Friday, September 29, 2017

FO Friday: Gradient Starshower Cowl

Earlier this summer, I purchased my first-ever gradient yarn cake while visiting The Studio in Kansas City. They just happened to be hosting a trunk show from Apple Tree Knits, and I absolutely couldn't resist grabbing a skein of Plush Fingering in a pretty purple-to-blue gradient. Unbelievably, this is the only photo I took of this yarn before casting on, and I have to say it's not my best effort, nor is it my favorite (But hey, free Royals sunglasses!!):

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I spent a lot of time pondering what to make with this yarn - quite honestly, I was plagued with indecision as to what type of project would be best. But then I remembered seeing this gorgeous project on the Knitted Bliss blog, and I decided to shamelessly copy Julie's idea and cast on for a Starshower cowl.

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 Since I have issues styling shawls on myself, this is the ideal pattern for me: it's worn like a cowl but looks kinda like a shawl, and features the best parts of knitting both projects, which I like. I ended up adding two extra stitch pattern repeats and elongating the garter border at the bottom just so that I could get to the blue part of the gradient:

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I'm quite happy with how this project turned out, and the yarn was absolutely lovely to work with. I'm not sure how many projects I would want to make with a gradient, but it was definitely a fun experiment, and kept me motivated to keep knitting because I was dying to see that color change!

The Details
Yarn: Apple Tree Knits Plush Fingering in Night's Bright Colors
Pattern: Starshower by Hilary Smith Callis
Needles: Knitter's Pride Zing fixed circulars, US 6

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Spinzilla Prep: Hoping for a Threepeat

Can you believe that Spinzilla is just one week away? Quite honestly, I can't - it's totally snuck up on me. As the Captain of Team Louet North America (the reigning champs two years in a row, if I may toot our own horn), I should probably have a better plan in place for my own spinning next week, but I regret to inform you that I'll probably be winging it. Work has been crazy, and although my team captain duties are not overwhelming per se, making sure all of our spinners are prepared for the week ahead is definitely a top priority ahead of my own spinning plans!

I'll be attending a conference right at the start of Spinzilla that will create some difficulties in finding time to compete, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up for a personal best when it comes to spinning this year. I've always wanted to break the 4,000-yard mark, but have yet to do so. In the back of my mind, it's a goal, but a more realistic one is to at least spin a Monster Mile (1760 yards) - that seems WAY more doable if I am going to have limited spinning time 3 out of the 7 days.

I did manage to find some time over the weekend to take inventory of my spinning fiber and cherry pick those which might be easier/faster to spin. Here's what I'm hoping to work through during Spinzilla next week (it all fits perfectly in the bin!):

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Next up, I need to make sure that all of my bobbins are cleared, and that I finish the spinning project that has been languishing a bit on my wheel (some lovely gradient yak and silk fiber that is absolutely gorgeous, but kinda hurts my hands when I spin). I'll feel like I'm really winning at life if I can accomplish this modest goal before midnight next Sunday, which is when spinning starts.

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Are you participating in Spinzilla this year? I'd love to hear about how your preparing!

Friday, September 22, 2017

FO Friday: Beatrix Baby Sweater

Another baby sweater is off the needles and ready to be gifted - and this time I stepped outside of my comfort zone to try a new-to-me pattern, the Beatrix baby sweater by Courtney Kelley, which is from the Kelbourne Woolens Baby Collection.

While I absolutely love all of the Kelbourne/Fibre Company yarns, they do not make a machine washable option that I am aware of, so I subbed in with some superwash merino yarn. That's not my only modification, though - the pattern is written for a DK weight on US 3 needles, but since the yarn I subbed in was a worsted weight, I wanted to bump up a few needle sizes to US 6. I ended up knitting a gauge swatch to figure out what my corresponding SPI (stitches per inch) would be so that I could figure out what instructions to follow for the size I wanted to make.

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I wanted to knit the 12-18 month size, so at 6 SPI, I ended up following the stitch counts for the smallest size, but the written measurements for the intended size. So, that meant that if the pattern had a specific measurement I needed to knit towards, I had to be careful to use the correct number (i.e. the measurement given for the third size option, vs. the first). To avoid any confusion on my part, I went through the entire pattern to circle the numbers I needed to follow, since there was a fair amount of bouncing between instructions specific to stitch counts vs. instructions specific to measurements.

