Saturday, December 31, 2011

Baltimore 'Stache Bash

Recently, I came across a Raveler who used my Mustachio Nosewarmer pattern to create a clever Mustache for the Baltimore 'Stache Bash, a mock beauty pageant celebrating the brave men who have spent a month growing mustaches and raising money for Baltimore City Schools!

KaceyJH oh-so-cleverly knit the mustache & used the i-cord ties to affix said mustache to her face, no nosewarmer needed!  Looks like some mustachey fun to me - be sure to check out more photos by photographer Margaret Hart by clicking here and here
Photos by Margaret Hart, used with permission. 

Oh yeah, before I forget....happy new year, everyone!  Here's hoping 2012 is a good year for all. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: Why You Need Another Sock Book

Consider this an addendum to my preview last month - now that I've had more time to absorb Clara Parkes' latest effort, I have much more to say on the subject!

I still maintain that no matter how many sock books you have on your shelf (I clock in at about 13), you need to buy The Knitter's Book of Socks, too.   First off - awesome patterns.  There are several socks I'll be making out of this book - and at this point of my sock-making life, I feel as though that's saying something.  As I mentioned before, I've picked up many of the new sock books, flipped through them, and determined I could live without them on my shelf (no, I'm not naming names!).  The patterns were fine, but nothing earth-shattering - I felt as though I could approximate them via the many other titles in my collection.  The layouts were, on the whole, well-done, but graphic design is not enough.  The Knitter's Book of Socks surpasses its contemporaries in one important area: the "informational section" at the front of the book.

You know what I'm talking about - it's that section that publishers always feel the need to include, and most 'experienced' knitters flip through.  Typically, it's a version of Knitting 101, which is probably better left to a Knitting 101 book, but that's just my own personal opinion.

Kensington Socks by Nancy Bush
Photo © Alexandra Grablewski
Definitely make a point to read the front of this book, because it will completely revolutionize the way you think about sock yarn and sock knitting!  As I read each section, I found myself nodding along or having a recollection of a pair of socks I'd previously knit, blissfully unaware of how such things as fiber content and stitch pattern would directly affect the end product - be it in terms of abrasion, moisture management, or just plain fit.  It's true, I simply relied on trial and error...and wondered why I had so much 'error'! 

This informed approach to choosing your yarn to suit the pattern and vice versa is akin to how you would decide to choose an appliance or car:  you wouldn't just choose the color you liked and leave the rest to chance, would you?  If you're going to invest your valuable time and money, wouldn't you prefer to get the best end-product possible?  With Parkes' thoughtful instruction, that's more than possible.  It's guaranteed!

P.S. I was also won over by Clara's appearance on the Yarn Thing Podcast!  Click here to listen to the archived episode.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas isn't over

At least, not for us.  We are heading down to Kansas City next week to celebrate with our families, since Tyler couldn't get time off over any of the three holidays this year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.  That's the way it goes in the hospitality industry. 

We had a nice, quiet Christmas yesterday - curiously, they gave him yesterday off (of course, we didn't find out about it til 2 days prior, but I'll take what I can get)!  We made pancakes in the morning, opened presents and stockings, and spent the rest of the day eating food, drinking beer, and watching DVDs.  Works for me! 

We also had a great Christmas Eve with our friends & landlords who invited us upstairs for a pizza party.  Tyler got off work in time to join us for board games and present-opening, and we managed to squeeze in the traditional Christmas Eve Ritter Family Stocking Shopping that evening! 

There are only two projects I can share with you so far - for Lauren, I knit a monster using my handspun (Harold the Houseplant Monster from Rebecca Danger's Big Book of Monsters):

For Tyler, I knit this awesome Pac-Man hat with leftover yarn from his sweater (free pattern available here):

I hope all of you had a great holiday, whatever you celebrate!  Here's hoping 2012 is kinder to us all. 


Friday, December 23, 2011

When Good Projects Go Bad

The Rule of Threes paid me a visit recently.  The mildest case involved a monster do-over caused by a simple miscalculation of yardage while using leftover skeins from my stash.  Not the end of the world, admittedly, but I did find myself frogging an entire monster body on Tuesday night - not how I'd hoped to spend the evening!

