Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back from KC!

 it was a whirlwind trip - we all had fun on the road, and the wedding was lovely.  i got a considerable amount of knitting done in the car - one of the first things i did was finish the karate socks from Knitted Socks East and West.  i'm curious to see how this yarn behaves when i wash it - i used some of the knitpicks simply cotton in brass heather, and i will definitely be using this yarn again - not only because i bought a huge mess of it the last time i placed an order with knitpicks, but because it's really nice stuff!  it's soft, it's easy to work with (and i've worked with lots of other cotton yarns - it's often closer to wrestling with them rather than knitting), and they have a pretty nice range of colors.  

i made some progress on my peak's island hood with the help of alexa, who was willing to join my sweatshop and knit all of the seed stitch between the increases and decreases for the hood.  i'm so close to being done, but of course am distracted by so many other things now that i'm home again, such as:

  1. pulled out the owl cardigan before the trip and decided NOT to spend the car ride frogging and re-knitting the sleeves.  made some buttonbands the night before we left, and then yesterday i finished sewing on the buttons and am now wearing it to stretch out the sleeves.  i think sam's plan is working on that front! 
  2. knitting on the sport-weight sweater i started in the car - a cabled yoke cardigan from drops that i am knitting with some lamb's pride superwash sport in a darker-than-usual lot of japanese plum.  
  3. knitting a squirrel on wheels!  i got the mochimochiland book as an early birthday present, and just need to make some wheels for my squirrel.  at least most of these projects will be faster knits than, say, a sweater or never-ending seed stitch adult bonnet, but this is still going to weaken my resolve to finish the rest of my languishing projects and still get all the holiday gift knitting accomplished that needs to happen in this, the final push.  i'm sure it will all happen - i tend to start panicking this time of year, and then finish all my gift knitting by the first week of december.  perhaps a little panic is a good thing. 

In other news, fellow blogger Hege recently bestowed this award upon me.  It's always nice to get warm fuzzies, and i suppose it's even better karma to pay them forward (the conspiracy theorist in me does wonder if this does smack a little of a blog-tastic chain letter, but since there aren't any lame threats for breaking the chain, i think we'll let this slide and just TAKE THE COMPLIMENT, not something i excel at). 

so, for those of you who are named below, here be the rules (which, admittedly, i have changed a bit because i have problems following directions, in life as well as in knitting):
- Grab the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.  (see above)
- Pay it forward to 10 other bloggers that you have newly discovered and contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

in no particular order...
  1. Cloudberry - Hege from Norway's blog!  
  2. Snarkland - yarn store owner from Florida, all-around crafty gal.
  3. Knitted Bliss - Canadian knitting!
  4. Sweatshop of Love - Chicago makers and doers.
  5. Sarah Morton Comics - Chicago knitter's non-fiber-related blog!  read it!
  6. Rotten Cupcakes - i know i've mentioned this before, but if you haven't checked it out already, what more will it take to convince you?  
  7. Knitting in the Red - crafting in GA!
  8. Subliminal Rabbit - knitting, rabbits - is there anything more?
  9. Stash, Knit, Repeat - it's sweater-ific!
  10. Involving the Senses - so much more than just the shalom cardigan

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

tea for one

dorky FO self-portrait
i'll be leaving town tomorrow to drive down to kansas city (9 hours! both ways!) for my sister-in-law's wedding.  in preparation, i've been trying to get projects off the needles and amass the ones that have been languishing - the theory is that i can finish them in the car, and then when we return to chicago next week, i can start a whole bunch of new and exciting projects.  whether or not this scheme will actually work remains to be seen, but in any case, i did finally finish my tea leaves cardigan!

it was a tough choice, deciding which buttons to use from my stash, but finally i settled on some vintage buttons i've been saving for the right project.  i don't think i'll ever make another sweater worthy of these buttons, to be perfectly honest.  they're a bit on the fancy side, but i think they really complement the color and the pattern. 
fancy top button!

as mentioned in previous posts, i used malabrigo rios (color: cumparsita) instead of the madelinetosh dk called for in the pattern.  i didn't have to change needle sizes at all to get gauge, so the entire time i just followed the instructions for my true size.  the only modifications i made were to make the body of the sweater and the sleeves a little longer, because i like it that way!  i added an extra inch of stockinette after the sleeve decreases, and an extra 2 rows of garter at the sleeve cuffs; i also added an extra inch (or inch and a half - now i don't remember) to the body, although i didn't add any rows of garter at the bottom edge. 

i also added a buttonhole to the band, which necessitated a slight modification in the spacing of the buttonholes - i think i decided to have only 12 stitches between each buttonhole, when it was all said and done.
the other two buttons are also fancy!

