Wednesday, February 24, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Back to Yak

There for a while, it seemed like I always had a yak yarn project on the needles - perhaps it felt that way because I was working on a really long term project, the Pennant Cardi using 100% yak sport weight yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch! At any rate, I was apparently going into yak yarn withdrawal, so over the weekend I excitedly cast on for the Odyssey Cowl using the kit I blogged about on Monday, which included this delightfully variegated skein of Tibetan Dream sock yarn dyed by Miss Babs...and then I promptly ripped out my work (all 4 rounds of it) when i realized I'd managed to twist the cast-on when I joined to knit in the round. Such a rookie mistake, but we all make it sometimes, no matter how long we've been knitting. Late last night, I redid the cast on stitches; later today, I plan to knit the first round of the stitch pattern flat and then join to work in the round (that way I am much less likely to make the same mistake twice).
I've continued to zoom on the Sail Shawl - while it's not finished like I thought it would be at this point in the week, I am on the final section, which is picking up stitches to knit the top edge.
Of course, I am still working on my Mystery Blob Project - now last week's blob has a friend, with another one in progress! 

And the Tortie Cat BFL socks have grown a little longer, though I haven't been working on them much lately, truth be told. I really want to get that Sail Shawl off the needles, and there is an impending due date for the Mystery Blob, so this one is relegated to out-of-the-house knitting only at the moment.
And that's all that is on my needles this week! 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Enabling: DIY Odyssey Cowl Kit

Last December, I was gifted an incredibly opulent project kit from Bijou Basin Ranch which included all of this amazing stuff:

For those of you keeping track at home, the specific contents were: the Odyssey Cowl pattern by Laura Chau, a skein of Tibetan Dream sock yarn dyed by Miss Babs, a pair of Signature circular needles,  an Allure Sampler Pack, some Purrfectly Catchy stitch markers, and a custom-made project bag by St. Clair Designs using reclaimed fabric and an exquisite upcycled button from Balwen Woodworks. Yeah. that's quite a package!

There were only a small number of these project kits made for the 2015 holiday season, and they sold out pretty quickly (can you guess why?)....but the good news is that you can now make your own version of the kit, because almost all of what you need is available in online:
  • Yarn: Tibetan Dream is available in a lot of interesting color options, some of which are dyed by the one and only Miss Babs - and there are some new gradient, ombre and self-striping options from ModeKnit yarns to choose from, too! 
  • Pattern: yup, you can also buy the Odyssey Cowl pattern online here.
  • Allure: Snag a sampler pack or go all in with a large bottle of your favorite scent (mine's Prairie Breeze)!
  • Project Bag: a limited number of the custom-made, hand-sewn "Bijou Bag" are back by popular demand here.
All that's missing in the needles and stitch markers - but if you're like me, you probably have a bunch of both of those things in your collection, right?! Of course, it's never a bad idea to stock up on stitch markers. For this project, I highly recommend buying a large quantity so that you can place one in between each chart repeat - and then, of course, you will want a unique stitch marker to mark the beginning of your round. Over the weekend, I cast on for my Odyssey Cowl and used some pretty green stitch markers from The Tangled Skein to separate each repeat:
Conveniently, Bijou Basin Ranch is having a sale through midnight tonight, and you can save 15% on your entire purchase with the coupon code NOTATSTITCHES. So go crazy and treat yourself to some delicious indie-dyed yak yarns! If you need a special occasion to justify your purchase, allow me to assist once again by reminding you that today is Washington's Birthday. You're welcome!



You might like to know: the folks at BBR sent me a complimentary Odyssey Cowl kit. If it weren't totally awesome, I wouldn't be blogging about it here, though! 