I also recently knit the Brier Toque (from Weekend Knits) with a gorgeous skein of Neighborhood Fiber Company Watershed Sock yarn that I bought at Article Pract several years ago on our west coast 'tour.'  The colorway is Glover Park, and I've been saving it for a special occasion.  The hat started out well enough, but after a while my bamboo needles (and fingers!) started to turn a deep forest green.  Uh oh.  Yet I pressed onward!

Once the hat was done, I tossed it in a nice bath of a bit of Eucalan and some cool water.  And the water turned green.  So I put it in another bath.  And another!  By the time the fourth bath rolled around, I was getting a little desperate, so I added a ton of vinegar.  Still green, but at least not as bad as before...
Third Rinse:  Not as bad....

...time to proceed to Step 2, the 'white glove test.'  Sadly, this project did not pass: observe the bright blue spots on what was once a very clean, white towel:


So, that happened.

My third failed project involves some beautiful yarn and a fantastic pattern...unfortunately, I royally screwed it up from the get-go.

I should preface this story by saying that I've never, in the eight-or-so years I've been knitting, made a mobius project - on purpose or otherwise.  I suppose I've been lucky that I've never accidentally twisted a cast-on when joining in the round, despite the countless socks, sweaters, etc. I've made that way. 

Guess I had some time to make up for, because I managed to twist the cast-on for my Botanical Cowl not once, but twiceTWICE!  Once, I could live with, but twice, not so much. 

So you'd think I'd rip it back and start again as soon as I noticed the problem, an inch or so into my work, right?  Nope.  I convinced myself it would be fun to do an accidental mobius.  I'd like to say I was blissfully unaware of how much I messed up, but perhaps it was denial - or laziness!  I kept thinking of all those cast-on stitches.  I didn't want to rip back and cast on 200+ stitches again, no way!

Ok, except for I worked to completion on this thing, and the end result is something I'm most likely going to rip out completely and knit again. 

That's just crazy.

But the yarn (Canopy Fingering in Sarsparilla from The Fibre Company) is gorgeous and soft and wonderful.  It doesn't want to live its life as a crappy twisty cowl, destined to become a cat bed in the bin of forlorn hand-knits.  It wants to keep me warm this winter and not be covered in cat fur.

So it's a lesson for the ages:  If you think something is wrong, don't ignore it - rip it out and start again (or at least work back to the place where you think you made a mistake)!  Continuing to work on a project in hopes that it will magically fix itself by the time you bind off is a waste of your time (not that you need me to tell you that - I only wished I'd told myself!). 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Magic of Malabrigo

Alcaucil Sock: Tough to Photograph!
Since successfully destashing a good 75% (possibly more!) of my Malabrigo collection for Stockpile in October, it seems as thought just as much has found its way back into my life.  Not that I'm complaining....there are far worse problems than having luscious skeins show up on your doorstep!

I was randomly selected to win this skein of sock in one of my favorite colors, #805 Alcaucil - apparently, I properly tagged and classified all of my Stockpile projects.  At last, my anal-retentiveness and ability to follow directions have been rewarded!

I've got big plans for this yarn - I think it wants to be the model for the Heliotrope Stockings when I re-release this pattern in January...which reminds me:  if you want to knit this pattern in the next couple of months, I recommend you purchase it from The Sanguine Gryphon this week.  They are in the process of winding down operations, and  come Dec. 24th (or thereabouts), this pattern will be out of print until I can reformat & re-knit a model in yarn that is actually available - my estimated release date is mid-January.  Consider this your warning!

My Secret Santa from the Sweatshop of Love holiday party gifted me these lovely skeins of Worsted in #98 Tuareg and #507 Pigeon, and I'm pretty certain I'll be using them to make Here and There, an adorably stripey cabled hat by Veera Välimäki.  It's a rare day when I decide to knit a pattern in the same colors as the model shown, but there's something about this color combo that really grabs me.   

Above: Malabrigo Worsted
Middle: Here and There Hat
Below: Malabrigo Silky
Finally, my pal Sam destashed three skeins of Silky in #415 Matisse Blue.  They're destined to become a cute little cardigan....eventually!  I still have miles to go with my holiday knitting and quite the post-holiday queue to contend with.  It never hurts to be prepared, though....and I just happened to find this adorable free pattern from Hedgehog Fibres that will fit the bill nicely....