it's a good thing i picked up a 'safety skein' the last time i was at nina - i ended up dipping into it for the sleeves - so if you want to make a rios version of this on the smaller side, you will need 5 skeins -  i had a little less than half of that fifth skein left over.  because i had 2 different dye lots, i alternated skeins every few rows when knitting the body.  i got a little tired of that when it came time to knit the sleeves, but luckily you can't tell the difference! 

i loved this pattern - easy to follow, easy to modify, and it's a pretty fast knit - i think that, if i had been less distracted by other projects, i could have easily made this sweater in a few weeks.  at any rate, this is my new favorite hand-knit sweater - i can't stop wearing it!  i still haven't blocked it after finishing it - i really want to, but then i'd have to wait two or three days to wear it again.  maybe when we get back from our trip...

not blocking...just rockin'.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

green things (or, fast knits for the impending holiday crush)

is it that obvious that green is one of my favorite colors??
honey cowl
it's been a while since i've finished both of these projects - there's just too much to blog about these days.  i guess that's how you know knitting season is in high gear - although to be honest, i don't observe a knitting season, since i knit year-round in the true style of a hopeless addict. 

daisy cutter
at any rate, the honey cowl is complete.  this photo was a little premature (still a few ends to weave in!) but i think it's gonna do the trick for the cold, blustery winter that lies ahead of us.   this was a super-fast knit - it took me less than a week!  i probably could have finished it in a few days, if i hadn't been distracted by other projects. 

also, finally got to take some photos of the daisy cutter beret!  tyler took this one as we went on a beer run - the karate place nearby just finished a really cool mosaic, which is serving as the background.  love this hat - also another great fast-knitting project that would make a fantastic gift for you or someone you love (not that those two categories are mutually exclusive).  the pattern will be available through the rotten cupcakes etsy shop - i notice it's not there yet (although i have also knit the twisted thistle beret, and that is also a fantastic pattern!), but i'm sure any day now it will make its appearance.

if you have two days and some leftover worsted-weight yarn, you can make some of the cutest little owls ever!  the second i came across these little guys in the holiday issue of knit simple, i knew i had to make some. right away.  i literally quit flipping through the magazine and high-tailed it to the register; it was already mid-day and i wanted to get home asap and get to knitting. 

i made a few mods - ie, omitting the feet (creatures without all their limbs are extra adorable) and knitting the winds flat instead of in the round.  the full details on that last one can be found on my ravelry project page.  the main yarns i used were some leftovers of malabrigo worsted in vaa (see "daisy cutter", above!) and lorna's laces shepherd worsted in catalpa. 

this song is silly, but i did find it running through my mind as i worked on these little guys. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


side swipe stripe
for those of you who are on the "breast cancer awareness" bandwagon during the month of october, i have two patterns which utilize flamingo stripe sock yarn - if you are not familiar with lorna's laces, then this is a good introduction.  a portion of the sales from this colorway of sock are donated quarterly to breast cancer-related charities.

the first sock pattern, the side swipe sock(available from yarn market), is knit top-down in the round with two cable panels running down either side of the sock, with the remaining portions of the sock knitted in stockinette.  it's a great beginning cable project for those who dare!

the second sock pattern, peppermint lattice, has been mentioned on this blog before - allow me to refer you to this post for the details.  besides being able to purchase a .pdf of this pattern through my ravelry shop, folks in chicago also have the option of dropping by their lys, sister-ARTS studio, to purchase a hard copy.

i can't think of a better gift for someone who is fighting breast cancer - or someone who has survived it! - than a pair of hand-knit socks to keep their toesies warm all winter long. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

one-skein spotlight: honeycomb fingerless gloves

since adding a chart to this pattern, i had it test knit by a colleague who recently moved to california.  julie (aka rotten cupcakes) has a fantastic etsy shop and blog that are worth checking out.  she was pleased with how fast they knit up, even with adding an extra pattern repeat in the cuff (a modification i highly encourage, that's what i did the last time i knit these up!).  she used one skein of knit picks gloss dk, with just a tiny bit left over.  that's a fantastic deal - less than five bucks to make a lovely hand-knit gift for someone you love...and don't forget to make yourself something pretty!

this pattern is available through my ravelry shop (you don't have to join the site to purchase, all you need is a paypal account to buy now), and if you live here in chicago, you can trot over to Sister-ARTS Studio and pick up a hard copy - you can also try on some knitted samples, which will be in the shop for the next month or so.

the details:

  • very simple cables, suitable for a beginner
  • gloves are worked flat and seamed, but can be easily modified to work in the round
  • pattern calls for US #7 needles (note: julie says she went down to US #6 to get gauge with the gloss dk)
  • uses approx. 100 yards of light worsted/dk-weight yarn.  pattern sample is knit in classic elite inca alpaca
  • notions:  cable needle, tapestry needle
  • includes written instructions and a chart

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

if macgyver had been a knitter...

