Friday, September 30, 2011

Objective: Malabrigo Stockpile

Hooray!  Sad Sack September is almost over!  I can't think of a better way of celebrating than caving in to my startitis and casting on for lots of small (and not-so-small) projects using yarn I shopped from my stash.  That might be the silver lining to this whole dead car debaucle/smashed laptop screen ridiculousness - rediscovering the joy of shopping my own stash!  I have some amazing yarns that need to see the light of day, beginning with my mmmmmmmMalabrigo.

A month's worth of knitting?
So here's my list of projects I'd like to complete for this month's Malabrigo Stockpile event - ALL of the yarn is from my stash.  It's an ambitious list, for sure, but I'll be happy if I complete only half of this list! 

1.  Foliage Hat - Malabrigo Worsted in Vaa (to replace the one I lost a few years ago)
2.  Madison Hand Warmers - Malabrigo Worsted in Vaa (to match hat)
3.  Metheglin Cowl - Malabrigo Rios in Solis and whatever odds and sods I have sitting around in Worsted, Twist or Rios!
4.  Robin's Egg Blue Hat - Malabrigo Chunky in Charrua (my favorite color!)
5.  Travel Shawl - Malabrigo Sock in Aguas
6.  Button Bunnies - a ginormous version in Malabrigo Rasta - I have a full skein of Soriano, a half-skein of  Oxido, and a tiny bit left of Zarzamora
7.  Textured Circle Shrug - Malabrigo Rios in Glazed Carrot

(And while we're on the subject, I should probably also mention that, from now 'til October 31, I'm offering 25% off all patterns in my Ravelry shop if you enter "Stockpile2011" at checkout!  Now go forth and destash...or stockpile, if you prefer to go that route!)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What I've Been Doing, Part 2

Dead Laptop Screen
My last update was apparently truncated by Blogger.  Or it might have been the antiquated G4 I've been using this week since I smashed the screen of the 'good' laptop Monday afternoon (It's being fixed, but can't get back home soon enough!)...who can say.  The great thing about this resurrected dinosaur of a laptop is that we've sort of opened a time capsule - all of our favorite websites from four or five years ago!  Photos we forgot we had!  Silly MP3's we never bothered to put on the new computer's iTunes! 

The not-so-great thing, of course, is that the computer is slow as hell, and most of the websites I need to do my job well either don't work at all (this thing doesn't even have OS 10) or are so slow I can make myself lunch while they load.  It's better than nothing, though, and I've been able to find some apps for my Android to help fill in the spaces and cobble together some semblance of a work-week. 

So what else have I been up to that Blogger apparently doesn't want you to know about? 

Let's call it done.
Just yesterday, I bound off for the body of Tyler's sweater - here he is modeling it!  I just need to knit the sleeves and he'll be ready for winter.  I'm going to be bold (or crazy or stupid - I can't decide really) and attempt to do them two-at-a-time.  I've done that many times before for sleeves, but they've never been attached to a big ol sweater.  It's either brilliant or a huge disaster, I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

I also dusted off the ol' spinning wheel - I have two projects that have been sitting around, waiting to be plied for the last 4 months to a year.  You know it's bad when you're bumbling around, trying to remember how to set everything up!  However, I plied both of them and they are so beautiful I want to knit with them immediately.  It's also renewed my interest in spinning, and I had a great time digging through my fiber  stash - I have some really cool stuff that I completely forgot about!  Some mystery fiber I dyed when I was still working at Lorna's Laces....unbelievably soft merino/silk in a lovely natural tan color....some black alpaca fiber I bought at Stitches 3 years ago...1 handpainted Falkland braid and 1 BFL braid I bought at YarnCon last year....yeah, I really need to get back to spinning.  It's almost criminal.