Abalone Cardigan from Hedgehog Fibres

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fastest Toy in the Midwest

Mercourier has whipped up another adorable Button Bunny - this medium-size bunny only took a day from start to finish! If you're having any last-minute gifting emergencies, the fastest toy in the midwest is just what you need (and it's not too late to get 20% off your pattern purchase - just enter "GiftCute" at checkout!)

Pattern:  Button Bunnies
Yarn: The Wool Dispensary Greater Poison in Aerial Ballet (MC) and Georgia Building Castles (CC)

Hello there.

Friday, December 16, 2011

We have our winners!

First off, thanks to everyone who entered my contest and checked out my blog.  I enjoyed reading all of your comments and stoking my own startitis (meanwhile, I keep adding to my holiday gift knitting list - what is wrong with me?!?!).

Our two Bonfire Fingerless Gloves pattern winners are:

Carmen said...
I intend to finish a short-sleeved sweater I started for myself a couple of years ago. If I start in Jan, maybe I'll have it done by summer!
Julie H. Rose said...
I plan on making myself a make-it-up-as-I-go-along fine gauge shawl, BUT as I got a big gift certificate for my LYS recently, I'm thinking I just might make a fair isle sweater. Unfortunately, I keep thinking about the unfinished projects in a certain closet. . .maybe it's time to finish them? On the other hand, I could rip 'em all out. . .
And of course, the moment you've all been waiting for - our grand prize winner of 1 lovely skein of sock yarn from Kitchen Sink Dyeworks & a Bonfire Fingerless Gloves pattern is:
Gracey is not my name.... said...Well if I win, I'll be making those bonfire mitts...if not well I have some lovely skeins that I have just wound and I'm waiting for them to speak to me...

Congratulations to our three lucky winners - if you can email your shipping info to me at: honeybee21(at)juno(dot)com, I will get your prizes out to you as soon as I can! 

If you'd still like to get your mitts on these mitts, I'm offering 20% off ALL pattern purchases from my Ravelry shop throughout the month of December - just enter 'GiftCute' at checkout to save big on fun new patterns for the new year (click here to start shopping)!

Thanks again to everyone who visited my blog this week and entered my contest - I hope you'll come back to see what's new sometime soon! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goodbye, Hexipuff + A Contest!

Sock Yarn Mini-Skeins: Mysteries & Mayhem
Two blog posts in one day?! WHAT??  This news flash just couldn't wait til tomorrow: I've marked down the last 5 sets of miniskeins in my shop - each one is ten bucks a pop, get 'em while they're hot!  

Click here to start shoppin'!

I'm not sure if I'll be doing more miniskein sets in the new year - while it was fun and thoroughly addictive - almost addictive as hexipuffing is! -  I think 2012 is going to be incredibly busy in other aspects of my life, and I don't want to let my faithful hexipuffers down with spotty customer service.

At any rate:  once these sets are gone, they're GONE.  I'll be using the same shop address to destash extraneous craft supplies for the remainder of this year - yarn, buttons, beads, etc.  So please bookmark it and check back, or follow me on Twitter - the best way to get shop updates & tomfoolery. 

On a slightly unrelated note, I've been orchestrating so many contests and giveaways for my clients this month that I want in on the fun!  Leave a comment on this post telling me the first project you intend to make for yourself in the new year!  On Friday, I'll randomly select 3 people to win a hard copy of my Bonfire Fingerless Mitts 1 of the 3 selected will also receive a skein of Kitchen Sink Dyeworks Sock Yarn - this amazing hand-dyer recently closed up shop in pursuit of other knitterly arenas.  If you missed out on her huge sale last month, now is your chance to snap up a skein of lovely, lovely yarn, all for the price of a comment!
Kitchen Sink Dyeworks' Merino Fine Sock Yarn in 'Eric'

Gift Cute

Mr. Nubbins by Mercourier
I don't want to stress you out by saying how many sleeps we have til xmas or anything, but it's go time!  I'm all about fast gifts I can make in a day (or two), and in the spirit of panicked last-minute knitting projects, I'm offering 20% off ALL of my patterns - just enter "GiftCute" at checkout!