...this is the type of shipping envelope he would make. 

first off, full disclosure:  in my years working at lorna's laces, i came to know the folks at jimmy beans as some of the nicest, cleverest people in the industry.  they are a marketing powerhouse, and those limited-edition colors we dyed for them each month, in addition to the huge amounts of yarn they'd order in addition to those, certainly puts them in a category all their own. 

so when i start fawning over their newest innovation without having a portion of my paycheck sponsored by jimmy beans, hopefully that means something to my dear readers (all two of you!). 

here's what they said in their October newsletter

Yes!! In our constant quest to go AGAIN where no yarn shop has gone before, to do what no one in the yarn industry has done, we at Jimmy Beans Wool have unveiled shipping envelopes printed with a FREE LORNA'S LACES SOCK PATTERN.
If Limited Edition Baby Me Boo wasn't impressive enough, hold onto your hats because our new Project Packs will definitely rock your socks! What are these Project Packs you ask? They are our new shipping envelopes that not only keep your yarn clean and safe on its way from Jimmy Beans to your front door, but also include a free pattern on one side of the envelope itself! They are waterproof, rustproof, even bulletproof!! Ok, maybe not bulletproof, but you will be able to cut this pattern out, punch holes, and keep it in your personal pattern binder. We'll be using these envelopes to ship approximately 75% of our orders, so chances are high that you'll get one. And as a special celebration this month, we promise that if you place a Goblin order, you'll receive it in one of these extra special Project Packs #1.
Jimmy Beans Wool Newsletters
Project Pack #1
Honey-Do Socks
Written for Sock, Sport, or Worsted Weight
Ships w/ All Goblin Orders!!
Hint: We suggest that you save each pattern in the series - you just never know what kind of silly prizes we'll be giving out next year for the person with the biggest collection!

I mean, who doesn't want to open up their mailbox and see a pattern staring them back in the face?  How did no one think of this beforehand?  If anyone in the knitting community needs a crash course in Marketing Genius 101 (myself included), just read some back issues of the jimmy beans newsletter.

Shall we place bets on how much time elapses before other online shops start doing this?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

yarn con 2010

i have never gotten to attend yarn con - something always gets in the way (usually it was being broke, but quite often work has stood in the way as well).  i admit, i gave up hoping i would ever make it to one, but i should have bought a lottery ticket yesterday, as saturday was my lucky day.  i'm reticent to request saturdays off at work unless i absolutely have to, but my boss had pity on me and luck was on my side, too - all my clients were scheduled first thing in the morning.  i was out of work by 1 and on my way to my first ever yarn con! 

if only i'd brought more cash (and not needed the money in my bank account to pay rent) - so many beautiful yarns!  i think i spent my money well and have definitely enhanced both my yarn and fiber stashes.

first off, i bought this falkland roving (colorway: 'cloudy night') from pumpkinhaus - she's an indie dyer out of south bend, indiana with a great shop on etsy - my pal sam gave me some of her blue-faced leicester (bfl) roving for my birthday last year.  you may or may not remember it as my first tour de fleece project way back when, which quickly became a simple yet effective scarf.  i happened to have said scarf in my messenger bag and busted it out so she could see what became of her beautiful, beautiful fiber! 

this next bit of bfl roving is from samantha in stitches - love the color, and i especially love the name of the colorway ('thunder').  they also had some very intriguing milk spinning fiber at their booth that i kind of regret not buying. it was amazingly soft and silky, the colors were vibrant, and it's also hypo-allergenic!
 the rest of the fibery goodness was attained at one of my favorite indie dyers' booths - kitchen sink dyeworks.  i bought some bfl roving and sock yarn from ksd's renegade craft fair booth two years ago.  while i have yet to knit with the sock yarn, the roving spun up like a dream on my drop spindle (hard to remember the days before i got my wheel!). 

i picked up some more bfl roving in some nice, deep blues, and then rescued a pretty sweet skein of superwash merino sock yarn from the sale bin (photographed at left, 'tis the skein on the right) in some nice, pale neutral tones.  ten bucks!  i wish i'd bought a few more.  oh, yarny regrets....

but i certainly don't regret this soft and fancy skein of superwash merino, cashmere and nylon sock yarn (grey skein pictured to the left).  i think that wants to be something that keeps my neck warm....only time will tell.