Monday, August 28, 2017

Beary Special: Mother Bear Project

Not too long ago, I confessed that I had been hoarding a Mother Bear Project Kit in my stash. Oh, the shame - how long have I been depriving a child from having a beary special friend? Better not to dwell too long on that and instead focus on the fact that I finally made the knit it up, thanks to this KAL. Here is the post-knitting, pre-assembly photo:

Somehow, this will become a cute bear!
I have to admit that I didn't love knitting this project due to yarn considerations, but when it came time to assemble it, I was pretty excited to think about who would receive it and love it and maybe run into their house to save it right before a flood passes through their village*. These bears become prized possessions to their recipients, so I wanted to make it extra cute, and I was sure to stitch a heart on it so that they knew that somewhere in the world, there was a person who loved them enough to knit them a bear.*


For anyone who just can't handle knitting with Red Heart, you do have the option of purchasing patterns and using your own (machine washable) yarn to make your bear, rather than using one of their ready-made kits. They do have crochet versions as well, and it looks like they have also added an in-the-round version, if you are so inclined! I have ordered the in-the-round knitting pattern so that I can make another bear with yarn that I love just a bit more. 

*These are just a few of the stories in the Mother Bear Project brochure that came with my kit, which will seriously bring you to tears and make you want to knit nothing but bears for the rest of your life. You're welcome. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

FO Friday: Wonder Woman Shawl

I finished my Wonder Woman shawl just in time for Wizard World, which we went to yesterday (though the con goes through this Sunday). Here I am nerding it up, as one does at such events:


I used 2 skeins of Bijou Basin Ranch Shangri-La yak/silk lace weight yarn and US 3 needles to make a smaller version of this shawl (and it only took 1 skein of each color - below you can see how much yarn I had left over).


The yarn is so gorgeous, and I really love how the shawl turned out! I used the free pattern by Carissa Browning, found here on Ravelry. Since I started this project, she has added more size options and a crochet version of this pattern - I followed the instructions for what is now the larger size.

This took up most of our kitchen floor!

Funny story: I meant to knit this project with US 4 needles, but didn't notice I had grabbed the next size down until I was about halfway through the project. Oops! But, the shawl blocked out to a very nice dimension - if you are curious to learn more about gauge considerations for my lace weight version of this project, you can read more here on the Bijou Basin Ranch blog.


This is going to be on display in the Bijou Basin Ranch booth at several fiber festivals this fall, starting with the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival next month. Be sure to stop by to check it out, and pick up a few skeins of Shangri-La yarn while you're there!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WIP Wednesday: All-New WIPS

All of my active WIPs have been cleared off the needles! Let me repeat: Every. Single. One. So you know what that means....I get to start new things!

Since Baby Wave 2017 shows no signs of slowing down, I cast on for another baby sweater (does the yarn look familiar?) - this time, I am using a new-to-me pattern and modifying it a bit so that I can use worsted weight yarn and US 6 needles. Originally, I was going to make this in green and blue, but at the last minute I decided that a blue-on-blue version would be more fun.


The only other project I've started so far is a cowl using the gradient yarn I bought in Kansas City back in June. I had a hard time picking what pattern I wanted to use with this yarn, but then I remembered spotting a project by Julie of Knitted Bliss that paired the Starshower Cowl pattern with a skein of gradient yarn. Currently, it looks like a small dark blob of yarn, but as the purple to blue gradient starts to emerge, I think it'll look quite nice! 


I'm trying to resist the urge to start ALL the things, so that's it for this week - see you back here on Friday to share one of my recently-finished projects!   

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

WIP Wednesday: I'm Guilty

Most of my knitting time & energy over the past week has been focused on finishing up the Wonder Woman Wrap. All of the ends are woven in, so it just needs a good blocking and I can call it done! In the mean time, I am still working on the Inauguration Consolation shawl - I guess it wasn't a photo finish after all!


A recent cleanout of my yarn stash revealed that I had a unused Mother Bear Project kit hiding in my craft room. Who knows how long I have been depriving a child of a cute knitted bear? I started knitting the kit last weekend, hoping that would make me feel a little less guilty....but it's not working because now I have a new thing to feel guilty about: for instance, I dislike working with the yarn from the kit. I'm pretty sure it's Red Heart, and it hurts my hands and just feels yucky to me. But after reading the enclosed brochure that talked about how much the kids love their bears and consider them a prized treasure, I've resolved to get over it and make the cutest darn bear possible!