Then get ready to Gift Cute for real - because it's Mr. Nubbins to the rescue!  He and his counterpart, Lady Nubbins, are knit out of big 'ol bulky wool and fly off those US#13 needles.

Button Bunnies
I made all three Button Bunnies in a weekend's time, and you can make the whole trio or just knit one up for gifting purposes.  They're sure to delight no matter what! 

Alien Hand Puppets are an adorable quick gift for young nieces and nephews.  If you make some out of cotton or bamboo and embroider eyes instead of using safety eyes, they'll double as fun washcloths for bathtime!

Alien Hand Puppet
Then again, this might be the time of year when you throw up your hands, run out to buy a skein or two of yarn, and send someone the pattern with instructions to make it yourself!  It's not a bad impulse...unless they don't know how to knit.  Then you've just created more work for yourself! 

Whatever you decide, I've got you covered - click here to start shopping and don't forget to enter "GiftCute" for your discount!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Knit Local: Extended Review (Blogger's Remix)

I wrote a longer review for this book once I got to spend more time with it - for those of you who don't receive the Windy City Knitting Guild Newsletter, here is the full version: 

Dreaming of Spring Mittens by Elli Stubenrauch
Yarn: Mountain Meadow Wool Candy
Image © Sixth&Spring/Tanis Gray
Interlocking Rings Cowl by Danielle Romanetti
Yarn: Alpacas of Windswept Farm 100% Alpaca
Image © Copyright by Sixth&Spring/Tanis Gray

Knit Local by Tanis Gray

Tanis Gray's tome about American-based yarn purveyors is nothing short of remarkable.  There are lots of companies you know and love - Brown Sheep, Brooklyn Tweed, and Quince & Co., for example - and several that are new to the scene that may have escaped your notice til now.  The book's introduction sets the tone and has plenty of food for thought in its two pages.  The remainder of the book is comprised of profiles for each yarn company grouped by region and including patterns using that company's yarn.

Throughout the book, Gray tells the stories behind the yarn and explores what it means to be 'sustainable' - though this term clearly means different things to different people, time and time again the focus remains on the impact on the environment, animals and people involved in the finished product.  Consider this book a jumping-off point as you start to think about your crafting materials in a whole new light.  It's a fantastic way to get to acquainted with new yarns from your own backyard, which means there is an added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint (ie, not having to ship a large quantity of yarn halfway across the world) and supporting the local economy.  Besides that, you'll be treated to many new and exciting companies to seek out, and you'll find out some interesting tidbits along the way.  For example, I had no idea that Kraemer Yarns was a 100-year-old company run by a single family in Pennsylvania, nor was I aware that Stonehedge Fiber Mill developed their own line of yarn production equipment, which they sell to other companies as well as use themselves. 

Once you finish reading this book (and knit some of the lovely patterns, too!), you'll be itching to explore your yarn world - to get you started, Gray provides a list of additional companies to check out at the end of each section. I did find it curious that Lorna's Laces wasn't featured anywhere in the book, especially considering their neighbors Dream in Color and Misti Alpaca were both mentioned.  Then again, the point of this book is to offer a taste of the tantalizing yarns that have been hiding in plain sight all this time, encouraging the reader to explore, ask questions at their LYS, and be mindful when purchasing their next skein of yarn.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christkindlmarket + Renegade Craftiness

Yes, the panic is beginning to set matter how early you begin your holiday crafting (and I usually start mine in the summertime!), it simply can't be avoided.  It's crunch time, and besides having a ton of gift knitting to finish, one more pattern to put out (ha, ha!), holiday shopping to do, and of course, the work that pays the bills, I find myself coming up short in the "time" department.  Plus, there's just so many fun things to do this time of year - the Christkindlmarket, about 3,000 craft shows, and holiday parties!  I'm only going to one holiday party this year (when you telecommute, there's not such thing as a holiday staff party - unless it's via Skype!), but we are playing two shows that will be vaguely holiday-ish, in that we'll play a few of our Christmas Songs....though they don't really sound Christmassy.  But never mind any rate, so I'm filing them under "holiday party." 

Chicago peeps, hope to see you at Martyrs' next Wednesday, December 13!  Shalloboi are back to playing as a bring your ear protection.  And your knitting!

