Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Autumn is in full effect here in Chicago.  The leaves have turned & the air is crisp....and there are trick-or-treaters on our doorstep tonight! 

This is the first place we've ever lived where we got trick-or-treaters.  It's so fun!  I went a little nuts buying treats at Target - my favorite ones are the eyeball bubbles, but so far the kiddies seem to favor actual candy (big surprise) and stretchy skeletons.

Robin is keeping a lookout for ghosts and goblins....

...And Mr. Nubbins has donned his pirate garb.

Today was extra-awesome because I found out that I won an awesome Halloween-y tote bag from Busy Beaver Buttons today - woo hoo! 

Before I sign off, I have one more Malabrigo Stockpile FO to share  - currently blocking in the yarn room is the Metheglin Cowl in Worsted & Rios - turned out pretty well considering the bulk of the knitting was done whilst consuming many beers.  Once it's dry, I'll take some action shots to post!

In the mean time - have a safe and fun Halloween, everybody!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spotted in the wild: more whales!

I'm continually delighted with the amount of whale-themed projects popping up on Ravelry using my little whale chart.  It's always interesting to see how people use it - some take a few elements that they need while some use the entire chart, for example.  There's a good variety of projects that just look better with whales on them, other than the socks that started it all - hats, sweaters, cellphone cozies, etc.  Then we get down to yarn types and colors - and today's featured projects are a great example of the infinite possibilities of all these elements. 

yarnstormer's whale hat
I've shared this first hat with you before, but I want to post it again because a) it's super cute and b) it's a great foil to the next project I'll be sharing with you.  If you recall, yarnstormer's whale hat is a striking mix of Madeline Tosh Sock, Zitron Pro Trekking, and a few colors of The Loopy Ewe's solid series.  She's even kind enough to give you a general recipe for making your own version of this fingering-weight hat: 
CO 132 for 2x2 rib, then inc to 140 (divisible by 14, for chart purposes).

knittingmommee's w h a l e s
This worsted-weight version I came across recently (in one of my favorite yarns, Malabrigo Rios) is bright and cute - and uses buttons for whale eyes!  Knittingmommee's w h a l e s is a cute little beanie with whales floating along the brim - and lucky for you, she also shares the cliff's notes on how to get your own worsted-weight whale hat started:

Cast on 80, increased to 88 sts.

The word is getting out: birds are passé - the cool kids are putting a whale on it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fiber Fridays in Effect!

She's a Carnival
Just under the wire - I've added a few new grab bags to the mini skein shop - She's a Carnival and Red Apple Falls for your hexipuffing pleasure!  As always - free shipping to the US, fun surprises in every package, and lovely yarns from a variety of quality sources.  Thanks for looking (be sure to bookmark my mini skein shop - fresh listings weekly!)

In knitting news, I'm very close to finishing my Metheglin Cowl - a few more rounds and I'll be ready to bind off!  I think I may have skipped a few rows....I did the bulk of the work on Tuesday night, when I was knitting at the bar....and well, these things happen when I've had many beers.  Oops. 

Tyler's sweater is starting to really shape up - the sleeves are just about elbow-length now!  The rounds are coming faster, and the closer I get to the end, the more excited I get.  I'll be over the moon if this is done by the end of next weekend, but perhaps a more do-able goal is my birthday (then I can cast on a sweater for myself - what a good birthday present). 

One last note before I sign off for this week - I was really saddened to hear that Kitchen Sink Dyeworks is calling it quits.  I wish Mercedes the best in her new endeavors (which, lucky for us, will involve a greater focus on designing!), but I'm really bummed to see another cool hand-dyed yarn company go so quickly on the heels of The Sanguine Gryphon.  I highly recommend stocking up - everything's on sale in her online store.

And so it goes..

Monday, October 24, 2011

One last stockpile + Penguin Update

Since the penguins don't need my help after all, I decided to cast on for one last Malabrigo Stockpile project this weekend - the Metheglin Cowl.  I've been meaning to make this project for a while now....since June 28, 2009, if you want to be specific. Hence, I've combined my efforts to destash and dequeue with this month's Stockpile event, casting on with some yarn from my dwindling Malabrigo stash!  As you can see, those skeins of Worsted in Vaa and Rios in Solis are seemingly without end.  I like the way the two colors are playing with each other, and can't wait til I have another FO to post on the Junkies board.

