Monday, July 31, 2017

Favorite things: July

Sirka Row Counter
I have been curious about this product for years, but never bought one until recently. Then it sat in its cute little bento box, unused, for several months. Finally, the dreaded "at the same time" popped up in a pattern and instead of being annoyed as I usually would be, I was super psyched because it meant I could test drive my Sirka.


Obviously, I loved it, or it wouldn't be included in this post! Though it seems like it might be complicated (yes, it comes with instructions!), it's really quite easy to use, and I just kept a key of what color was assigned to what set of instructions handy, since I tend to forget such things. The only drawback is that it's kind of big and I don't think I would want to use it on-the-go - but it's perfect for keeping near my knitting nook at home. And realistically, a project that has instructions that necessitate the use of a Sirka probably won't be leaving the house anyway, since I prefer to take more "mindless" knitting on-the-go.

Baby Got Yak Enamel Pins
My collection has grown considerably in the last few months, but hands down my favorite one is this Baby Got Yak pin from Bijou Basin Ranch. Full disclosure, they are my client, and I don't want to brag, but I woke up one morning and nearly shouted "BABY GOT YAK!" because it jumped into my brain after several days of pondering what slogans would make for a fun pin.


Wonder Woman
I got a free issue of one of the new Wonder Woman comics on free comic book day and was totally blown away - honestly, I was never a huge Wonder Woman fan up until this point. But ever since, I've been reading all of the WW books I can get my hands, and I am also knitting a Wonder Woman shawl to wear to Wizard World next month!


A friend gifted me a tea sampler and now I am completely obsessed with I scored some gorgeous new teaware (and tea!) in the clearance section on their website:


It arrived beautifully packaged, I really wish I had thought to photograph or film the unboxing, because it was quite the experience. All of the teas are delicious, but the two that I am most obsessed with are the New York Breakfast (which tastes like pancakes, but not in a sweet or gross way) and the Darjeeling....but honestly, every single tea I've tried so far has been delicious.

I can't believe that the first day of August is tomorrow! Where did the summer go?! I don't know, but I'm already thinking about the fall and feeling the urge to knit all the sweaters. Luckily, I finally finished the bulky weight sweater that's been on my needles since last August, and I'll be sharing photos on here this Friday. See you then!

Friday, July 28, 2017

FO Friday: Baby Stripes

This project has been finished for a few weeks now....except for the buttons. Apparently sewing them on what the hardest thing in the world to do! However, I'm so glad I finally did, because this little sweater is so darn cute:


I used Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Electric Blue and Dove Heather. More importantly, I expanded my baby sweater horizons by using a new-to-me-pattern from my favorite book, the Striped Cardi from 60 Quick Baby Knits!

It was a great pattern and I am happy with how it turned out, although I think I would add an inch or two of ribbing to the bottom of the sweater and cuffs if I made it again, as I'm not a fan of the rolled stockinette (even though I know that an intended design feature). This will be mailed off soon for some cute baby to wear this fall.

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Weaving Wednesday: Handspun Scarves Aplenty

I finished another handspun scarf, and I think I'll have to keep this one for myself because I absolutely LOVE how it turned out!


I used some commerically-made black yarn for the warp (I lost the label, it's leftover from some project!), and then the weft is a 3-ply handspun yarn that I spun from 8oz of hand-dyed BFL fiber from Nerd Girl Yarns in the #hashtag colorway.


Here's where I love the archive that both Ravelry and blogging provide: I would have never guessed that this yarn dates back to July 2014! Also, you can read more about the structure of this yarn here - it's an opposing ply, which is a little different than what I usually spin when making a 3-ply.

There's quite a bit of yarn left over, and I'm wondering if I have enough to make another scarf. But for now, I've put on a warp for another new project, which was going to be another funky destash scarf, but then I realized that the yarns from my other recent weaving projects all looked quite nice with the grey warp:


As you can imagine, I am starting to have a bit of a scarf surplus*, and thinking about selling some of them in my Etsy Shop. Not sure if any of my dear readers are interested in getting themselves a one-of-a-kind handspun scarf for themselves or their loved ones, but I would love to hear your thoughts either way. Currently, I'm wrestling a bit with pricing, and thinking about offering a discount to friends/family/blog readers...and that's as far as I've gotten!