Friday, February 19, 2016

FO Friday: Hats Aplenty

The hat projects just won't stop! In the past couple of weeks, I have finished the following projects:

First up, the Sockhead Hat (free pattern here on Ravelry) in Manos del Uruguay Alegria in Maiz. Pardon the unmodeled shot, but I look absolutely terrible in yellow and just didn't want to subject myself or you guys to that dreadful sight. I know it seems weird to buy yarn that you know you can't wear anywhere near your face, and then knit a hat with it, but I just wanted to knit with a color outside of my usual grey/blue/green comfort zone, and I enjoyed the last project I knit in Alegria quite a bit. This particular skein hopped in my shopping cart at Webs because I couldn't resist a good sale!
Next, a Handspun hat which was knit sans pattern using the leftover gradient Merino/Silk yarn I spun for this sweater. Unfortunately, the end result was a rather large hat that doesn't fit my tiny head (which is kind of a bummer, I was hoping to keep this one!). Hence, Tyler was the somewhat reluctant model, though he wears it well. 
Lastly, my Quince-along project! This is a Cabled Hat knit with a stitch pattern from the Up, Down, All Around Stitch Dictionary using a skein of Osprey yarn from my stash.
Spoiler alert: I also have two new hat patterns in the works for later this year, and I'm sure I will be making many more hats throughout 2016, too! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Mostly Focused

I logged a lot of knitting time this weekend and though I didn't manage to stave off startitis, I still made quite a dent in my WIPs. To wit: my Tortie Cat socks are now more than halfway done! On Sunday, I put in the placeholder yarn for the afterthought heels and switched to a much-less-fussy stockinette stitch for the feet. I fully expect these socks to fly off the needles now...dare I even hope to finish them this weekend?!
I also have been working on the secret gift knitting project for my nephew's birthday - here is the first blobby piece that I've knit so far in a very hard-to-photograph bright red (aka, the only color he deems acceptable these days). Any guesses what I'm making? 
I'm signed up for the next 3 months of the Fiberista Club and got my first shipment last week - a mini-skein pack of Cheshire Cat merino fingering from Wonderland Yarns in a specially-dyed colorway (Roger's Park, which is near where I used to live here in Chicago). Naturally, I couldn't resist diving in to start a new project with them; the club suggested 3 knitting patterns and 1 crochet pattern for this yarn, and after some deliberation I decided to cast on for the Sail Shawl, which is available for free here on Ravelry. It's total potato-chip knitting - it was a huge motivator to keep going til I reached the next colorblock section. I just started the third colorblock section, so here's hoping this is another fast project!
I can't believe February is halfway over. I need to start thinking about travel friendly projects for next month, any suggestions? 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Spring Events

I can't believe we're already halfway through February. 2016 has been moving at breakneck speed, and there are no signs of slowing down: this Spring, I will be attending several yarny events, and you can bet I will share each experience here on this blog. Today, I wanted to give you an overview of what's to come!

I'll be attending my first-ever H+H Trade Show in Cologne, Germany March 18-19; this is the world's largest craft show, and I'm pretty psyched to check it out. There will be all sorts of crafts on display, not just yarn and knitting-related exhibitors, so I am interested to walk the show floor to take it all in. It's been a while since I've traveled outside of the country (my passport was majorly expired and had my non-married name on it, if that gives you any idea), and I have never been to Germany, so I am excited to also try as many tasty beers as possible....and to bring home some Wollmeise, too!

April will kick off with my favorite fiber festival here in the Chicago area - YarnCon on April 2-3. It's pretty early on, but I think they'll be announcing vendors and class lists fairly soon. Also in April is the  Ply Away Retreat in Kansas City, MO. I figured this was a pretty good reason to visit my hometown, and I've signed up to take my first-ever proper spinning class on fractal spinning, taught by Jillian Moreno. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited!

Are you planning to attend any fiber festivals this spring?

