Friday, December 22, 2017

Fiber Friday: I Got a Drum Carder!

It finally happened: I got a drum carder! I haven't had much time to play with it since it arrived on my doorstep, but I did get it all set up last weekend and ran a little bit of fiber through to test the waters.

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I got a Strauch Petite, which is the perfect size for a small table if you are short on space. It came with some very thorough instructions, but I was glad to check out these YouTube videos to get me started since I am not always mechanically inclined. But, I was able to get it set up and operational on my own, and I processed a little bit of Perendale fiber just to test the waters.

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Over the holiday break, I plan to play more with it and actually blend things (now that's a concept). Thank goodness I have lots of blend-able bits and bobs in my fiber stash!

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I hope you have (or have had) a fabulous holiday; I'll be taking a little blog break next week to rest, rejuvenate, and celebrate the holidays with my family. I'll be back the first Wednesday of the new year (aka January 3) with a special post about my first year of weaving. See you then!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

WIP Wednesday: All the Sweaters

I'm working on few secret projects right now, so besides the Purlbreak that's in progress for an upcoming review, the only other active WIPs on the needles are sweaters!

I'm about ready to bind off the body Gift Wrap Baby Sweater:

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I'm inching ever closer on the sleeves for my So Faded Sweater, although it probably doesn't look too different from last week. I am still holding out hope that I could finish it in time to wear it on (or reasonably near) Christmas, though.

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I've only worked a few rows on Sticks + Steel; once I'm able to focus more time on this, it should be a pretty fast project (though my track record with bulky weight sweaters isn't much better than lighter weight ones, I suppose....).

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I haven't worked much on my Purlbreak shawl, but that's another project I intend to focus on over the holiday break once the So Faded sweater is done.

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And that's it! I do have a fun new toy to share with you Friday - see you then!

Friday, December 15, 2017

FO Friday: Samarcanda Hishigata Hat

I finished another hat! I was 3 skeins of Filatura di Crosa Samarcanda yarn to review, and decided they would be perfect for a fast-knitting hat. It's a well-known fact that I can't resist a green yarn, and I love the tweediness of the fiber blend (33% Kid Mohair, 18% Polyamide, 17% Wool and 2% Acrylic). Before I dive a little deeper into this interesting yarn, I just want to mention the pattern that I chose, the Hishigata Hat by Angela Tong. I knit a Hishigata hat with some handspun yarn (also green) about a year ago and have been meaning to knit another one ever since. Once the yarn arrived, it seemed like the perfect fit - sometimes the stars just align that way!

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I've always seen yarns from Filatura di Crosa, but I have not actually worked with any of them (full disclosure, think I may have a cone of laceweight somewhere in my stash). I've always been curious about their yarns, which are all milled in Italy. In fact, they are not just made in Italy - they are made in a specific town in Italy that is known for its high-quality textiles (more on that here).

This yarn has a lot going on - the mohair gives it halo (but it's not itchy, at least not in my opinion; I realize the subject of yarn itchiness is entirely subjective!), and if you examine the plies a little more closely, it seems like 3 of them are a blend of the natural fibers (or perhaps a blend of the mohair, wool and acrylic?) while the fourth is actually a flat tape that I think might be the polyamide. I did my best to capture this here:

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Each ball has about 93 yards, and I used up nearly all 3 skeins to make this hat. I might try to make a pom pom topper with the bit that I have left, but I'm not totally sure it will be enough - pom poms generally require quite a bit of yarn! I'm not sure if you can really see the twisted stitches in the cable pattern; it seems like the halo obscures them a bit. The ribbing and diamond motifs look pretty good, though, and the yarn wasn't the least bit splitty to work with. This is always important when you are knitting cables (especially without a cable needle) and twisted stitched!

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I could see this yarn being an excellent choice for a simple ribbed or garter accessory, or perhaps even a fast-knitting sweater. There are 9 colors to choose from, and it's a bulky weight yarn which makes it perfect for last-minute gift projects! I recently shared two free patterns to knit or crochet mason jar cozies using Samarcanda; each ball can make at least 2 cozies (possibly 3, but I can't guarantee it),  so you can knock out a few nice gifts with just a ball or two of yarn!

You may like to know: I was given this yarn in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Oops, Enabling

Over the last few weeks, a lot of knitting-related goodies have "accidentally" found their way into my house.

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First, I treated myself to a wrist ruler bracelet from I Love Handles after finding a 10% coupon code here. It's already come in handy when knitting while out and about!

When I dug my Arwen Cardigan out of storage a few weeks ago, I realized that it could probably benefit from some sort of closure. Once upon a time, I'd sewn on a very tiny and ineffective hook and eye closure; it has since fallen off, and I will just be honest with you here: I'm too lazy to sew it back on. I've tried using shawl pins to keep it closed, and while they're effective, they look a little strange. Then I spotted this post on Instagram from one of my favorite bloggers, Miso Crafty Knits, where she used this closure from JUL on a sweater, and before I knew it, I'd ordered one for myself (act surprised, it's also black).

What appeals to me is that it's removable, so I could use it on a variety of sweaters, and even some shawls or other handmade pieces. I found a coupon code for this one as well (VERVE to get 10% off through the end of this year), and the shipping was pretty darn fast. I think it would work for the new sweater project I just started, too.

