Monday, October 30, 2017

New Obsession: Wooden Cross Stitch Blanks

At the end of last year, I bought a ton of wooden cross stitch blanks, intending to stitch up some cute holiday ornaments to give as gifts. But then a bunch of stuff happened, and they ended up sitting in my craft room for the next nine months, untouched. It wasn't until another bout of arm and hand pain reared its ugly head recently that I decided to pick them up. Once I did, I was hooked - and once I discovered that Shangri-La lace weight yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch was perfect for stitching, I became totally obsessed!
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At first I would look up other people's projects to use as a guide, but I quickly started experimenting and playing around with my own ideas. Before I knew it, every single blank I'd purchased from this Etsy shop had been used. Naturally, I bought another batch of blanks and I'm anxiously awaiting their arrival (they ship from the Ukraine). I'm excited to play around with more fun colors and designs!

Don't worry, I'm still knitting whenever I can - there will be lots of WIPs to share with you this Wednesday. See you then!

Friday, October 27, 2017

LYS Visit: Firefly Fiber Arts

I haven't been knitting very much due to the return of more hand and arm pain, but I did finally visit a new LYS in Wicker Park called Firefly Fiber Arts! It's a cute little shop located in Wicker Park, and they specialize in only natural fibers ranging from a variety of wools to vegan fibers and upcycled yarns.

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I'm glad to know that I can pick up some Brown Sheep yarn locally, as I'm not sure anyone else carries it here in Chicago, and they make such great affordable yarns. The two friendly owners said there will be more yarns from the Brown Sheep line arriving in the shop soon!

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But of course, I couldn't resist picking up this skein of Woolfolk Luft to try out, along with an "I feel like knit" enamel pin to add to my collection:

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I'll definitely be stopping by again the next time I need a yarn fix!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Weaving Wednesday: Handspun & Handwoven

This scarf has been off the loom for quite some time, but I procrastinated the finishing touches (weaving in the ends, tying off the fringe, and blocking). I used the leftover yarn from a few of my previous weaving projects (one of which is also still in the finishing pile, oops!) to create another fun multicolored scarf. The warp is a gray commercially spun merino yarn, and the weft is mostly handspun, with a little commercially-spun yarn mixed in here and there.

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I'm not sure if I will keep this one or not; yellow really isn't my color, but I do like how it turned out!

I also warped for another project over the weekend while my parents were visiting. My dad has been thinking about taking up weaving when he retires, so I thought I would show him the process, step-by-step!

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This is my first attempt at a handwoven cotton towel of some sort, and I think I probably should have gone down a heddle size (oops!) - it seems like a towel should be a bit more tightly woven to be effective, right? Then again, a looser weave might be easier at the start, since I have never worked with cotton on the loom before, and it's a lot less flexible and elastic than the wool and wool blends I've been using. I'm also not sure about the shrinkage factor, so perhaps it will all work out in the end (and if it doesn't turn out as planned, I've learned a valuable lesson).

And now that we've all kind of forgotten about Spinzilla, the results have been announced! My team took second place, which I think is pretty darn good. Threepeating is tough! You can check out all of the results here, if you are so inclined.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Favorite Links: October

A while ago, I was walking down the street with my husband and we noticed a "Stranger Things" themed pop-up bar - with a HUGE line to get in. Chicagoans really love waiting in line for the most ridiculous things (and sometimes cool things, too - I have no idea which category this one falls into). Not soon after that, I stumbled across this article about the hilarious cease-and-desist letter that Netflix sent to the owners of the bar, who had not received permission for it. Oops!

The final days of the 2017 MLB season are here, with the World Series starting tomorrow. I've got high hopes that the Astros can stop the Dodgers' reign of unyielding terror (I mean, they have to lose eventually, right? It's just not natural!). Besides seeing the Astros celebrate their second trip to the World Series ever in the history of their franchise, there are a few other baseball-related stories that have tickled me recently, such as this fascinating post about a former baseball player who started a quilting magazine on the While She Naps blog.

This random article about the organist for the Boston Red Sox combines some interesting historical tidbits with a peek behind a most unusual curtain. I especially liked reading about how he decides which songs to play, as well as the history of baseball organists.

This article isn't new, but I had just heard something in passing about Evan Gattis' battle with depression and (eventual) return to baseball and was curious to find out more. There seems to be a lot of players who have unconventional journeys to the majors (Peter Moylan comes to mind), and this one has an even happier ending now that he is World Series-bound with the 'Stros!

And just because a blog post isn't a blog post without some photos, and today's post has a baseball theme....here are a few fun things I found lurking on my phone:

Peter Moylan has gum stuck on his butt while pitching 😂
Peter Moylan has gum on his butt while pitching.

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One of my favorite baseball selfies in front of the Salvy Splash Mural at the K.

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A Lego replica of Kauffman Stadium (aka The K)


Thanks for stopping by, I'll have actual fiber-related posts to share with you later this week!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Spinzilla Results

I already shared my individual results, but since the winner of Spinzilla won't be announced until October 23 (?!?) I wanted to share the accomplishments of my awesome team, the spinners of #TeamLouetNA.

