Wednesday, April 27, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Travel Knitting

In the last week, I made a lot of progress on the three projects I took with my to Kansas City for the Ply Away retreat (click here if you missed Monday's recap!). Both socks saw some action, though the funky bent DPN socks are still kind of slow going:
I did, however, use my flight back to Chicago effectively by knitting the heel flap and turning the heel on my first Light Saber Green BFL sock:
The Brioche Cowl became my go-to project while traveling, since I have the stitch pattern memorized. It was the only thing I had to work on during a 3-hour visit to the ER (not for me, but for my Grandfather, who is thankfully ok despite taking a fall while I was in KC) - so you'd think it would be just about done, but such is the slowness of brioche, I guess!
I am going to try participating in #blanketmadness this week by adding to my Cozy Memories Blanket, which as of Sunday had 90 squares; honestly, if I can just add 1-2 each day, I'll be in better shape than I was before. This poor, neglected project...and speaking of neglected projects, I haven't added any stripes to Tyler's Royals socks, since they are strictly an at-home project. I did, however, start a fractal spinning project using some of the fiber I bought at Ply Away this past weekend. Here's the first ply of Polwarth/Silk from Huckleberry knits (this is the "Lark" colorway):
FYI, I don't have any FOs for later this week, so I'll see you back here next Monday. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ply Away Retreat - Kansas City, MO

I was pretty psyched to hear about the Ply Away retreat in my hometown of Kansas City (brought to you by the editors of Ply Magazine), and knew that it was quite likely I'd end up going, since I had a free place to stay in town with my family. This year has been off to a busy start, so why not include a short little jaunt to Kansas City this month?

I flew down on Thursday with the intention of spending part of Friday and Saturday at the marketplace, and then taking my first-ever official spinning class on Sunday morning - Fractal Spinning with Jillian Moreno. That's more or less how things played out, though there was the added element of some family stuff mixed in - my grandpa was released from rehab after emergency hip replacement surgery a few months back, only to fall down, sprain his wrist, and - eventually - be readmitted to the care facility he was released from 48 hours prior within the time span of my visit. Thankfully he is doing quite well now, and I was glad I was there to help out at least a tiny bit, since usually I'm in Chicago and just hear about such things after the fact.