I also have three socks going...yes, three.  I'm working on the colorwork socks I'd posted about earlier, but needed something to knit on the bus, so I started some ribby socks from Nancy Bush's Vintage Sock book with the yarn I got for free at Stitches.  I wasn't super excited about the socks initially - I knit a pair a few years ago, and they were really nice, but I don't tend to knit the same pattern over and over again.  Anyway, I wasn't particularly jazzed until I realized the pattern was changing with each color change!
Total dumb luck, of course! Sock # 3 is an emergency test knit for a pal's soon-to-be-released sock pattern.

Finally admitting defeat, I frogged my Koukla Cardigan.  There's nothing wrong with the pattern - the instructions (what I knit of them) were easy to follow and made sense.  It's a great sweater, too...but for some reason I just wasn't excited about knitting with it, and it's sat at the bottom of my project bin all summer long.  I found a different sweater pattern to try once I finish Tyler's - here's hoping I actually finish this one!  I also finished a project that's been on the needles since April.  I can't give any details because it's a gift, but it turned out much better than I could have ever hoped for! 

That should pretty much bring us up to date.  *crosses fingers that this post doesn't get mysteriously deleted once I hit 'publish'*

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Patterns + A Coupon!

House of Mirrors Fingerless Gloves and Tightrope Socks are now available to purchase in my Ravelry Shop!
Along with the Button Bunnies, these patterns both use the fabulous yarns from The Wool Dispensary, who made their debut at YarnCon last weekend!  From now until Oct. 31,  enter "IheartTWD" at checkout to get 20% off any or all of these patterns.  Then be sure to stock up on pretty yarns from The Wool Dispensary's Online Shop!


House of Mirrors - Twisted-stitch cabled fingerless gloves using Useful Restorative (sport-weight) from The Wool Dispensary


Tightrope Socks - Smocked, ribbed top-down socks using Useful Stimulant (fingering-weight) from The Wool Dispensary

Bree and Sam had a fantastic debut at YarnCon.  For those of you who bought yarn and patterns at the show, thank you so much for supporting two awesome, talented ladies!  Be sure to check their website to see the next wave of awesomeness to emerge from the dye pots!

A post that's NOT about YarnCon

I know, I know...every post in the last month has mentioned [event name redacted] in some way.   It was like Christmas for us Chicago yarnies - eager anticipation, counting down the days, and then it's over way too fast and you have to wait til next year.  Life after [oops, almost said it]:  we must move forward, not back.

I suppose I should fill you in on all the other stuff I've been doing besides the three new designs that debuted this weekend. To be honest, I'm not sure where I've found the time to do all this - releasing three patterns in the same month is a doozy! - but I've managed to cram in lots of other fibery activities that haven't found their way onto this blog.  Here's a summary of things I may have forgotten to mention: 

Dead Fish Hat!  My nephew turned 7 this month, and what better gift for the silliest second-grader I know than Thelma Egberts' Fish Hat: Dead or Alive?.  Clearly, it was the right choice...and because it's so stretchy (I was wearing it around the house before sending it away!), he'll never outgrow it...well, at least in terms of size!  I used Malabrigo Rios in Solis, two colors of Spud and Chloe Sweater and a little bit of Berroco Vintage for the eyes - all machine-washable yarns, which I know my sister will appreciate. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

YarnCon Recap

Swimming in candy.
Since Mr. Nubbins didn't get to go to Renegade or Stitches this year, I thought I should finally humor him and let him hitch a ride to YarnCon in my Wool Dispensary project bag.  Mr. Nubbins made a lot of friends on Saturday - he even spent some time hanging out in the candy bowl at the Windy City Knitting Guild table.  I managed to catch him before he ate all of the lollipops, fortunately.

Sam is the yarn dyer!
(Side note: I joined the WCKG at the beginning of the year but have yet to make it to a meeting - something always gets in the way!  Before it used to be work or a show, now it's stupid things like me forgetting because I was on a bus that got hit by a car - which actually happened last Tuesday!  The funny thing about that was, I was marooned fairly close to where the meeting was taking place, but because of my extreme annoyance at the situation, all thoughts of the meeting went out of my head as I concentrated on my Plan B for Getting Home. Anyway, it was nice to finally meet all of the Guilders at YarnCon!)

