotion Bar [unrefined shea butter,100% natural soy, premium botanical oils, essential oils, skin-safe fragrance; 1.35oz.]; fragrance: lavender; 1 bar 
  • Downloadable PDF pattern

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pattern Re-Release: Alameda Socks

Ever since I discovered that the original yarn called for in my Alameda Sock design was discontinued, I have wanted to update this design. To be totally honest, the yarn I originally chose wasn't particularly well-suited to becoming socks, being that it was a rather inelastic cotton yarn. As much as I wanted a pair of hand-knit cottony summer socks, it just didn't work quite like I had imagined.

When two skeins of beautiful Violet GEMS sport weight yarn arrived on my doorstep, I realized they would be the perfect yarn choice for version 2.0 of the Alameda Socks, and last fall I cast on for a pair which would also conveniently serve as my grandmother's Christmas gift. Two birds, one pair of socks! That's the saying, right??

Anyway, I loved the way they turned out, though the yarn substitution did necessitate a few changes to the original pattern due to the difference in gauge. I chose to revise this pattern to be knit in 2 sizes (instead of the original 3) since the width of the cable panel pretty much dictates the minimum circumference possible in the design; I feel confident that the sproinginess of the yarn and the elasticity of the stitch pattern will still work for the range of foot sizes covered by the original design. For example, I have slender-ish ankles and the 7.5" cuff fit me just fine, and it could easily stretch to accommodate a larger leg circumference, too. The charts and instructions themselves have not otherwise been changed, so it is still quite true to the original concept and design.

Original release date: July 2011
Naturally, I also took this opportunity to update the pattern photography and layout, so it should look much nicer and match my latest releases (for those of you who are keeping track of such things). I have already notified those who have purchased this pattern of these changes, and I have opted to leave the original PDF as a download option for the next couple of months for those who would like access to the instructions for all three of the original sizes (plus the accompanying charts). It should be fairly obvious which is which, but of course, should you find yourself wondering which pattern to download, you can always message me on Ravelry to clear things up! Furthermore, anyone who purchases a copy of this pattern is always welcome to the archive version of Alameda Socks (let's call it v1.0), they just need to contact me on Ravelry so that I can send the PDF their way manually.

I'm so excited about this new (old) sock pattern and can't wait to see which color of GEMS sport folks choose to knit their own!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Holiday Gifting: Chicago Style

Welcome back! Today is my third and final post sharing the handmade gifts I made this holiday season. As you might have guessed, as Christmas drew nearer, I started to run out of steam! I managed to make a fun little crocodile for my nephew Ethan:

Unfortunately, I only managed to complete one stripey sock for Tyler in time for the holiday (insert HO joke here?), and he was the lucky recipient of said single sock and an IOU on Christmas morning. The good news is, I managed to finish the second sock the end of the following day since I was able to knit in front of him! I used the directions for the Chittery Chattery socks and worked a striped stockinette stitch pattern instead of the knitting the pattern as written with three colors of Louet GEMS Sport. Tyler loves them!

That pretty much wraps up the tour of my holiday knitting. I had high hopes for also whipping up some cute ornaments to use as stocking stuffers, but unfortunately, that never happened. Perhaps in 2015 I will have better luck!

Happy (belated) New Year, everyone!