The event took place downtown at the Westin, which I haven't been to in years - but I do remember seeing the indoor waterfall there when I was a kid. It was fun to go back, and I spotted a little yarnbomb nearby!
I probably went overboard at the marketplace, but I have no regrets about the fiber and other goodies I stashed. The market was just the right size - not too big and overwhelming, yet not too small, either. If you took a full classload, you could definitely make it through on your lunch breaks each day, which I hope was good news for the vendors. There were tons of spinning wheels and looms for folks to try out on the show floor - and not only did I try out saori weaving, which was super fun, but I also spun on a protoype of a new wheel from Schact called the Flat Iron which will be coming out later this year!
For both days I shopped the marketplace, I took my favorite tote bag from Gleener and would cut myself each day once I had filled it - and though fiber can be squished down quite a bit, there are limits (thankfully!).
On the first day, I purchased 2 braids of Targhee fiber from Yarn Geek Fibers since I didn't get around to it at YarnCon earlier this month.
I also splurged on a beautiful yak/silk bundle from Greenwood Fiberworks in the Carolina Homespun booth. There were so many gorgeous color combinations, but I finally decided on Mallard.
As you may or may not know, I work quite a bit with Louet North America, most notably (I hope) as their Team Captain for Spinzilla 3 years running. Louet sponsored this event and had all of their wheels on site for folks to try out - in fact, I ended up lending them my Victoria for the event, so if you gave it a try at Ply Away, that was my wheel you were spinning on! It just so happened that my wheel was in need of a tuneup, and Dave was able to get it back into tip-top shape in no time flat.
On the second day, I knew exactly which booths I wanted to revisit to make a purchase. I met up with my friend (who happens to read this blog, I think, so just in case....hi, Julie!) and her new baby, and we walked the floor to squish skeins and fiber together. I bought a beautiful braid of Merino/Bamboo from October House Fiber Arts, and it was pretty tough to pick just one, because they were all so beautiful (and the folks who own the company are super duper nice, too).
My next stop was Yarn Hollow to pick out a few Foxy Batts, which are a variety of fibers to spin; these two include a variety of Michigan roving, superwash fibers, merino, silk and tencel - I think they will look great together.
I had lunch with Laura from The Corner of Knit and Tea, who is an excellent blogger and podcaster located in the KC area, and afterwards we wandered the marketplace some more and did very little to discourage further purchases. The Huckleberry Knits booth in particular kept pulling me back, and I ended up having a mini-blowout, purchasing two braids of Polwarth/Silk (aka, Stefanie's Kryptonite, apparently) and a lovely Mixed BFL, as I can't seem to resist roving that includes natural cream and black fibers which are then hand-dyed.
At this point, Laura and I excused ourselves to knit in the lobby of the Westin, which was more of less overrun with knitters and spinners - if only I had thought to snap a photo! We did head back up to the marketplace near the close of the day so that we could meet up with one of our fellow spinners on the 2015 Team Louet Spinzilla Team...and get our photo taken with Dave from Louet and the Golden Niddy Noddy.
Yeah, let's get a closer look at that Spinzilla 2015 trophy, shall we?
Getting back to my marketplace scores....on Friday, I also bought two Needle Keepers for my WIPs on circular needles, and they are my new favorite fact, I went back to buy a third on Saturday (one of these three is already in use, so it is not pictured below). Also, a very thoughtful person in my Sunday morning class gifted everyone commemorative stitch markers and orifice hooks  - I will have to get a better photo of both other than what you see below, and I think she might have an etsy shop I will need to track down and share here at a later date.
On Sunday Morning, the marketplace was closed, and only classes remained. I was signed up for my first-ever class, Fractal Spinning with Jillian Moreno. It was amazing! I came away with so many ideas for spinning up multicolored roving that I can't wait to try - below are the three sample skeins I spun during class:
Jillian had tons more samples to show us as well which demonstrated various approaches we could try:
I'm so glad I made the trip to Ply Away this year. Honestly, I think it's my favorite non-trade show event possibly ever. I'm very much looking forward to Ply Away 2017!

Friday, April 22, 2016

FO Friday: Still More Hats

I just can't stop knitting hats! It's like they're the new cowls...or something. I've recently completed 2 more hat projects; the first is a squishy beanie in Ancient Arts MCN DK - I couldn't resist this pretty colorway, Beaujolais:
I used a free pattern from Ravelry, Violet Waffles (which I kept misreading as Violent Waffles for some's just how I roll), which had a really easy-to-memorize stitch pattern that was perfect for on-the-go knitting (or end-of-day-my-brain-hurts-knitting, for that matter). The yarn is luscious and squishy, perfect for pretty much any stitch pattern you could throw at it:
My next hat was knit with some of my handspun yarn, I believe this is one of my first projects spun from rolags made on my Louet blending board, in fact! The pattern is the Hishigata Hat, which can be purchased at a discount right now during the Knitter's Pride Spring KAL with Angela Tong (details here).
I really liked knitting this pattern, and I think I will make another one with commercially-made yarn before the KAL is done. I'm not totally sure my handspun was the right choice for this stitch pattern, as the pretty cable details get a little lost in all the smooshiness; I think a crisper yarn would do well with this pattern, so I'm curious to whip another one up for comparison. However, check out that fluffy handspun pom pom:
Thanks for stopping by - have a fun & crafty weekend!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Sock Yarn Again

After mixing things up with some handspun projects over these last few weeks, I find myself back to all sock yarn, all the time. I guess it was just a matter of time!