As a side note, I want to mention I don't support yarn snobbery, at least not in the form of making other people feel bad for the yarns they choose to work with. Seriously, if you dig working with Red Heart, don't let my opinions ruin it for you! It's affordable and easy to come by, and you never have to worry about dye lots. I totally get it. I firmly believe that there is a spectrum of Good Acrylic and Bad Acrylic yarns. While I'm afraid the yarn I'm using falls into the Bad Acrylic category (in terms of knitting experience, at least),  I am sure that it was chosen for the kit precisely because it is easy-care and wears well. While it may not be my favorite yarn to knit with, whoever ends up with this bear will have a lovable friend for years to come.*

There is a Mother Bear KAL happening here on Ravelry through August 31, for those of you who are interested. Even if you can't finish a bear by the end of this month, I hope you'll make some time this fall to knit a bear for the project!

* Unless, of course, the bear is set on fire, in which case it will melt. Hopefully the chances of this happening are quite small.

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Yarn Alert: Lerke Pluss

I was excited to try a new yarn courtesy of Heart of the Mitten, an online store & yarn shop in Michigan who is also the exclusive US retailer of Dale Garn. Lerke Pluss, is a shop exclusive available in a gorgeous palette of 20 colors. It's an interesting blend of 53% Merino wool and 47% Egyptian Cotton, and it's made up of several plies which creates a nice, round yarn with lots of bounce - so if you find traditional cotton yarns tough to work with, this yarn is worth giving a try. Plus, it arrived with a packet of delicious tea!


I really liked this yarn overall; the only downside I can come up with is that the yardage per skein is on the low side (87 yards in 50g). That's not a problem for a small project, but if you plan to make something larger like a sweater, be prepared to weave in a lot of ends. Having said that, I'm confident that the effort will be worth it. This yarn has excellent stitch definition and is super-soft, but I have a feeling that it will wear really well over the years with minimal pilling.

I chose to knit a free hat pattern with my 2 skeins of Lavender: Lake Reed by Asita Krebs. I think the English version is translated from German, and some of the directions were a little funky - I had to stop and think for a few moments to figure out what they were trying to say. The good news is that the instructions also included charts, which transcend any language barriers.

The finished hat is super cute and fits really well. Just to mix things up, I had Tyler model it this time around (he offered!!).


I fully intended to knit this pattern as written, until I realized that I would not win at yarn chicken. Last weekend, I ended up ripping back a considerable amount  and made the following modifications to working the charts: 2 full repeats of Chart 1, 1 repeat of Chart 2, and 1 repeat of Chart 3. It's a good thing I did, because this is all the yarn I had left over:


I really enjoyed working with this yarn and wold totally use it for another project - it would be perfect for a fair isle or striped pattern!

See for yourself - Click here to buy Lerke Pluss in the Heart of the Mitten online store.

You may like to know: This yarn was provided for free in exchange for my honest review. I don't receive any compensation for the links included in this post. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Close to Coming Off The Needles

I think it's going to be a photo finish for the dueling shawls; the final rows of my Wonder Woman Wrap are looooong, though I don't have many left to knit:


While I have further to go on my Inauguration Consolation shawl, the rows are just a bit shorter:


Even more exciting, however, is that I have only ONE other WIP on the needles: the ill-fated Dillinger Hat, which is still in time out. I think I ripped back far enough to fix the mistakes I made, so it's just a matter of picking it back up and finishing it. Easier said than done!

Here's hoping I can finish one, some or all of these WIPs this coming weekend so that I can start some new, exciting projects!

Friday, August 4, 2017

FO Friday: The 10-Month Sweater

Part of the appeal of a chunky or bulky weight sweater probably has something to do with how quickly it knits up...but I wouldn't really know, because I spent exactly 10 months knitting this sweater!


The pattern is the Rockling Cardigan from Graphic Knits, and I used the called-for yarn, Cascade Eco+. It turned out a little larger than I was expecting, especially in the sleeves:


..but I can fold up the cuffs and make it work:


The idea is that this would be a snuggly layering sweater, so I'm ok with an excess of positive ease....although we discovered that it fits Tyler (albeit snugly), so perhaps I went a little overboard in that department? Honestly, it's been so long since I started this project that I can't even recall whether or not I got gauge - and of course, I kept no notes whatsoever, because why would I want to refer back to those at any point?!


Last fall, I bought these fun owl buttons to use on this sweater, thinking I would have it finished before Christmas. Pretty funny, right? I was excited to finally use them, and so was Tilly, who "helped" me attach them.


I think this will be a nice, snuggly sweater to keep in my office during winter, and I'm happy with how it turned out overall. Now I need to decide what sweater to start next - when I was doing some stash reorganizing I discovered I have several sweaters-worth of yarn languishing in my stash. I think it's time to turn them into something wearable.


Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!