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How adorable is this little hippo button?!
The result is super-cute, and I think the new parents will be happy that I opted for something that doesn't have to be hand-washed...I know I would!

The Details
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Electric Blue (MC) and Gulfstream (CC)
Needles: Knitter's Pride Royale interchangeables, US 6
Pattern: Beatrix by Courtney Kelley

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Atypical things

Some of the newest projects I've started are mixing up my usual grey/blue/green color scheme with an unlikely hue: pink! It's not my favorite color by a long shot, but when you are knitting for people who do like pink, then working with pink yarn just comes with the territory. For example, I started these two-at-a-time socks with a skein of Long Dog Yarn I picked up at Knit 1 earlier this year:

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Once I finish the never-ending Starshower gradient cowl, I'll cast on for a hat with this Rambouillet yarn that I recently bought from Shepherd's Lamb:

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I'm also working on a design using a new yarn base from Bijou Basin Ranch called Himalayan Summit. Of the three variegated colors they currently have in this yarn, this is probably not the one you'd expect me to pick, but I just gravitated to it while I was in their booth at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool earlier this month. It's definitely not as pink as the other projects, but I won't be able to show you more until everything's done, but I can tell you that I am loving working with this yarn.

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Over the weekend, I started a new project using some unusual (for me) yarns: I'll be making a scarf using Di Lusso, a sparkly chainette yarn, for the warp and a few skeins of Be Sweet Magic Ball for the weft, which uses various types of mohair yarns, ribbon, and I'll be sharing more about this project once it's done.

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I have another finished baby sweater to share with you this Friday. Thanks for stopping by, see you then!

Friday, September 15, 2017

FO Friday: Cashmere Consolation

I finally got a chance to weave in the ends and block my Inauguration Consolation shawl, which has been off the needles for at least a few weeks now. I loved working with this yarn, a 100% cashmere sport weight from Lux Adorna Knits. The finished shawl is so soft and lovely, and I love how the textured stitches feel to the touch.

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I have to admit that I'm having a hard time styling this shawl on myself, which is a common problem with smaller asymmetrical shawls, at least for me (if you have any tips, I'm all ears!). Hence, I'm only sharing this flat lay photo today, but hopefully I can get some modeled shots later down the road. In the meantime, look at these gorgeous stitches:

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You may or may not remember that I bought this project kit back in January at TNNA after one of my favorite Royals pitchers, Yordano Ventura, passed away unexpectedly. Now it's a consolation of another kind, as the Royals baseball season is winding down into a somewhat unsatisfying finish. It's unlikely we will make it to the postseason, and after this year we will probably lose a lot of great players to free agency. We have some great new talent coming up, but this was the last hurrah for the core group who made the 2015 championship season what it was. It's sad, but that's baseball...at least I have a new cashmere shawl to console me in the upcoming offseason!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wisconsin Weekend

Last weekend, I did pretty much all my favorite things in the span of 72 hours: I went on a brewery tour in New Glarus, Wisconsin on Friday afternoon with my husband and in-laws; on Saturday, some friends and I drove back up to Wisconsin for the Sheep & Wool Festival, and on Sunday, I stayed closer to home and met up with a few friends at the Renegade Craft Fair. Whew! I seriously need another weekend to recover from my weekend, but it was worth it. Plus, I got lots of knitting done in the car!

I took the most photos on the New Glarus tour - it was seriously the coolest brewery tour I've ever been on, and the facilities were stunningly beautiful. You can see all of my photos on Flickr if you are so inclined, I've just chosen a few of my favorites here:

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The Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival is one of my favorite events all year, but I really fell down on the job for documenting the experience through photos. I did manage to take a few cute sheep snaps, and if you follow me on Instagram, I posted some fun stories of baa-ing sheep while I was there.

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I managed to bring home only 1 skein of yarn, a beautiful hand-dyed colorway from Bijou Basin Ranch on a brand-new base called Himalayan Summit (it's going to become a new design for later this fall!), but I made up for that restraint by bringing home tons of spinning fiber! I bought 6oz of shetland fiber, some layered batts, and a few pretty braids of hand-dyed fiber.

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Thanks for stopping by, I'll have another finished project to share with you this Friday. See you then!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Free Pattern: Beyond the Wall Cowl

I have a fun new pattern, just in time for fall knitting! The Beyond the Wall Cowl was designed especially for those irresistible mini skeins, and I used a bundle of hand-dyed minis from Mountain Meadow Wool. You can get it for free when you sign up for the Mountain Meadow Wool newsletter.