The Royals socks continue to grow; I'm starting to think about where I need to place the heel, because there are a LOT of games left still. Thankfully, Tyler has big feet, and at this point, I can calculate exactly how many stripes need to be reserved for the foot, post-heel.
The BFL socks have started to see some action in the form of a productive afternoon at the Revolution Tap Room last Sunday - I'm just doing a simple knit and purl arrow design for the leg, which was actually a stitch pattern from the Boson Cowl I knit not too long ago.
When I brought home these 2 skeins of Artyarns Merino Cloud from H+H last month, I knew they were going to be used in a project together....but of course, I had no idea what that project might be. I'm not sure where I finally got the idea to look for a two-color brioche cowl (Instagram, maybe??), but once I got that stuck in my head, I couldn't let it go. I was pretty excited when I found a free pattern on Ravelry by Emma Goulding called Brioche for Beginners, because that is exactly where I'm at - I've only knit one other project with brioche (a sweater), so I still feel pretty new to the technique. It's actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it and can adjust to all of the funky abbreviations, though. It seems like each designer uses their own version of them, too, just to add to the confusion, but luckily both patterns I've knit have had instructions that were pretty easy to pick up and memorize.
Lastly, I started another pair of socks this week. I know, I know - WHAT IS WITH ALL THE SOCKS? Last year saw hardly any sock projects started/completed, so I feel like I have a deficit to make up for in 2016. Also, this gorgeous skein of Merino/Nylon from Ancient Arts showed up on my doorstep, which was the perfect excuse for finally trying out these crazy needles I got at H+H last month. I had to start this sock project FOR SCIENCE.
Since I'll be flying down to KC tomorrow for the Ply Away retreat, I thought that a plain vanilla sock would be the perfect thing to take on the go. I'll only be there for a long weekend, but I am packing 3 of the 4 projects featured here on today's blog post (only the Royals socks and the many balls of yarn attached to that project are staying at home). That's a totally reasonably amount of WIPs to take on a short trip to visit family and attend a spinning retreat, right?!?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Now Affiliated with Patternworks

PatternworksLast week, I was asked if I wanted to become a blogger affiliate with Patternworks. To be honest, it has been a while since I shopped there, but in years past I have been a customer and had always had good experiences, so I figured I should check out their website to see what they were stocking these days. They've redesigned the website since I've last shopped there, and it is much sleeker looking and easier to navigate, which was point #1 in their favor for me.

I also noticed a lot brands I already blog about, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try partnering up to give you, my lovely readers, a convenient place to shop online if you are so inclined. Also, I will be able to tip you off to sales and promotions, and even offer you special coupons from time to time - for example,  this link to Save 25% on Luxury Kits at Patternworks now through 12/31/16!

In general, not much will change - I will still be using the yarns, needles, etc. that I would plan to use, regardless of my affiliations. I will still continue to only recommend yarns and needles that I truly love and personally use on a regular basis. Also, should I earn any money off of these affiliate links, I'll just funnel it back into the blog (i.e., buying more yarn or other tools to try out and share with you).

I figured it was worth trying out, and as always, I welcome your feedback. Also, if you see any products on the Patternworks website that you are curious about, let me know so that I can try to set up a product review. Going forward, I will be sure to make note when a post contains affiliate links. Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or special requests in the comments!

This blog post contains affiliate links. (See, I told you I'd do that!)

Friday, April 15, 2016

FO Friday: Calm Cowl

It's been a while since I crocheted anything, so I was perhaps overdue. I started this cowl very early in the morning in the Cologne airport on my way back home from H+H last month. I'd read that most airports in Germany didn't allow ANY knitting needles past airport security, and figured I shouldn't chance it - so I planned to pack all my knitting WIPs and just take a crochet projects on the return flight home.
I'd packed some yarn for the project, which in hindsight I realize was a silly thing to do because I brought home SO MUCH yarn. I ended up using one of those skeins instead - Merino Cloud from ArtYarns. While I didn't get as much crocheting done on the flight home, I was glad I had something to do, because it was a long trip (14 hours doorstep to doorstep). 
This is the third time I've crocheted the Calm Cowl, which is available for free on Ravelry. It's pretty easy to do, although I still sometimes have issues with making neat and tidy (ie, invisible) joins for each round. 
It's a nice, soft cowl that will be good to wear in the springtime, or it might go into the gift barrel for later this year. I'm not sure yet! 