Thanks for stopping by, I have another finished project to share with you on Friday!

*And, if I'm being honest, a handspun yarn surplus!

Friday, July 21, 2017

FO Friday: Yipes Stripes

Today I have a very long-awaited FO to share: a stripey lace weight infinity scarf that had been on the needles since September of last year!


At times, it seemed that it would never end - after all, I was using lace weight yarn and needed to knit quite a bit of length before it could be called done....although I may have gone overboard:

I used up nearly every yard of the light grey yarn, and it was a fantastic travel project since the pattern was so easy to memorize. Our road trip to Kansas City last month was the perfect opportunity to finish it once and for all! I'm so glad I did, because it's going to be awesome to wear this fall - Tthe angora is so soft and lightweight, but surprisingly warm....and look at how many times I can loop it around my neck (pardon the crazy eyes...invariably that happens during the photo shoot!)


Pattern: Arnhem Loop, available for free on Ravelry
Yarn: Bijou Basin Ranch Seraphim - I used 2 balls of Smoke and 1 ball of Eggplant.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

WIPs: Dueling Shawls

After all of the finishing I did last month, I've been holding my number of WIPs to a reasonable number, but I couldn't resist starting the Wonder Woman Wrap by Carissa Browning. It seems like everyone is going crazy for it on Instagram and Ravelry (where it's available for free)!

I'm knitting mine out of lace weight yarn: a yak and silk blend from Bijou Basin Ranch called Shangri-La. It's so shiny and lovely, and I think that the airier fabric will be a nice complement to the shiny, slinky yarn. Aren't the colors gorgeous?


After knitting several swatches with various sizes of needles, I decided to use the size called for in the pattern (US 4) so that I can still get a fairly large wrap. The difference in final wingspan was more than 10 inches from US 3 to US4 - crazy, right? Since I'm using larger needles, I have to be careful to knit slower and tighter than I am used to - usually I just fly along and let blocking take care of the rest, but my swatches showed me that the stitches will look must better after blocking if they are reasonably uniform to begin with. Challenge accepted! 


My goal is to finish in time for Wizard World here in Chicago next month; I'm not great at cosplay, so this is the closest I'll probably ever get to dressing up for a comic con! 

I haven't abandoned my Inauguration Consolation shawl; over the weekend I started knitting the second color:


Thanks for stopping by - I have another FO to share with you this Friday, see you then! 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Learning Curve: Bent DPNs for Sock Knitting

Note: This piece was first published in Fall 2016. It was originally a "donation" (i.e. I wasn't compensated to write it) for an e-magazine that is no longer available. Since I really like this piece and I didn't grant exclusive rights, I want to finally share it with my readers. Also, I was asked SO many questions about these bent DPNs when I was using them last year! Perhaps it's a little belated, but I hope this answers everyone's questions about these interesting needles.


I've been knitting socks on DPNs for over ten years. For much of that time, my preference was one-at-a-time, top down projects, although I did dabble here and there with toe-up, two-at-a-time, and magic loop. Those experiments never really stuck, as I was always drawn back to the tried and true. I’m sure I’m not the only knitter who feels this way!

It wasn’t till recently that I’ve felt the need to step out of my comfort zone once more: last year, I decided to give two-at-a-time socks another try (top down, of course…I’m not willing to go THAT far) using some very long fixed circular needles via magic loop. Why the change? The idea of finishing the pair at the same time without having worry if they matched was alluring. Also, not having to worry about losing a DPN while knitting on my the go, never to see it again, was another plus. I’ve lost a lot of DPNs on trains and buses over the years; though DPNs are my first love, I'm definitely starting to make friends with magic loop.

One of my slow burning sock projects this year was inspired by last year's Scoreboard KAL with the Knit Purl Hunter: I am knitting my husband a pair of socks to commemorate the winning 2015 Royals baseball season by assigning colors to home and away wins and losses to create a striped pattern. Second sock syndrome isn't something I'm usually afflicted with, but I was pretty sure that I'd knit the first sock and never start the second because I was totally daunted by having to repeat the strip sequence perfectly. Two-at-a-time just seemed like a no-brainer.

