Friday, October 28, 2016

FO Friday: Laura + Maddy Mittens

My pals Leah and Teresa are working on a book of designs inspired by Twin Peaks, and as a Kickstarter backer, I have been getting early access to each pattern as they are finished. The latest is the Laura + Maddy Mittens, for which they hosted a KAL on Ravelry recently.


I knit my mittens with a limited edition yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch called Big Bijou Bliss (aka BBB), which is aworsted weight version of their sport weight yarn, Bijou Bliss. Both are a blend of yak and cormo wool, and I chose a skein of BBB in a hand-dyed colorway from their Indie Dyer series - since snagging this skein at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, I believe it has sold out, but there are plenty more options here on their website if you are interested.


I made the smallest size option to fit my weirdly tiny hands (they are seriously small for a person of my stature...I exaggerate noe), and also shortened up the cuffs since I am not a fan of extremely long mittens (there are helpful instructions in the pattern to help you make these mods if you so desire).


They are knit top-down, which is a mitten constructions I've never tried before, and I enjoyed the opportunity to try something new, especially since I probably wouldn't have thought to seek out a top-down mitten pattern otherwise.

Since I assume everyone loves seeing outtakes, here is the face I made when a small bug flew by in the middle of the shoot:


I'm looking forward to wearing these soft and squishy mittens this winter!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Selective Progress

In the past week, I've been spending the most time working on two long-term projects on the needles. The first is my transit project, the striped seraphim project, which saw a lot of action since I had to go downtown for a work thingy (technical term) for a few days last week:


When I was home, the newly restarted Curl was my project of choice:


Which means that my current sweater project has been a bit ignored...but on the plus side, I am closing in on the garter stitch scarf I inherited from my grandmother:


And I started a new project using some beautiful hand-dyed colors of yak/nylon sock yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch:


I couldn't resist this pair of colors (dyed by Miss Babs!) which both get their names from Edgar Allen Poe's The Telltale Heart: Lenore and Raven.


I'm knitting Martina Behm's Matchmaker shawl pattern, which is a nice garter-stitch project that I am hoping will knit up quickly so that I can snuggle up in it this winter!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Experiments With Alternating Skeins When Knitting With Hand Dyed Yarn

A while back, I shared a free tutorial showing how to solar dye yarn with Kool-Aid - click here if you missed it! The resulting skeins were begging me to knit with them, and even though they were dyed at the same time, there are natural variations between the two which could become all too apparent when used in the same project.

Hand-dyed yarns, even those which come from the same dye lot, can really benefit from one simple trick to "blend" the yarns before your eyes: alternating skeins. It may sound fussy and annoying, but there's nothing sadder than the telltale line where you joined a new skein of yarn to your project. To me, it's worth juggling a few balls of yarn, but I know it can be a tough sell for some knitters. So, I decided to let the skeins and the swatches do the talking! 


In the name of science, all of these swatches were knit on the same needles (Knitter's Pride Nova Platina 9" fixed circulars) using the same number of stitches in the round (45, to be exact). Above left is a swatch knit entirely with Skein A; to the right, the swatch is knit entirely with Skein B.

Next, I knit the following three swatches: 

Above to the far left is the swatch which is knit using Skein A for the first half, then Skein B for the second half of the swatch, resulting in a visible line where the skeins were switched. 

For the middle swatch pictured above, I knit two rounds with Skein A and two rounds with Skein B, repeating these 4 rounds for the entirety of the swatch, which really evens out the differences between the two skeins.

Lastly, for the swatch pictured above on the far right, I knit the first inch of the swatch with Skein A, then knit 2 rounds with Skein B, 2 rounds with Skein A, repeating these 4 rounds again before I switch over entirely to knitting the rest of the swatch with Skein B. Sometimes this "cheat" really works, and sometimes it doesn't; in this particular case, I think it's a close second to the middle swatch, but definitely preferable to the swatch on the far left. It can be a great last-minute fix to trot out when you realize your next skein looks just a touch different and you really don't want to rip all the way back to alternate skeins from the start - but in the example here, the two skeins are just a bit too different to really pull it off.

