Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Most Addictive Hat KAL

A few weeks ago, I shared my my new hat pattern, A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat, here on this blog. It's gotten such a great reception (yay!) that I've teamed up with the folks at Bijou Basin Branch to bring you a fun KAL for this project kit! If you were thinking about making this hat but haven't gotten the kit just yet, now is the perfect time, because there is a pretty sweet grand prize drawing for everyone who posts a photo of their finished hat in this Ravelry thread!

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You can snag your discounted project kit here; I'll also be knitting along because I didn't get to keep the samples pictured in the photos. Here are the colors I'll be making mine in, Scarlet and Natural Brown:

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I can't wait to see what everyone else chooses for their project! Besides joining the conversation here on Ravelry, you can also share your photos on Instagram using #bijoubasinranch in your post.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Purlbreak Shawl in Zen Yarn Garden Superfine Fingering Yarn

I've been working on this project since the middle of November, and it feels good to finally have it off the needles: presenting my finished Purlbreak shawl!

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Obviously, I'm thrilled to have this off the needles.
I knit this project with 3 skeins of yarn that I was sent for review: Zen Yarn Garden Superfine Fingering, a blend of 90% superfine/superwash merino and 10% nylon which is milled in Italy and hand-dyed in Canada (I love knowing where my yarn comes from!). This is a super-squishy yarn that feels soft to the touch, but has enough twist to it that it's not splitty, and I doubt it will pill much with time. It withstood ripping back to fix mistakes and dropped stitches, as well as plenty of abuse from being stuffed in my bag for knitting at the tap room.

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Hello, lovelies!

It was a total delight to work with, and choosing 3 coordinating colors was super-easy because of how they are grouped as part of the Magic Dye Pot Series: each group has a letter (A through F) and then the colors within that group have a number (1-6). For example, A goes as follows: A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, & A6 - that means that all of these colors are meant to go with each other. I chose 2 (dark blue/black), 4 (medium green/brown variegated) and 6 (light speckles) from the A-series.

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The requisite "action" shot.
Unintentionally, I ended up with a finished shawl that looks fairly similarly to what's pictured in the pattern, despite the fact that the pattern is written for a main color (A), and then 3 contrast colors (a light, a medium and a dark - all referred to as B in the pattern). Here is how I modified it to be knitted using just 3 colors/skeins of yarn total:

Section 1 - No changes, used darkest color for A and light speckle for B.
Section 2 - Stripes: Worked 20 repeats of Rows 3-6, then 1 repeat of Rows 3 & 4 using darkest color for A throughout and light speckle for color B for the first 12 contrast stripes, then switched to medium variegated for color B to finish out the repeats.
Section 3 - Worked Rows 1-4 three times with medium variegated for color B, then alternated light speckle and medium variegated every two rows for two repeats of Rows 1-4, and finished with 3 repeats of Rows 104 with light speckle.
Bind off per instructions (the pattern doesn't provide stitch counts at this point, but I counted 667 stitches before working the bind off).

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Check out that wingspan!
With hand-dyed yarns, it's always a gamble pairing very dark colors with very light skeins, and that mostly-undyed white speckle was particularly at risk for having its neighboring colors bleed into it while wet blocking. I'm pleased to report that none of the colors ran after a cold soak, as you can see by the crystal-clear water once the shawl was removed:

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I am extremely impressed with the quality of the yarn plus beautiful colors, all wrapped up in a superwash yarn - I would definitely reach for this again!

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It's so easy to wear, too!
Pattern: Purlbreak by Stephen West
Yarn: Zen Yarn Garden Superfine Fingering (Yardage: 400 yards/per 100g skein; 90% Superwash Superfine Merino, 10% Nylon).

You may like to know: I was gifted 3 skeins of yarn in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Survey Says...

Way back at the start of the year, I announced a few changes to the blog, notably that I'll only be posting once per week on Wednesdays. I also shared a link to a survey so that I could work on writing posts that are of more interest to my readers, and I have finally had a chance to sift through the results!

2018 Reader Survey Results

First, thank you to the 36 kind people who took the time to respond to my survey. I got a lot of great answers, and hope to address as many of your questions and suggestions as I can in the year to come (Also, I sent a little thank-you gift to everyone who participated, so be sure to check your inbox today!).

As far as blog post topics go, it looks like I'll be mixing in more tutorials and free patterns with my finished project posts, as they were the top 3 most voted-for topics:

Type of Posts

I'm not statistician, but it seems like there was a fairly even distribution of answers, so I'll definitely be mixing in other themes and topics whenever I'm able. I did get two write-in answers for this question; one which was very flattering and said they wanted to see more of everything because they love my blog (full disclosure - this was from a knitting friend of mine), and another suggestion which intrigues me greatly: Not only tutorials but maybe work arounds--a different stitch or something for the truly terrifying stitches....like short rows with no holes!

I'm definitely keeping that one in mind as I start to plan out more posts. Thank you for the suggestion!

Knitting won hands-down when I asked what craft people wanted to see more of this year. I suppose that makes sense, since I started as a knitter writing about my projects, and then started exploring more crafts as the years went on. What's interesting to me is that all of the other crafts I listed have about the same number of votes, so I'm going to interpret that to mean that I should more or less keep doing what I'm doing, since knitting is still my main craft (at least, that's how I see it!).