This might only be tangentially knitting-related, but seeing as I put all of my enamel pins on one of my favorite project bags, I am lumping it in with everything else: I bought a grey kitty wearing a scarf from Teeturtle's Cyber Monday sale (along with a reversible octopus, which I am pretty sure is the greatest thing ever, though it is definitely not knitting related). The one I got is now sold out, but they do have other fun options available, all of which are on sale.

And finally, over the weekend, I stopped by Firefly Fiber Arts here in town to see if the backordered color of Woolfolk Luft I am looking for was back in stock yet. It wasn't....but I still bought yarn. Of COURSE I bought yarn! I have a million unused skeins of yarn at home, but that didn't stop me from buying something shiny and new. I think we all have this problem, so I feel like this is a safe place to make an admission of guilt (or my lack thereof). I've been admiring all of the hand-dyed yarns from Why Knot ever since discovering them at YarnCon a few years back, and I finally treated myself to a skein of Smitten, a 70/30 blend of Finn (wool) and Alpaca that is raised, processed and dyed in
Michigan. Tough to resist, can you blame me?! At first I gravitated towards the green (act surprised), but then this pretty garnet color skein caught my eye. I have absolutely no idea what I'll make with it but I'm sure I will think of something.

A lot of these items would make great gifts for yarn lovers, but if you still need more ideas, check out this blog post.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Three Sweaters?!

...Don't worry, one of them is a baby sweater, I haven't lost my mind completely!

It all started innocently enough: after finishing a few hat projects, I wanted to start something new with one of the many sweater quantities that have been lurking in my stash for too long. Never mind that I am still working on my So Faded sweater! Originally, I was going to make a beautiful cabled cardigan with some Berroco Vintage Chunky I'd bought from Webs many moons ago, but I had issues getting gauge. It's been in time out til I had the gumption to knit a gauge swatch yet again, but I just don't think such a complicated sweater is in my future. Simple, soothing knits are way more my speed these days, since I generally don't have much brain power left at the end of the day when I sit down to knit. There is also the issue of arm/hand pain, which has been recurring over the past few years - the last few cabled projects I've worked on haven't been pain-free, and they were just hats. I just can't imagine trying to get through an entire cabled sweater.

So I went back to Ravelry and did a quick search for a more suitable sweater pattern, and came across Veera Välimäki's Sticks and Steel. Now that looks like a sweater I could knit in a reasonable amount of time! I also like the very forgiving shape and style, I'm all about the oversized drapey sweater these days. Over the weekend, I knit my swatch, and once it dries, I can use my new favorite tool from Knitter's Pride to count those stitches (seriously, how cute are these - and the window measures 4" exactly! Genius!).

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Then the need arose for a project that could travel outside of the house, and I decided to start a cute baby sweater since I have a friend who is expecting soon. I justified this quite easily since I was at a funky place with my Purlbreak, the So Faded is definitely an at-home project at this point, and my gauge swatch was already knit. I can justify just about anything, especially when it comes to starting new projects.

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As noted above, a small bit of progress has been made on my So Faded sleeves. It's still completely awkward to photograph since I'm doing 2-at-a-time, but here is my best attempt:

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And now that my other WIPs are off the needles, I have been spending more time on my Zen Yarn Garden Purlbreak - last night I added the second color!

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I don't have any FO's to share this Friday, but I should have some other fun stuff to share with you next week. See you then! 

Friday, December 1, 2017

FO Friday: Maize Hat in Prairie Spun DK Yarn

When I first started knitting, yarns from Brown Sheep were my first experience of non-big box retail yarns. Well-made, affordable, and available in a huge range of colors, their yarn is just as appealing me to now as it was 10+ years ago. I knit the Arwen cardigan back in 2007 in one of their now-discontinued yarns, Prairie Silk, and it is probably the best-wearing yarn I've ever used for a sweater (it still has yet to pill). So of course I jumped at a chance to try out their newest yarn, Prairie Spun DK.

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First, if you aren't familiar with Brown Sheep, they are a family owned and operated mill located in Mitchell, Nebraska that focuses on sustainably-produced wool and wool blend yarns. They source their fleece and fibers from US sources whenever possible, buying the majority of their wool directly from US growers; breeds include Corriedale, Rambouillet, and Columbian. You can find out more about them here on their website.

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I knit the child-sized version of the Maize Hat using the Lost Lake and Gray Owl colors, and because I have a teeny tiny head, it kinda sorta fit on me, at least well enough to get the above modeled shot. I'd recommend this pattern to adventurous beginners or intermediate knitters who are looking for a simple stranded colorwork project. The pattern is easy to follow and included a chart for the colorwork portion. The yarn has a nice twist to it, so I suspect it will lend itself well to textured stitches, cables, and perhaps even lace, in addition to being a nice choice for colorwork. Each skein has plenty of yardage (approx. 256 yards), so I have plenty left over of each color to play around with. I'm even thinking of starting a weaving project with it!

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Pattern: Maize Hat by Jesie Ostermiller

Prairie Spun DK Yarn Specs: 100% U.S. wool (3-ply yarn); Approximately 256 yards per skein 9100 gram twisted hank). Hand wash & lay flat to dry.


You may like to know: I was given this yarn and pattern for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.