I have more examples of projects knit with hand-dyed yarns where I do/don't alternate skeins here on a previous blog post if you want to see some real-life examples. If you have had success (or heartache) with projects using multiple skeins of hand-dyed yarns, be sure to share them in the comments!

Friday, October 21, 2016

FO Friday: Molten Metal KAL Project

This project has been off the needles for a good couple of weeks, and I have no idea why I procrastinated weaving in the two ends and blocking it. It seems silly, since neither of those tasks took more than a few minutes, but perhaps that's why it's been so easy to tell myself over and over again "I'll do that later!" and then move on with my day. At any rate, my Molten Metal KAL project is finally done!


I used 1 skein of Lhasa Wilderness yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch, as did many others who participated in this KAL. If you are a really fast knitter, there is still 10 days left to complete your project and post it in this thread for your chance to win a prize. And discounted project kits are still available here!


I know I'm super-biased, but I think this is one of my favorite things I've ever designed. It's pretty rare when I want to knit something twice, but I was happy to do so, especially since I didn't get to keep the first one I made. I wasn't sure if this color would look good on me, since things with yellow undertones tend to make me looks like I've fallen ill, but I think I am able to pull it off just this once.

Smiling is NOT my favorite.
Does anyone else find smiling on command difficult? I do! Perhaps that's why I dislike having my photo taken so much more these days - it seems like this was easier when I was younger. Maybe I am just overthinking? Luckily, Tyler has gotten to the point where he just lets me make all of my weird faces while he snaps photo after photo, in hopes that one of those will actually meet with my approval. Let's not even cover how many photos get rejected, shall we?

The one downside to this approach is that he often won't stop, which means that the shoot often ends with something blurry like this:


(well, usually it's a bit less flattering, but since this is my blog, I can cherry pick the photos any way I like!)

Thanks for stopping by - have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Frog & Restart

I'd been knitting sporadically on my first project from Curls II in hopes of having made significant progress on said project by this point so that I could also share a review of the book itself. However, the last time I shared a WIP, I noticed a mistake several rows back that I knew would bother me if I left it as-is and kept knitting.


So, I frogged the entire thing. Sadly, the above was almost a month of work (well, a lot of that time was probably spent not knitting on it, but still). And though I really do love the pattern I had originally chosen (Prevarication), I have to admit that perhaps it wasn't the right one for my current state of mind at the end of the day when I just want to sit down and do a little brainless knitting. The thing is, it really isn't that difficult of a stitch pattern, but you know how sometimes you just have a mental block against something for no good reason? That seems to be me with this pattern.

The good news is, my second choice from Curls II (Perfidy) seems to agree with my current state of mind - in fact, I was able to knit through all of the frogged ramen noodle yarn in one evening. We have a winner!


I am excited to get a little more knitted on this project so that I can finally get that Curls II book review posted. Spoiler alert: there will also be a giveaway!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Holy Cow, We Won!

Honestly, I had no idea we would be able to do it again, but it's official: Team Louet has won this year's Spinzilla event!

All in all, there were 5,525,309 yards of yarn spun during this year's event, 296,849 of which was contributed by Team Louet spinners. You can see the full Spinzilla results here - and there is more info about how my team did here on the Louet blog.

It was a pleasure to spin with such an awesome group of people - I'm looking forward to Spinzilla 2017!

Friday, October 14, 2016

At Last, Socks

If it seems like these socks have been on the needles for a long time, it's because they have! I started them in April of this year when I decided I wanted to try out some funky bent DPNs I discovered at H+H the previous month. While I initially enjoyed trying out with these novel needles, I ended up switching back to my comfortable (unbent) DPNs because I just wanted to knit a little faster and get this project done!