Speaking of the Christkindlmarket and craft fairs (a few of my favorite things), I attended both last weekend when my pal Julie came up to visit.  The Renegade Handmade holiday fair was PACKED.  Holy cow, I have never been in such a mass of humanity!  There were lots of great vendors, but it was pretty tough to score some table time with most of them, unfortunately.  I was able to make it past the crowds to buy soap from one of my faves, Briggs & Featherbelle.  Their soaps smell so delicious! I couldn't get anywhere close to Worker B, though.  Maybe next time! 

I also found a few interesting vedors I'd never seen before - I bought this squirrel ornament from owl+mouse.  Coincidentally enough, they're from my hometown, Kansas City!  I was also admiring the adorable handbags from Suspiro - if only I'd had a little more wiggle room in my holiday budget this year!  It was also great to see some old friends (Dan Grzeca, Jay Ryan via the Flinchy booth).

Mr. Nubbins wanted to tag along at the Christkindlmarket on Sunday....unfortunately, he's not used to the high alcohol content of the Glühwein. Apparently no one told him those boots aren't for walking!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Malabrigo Trunk Show @ Sister Arts

I've just received word from Donna at Sister Arts that the Malabrigo trunk show has landed!  

I'm so thrilled to be taking part in their upcoming knit night event this Thursday, December 8 from 7-10pm.  I'll be bringing lots of fun models (from Book 3 and otherwise) for you to check out.  The Stuffed Ostrich Toy, Kitchy Pleated Bag, and Quick Draw Socks will all be there in person along with the many other fantastic patterns by fellow contributors Stephen West, Julie Weisenberger, Kristen Rengren, Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark and Bree Miller. 

As an added bonus, you'll enjoy 15% off your total purchase of any in-stock yarn & copy of Book 3.   Click here for more details on the Sister Arts website. 

Hope to see you there!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Love for Minneapolis

The theme of today is Minneapolis.  Why, you ask?
Button Bunnies!

Reason #1:  The Button Bunny Kits I made in conjunction with The Wool Dispensary will be at the Sweatshop of Love booth at this weekend's No Coast Craft Fair!

Reason #2:  Earlier this week, I was the guest blogger/resident indie rock nerd on the Vegan Craftastic blog!  Click here to check out this fantastic Minneapolitan's blog (is that the proper term for a person who resides in Minneapolis?).  She has invited various guest bloggers to share their top picks for holiday gifting this year.  If you're scratching your head wondering what to get that hard-to-buy person in your family, let one of the many gift guides on the Vegan Craftastic blog point you in the right direction!
Everything you need, just add stuffing!

I've only been to Minneapolis a handful of times, and it's a lovely city (though unfortunately, we've never had much luck playing shows there for whatever reason - but that's a different blog post for a different day!).  For those of you who get to attend this week's awesome-sounding craft fair, please be sure to tell Alysson (at the Sweatshop of Love booth) that she's super-rad for playing hostess to these mischief-makers!

Twin Cities Headband from
The Sweatshop of Love

In fact, if you happen to say "Alysson Rocks" as you purchase a button bunny kit from her, she'll take $5 off the purchase price!  Why?  Because she rocks, obviously!  This secret password only works for the Button Bunny Kits, but don't let that keep you from checking out her huge selection of super-cute patterns, kits and read-made knits while you're at her booth!

While I'm at it, how 'bout a nice coupon code for those of you who can't make it to No Coast?  Enter "NoCoast4Me" here for $2 off your purchase of a Button Bunny PDF pattern from now til midnight this Sunday, December 4.  ETA: I Just found out that The Wool Dispensary is offering 20% off online purchases of Greater Poison with code "bunniesgonewild"!
Cable Change Purses from
The Sweatshop of Love

And, just in case you missed it before, each kit contains enough yarn (MC & CC) to make 1 each of all three bunny sizes, 3 pair safety eyes, 3 fun buttons, hard copy of pattern with PDF download code (and you'll be able to add it to your Ravelry bookshelf & receive updates, too!). All you need to add is the stuffing!

P.S. The Button Bunnies were also recently mentioned on the Doodlebug Yarns blog - click here to check it out, there is also a contest to win some oh-so-amazing yarn from The Fibre Company!