Friday, February 12, 2016

FO Friday: Snowflake Cowl

Over the weekend, I finished knitting the Snowflake Cowl that's been on my needles since before Christmas! Honestly, I probably could have finished it faster if I hadn't had the CRAZIEST month of work in January. Also, I was sorely out of practice for stranded colorwork and it took a while to get my head back into the game - but once I did, it started to move at a much faster pace (if you missed this post last week, I shared some of my tips which helped me with this project).
Blocking in Allure, which is also by Bijou Basin Ranch.
Once I finished the knitting part, it was time to undo the provisional cast-on, put alllllll of those stitches back on a needle, and begin to graft both ends together. EEP! It was a quite a long process, needless to say - but totally, completely worth it. Just look at the resulting cowl: 
If I haven't mentioned it before, the yarn I used is the most luxurious 100% cashmere yarn ever - Xanadu from Bijou Basin Ranch. Now imagine fluffy colorwork tube that is wrapped around your neck to give you a double-layer of insanely soft warmth. It's divine. 
Yup. Totally warm.
Unfortunately, I don't get to keep this project - it's destined to be a display piece in the Bijou Basin Ranch booth when they're at fiber shows (so be sure to say hello to it if you spot it). However, I'm hoping that someday I can get the gumption to knit this pattern again to make a blue and white version for myself. I almost thing I should do it know while the colorwork chart is still somewhat embedded into my mind. We'll see! 
The Snowflake Cowl is available as a discounted project kit in your choice of colors here at BijouBasinRanch.com - not only do you get the pattern and yarn, you also get some stitch markers, fiber wash, and a project bag. Oh, and free shipping if you live in the US - it's a pretty sweet deal! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Start All The Things (Some More)

Over the weekend, I Finished. The. Snowflake. Cowl. Instead of starting a long term project (*coughcough Liathite *coughcough*), I decided to start some short(er) term projects instead. For instance, I realized that if I wanted to knit something for my nephew who turns 3 next month, I've got to get cracking. So I picked out a pattern from Huge & Huggable Mochimochi, which Tyler got me for Christmas, and started knitting one of the pieces I could make with the yarn I had on hand until the additional colors I ordered from Knit Picks arrived.
On Monday night, I cast on a new hat project for the Quince-along, which is a KAL I heard about on the Fawn Knits Podcast and is basically a chance to knit anything you want using Quince & Co yarns for a chance to win some prizes. Who doesn't like prizes?!There are more details on all that here on Ravelry. I unearthes a skein and a half of Osprey which has been lurking in my stash for several years now, and I'm making up a hat design using some stitch patterns from the Up, Down, All Around Stitch Dictionary, since apparently 2016 is the Year of the Hat. I just can't stop knitting them!
Also started this week: a super-secret project which I can't really tell you about, but I suppose I can show you the awesome yarn I get to use:
It's River Twist from Mountain Colors, and I picked it for this design because it really reminded me of handspun yarn. Apparently each ply of the yarn is spun in its dyed form, and then the yarn is plied together to create the very colorful skein you see here - if you are fan of the barber pole effect as I am, this yarn's for you!

Also, I am still working on those BFL Tortie Cat Socks - they are inching along! I really like the yarn and how it's knitting up in the pattern. The actual stitch pattern is a little fussy, though I have simplified it bit by cabling without a cable needle. It's still a little slow going when it's time to knit the cabled row, but to be honest, I am kind of liking that aspect. It forces me to slow down and enjoy the process....weird but true!
Bonus: we got something in the way of actual snow earlier this week!
That's all I have on the needles this week. If you need some more WIP inspiration, there are some great projects being shared over in the Holla Knits group - including some SpringTastic socks-in-progress!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mini Skein Packs - Special Edition!

I thought I'd try something new in my Etsy shop - in addition to my regular 10-skein sock yarn grab bags, I have curated a five-skein pack which includes hand-picked yarns and colorways; in essence, you will know exactly what you're getting ahead of time! I'll be putting together different series in limited edition which I'm dubbing the Pirate's Packs since I'll be packaging them in cute plastic bags with a Pirate ship printed on them.
Pirate's Pack #1 contains 10-yard skeins of each of the following:

  • Ancient Arts Yarn Reinvent, spun from reclaimed luxury fibers* & (autumnal hues)
  • Sincere Sheep Equity Fingering 100% Rambouillet (blue)
  • Anzula Squishy MCN in Seaside
  • O-Wool Organic Merino 2-ply in Evergreen
  • Manos del Uruguay Alegria Sock in Maiz - certified fair trade!