And done they are - they fit Tyler quite nicely and he said he really liked how the yarn felt on his feet (I used a skein of Ancient Arts Yarn Merino/Nylon Sock in A Road Less Traveled).


I was also able to capture a glorious eyeroll from my reluctant model during the photo shoot:


The pattern is just a little something I made up (a simple knit/purl pattern for the leg and stockinette for the foot), and I used the Fish Lips Kiss heel for the first time ever. Typically, when I try a new heel or toe construction, I end up wishing I used my tried-and-true, but this little experiment paid off. Don't be intimidated by the 16-page document of instructions you receive when you purchase the FLK instructions (it's just $1.99 here on Ravelry); it's really quite easy to do once you get started, and since I knit my socks top-down, it was a lot easier to position the heel in the right spot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Spinzilla is Over, Get Back to the Knitting

I was spinning furiously Sunday evening before Spinzilla drew to a close at midnight and managed to spin nearly all of the fibers I had earmarked for the event (only a half-pound of dyed merino remained unspun). I was hoping to double my usual 3,000-ish yardage of the past few years, but managed to only add about 1k to the usual yardage, finishing at 4034.


I probably could have gotten that last bit of fiber spun up if I hadn't taken an ill-fated excursion to Windy Knitty in Andersonville on the same day as the Chicago Marathon (a journey that requires two bus lines, or a bus and a train, if you prefer). Though the event was in the morning and I wasn't trying to take mass transit til the afternoon, the effects of many main streets in Chicago being shut down for the runners could be felt, even at 3pm that same afternoon. Honestly, I'd done ok until the final leg, when the bus I was waiting for wasn't slated to show up for 30 minutes (with an immediate follower - how helpful).

I decided to walk a few blocks to see if a "phantom bus" materialized, as sometimes they show up IRL without being detected by the iffy CTA bus tracker technology. That didn't happen, but I did find myself near a bar with some very good beers on draft, and I treated myself to one while knitting a few rows and checking on the progress of what must have been the slowest moving bus in existence. It did eventually show up, and I got on it and eventually arrived home, a little wiser (lesson learned: just don't leave the house on marathon day unless you're actually running in it).

ript> Though my afternoon was totally a bust for spinning, I did have a few things to show for the effort: first, the return of one of my favorite pattern samples, the Like the Tides Cowl:


It uses two skeins of the beautiful sport weight gradient yarn from Freia Fiber Arts and the pattern is available here.

Second, I got a big bag of some rather nice yarn which was on sale because Windy Knitty is closing its doors at the end of the month:


I do love a good sale, but not under those circumstances, of course. It was some seriously bittersweet yarn shopping (The Cure's "Pictures of You" was playing for almost the entire time I was there, I kid you not) and I will be sad to see them go.

Now it's time to get back to knitting, I suppose. My office project, aka the garter project I inherited from my grandmother, is coming down the home stretch because I keep it by my desk to work on while I'm in meetings - I've added the fourth and final skein:


Also this week, I took off for the sleeves on my cardigan, and it's starting to look like a sweater now!


That's it for this week, though I will finally have an FO to share with you this Friday. See you then!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WIP Wednesday / Spinzilla Check-In

Spinzilla started this past Monday, so nearly all of my free time has been spent at the wheel this week. My overall goal is to spin two bobbins-worth of singles each day, and then ply them all together on Sunday; by the end of Day 2 yesterday, I had all of these bobbins filled up:


The only project I've been knitting on consistently since Spinzilla started is the garter stitch scarf that I inherited from my grandmother:


I've had a lot of meetings this week, and during some of them, I have been able to sneak in a few rows to work past the halfway point of the third skein of yarn. It's a nice foil to all of the spinning (not to mention, the long work days) this week!

I'm hoping to share my latest FOs this Friday, provided I can get some decent photos taken between now and then. It's kind of a crazy week, but I'll do what I can amongst all the spinning. Thanks for stopping by!