Besides working on Tyler's sweater, I also finished sock #1 of the easy-but-boring Gentleman's Fancy Sock from one of my favorite sock designers, Nancy Bush.  I think they'll be great for my grandpa (they're his christmas present!) - and the aloe-and-jojoba-infused yarn from Austermann will be a treat for his feet! 

Finally, I'd like to share another FO project that's been spotted in the wild.  You may have admired the fiery red House Of Mirrors fingerless gloves knit by Ravelry user Koviljka.  Well, she's already knit a second pair - this time in a lovely shade of gold from The Wool Dispensary!You can make yourself a fancy pair, too (I promise, it's not as hard as it looks)!
Click here to purchase pattern on Ravelry. 
Not a member of Ravelry?  You can purchase this pattern using Paypal by clicking here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What a week!

First, I got the news that The Sanguine Gryphon (as we know them) will be no more.  I was really glad I was sitting down for that one, because I didn't see it coming!  It sounds like each person will be engaging in their own yarny pursuits, so it's not like they're lost and gone forever, but it's still pretty crazy news. I really enjoyed working with them when I designed the Heliotrope Stockings, so I'm hoping I'll have the opportunity to work with these fine people in some capacity.  At any rate, I wish them both the best!

Apparently, there was an oil spill in New Zealand.  Either I'm just living under a rock, or has the US media been too busy avoiding coverage on Occupy Wall Street and other various important news items?  Why does my phone's news ticker always tell me what Lindsay Lohan is doing or who got kicked off of Dancing with the Stars?  Google, you've got some s'plaining to do!

But as I was saying....there was an oil spill and now the adorable little penguins of New Zealand need our help!  A worldwide call for penguin sweaters has been issued - and I am answering the call!  I've always wanted to make a penguin sweater (don't ask me why).  I love the idea that a cute little penguin will a) be wearing a hand-knit sweater and b) be able to survive an oil spill because of something I've knit.  If you're wondering why a penguin would need a sweater, it's to keep the oil-soaked birds from preening (and poisoning) themselves, plus it and keeps them warm before and after they are cleaned by cleanup workers.  So yes, I'm casting on for a penguin sweater (perhaps a few!) and I hope you'll join me. 

Click here for a pattern and information on where to send your sweater(s).

In slightly less serious news...I've caught the mini skein mania, but not in the way you're thinking!  I've been culling my sock yarn collection to make Sock Yarn Mini Skein Grab Bags - each one is full of lovely colors of sock yarn, many that are one-of-a-kind, can't-get-anywhere-else colors from my days of dyeing yarn at Lorna's Laces!  I've become addicted to winding off these little skeins.  Destashing never felt so good...I just can't stop!   

So basically what I'm saying is...if you are of the Hexipuff persuasion, I've got what you need (and there are many more listings to come - best to just bookmark my Mini Skein shop!).  You can also send me a Ravelry PM if you'd like me to create a custom mini-skein grab bag! 

For those of you thinking to yourself, "what the what is a hexipuff?" right now, allow me to fill you in - The Beekeeper's Quilt is the latest cult pattern in the world of knitting - hexipuffers around the globe are making YouTube videos, swapping yarn, and knitting up a storm.  The mania, the addiction....the hexipuffs!  They even make great holiday decorations, if you can't commit to making an entire quilt. 
Superwash Merino Top in Festivus

I've also listed some one-of-a-kind superwash merino top in the Festivus colorway my pals and I dreamed up back in the days of Lorna's.  I dyed two for myself and the first one spun up beautifully - but I'm a little backlogged with the spinning fiber at the moment, and would rather send this bundle of awesome off to an appreciative new home.  Click here for more info!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Squishy Button Bunny in Rasta
First off, let's check in with my Malabrigo Stockpile list, shall we?