When I was at H+H Cologne earlier this year* (an international trade show for the craft and hobby industry) as part of my day job with Stitchcraft Marketing, I came across bent DPNs by Neko Knit. I was intrigued by them: there were only three in the package, and I had a hard time envisioning how to use these boomerang-shaped needles. Luckily, a very tall German woman gave me a live demo on the show floor, and I purchased two sets to try out in the name of science. When I’m using them, they seem to pique the curiosity of my fellow knitters, and I am often asked what I think of them.


Here’s what I've concluded while knitting my first sock project on them:

  • They're basically a hybrid of magic loop and DPNs - you work each half of the sock on one DPN, as you would magic looping, but you slide the stitches and knit as though they are regular DPNs.
  • I find them a little awkward to use, most likely because I am so used to regular DPNs and magic looping. One side of the curved DPN is often flopping about and occasionally gets in my way. I assume this subsides with practice!
  • A plus is that it is much easier to join in the round without twisting using the bent DPNs than the other two needle types, at least in my opinion.
  • The plastic is quite flexible and though I don't consider myself a rough knitter, I'm pretty worried about snapping them as I work.

Ultimately, I don’t think I am ready to make the switch to using bent DPNs exclusively, but they are a fun and novel way to shake things up if you find yourself in a sock knitting rut. You can check out their website for more info; I haven’t spotted the needles at very many yarn shops in the US, but I did happen to stumble upon them recently at Maker’s Mercantile.

*March 2016

Friday, July 14, 2017

FO Friday: Hooray for Handspun

Not long after I finished the Cozy Memories blanket, I had the (possibly insane) idea to try crocheting a blanket with all of my leftover of handspun yarn. Perhaps my reasoning was that crocheting was faster, so certainly I would finish this blanket faster than the last one, which took one and a half years to complete. If that's the case, I was right on the money, because I started this on July 31 of last year, and it was completely done and blocking by the end of June!


I used a large crochet hook (size N, or 9mm) and just alternated single crochet and double crochet as I pleased while using whatever random bits of handspun yarn happened to be nearby. The crocheting part was finished by the end of April, but I spent most of May procrastinating weaving in all of the ends. Finally, I decided that if I took it on our road trip to Kansas City last month, I would probably weave in all those fiddly ends out of boredom - another notion that ended up paying off.


I always have tiny scissors in my purse, but they must have gotten lost at some point - I discovered somewhere in the middle of Illinois (or maybe it was Iowa?) that I was completely scissorless. No matter, the gas station we'd stopped at had some very affordable nail clippers, which can work quite well in a pinch. Curiously, I remembered to pack the wool needles that are ideal for bigger yarns, and so I returned home to Chicago with all of my ends woven in, feeling like I was REALLY winning at life. Small victories!

Kind of a challenge to get this entire thing in frame!
Although I have only been weaving since January of this year, I decided it was time to attempt an all-handspun weaving project. I warped my loom with some 100% merino I'd spun for last year's Tour de Fleece (if memory serves) and used a superwash merino weft spun from a few hand-dyed braids from Cloudlover that I'd been hoarding (more on that here).


I had a lot of tension issues in this project, mostly of my own making - I didn't do a great job of separating my warp while winding it onto the beam, and the paper I used was too thin and crinkling in unfortunate places, which only added to my list of problems. If I had to do it over again, I would have used card stock or perhaps even some pick up sticks to keep warp separated and the tension even. Live and learn, right?

Despite these circumstances, the resulting warp looks pretty darn good. It's big, soft and warm - just hat you need this time of year, right?!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Some Things Old, Some Things New

After a productive weekend, I am down to just two knitting projects on the needles: the shawl that I started last week, and a new hat project using some yarn I'll be reviewing soon.

For the shawl, cashmere is the yarn of choice yet again - I'm knitting the Inauguration Consolation pattern using 3 colors of yarn from Lux Adorna.


I started a new hat project using a free pattern from Ravelry, Lake Reed by Asita Krebs. The yarn is a new option from Dalegarn called Lerke Pluss, and I'm excited to give it a try. I think it'll be great for this cabled stitch pattern!