I'm so pleased to say that The Wool Dispensary was a hit at YarnCon.  I've been rooting for Bree and Sam these many months as they prepare for their first official foray into fiberdom.  Their booth was quite popular throughout the day, and I'm excited to see what everyone starts knitting with their yarns!

Sam & Bree = The Wool Dispensary
Copyright All rights reserved by Sarah Morton
I also made sure to stop by The Sweatshop of Love booth - it's always nice to run into Alysson!  She had some supercute kits (I'm partial to the Hello Sailor Knot Necklace) and was teaching as well (you can sign up for classes here - she's an excellent teacher!).  Alysson is now officially a Friend 'o' Nubbins....and we might have hatched a plan or two while chatting at the show.  More on that at a later date!

Button Bunnies!
CopyrightAll rights reserved by Sarah Morton
Besides The Wool Dispensary, which goes without saying that they were my #1 favorite yarn (except I just said it....oops), I fell in love with some of the gorgeous colorways from Grinning Gargoyle, Fleur de Fiber, and Another Crafty GirlHappy Fuzzy Yarn also had some nice yarns (and spinning fiber), and I really liked the Evermore Studios booth, both in terms of their neatly-organized display and the pretty yarns they had on sale! 

Tightrope Socks & TWD Posters
Copyright All rights reserved by Sarah Morton
So what did I buy at YarnCon?  Nothing.  Yes, nothing.  Don't get me wrong - I wanted to buy a ton of stuff - so many beautiful yarns and project bags and stitchmarkers and other doodads....but my monthly budget has been blown by this whole car nonsense, and for once in my life I thought I'd practice a little self-restraint (and do myself a favor in the proverbial long run).  So I took mental notes and collected business cards and plan to visit a few peoples' booths who will be at the upcoming DIY Trunk Show

Postscript:  If you'd like to be a friend of Mr. Nubbins, just enter "FriendONubbins" at checkout to receive $2 off your purchase of this pattern! Then be sure to share your newest trouble-making addition to the Mr. Nubbins Army here!

Also, a huge thank-you to Sarah Morton for letting me use some of her awesome photos! You can view all of her photos of The Wool Dispensary @ YarnCon here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

YarnCon 2011 or Bust!

I couldn't be more excited for YarnCon this year!  Having lived in Chicago for going on 6 years now, you'd think I'd be more blase about this celebration of local-ish fibery goodness.  This is only my second year attending YarnCon, however - now that I am free from the service industry shackles AND live much closer to where YarnCon is being held, I've been counting down the weeks, days, hours, minutes, get the idea.  I'm excited.

It sounds like this year's lineup will be stellar - Fleur de Fiber, Grinning Gargoyle & The Sweatshop of Love are all on my hit list.  I'm intrigued by some of the other exhibitors, such as Arrow in Her Quiver and Liz Abinante of, too

Nearest and dearest to my heart, however, is the official launch of The Wool Dispensary at YarnCon.  Bree & Sam, the brain trust behind The Wool Dispensary, are addicted knitters-turned-purveyors of beautiful hand-dyed yarn.  You'll definitely want to check out their website for more information about their yarns, especially if you can't make it on Saturday. 

I'm releasing three - yes, three! - patterns in Wool Dispensary Yarns this week to help kick things off, two of which are part of their inaugural pattern collection, which is circus-themed!  Curious?  Get the full story on The Wool Dispensary Blog!

If socks are your thing, these simple smocked socks (say that five times fast) will be at the top of your queue.  The Tightrope Socks are kinda like their namesake - while it's best to clear your mind and don't look down!, you still need to pay attention!  Which is to say, when I found myself being lulled by the peacefulness of 2x2 ribbing, I'd occasionally wake up to find I'd forgotten a round of smocking and have to rip back. Beginner and experienced sock knitters alike will be walking the fine line between easy-peasy and pay-attention with this project! 