1.  Foliage Hat - Malabrigo Worsted in Vaa (to replace the one I lost a few years ago) Finished!
2.  Madison Hand Warmers - Malabrigo Worsted in Vaa (to match hat) Finished!
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!) Finished!
5.  Travel Shawl - Malabrigo Sock in Aguas In Progress
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 Finished!
7.  Textured Circle Shrug - Malabrigo Rios in Glazed Carrot

Progress on the travel shawl is slow but steady.  I'm planning on casting on for Metheglin this weekend, and I've pretty much accepted the fact that the Textured Circle Shrug will have to wait til Tyler's sweater is done. In the mean time, I did finish a squishy Rasta Button Bunny that I haven't had time to post about!  I knit the smallest size of the Button Bunny (using some leftover Oxido from Lady Nubbins) and it turned out to be a pretty good size - nice and smooshy!  

Shazam! Colorwork sock!
As far as non-Stockpile knitting projects go, I've finished the first colorwork sock and started #2.  I am in LOVE with how these are turning out.  The yarns, the colors, the pattern...everything!  This is the first pair of colorwork socks that I've knit and been able to easily get on my foot and past my ankle.  I took a few pointers from the Melissa Leapman colorwork book (such as going up a needle size) and made a conscious effort to just knit looser.  I had no idea I was such a tight knitter, but every other colorwork project I've made has been so incredibly tight and unyielding that I now know this to be true.

My easy-peasy socks are plodding along - after a trip downtown for M Burger and Guinness at Fado, I'm ready to begin the toe shaping on sock #1!  Since this is my "outside" project, I can't really say when that will actually happen....but I have plenty of time to get these done for the holidays.

And of course, Tyler's sweater is starting to take shape.  I'm not terribly far into the sleeves, but it's starting to move faster and I'm still really thrilled with the only-slightly-awkward 2-at-a-time sleeve setup I've got going on.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crazy or Brilliant? You Decide

Can you tell what's going on here? 
(The important thing is that I can!)
Sleeves two-at-a-time just makes sense.  No second sleeve syndrome, no sleeve length discrepancies or misplaced rows of shaping....I've often knit my sleeves at the same time for these reasons, both working flat and in-the-round as they case may be.  However, I've never knit them while attached to the sweater they belong to - because that is madness, right?

Perhaps I'm just masochistic, but I thought I'd give it a try - naturally, this necessitated having to place a Knit Picks order when I realized I didn't have a long enough cable in my interchangeable needle set...these are the kinds of sacrifices that must be made sometimes (and if the limited-edition Sugarbunny just happens to find its way into your cart, too...more on that later!).

Ok, so the cable finally arrives and it's time to put my hare-brained scheme into action.  My strategy?  Putting each ball of yarn inside the sleeve it belongs to - this was suggested to me by my pal Sam (of The Wool Dispensary fame) when I first started pondering this experiment. 

It's actually working, too - the only real problem is that the project has decidedly become a stay-at-home project, since you have to wrangle a full sweater and try not to let the working yarn from each sleeve fall out of it while you do so....but it's still better than having to deal with second sleeve sweater.  I'm kind of sold on this concept - I may even revisit this madness for future sweaters. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bonfire Fingerless Gloves

There's a long story about this pattern*, as they were designed some time ago, but haven't been available to the general knitting public until now!  If you're looking for the perfect mitts to usher crisp autumn nights, look no further.  These long fingerless gloves are perfect for sipping cocoa and roasting marshmallows around a bonfire! The Bonfire Fingerless Gloves were designed with variegated hand-dyed yarns in mind - a perfect project for your favorite indie yarns.

They feature an eyelet-and-cable panel on the top of the gloves (the rest is knit in stockinette) that plays well with multi-colored yarns, but would also look great in shaded solids. The cables resemble little leaves or flames, hence the name.  I've also given this pattern an upgrade by adding an easy-to-follow chart. 

The yarn used in the model is from Coulrophobia's etsy shop - I'm not sure if this colorway is available any more, but there are some really fantastic colors in her store that are worth checking out. 

The Bonfire Fingerless Gloves are available as a PDF download in my Ravelry shop for $6. 

Thanks for your support! 

*These gloves were originally released as part of seasonal kit club, but unfortunately the project was poorly managed, schottily executed and ended up imploding on itself, leaving all involved parties with a bad taste in their mouth....especially the indie dyers and designers who ended up getting screwed over when it came to the financial side of the agreement.  Unfortunately, this type of thing is still a little too common in the knitting world (just look at all the current hoopla surrounding the non-payment of scores of designers by Knit Magazine, aka Yarn Forward).  Live and learn, I guess - at least the design rights have finally reverted back to me so that I can give this pattern a proper release!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Kismet of Giveaways

Malabrigo Stockpile presses on!  Since my last update, I've cast on for a Button Bunny in Rasta and made some progress on my Travel Shawl.  My non-stockpile sock projects are inching forward, too - last night I started the toe decreases for colorwork sock #1!