I also resurrected my Dillinger hat from time out (if you recall, I'd made a glaring error in the colorwork several inches back). On Sunday I frogged to where I got off track, and now I've resumed knitting - so far, so good...and Robing REALLY wanted to be in this shot, incidentally:


I warped a new project on my loom this week, another scarf using some handspun yarn:


And, of course, I am still spinning away for the Tour de Fleece (I'm sharing my daily progress on Instagram if you are interested). Speaking of handspun yarn, I have TWO finished projects in handspun yarns to share with you this Friday. Thanks for stopping by - see you then!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Yarn Spotting at the Ballpark

I have a vague recollection of reading something about how some US textile mills began supplying yarn for the manufacturing of baseballs as a way to survive when production moved overseas, but I was still surprised and delighted to see this display during a recent visit to the Royals Hall of Fame:


Who knew that there were THREE different kinds of yarn inside every baseball?! Turns out, the construction of a baseball is a very precise science - and yes, each yarn has exact specifications for fiber content and constructions that must be met.

While I was doing a little more research about the yarn-baseball link, I turned up this really cool blog post about a visit to one of the very mills that produces yarn for Major League Baseball, and I also discovered a short-lived team call the Lowell Spinners, which is worth reading about.

You never know where yarn or fiber will pop up next!

Friday, July 7, 2017

FO Friday: The Mystery Revealed

Over the holiday weekend, I finished my project for the June Cashmere Mystery KAL! This was a free pattern using 1 skein of June Cashmere Lace Weight yarn - you could totally do 2 skeins if you are so inclined, however! I used up nearly every bit of my 1 skein of lace to make this cowl:


That little bit of yarn is the total amount I had left over after binding off!

The reason I decided to do this MKAL is because it was choose-your-own-adventure style - that is, each week you had at least 2 stitch patterns to choose from, giving you lots of options to create a finished project you're sure to love. Here's what I did to create mine:

Crochet cast on 180 stitches and knit 1 inch of garter stitch for border, which took 8 g of yarn.

Clue 1: Six repeats of Dot Stitch pattern. Purl 1 round.
Clue 2: Two repeats of Chevron Stitch pattern. Purl 1 round.
Clue 3: Three repeats of Mock Cable Stitch pattern. Purl 1 round 
Clue 4: Two repeats of Double Diagonal Stitch pattern. Purl 1 round.
Clue 5: Rows 1-12 of Triangles Stitch pattern. 
Garter stitch for (nearly) 1 inch. 
Bind off.


So here's where I got a bit off track: I forgot to weight my yarn before starting Clue 5. In fact, I didn't remember to do so until I was halfway through the stitch pattern - at which point I discovered that I had just 6g of yarn left! Oops! 

Luckily, the halfway point for the stitch pattern I chose ended up working pretty well as the ending point, so I just switched to Garter Stitch, working as much as I dared before binding off. If I had this to do over again, I think I would have worked fewer repeats of the first clue - then everything else probably would have worked out as I intended. But, I think the resulting cowl looks great...just check out those lovely stitches:


You can still get the patterns by signing up here. I think there is also a coupon code you'll get towards your yarn purchase - I highly recommend treating yourself to some of this luscious cashmere. You deserve it!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New WIPs!

It seems like forever since I had new WIPs - but now that several long term projects are officially off the needles, I think it's time to start some new, exciting things! I still have some babies to knit for, so the first cast on over the long holiday weekend was for a striped baby sweater:


After I finished my June Cashmere MKAL project (which I'll be sharing this Friday), I decided that starting a shawl project would be a just reward. I bought the Inauguration Consolation project kit at TNNA back in January and have been wanting to start it ever since, but deadline knitting and guilt from too many WIPs held me back.


I do still have the Dillinger Hat on the needles, and I still need to work up to ripping allll the way back (about 8 rows I think?) to fix a rather large mistake. I'm hoping I finally feel up to the task this coming weekend - it's such a cute hat, I would love to finish it soon!


Believe it or not, that is all that I have on the needles right now. Since I'm participating in the Tour de Fleece, I'm going to try to limit my number of active knitting projects to the magic number of 3. It feels good to have the WIP basket cleaned out to start out a new month!