Pattern: Tightrope Socks by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter
Yarn: 1 skein Useful Stimulant in Circus Popcorn (100% superwash BFL fingering-weight yarn; 438 yards / 400 meters per skein) 
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Perhaps you prefer something to keep your hands warm?  The House of Mirrors Fingerless Gloves have a twisted-stitch panel amidst a sea of stockinette.  Like many things you'll see at the circus, these mitts are not what they seem!  Sure, the cables look intricate, but I actually found this project to be faster and easier to knit than the socks (figure that!).  You'll have to pay attention as you work from a non-repeating chart, but once you leave the house of mirrors, the results will be worth it. 

 Pattern:  House of Mirrors Fingerless Gloves by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter
Yarn: 1 skein Useful Restorative in Sword Swallower (100% superwash merino sport weight yarn; 274 yards / 250 meters per skein)
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What's better than winning a giant teddy bear at the ring toss?  This trio of chubby bunnies, obviously! These mischief-makers knit up fast, making them perfect for gift-giving and general cuteness!  You can knit all three sizes of these Button Bunnies using 1 skein of yarn, and you just need a small amount of a contrasting color for the pockets!  Best of all, if you have some fun buttons lying around that don't have a mate, this is the perfect project (see also: what can you do with just one button?).  They will disarm you with their cuteness and steal your cotton candy....don't say I didn't warn you.

Pattern:  Button Bunnies by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter
Yarn:  MC - 1 skein Greater Poison in Mabel Stark (100% superwash merino worsted weight yarn; 180 yards / 165 meters per skein); CC - small amount of Greater Poison in Cirque Plum.
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Editor's note:  The Tightrope Socks and House of Mirrors will be available as Ravelry downloads as soon as possible - The Wool Dispensary Ravelry Shop is very nearly up and running!  I don't typically like to post new patterns unless they are available for immediate purchase, but I'm just too excited for these three new designs that will be debuting tomorrow at YarnCon! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exciting Things are Afoot


The day I've had circled on my calendar is almost here - YarnCon is this Saturday! I've got three new patterns releasing in conjunction with the blessed event - and while I don't want to spoil the surprise just yet, I can show you a few sneak peeks (be sure to check back this Friday, when all will be revealed!):

I grabbed coffee with my pal Sam from The Wool Dispensary last week, and received my Kickstarter rewards - an awesome limited-edition poster print and official Wool Dispensary project bag! If you missed out on funding their launch via Kickstarter (and reaping such rewards as have been bestowed on yours truly), I'm told they'll have project bags and posters for sale at YarnCon ($3.50 and $10, respectively).
 So wait - what's that on the needles?  Just a little colorwork sock featuring the leftover skein of Useful Stimulant in Circus Popcorn, that's what!  The main color is some Fortissima Socka I got in a swap (which means it's been in my stash for at least 3 years - maybe longer!  I quit swapping eons ago when I realized I could take the money I spent on postage and goodies and spend it on buying myself something pretty).  I love the way the vibrant yellow of Circus Popcorn looks with the dark, slightly-heathered grey! 
My favorite feature of the project bag is the side pockets - perfect for notions, pens....or adorable hitch-hikers.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Renegade Craft Fair Recap

I've been remiss in posting about Renegade Craft Fair last weekend.  All of the car nonsense kind of distracted me last week - but it's time to return to my regularly scheduled blogging.

I'm sure it's no surprise to learn that I had a modest budget for Renegade this year, but I think I made my dollars count.  As always, there were lots of cool things I'd like to have purchased - lovely-smelling soaps, nifty ceramics, and some really cool terrariums (there were two vendors of terrariums this year - and very few items with birds on them, now that I think of it.  Way to go, Portlandia!). 