Thanks for stopping by - have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

WIP Wed + SpringTastic Socks Pattern Sale!

Guess what? This week, the Spring-tastic Socks pattern is on sale for half off! Spring is kindasortanotreally here in Chicago, but maybe casting on for a pair of spring-y ankle socks can convince mother nature to get with the program. It's worth a shot, right?
The Holla Knits KAL ends on April 29th, so if you are a quick little sock knitter, you can still join in the fun and be eligible for some awesome prizes (click here to check out more details on Ravelry). And even if you can't finish by the end of the KAL, you'll still have some great socks to wear this season, so it's win-win.

I'm apparently all about knitting socks this spring, as I now have two different pairs on the needles. The first are Tyler's Royals socks, which have a stripe for each game in the 2015 season. I've made a lot of progress since last week:
I also started a pair of socks with last month's Fiberista Club shipment, a custom-milled & dyed BFL sock yarn in highlighter green (or, as I prefer to think of it - light saber green). I just finished the cuff and will be doing a simple knit & purl arrow pattern for the leg:
I also started another hat - this one is out of handspun yarn and is for the KAL that was just announced last Friday on the Knitter's Pride blog (details here - there are prizes!). The pattern is a new one from Angela Tong, the Hishigata Hat, and there is a coupon code for the pattern purchase for KAL participants (see previous link).
I also have a secret project on the needles - obviously, I can't share too many of the details, but it is using some handspun yarn and I expect it to knit up pretty quickly since I'm using US 10 Marblz needles:
And that's it for this week!

Monday, April 11, 2016

New Pattern: Berlin Hat

Once I knew for sure that I was going to Berlin this March, I decided I should finally finish the Berlin Hat pattern, which is the companion to the Berlin Cowl, so that I could do a photo shoot for both in Berlin.
The Berlin Cowl pattern now has a friend - click here to get both patterns for just $9!
Tyler and I only spent two days in Berlin before heading to Cologne for H+H, so we barely scratched the surface of the city - but what we saw, we loved, and we both agreed that we'd jump at the chance to go back (if you are just wanting to see photos of the Berlin Hat, I recommend scrolling down - because first I am going to make all of you look at some trip photos).
Yup, that sign says "Wienerstrasse" - you're welcome.
We stayed in a neighborhood called Kreuzberg, which was covered in graffiti (which I loved). When we'd walk around, I kept stopping to take photos of the doors which were just covered in the stuff.

But it was really everywhere you looked - so if you love street art as much as I do, Berlin is an absolute paradise.

Kreuzberg had a lot of cool little shops and restaurants, and we even found a yarn store! 

We had an AirBNB that was in an old factory building that had been converted into apartments and offices for creatives - there was a dance studio, the offices for Etsy Germany, fashion designers, and a cute coffee shop. It seems like most of the buildings there have a courtyard in the middle, and that is where we took this first photo of me sporting my Berlin Hat & Cowl: 
There was a huge parking lot just outside of the building, and all of the walls were covered in beautiful murals, which is where these next photos were taken: 
The Berlin Hat uses the same oversized cable pattern from the Berlin Cowl, set against a background of garter stitch. This slouchy-style hat is knit with Baah Shasta worsted weight yarn in the London Blue colorway, which is a nice, springy superwash Merino. I chose to use a needle size that is slightly larger than recommended to create a squishy fabric that can stretch to accommodate a variety of head sizes. You just need one skein to make the hat, or you can get two skeins to knit the set.
Click here to purchase the Berlin Hat pattern on Ravelry, or click here to get both patterns for just $9 with no coupon code needed! This discount can be applied to past purchases, too!