P.P.S. They will soon be available for purchase online through the Wool Dispensary website!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What else have I been up to?

Recently, I've been starting various small projects since I need a little instant knitting gratification!  I've been having fun making little scrubby tawashis using this easy free pattern and various cotton and cotton/bamboo yarns I have in my stash.  Here's the one I finished over the weekend in Araucania Patagonia Nature Cotton:

I don't think I've posted much about the Travel Shawl from Knitting 24/7 that I've been making since Malabrigo Stockpile in October.  This warlock of a shawl is almost done - and it was turning out beautifully, until I dropped a stitch and didn't notice it for ten flipping rounds.  Oops.  I picked it back up, but it's not exactly unnoticeable - and since I was knitting it as a gift for someone, I am now having to trot out Plan B.  Thankfully, Plan B is a much easier project to make, but I'm still pretty bummed that this shawl isn't going to work out.  If we ever kiss and make up and I finish this thing, it will be a lovely addition to my wardrobe, I'm sure!  It's also really hard to photograph just looks like a blob of knitting, basically!  Once feature I do like is that it's completely self-contained - the ball of yarn I'm working from is nestled inside the project.  Nevertheless, it is sidelined till further notice.  

Botanical Cowl in Canopy Fingering
I'm also on a big hat kick - after getting Weekend Hats for my birthday (and having a few downright chilly glimpses of winter),  I've got major startitis in the hat department.  Tons of cute designs from this book have jumped to the front of my queue, but I'm not allowing myself to start any of them til I finish a few other projects.  In that vein,  I started a Windschief by Steven West, but just undid all of my work because I am going to make it in a different color and use the black yarn to make a special top secret project I came across today when I was working (and by working, I mean trolling the "recently added patterns" section of Ravelry).

Finally, the Fibre Company Canopy Fingering did not go more than a few days without getting tapped for a project.  I ordered it (from Doodlebug Yarn) specifically to make a Botanical Cowl, a pattern I discovered via their blog.  Since this project is for me, I don't work in it very much - it'll be slow going til I finish my holiday gift knitting.

Speaking of holiday gift knitting, I have one more pair of socks to make!  They're sport-weight (yay!) but, because I enjoy special torture apparently, they are a complexly cabled pattern (the Rocaille Socks from the Knitter's Book of Socks) that is sure to be amazing, provided I get them done in time (thank goodness we're celebrating Fake Christmas in January - that's almost a two-week extension!).  They are a lovely forest green color which I overdyed over a bright spring green.  The problem with this project is that it's tough to see what I'm doing unless I have absolutely perfect light - and a few weeks ago, my task light burned out!  A tiny disaster (or some would say mild inconvenience) to be sure, but I really do feel like I've gotten less knitting done because of it.  I finally remembered to take the light bulb with me to Target last night so I could match them up.  I hope this means that I'll be much more productive now!

Ogee Lace Skirt
I'm also itching to start this cotton sarong - not usually a project you want to make when it's cold out, right?  We're headed to Florida this January for Tyler's grandmother's 90th birthday, and in anticipation of having to don a swimming suite for the first time in about two years, I have determined that some sort of wrap or coverup is necessary.  My yarn guru Lauren destashed a big box of Tahki Cotton Classic to me ages ago, and I have finally thought of the perfect use for it!  I'll be knitting the Ogee Lace Skirt....just as soon as I finish my holiday knitting!

(Also, I promise that I will NEVER wear it over a pair of jeans.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pay a Blogger Day

Apparently today is Pay a Blogger day - finally, a cause I can really get behind! 

In all seriousness, think of all the awesome blogs you read on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  We don't do it for money or glory (well, usually....neither has really found its way to me so far, anyway!), we just really like to write about the things we love to do.  Even if you don't have money in your budgets throw a little monetary support our way, leaving a nice comment or sharing your favorite blogs with your friends is a great way to pay us back.  Not that I speak for bloggers everywhere by any stretch of the imagination, but appreciation and word-of-mouth promotion can go a long way. 

So, if you feel so inclined, check out my patterns and buy a few via Ravelry or Paypal.  Treat yourself to some mini skeins!  Purchase anything from my etsy shop for 25% off using coupon code "CyberMondayHangover."  Like my page on Facebook and share it with your friends.  Please also visit some of the other great blogs I have listed on the sidebar of this blog - they're hand-picked for your reading pleasure! 