Everything I purchased fit perfectly in this wee canvas tote bag, which I bought from Alysson at The Sweatshop of Love.  Her mom hand-stamps them, and it's absolutely perfect for taking a sock project on-the-go....which brings us to item #2:  my annual Rhino Fluff purchase!

Last year, you may recall the amazing blue skein of silky sock yarn I purchased from Rhino Fluff.  This past May, that skein of yarn became a Pogona Shawl - the perfect project to show off the lovely hand-dyed variation in the skein (which reminds me...I need to take some better photos of said shawl!)

I was psyched when I saw the Rhino Fluff booth, even though I knew it would be bad news for my budget!  When I spied this rich tobacco-colored skein of yarn, there was no way I could talk myself out of buying it.  I'm weak-willed when it comes to yarn - especially if it's superwash sock.  I have no idea what this yarn wants to be (YET!), but I'm certain I won't wait so long before I knit it this time around.

Finally, my search for the perfect birthday present for my Dad ended: once I saw this Chicago Dog T-shirt, I knew I'd found what I'd been looking for.   Every time my parents come to visit, we make sure to grab a hot dog somewhere.  The first year they came up to Chicago, we spent half a day taking mass transit to Superdawg (and it was worth it!).  The last time they visited, we went to a place over in Lincoln Park whose name escapes me (not Wiener's Circle).  This year?  We'll be in line at Hot Doug's at 10 AM on a Saturday morning (I haven't informed them of this yet, but it's gonna happen!).

Besides Renegade and The Great Car Debacle, last weekend was also filled with tasty food and beer.  We headed to the German American Festival in Lincoln Square on Saturday afternoon for litres of beer - the best way I know to welcome autumn.  On Sunday, we headed to the farmer's market by our house to get delicious crepes for breakfast and some fresh veggies for dinner.  I still haven't gotten over the novelty of having weekends off again - I'm sold on the concept!  Tyler is enjoying having the occasional weekend day off himself - his new work schedule has been giving him Sundays off lately, and we find it to be quite agreeable!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Free patterns? Yes, please.

Mystery Toy!
I have two more patterns slated to be self-released this year - Pattern A is a super-cute toy pattern that will be coming out next week just in time for Yarn Con, and Pattern B is a sport-weight sock that will be out by December (year end at the latest!).  I'd like to offer one of these patterns for FREE to anyone who purchases 2 (or more) patterns from my Ravelry shop between now and the end of September.  Here's the deal:

1.  Purchase any 2 patterns from my Ravelry shop.  
2.  Forward your invoice to the e-mail address provided on said invoice with a note telling me which pattern you'd prefer - "new toy" or "new sock" should sufffice!
3.  When the pattern you requested comes out, I will send you a link for your free download!  It's as simple as that!  

Where is all this coming from, other than the goodness of my heart, you ask?   You can thank our sad, dead car.  We've been unable to drive it for some weeks now due to the brakes needing some attention.  We were finally going to take it in to get looked at, then last Friday night, we discovered that the car was missing.  That's right!  It wasn't where we left it - and we really couldn't imagine who would want to steal a '96 Saturn with negligible brakes.

Did you know that there's a website where you can check to see if (and where) your car has been towed or impounded?  I did, and since that seemed much more plausible than someone stealing it, we checked it to make sure it wasn't being held for ransom by the city.  Nope, nada!  The mystery thickens.  A call to 311 connected us with the police non-emergency, and we ended up reporting the car stolen (oh, and we also realized that we hadn't written the plates down anywhere.  How embarrassing is it to call the cops to report your car stolen and admit you don't know the plates?!).

This sign would have been more helpful if they had
actually posted it beforehand.
On Saturday, we decided to walk around and see if we could find the car - if some weirdo did, in fact, steal it, they didn't get far!  Tyler ended up hopping on his bike for a portion of this reconnaissance mission, and successfully located the car.  Apparently the Department of Forestry had towed our car a few blocks away - we only knew this because they put a sign under our windshield wipers.