I am only making 6 of these packs, and once they are gone, I'll be putting together something different to list in my shop!

Also - all Pirate's Packs ship free to US addresses via USPS First Class; Canadian shipping is available at an additional cost.

Friday, February 5, 2016

FO Friday: Baby Force Awakens

After knitting a Force Awakens hat for my husband Tyler, I thought I'd take a crack at making a baby-sized version using fingering weight yarn and smaller needles - and I'm happy to report that it worked out quite well!
I used the same number of cast on stitches specified in the pattern to make this pint-sized version using three different fingering weight yarns in my stash. Here is Tyler's hat to give you a sense of scale:
ICYMI, the Force Awakens hat is a free pattern here on Ravelry.

May the Force be with you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Sensible Knitting

Welcome back to another edition of Stuck on Skinny Yarn. The baby version of the Force Awakens hat is off the needles, but I continue to make slow yet steady progress on the Alegria Hat and Snowflake Cowl - in fact, both will probably be off the needles in a week's time!
The Sensible BFL Socks also grew a few inches since last week: 
In light of finishing a project over the weekend, I decided it was probably ok to start another hat project, so long as it wasn't with fingering weight yarn. This sportweight handspun was calling my name - you might recognize it as the yarn which I used for the yoke of my Pennant Cardigan, spun from a gradient braid of Merino/Silk roving from Fiber Optic Yarns. 
Curiously, I have to cast on for my Liathite Cardigan yet. When I measured my gauge swatches, I was slightly off, and I am still trying to decide if I want to knit another swatch on a different size of needles, or if I want to do a little math and figure out which set of numbers would make the size I want based on the gauge I am actually getting. Either option sounds like a lot of work to me, and I'd really rather engage in brainless knitting for the time being, since I've been working extra hours during the week and things have been extra crazy. Perhaps this weekend I will sit down and figure things out....

Monday, February 1, 2016

Holla Knits SpringTastic Socks KAL Kickoff!

The 3rd Annual Holla Knits KAL starts TODAY and runs through April 30, 2016! I'm heading up the project KAL for my own pattern, the SpringTastic Socks - but you you can knit any Holla Knits pattern (or patterns!) to be eligible for tons of great prizes over the next three months. Whether you like to knit accessories, or are looking to start your next sweater, there is something for everyone (click here to read more on the Holla Knits blog).
If you'd like to join the Spring-Tastic Socks KAL, check out the thread here on Ravelry - and don't forget to use the #hkkal and #springtasticsocks hashtags on your social media posts! For those of you who purchased the SpringTastic Socks pattern prior to today, your names have been automatically entered in a drawing for a skein of sock yarn - I'll be announcing the winner ASAP and will update this blog post accordingly. If you are just now discovering this KAL, don't worry - there are plenty more prizes up for grabs! 
These ankle-length socks combine easy eyelet lace with cables to create a fun-to-knit sock that is also quite fast - all the better so you can wear them right away! Even if you aren't the fastest sock knitter in the world, I am quite sure that you can finish a pair by the close of the KAL on April 30. 
If you are new to knitting socks, I highly recommend purchasing the entire issue of Holla Knits in which the pattern originally appeared so that you can also read my sock-knitting primer for beginners! In this article, I explain all of the terminology associated with sock-knitting, plus I give an overview of the various types of constructions and where you can make adjustments to fit your exact foot measurements as you knit. You can also purchase individual PDF downloads of the SpringTastic Socks here on Ravelry and here on the KnitPicks website

I look forward to seeing your sock projects!