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The remaining questions were all set up to be open-ended, which I now realize was not the best choice since it meant I had to compile my own results and make my own fancy charts, rather than having Google do it for me. Live and learn! That's ok, I drank a strong pot of tea while I tallied things up, old school-style, and it ended up being kind of fun.

Here are the most-requested projects by type:
Projects(main)

As you can see, shawls were #1; Garments/Sweaters, Socks, and "All the things" were pretty much tied for second place. I did get some other notable write-ins for quick knits, one-skein projects, plus size cardigans, stuffed animals, holiday decor, and home decor. There was also an amusing typo requesting more "cows' - at least, I assume that was intended to be cowls. But just in case....

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You want it, you got it!
For those of you who voted for shawls, sweaters, or accessories, you are in luck, because that's pretty much what I plan to make this year. I may come up short in the sock knitting department, however, but it's not because I don't enjoy knitting socks. I would actually LOVE to knit more socks, but they hurt my hands too much, not matter what I try! I've been working on a pair since last fall and I am not even to the heels, I can only get a couple of rounds in before I have to put them back down and it's really quite depressing. Believe you me, if I find a magic bullet to make sock knitting pain-free, I'll be knitting a ton (and sharing my secret sauce for overcoming pain while knitting, of course). But I digress...

When asked what techniques or skills readers wanted to learn in 2018, there was a huge variation in responses, so I compiled this chart of anything that received 2 or more votes:

techniques

Brioche was a strong first place, so you can bet that I'll be working on some posts for those of you curious about this technique, both the single-color and 2-color variety! I've also been meaning to do more with colorwork, so I am glad to see that everyone's willing to come along on that ride.

There were many other interesting suggestions that are worthy of honorable mention, and I have added them on my list of blog topics. Included in that list is how to adjust patterns for fit, new stitches, phone apps for knitting and crafts, and some crochet topics (learning to crochet and crochet cables).

ToeUpSocks

There was one request for learning to knit toe-up socks, and as you have probably guessed by now, that is unlikely to happen given my hand issues along with the fact that I've tried it several times and have finally come to the conclusion that I dislike knitting toe-up socks. However, I hope that doesn't dissuade anyone since it really makes more sense, especially if you want to use up the entire skein of sock yarn.  I can, however, refer you to two excellent books which helped me knit several pairs of toe-up socks successfully - Socks from the Toe Up and Toe Up Socks for Everybody, both by Wendy D. Johnson.

I also received a request for "how to sleep soundly" which I assume was a joke, but just for grins I'm going to share what's been working for me since I've been sleeping abnormally well lately. I attribute most of this to my FitBit obsession - the visualizations of my sleep cycle are pretty fascinating, and compiling the data for how long I sleep (and how much time I am awake or restless) has helped me to pick up on patterns and realize that I only need between 7-8 hours of reasonably restful sleep to feel good. Strangely enough, this has also helped me worry less about whether or not I am getting enough sleep, since I can see for myself when I check the app. Other things that generally work for me: I have a fairly strict 4 PM cutoff for caffeinated beverages, reading before bed helps me shut off the part of my brain that wants to obsess about a million stupid things, and if I'm tossing a turning too much, the ability to move to a second location (our guest room) helps immensely in getting to sleep. When all else fails, I swear by Bach Rescue Remedy - I prefer the spray, but they have a lot of options depending on your preference.

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Have you tried counting sheep?

For the last question, I got a couple of interesting responses, including a few requests regarding formatting issues that I'll try to fix, but quite honestly I'm not sure if I have the technical chops (so if you are the person who has display issues in Netvibes, or the other person who wants to see my full post in your feed reader....I'll see what I can do!).

In summation: thank you for taking the time to fill out my survey and giving me some really great ideas for future posts that I don't think I would have come up with on my own. And if you're just finding this blog now, feel free to leave your suggestions/wish list for blog posts you'd like to see here in 2018 in the comments!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat Pattern

It's been hard keeping this one under wraps, but I'm pleased to announce that my newest hat pattern is now available at Bijoubasinranch.com. Say hello to A Most Addictive Slipped Stitch Hat

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Project kits for this pattern are available here; choose your favorite colors of Himalayan Trail yarn to create a hat that is uniquely you!

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A simple slipped-stitch pattern creates a fun visual element to this slouchy hat that's interesting to knit. The stitch pattern is easy to memorize, making it great for knit nights or on-the-go knitting.


The pattern includes instructions for two variations of ribbing to start off your pattern - you can either knit the Corrugated Rib stitch as shown in the sample, or keep things simple with a stretchy K2, P2 rib. I also collaborated with the folks at Bijou Basin Ranch to share even more ideas for customizing your hat here on their blog.

If you can knit stripes, you can make this hat!

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Click here to get your project kit, and be sure to follow me on Instagram & share your project with the #bijoubasinranch hashtag!

UPDATE: There is a KAL happening now through March 31, 2018 here on Ravelry (click to find out how you can join in the fun and be entered in the grand prize drawing).