Why did they do this?  Apparently it was imperative they to trim a tree that was 40 feet in front of where we parked - and the fire hydrant/no parking zone directly in front of our parked car wasn't enough room for them to accomplish this.  There wasn't any sign to notify us before-hand (I'd gotten in the habit of checking on the car frequently for just such a reason, and I'm pretty sure I would have noticed a HUGE ORANGE SIGN if it had been posted), which I guess is why they didn't ticket us or impound the car.  I suppose towing it two blocks away and hoping we'd find it eventually is the best thing that could have happened in such a situation, but it's also extremely weird.

Of course, we get in the car to move it and it's completely dead.  The downside to not being able to drive your car is that the battery, most likely, will die on you.  In hindsight, I probably should have fired up the car every now and again and spent a few minutes sitting in it with the engine running.  That's just so umpleasant to do in the summertime when it's 90 degrees out and you have leather interior...excuses, excuses.

So, in summary:  Brakes dead.  Battery dead.  Need money!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

For the love of Hiya-Hiya

First, the disclaimer: I wasn't solicited or paid to write this entry - I just really like Hiya-Hiya needles.  When I was at the TNNA show in Columbus last June, I did get a free pair of #2 circs from the nice people in the Hiya-Hiya booth, however - otherwise, I just want to share the love!

I've been using Hiya-Hiyas for years - when I worked at Lorna's, we frequently would pool our collective resources to order a big, magical box of needles.  That was when I first got hooked on them - for one thing, you can't beat the price.  And for the money, they perform well - to be honest, I like them better than a lot of those "expensive" brands.  Not only that, but each package of needles usually comes with a prize - a darning needle, a stitch marker, a blocking pin.  It's sort of like Cracker Jack, but with knitting needles!

Yes, it's nice to splurge now and again - and some splurges are worth it! - but it's also great to have affordable basics that never let you down.  If I didn't already have a set of interchangeables that I'm happy with (I have the Knit Picks Options set), I'd be all over these cute new needle sets Hiya-Hiya just came out with. 

It's nice to know that you don't have to part with too much of your hard-earned cash just to get quality crafting supplies - leaving more room in the budget for yarn!  Who can't get behind that?!

(That's especially great news for me - Yarn Con is just around the corner!)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Earth & Sky KAL: FO Photos and a Happy Dance

At last, FO photos of my Earth & Sky KAL project!  It didn't take too terribly long to weave in all the ends - I did most of them each time I finished a clue, as suggested in the pattern.  No matter the project (but especially where intarsia is concerned), weaving in the ends as you go is always a good time-saver.  I couldn't be more pleased with how my first-ever intarsia project turned out, and I really like the color placement.  I'm also happy to report that the silver-colored yarn that I mentioned was a little on the scratchy side has softened up considerably since blocking.

As you can see, I love my new shawl!  Bonus points to Tyler for capturing The Happy Shawl Dance.  That's something the world really needed to see. 

Now for the bad news:  while I successfully used up every scrap of navy blue sock yarn in my stash,  I barely made a dent in the other skeins!  I suppose there are worse things - I can probably have enough left over to make socks for myself - but I was really excited to destash!  Back into the sock bin these barely-used skeins of yarn go....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Picture Show

Some friends and I went to the Walworth County Fair yesterday - I spent lots of time petting sheep and goats, but there was also a considerable amount of fried food consumed.  Here are the highlights - you can view the entire album here

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Did I forget to mention?

You can voice your enjoyment,  love or complete befuddlement for any of my blog posts with one click of a button!  Look for these new reaction buttons at the end of each entry!  They're similar to the ones in the Ravelry forums, minus the option to be a phantom disagreer - you'll just have to own your 'disagree' through actual commenting!