This year, we had a lot of familiar faces from previous years, plus some new-to-us spinners. Everyone was super excited for the event, and our team thread on Ravelry was filled with lots of chatter - sharing fiber prep tips, updating everyone on their spinning progress during the week of Spinzilla, and cheering one another on. It's such a great group of people, I feel lucky to be their captain.

For the first time ever, we had 100% participation from all 25 spinners (in previous years, there has always been one or two who drop off and forget to send in their yardage, despite my persistent harassment!). Just look at all of these beautiful handspun singles and skeins:

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You might be wondering how this year's total yardage compares to that of years past - but fear not! I have been keeping careful track of that data and have created this handy dandy chart: 

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I firmly believe that every contribution matters, and there is no yardage too small when it comes to claiming the Golden Niddy Noddy. However, each year, I am blown away by the accomplishments of our top 3 spinners...and of course, I made a chart to prove it: 

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I look forward to another year of spinning with this team next year!

Monday, October 16, 2017

New Pattern: Eyelet of the Tiger Cowl

I can finally share this design that I've recently finished for Bijou Basin Ranch: presenting the Eyelet of the Tiger lace cowl, which is knit with 1 skein of Himalayan Summit. I was really excited to knit with this new yarn base, a 50/50 blend of Tibetan Yak and Superfine Merino that came out this fall. Designing for a variegated yarn is always a bit of a challenge, but I was really drawn to this colorway  from ModeKnit Yarns called Old Fashion Villain.

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Working with this yarn was so enjoyable - and even though it's super soft, it held up to multiple frogging sessions. And check out this stitch definition:

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You really can't ask for anything else in a yarn, and I'm itching to work with it once more. I bet cables and textured stitches also knit up great!

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You can buy project kits here, or get an individual copy of the pattern here - or, add it to your Ravelry queue. I can't wait to see this knit up in other colors of Himalayan Summit, be sure to tag me on Instagram and use the #bijoubasinranch hashtag if you share your project!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spinzilla Fail

The fates seemed to be against me for Spinzilla this year: For the first 3 days, I was at an intensive work conference downtown and had extremely limited time to spin. Once I was back to my normal work schedule, I hit more stumbling blocks due to forearm and hand pain from way too much typing.

The magic combination of rest, ice, and a very nice massage on Friday night was enough to get me back into spinning form for the final push. On Saturday, I spun through all of the fibers that I thought would be easiest on my arms and hands - I'm pretty sure the lovely merino/tencel I was spinning played as much of a role in my pain as the typing, so I opted for some of the fluffly fibers I bought at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival last month. On Sunday, I managed to transform all of the singles from the week (which wasn't much) into beautiful yarns:

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My grand total was a paltry 1964 yards - that's a personal worst, as you can see from this chart:

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I'm hoping my teammates were able to pick up my slack this time around, though I wish that I had been able to contribute more. Maybe next year will be the Spinzilla where I finally break the 5,000 yard threshold!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WIP Wednesday: So Faded

I haven't been knitting much in the past week due to all of the Spinzilla madness (I'll be sharing my results this Friday for anyone interested), but my So Faded sweater has grown quite a bit since I last shared it, probably because it's my travel project currently. Over the weekend, I transitioned to the third color:

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I am really excited to finish this project so that I can wear it through fall and winter. Plus, DESTASHING! It's win-win.

Thanks for stopping by, see you back here on Friday!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WIP Wednesday: What's With All The Pink??

As mentioned on my last WIP Wednesday update, I have some atypically pink projects on the needles right now. The socks I'm working on look almost exactly the same as my last update, mostly because I had to set them aside to bust out a new cowl design that will be coming out soon.

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I did finish knitting the ribbing on this hat, and I am really hoping that the stitch pattern I'll be knitting next has a lot of cable suckage going on, because otherwise this is going to be a really large hat. 

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Since most of my crafting time is spent spinning for Spinzilla this week, I don't have much else to share this week (you can follow my spinning project over on Instagram if you want). 

Thanks for stopping by, I'll be sharing my Spinzilla recap sometime next week! 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Spinzilla-ing by the Seat of My Pants

Spinzilla starts today and I am flying by the seat of my pants! On Sunday, I just barely managed to finish spinning singles for the project I had on the wheel and then ply a bunch of random leftover singles into a frankenyarn to clear out some bobbin space:

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Plying the gradient 2-ply yak/silk will be the first order of business once Spinzilla starts (obviously, I will only count the yardage once for the plying, and not the spinning of the original singles, which occurred before the start time); my first official spinning project for the week will probably be this merino/tencel that I predrafted yesterday:

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And the rest will (hopefully) just work itself out as the week progresses. I'll be severely limited in spinning time til Wednesday night, so I am really pinning my hopes on a productive final push at the end of the week and over next weekend.

Good luck to everyone spinning this week!