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I loved working with this yarn, which is spun in Wyoming using wool fiber that is raised by ranchers in the western states. It's combed to create a smoother, softer yarn, and then hand-dyed in an array of beautiful colors! Each mini skein is 60 yards for a total of 255 yards; I chose the blue set which includes Charcoal, Spruce, Teal, and Turquois.

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You can play around with the color order to create fun combinations. To conserve yarn at cast-on, I recommend using the crochet cast-on method, which is usually a provisional method; when used to cast on with your working yarn, this method will not only save an yarn usage, it will match your bind-off nearly perfectly, too. Here is a great tutorial to help you master this cast-on technique.

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This pattern is also super easy to modify however you wish; two sizes are included in the insturctions, and the smaller size can be made into a taller cowl if you add in more rounds of stockinette stitch for each color block. Size L was designed specifically to use up all of the yarn in 1 bundle of Alpine mini skeins, so if you want a taller cowl for this size, you will need to purchase an additional bundle of yarn.

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Sizing:
S (L) - approx 23 (34)” circumference

Flat dimensions: 
Size S: 7” x 11.5”
Size L: 7” x 17.5”

Materials: 
  • 1 Bundle Mountain Meadow Wool Alpine Mini Skeins (3-ply DK 100% Mountain Merino Targhee wool, 3.5oz., 255 yards) Colors: Charcoal, Spruce, Teal, Turquois 
  • US #7 circular needles - 24” 
  • Stitch Marker (SM) 
  • Darning Needle 
Gauge: 
21 sts and 27.5 rounds = 4” in stockinette stitch

Click here to get your free pattern by signing up for the Mountain Meadow Wool newsletter
Click here to queue on Ravelry.

Love this pattern? Pin it!


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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Dyeing to Fade

Thought I haven't joined the What the Fade? MKAl, I did recently cast of for a So Faded Sweater. The idea of a fingering weight pullover that - yet again - clears several skeins of sock yarn out of my stash is incredibly appealing. This time, I didn't have all of the colors I wanted to use on hand, however. What I did have, however, is several undyed skeins of fingering weight yarn and a variety of dyes, so last weekend, I spent the better part of Saturday (and a bit of Sunday as well) attempting to dye the perfect blues to add to my Fade. And I think I succeeded! Here is my final color palette for this project:

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(side note - I have a lot of yarn from this dye session that I'll be adding to my Etsy shop soon!)

I am still working on the gradient Starshower shawl/cowl - in fact, I am just about ready to start the sixth and final section. I'm hoping that is enough rounds to get to the blue part of the gradient; as you can see, the gradient is extremely subtle thus far (but if you squint, you can make it out....right?!?!). I suppose I can always add in some extra rounds at the end if needed, and yet, I am still kind of sweating this one.

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The big news is that I started a pair of two-at-a-time socks! It feels like ages since I've knit a pair of socks, and I have been wanting to knit with this pretty skein of yarn from Long Dog Yarn that I bought at Knit 1 earlier this year. It took a while to decide on the pattern, but I finally landed on Devon from Cookie A's Sock Innovation (affiliate link). I'm looking forward to see how they knit up!

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I hope to see you back here on Friday when I have a new FREE pattern to share with you (spoiler alert!!). Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 1, 2017

FO Friday: Dillinger Hat

August has been all about finishing overdue projects (see: this post from earlier in the week). Adding to that list is the Dillinger Hat, which I started long after the KAL had concluded, and then it went into time out for over a month while I worked up the motivation to frog back a few inches to fix a mistake in my colorwork.

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The effort was well worth it, as the hat turned out pretty well! I do wish I'd gone up another needle size, though, because I forgot what a tight knitter I become when stranded colorwork enters the mix. Thankfully, it grew with blocking and fits me perfectly!  

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For anyone struggling with the crown decreases, I did leave some notes here on my Ravelry pattern page which detail how I approached the decreases to incorporate the design motif and transition into using a single color for the rest of the crown.

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The yarn was a dream to work with: mini skein kits of lovely hand-dyed merino from Wonderland Yarns/Frabjous Fibers. I've just wound the extra yarn into mini skeins to add to my grab bags which are available here on Etsy, if you are interested