I want my rubber chicken!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Operation: Awesome Xmas

It's Black Friday, or Buy Nothing Day if you prefer.  While some of you are sacrificing sleep to get a bargain at any number of big box retailers, I will be lazing around the house in my pajamas, drinking tea and admiring my handiwork from yesterday.  I apologize if that sounds overly smug, but I am just not into the insanity of Black Friday, no matter how good the deals are. 

This is the first year we're not heading to Kansas City (our hometown) for the holidays.  As previously mentioned, Tyler will be working throughout the holiday season (six day weeks!  11 hour days!  at least he's union, so that's some nice time-and-a-half - cha-ching!).  To make up for the fact that we won't be upholding any of our usual holiday traditions, I am decorating the house like crazy.  Ok, maybe not that crazy...but I am definitely stepping up my efforts in the holiday decor department, which in years past has been fairly lackluster (we didn't have a tree til last year - to be fair, it was the last year we had room for one, but still....).

The stockings are hung by the vinyl with care - it's just going to have to suffice in lieu of a fireplace.  The bonus, of course, is that the vinyl lives in my office, and I get to look at my lovely garland (bought last year post-xmas for only a few bucks at Target - see, I'm not opposed to getting a good deal!) and stripey stockings for the whole family.

I've already posted about the stockings I made for Tyler and myself (though they have since had all the ends woven in and jingle bells sewn onto the toes!), but recently completed are Robin and Tilly's stockings, which also have jingle-bell toes.  I used the same pattern (Knitting Pure and Simple's Easy Christmas Stocking), I just cut all the numbers in half to make a smaller version - it worked pretty well!

Robin's stocking (right) is knit with: Phildar Lenox 084 in color 10 (natural), Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Limeade, and Pick Up Sticks Small Balls in Red on US #8's.

Tilly's stocking (left) is knit with:  Phildar Lenox 084 in color 10 (natural),Zealana Kia Ora Rimu DK in Red Rata Tree, and Berroco Peruvia in Avocado on US #8's.

Vintage Kitsch!
I'd like to put everyone's initials on their stocking at some point, but I'm still trying to decide the best/easiest way to accomplish that. I'm not the best at embriodery and I'm not sure that duplicate stitch is the way I want to go, either.  I am toying with using some sort of felt letters - might just make a trip to the craft store to see what strikes me as a good idea.  In the mean time, you can click here to see more photos of the finished stockings, if you're into that sort of thing.

The tree is up and I got to use the amazing vintage tree skirt I inherited from my great-grandparents.  It's nothing short of spectacular, right?  It's pretty well-preserved, considering how old it is, and I am in love with how tacky it is, but in a good way.  People were really into sequins back then, apparently.  I don't think many people in our generation have the patience to sew so many sequins onto a tree skirt...ok, maybe that's just me, but either way, I love this new addition to our holiday decorations.  It reminds me of the stockings my grandmother made for everyone in the family! 

After our Thanksgiving dinner at Longman and Eagle (Tyler's parents took the train up here yesterday and we all had an amazing meal there once Tyler got off of work), we decorated the Christmas tree together.  I was pretty psyched to show off my hard work from earlier in the day - not only did I put up the tree, finish the stockings, and decorate the office, I also strung up every working set of lights we own (you'd be surprised at how many we have in the house - Tyler really has a thing for christmas lights - and snowmen, actually, which explains all the snowmen that have made their way into our house).  I have a few more plans in the works, time permitting, but I have to say, I'm quite pleased with my efforts.

Hope everyone had a great holiday!
Robin always finds the best place to take a nap.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving" like....

...a Zombie Bunny with a pom-pom tail. 


(this is my way of saying "Happy Thanksgiving," apparently)

Rav user Mercourier - aka my buddy Sam, proprietress extraordinaire of The Wool Dispensary - recently made this zombie bunny who uses its snuggliness to its advantage so it may feast on your brains. 

She used the Button Bunnies pattern, The Wool Dispensary Greater Poison in a new mystery colorway for the MC and Riverpoet Fiber and Yarn in "Blood Orange Massacre" for the CC....not to mention pink safety eyes and a cool skull toggle button to great effect!

Hope you have a wonderful holiday today - and remember, tomorrow is BUY NOTHING DAY (for real).  On Saturday, be sure to support your LYS and other small businesses, tooo (such as The Wool Dispensary, or perhaps an independent designer whose blog you enjoy reading??)!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Reviews Aplenty

File under "as though my queue isn't long enough already"....I got a treasure trove of books for my birthday!  There have been some really interesting titles published this fall - many featuring my clients, which necessitates me talking A LOT about how awesome said books/patterns/yarns are.  We all know what weak sales resistance I typically have in these situations, and I've done a great job of convincing myself I need these books on my shelf...and so do you, because if I'm going down with the ship, I'll need a little company.

Here's my birthday book booty:

1. The Knitter's Life List - I actually hadn't heard of this book, so I was really delighted to start flipping through it.  While drinking tea this morning,  I learned all sorts of interesting little factoids.  It's kind of like an encyclopedia for knitters - overviews of types of fiber & yarns, interviews with influential knitterati, a comprehensive listing of every fiber show, etc. etc.  There aren't any patterns in this book, but it's so full of useful information that patterns would almost get in the way.  I'm deeming this an essential reference book for the knitter's bookshelf.

2. Knit Local - Tanis Gray's tome about American-based yarn purveyors is nothing short of amazing.  There are lots of companies you know and love - Brown Sheep, Brooklyn Tweed, and Quince & Co., for example - and several that are new to the scene and may have escaped your notice til now.  The book's introduction sets the tone and, in and of itself, has plenty of food for thought.  The remainder of the book is comprised of profiles for each yarn company grouped by region and including patterns using that company's yarn.  It's a fantastic way to get to acquainted with new yarns that come from your own backyard, which means there is an added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint (ie, not having to ship a large quantity of yarn halfway across the world) and supporting our own economy, which you don't need me to tell you needs all the help it can get.  Having attended my first TNNA in Columbus this summer, there are many familiar faces in this book (Cestari, Bijou Basin Ranch, Imperial Stock Ranch, The Fibre Company, Mountain Meadow wool) and still more that I can't wait to try! 

3.  Weekend Hats - Despite the fact that I no longer have to wait for the train on the painfully windy elevated station that is sandwiched between the Kennedy Expressway (what genius thought of that?!), I still firmly believe that I need more hand-knit hats.  When I started posting about these patterns for my various clients,  I knew immediately that this book had to be mine.  There's a hat for every persuasion designed by most of the usual suspects from the knitting world.  Beanies, cloches, berets, you name it - I defy you to pick up this book and not find at least three patterns you're dying to make.  What's on my to-do list?  I'm in love with Connie Chang Chinchio's Union Long Beanie (I love anything that gives an orphan button a good home!), Elizabeth Parker's Pebbled Beanie, Gudrun Johnston's Hued Toque, and Jared Flood's Wanderer Cap.  I'll probably also be adding the Ogee Beanie, Welted Toque, and Semolina Earflap hat to my queue.  See what I mean? 

4.  The Knitter's Book of Socks - How many sock-knitting books can you own? At last count, I had 13 sock titles on my shelf.  After this latest round of sock books came out, I found myself wondering which, if any, were worth adding to my collection.  I've picked up several new sock books and found them to be simply lovely, but not exactly earth-shattering.  I do happen to have Clara Parkes' other books (The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool), and I absolutely love them.  They're informative, interesting, and feature great patterns.  Yet still I resisted this book - it wasn't til I listened to Marly Bird's Yarn Thing podcast with Clara as the guest that I realized this was a book worth getting.  It's got more than just the usual "here's how you make a sock" sound bites - Clara goes in-depth with her explanations of achieving proper fit and making socks that withstand the test of time.  I can't recall reading anything about moisture management in any of the other books I own.  And then there are the patterns - I've already cast on for the Rocaille Socks!  There are also some fantastic designs by your favorite sock knitterati - Cookie A, Marly Bird, Anne Hanson, and Melissa Morgan-Oakes all represent.  So let's say that, out of all of the sock books that have come out this year, you can only choose one to purchase....better make sure it's this one!