I've also completed one more project from my Stockpile list - the Robin's Egg Blue hat!  This fun little hat knit up super fast - two days, in fact! I think I spent more time agonizing over which button to use from my stash.  This is my absolute favorite Malabrigo colorway (charrua) and I can't wait to wear this hat over the winter!

I also want to revisit the recently-completed Madison Mitts - this pattern just happens to be by none other than Alysson from The Sweatshop of Love, and it truly is total dumb luck that my knitting this pattern and her hosting a Mr. Nubbins giveaway on her blog just happened to occur at the same time.  I promise, we didn't plan it this way, but it's great because I actually won her entire Hello Winter! e-book last January by entering a giveaway on her blog....we've come full circle!  I'm really excited to be able to pay it all forward - I remember how thrilled I was to have won some cool free patterns.

Back then, I was still slogging away at the salon, with only my smartphone and some knitting to keep me company.  The thing that sucks the most about working in the beauty industry is that you don't get paid if you don't have clients (and quite often, if you have clients and they don't show up - booo!).  You have to be at work, but all you can do is wait and hope....and enter contests, apparently.  So even though I had a lackluster day at work wherein I didn't make much money, I at least had something to show for my efforts!  

There's still time to enter the Mr. Nubbins giveaway, incidentally.  Sidle on over to The Sweatshop Of Love blog to leave your comment, then cross your fingers and hope that the Random Number Generator will pick you as our lucky winner!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Holiday Gift Blitz: Mr. Nubbins!

Mr. Nubbins wants to give you a hug.
It's time to start thinking about your holiday gift knitting.  I know, I know....we still haven't celebrated Halloween!  It's too soon!  Well, there's already holiday decorations at Target.  Christmas/hanukkah/kwanzaa/festivus is coming.  We can't ignore it anymore.

I've teamed up with my pal Alysson from the Sweatshop of Love to make your holiday gifting a little bit easier this year - we're giving away a FREE Mr. Nubbins pattern to one lucky crafter - just hop over to her blog for details on how to enter! If you aren't familiar with the Sweatshop of Love, you're in for a treat.  Alysson is a passionate crafter, an enthusiastic (and patient!) teacher, and a great designer, too!  Be sure to check out Holla Knits, her new e-mag that's full of fun & fashionable knits. 

So what else will I be doing to make your holidays cheerier?
  • Button Bunny Kits - I'm teaming up once more with the lovely ladies of The Wool Dispensary to give you everything you need to make some cuddly creatures of your own! 
  • Mustachio Nosewarmer Kits - what do you get someone who has it all?  I can help you answer this stumper....the odds are quite good that they don't have a mustachio nosewarmer.  Knit it for them, or give it to them and let them do all the work.  Mustachio nosewarmer kits are coming - and you may want to check back later this month for a giveaway! 
  • Sock Yarn Mini Skeins - Hexipuffers, mitered square enthusiasts....whatever your fancy, you're in for a treat.  I'm opening up my extensive sock yarn stash to create special grab bags of high-quality sock yarn mini skeins.  In the 4 years of dyeing yarn for Lorna's Laces, I've accumulated quite a bit of fancy stash!  Many of my Shepherd Sock colors are one-of-a-kinds that I dyed for myself (and I still have some limited-edition Vampire Tea Party from the inaugural Sock Summit!).  I've also got a nice selection of indie dyers as well as other brands such as Araucania, Brown Sheep, Crystal Palace, and Zauberball, to name a few!  I'm in the process of skeining, weighing, and properly labeling everything - updates to follow on this here bloggity blog!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Starting Stockpile out Right!

Foliage Hat:
I have the worst poker face.
One week down, three to go! Malabrigo Stockpile is off to a great start - I've already completed two projects and cast on for two more!  My non-stockpile projects aren't feeling terribly neglected, either (well, I still need to start the sleeves for Tyler's sweater, but I'm pretty sure that will happen sometime this week, if not this weekend).   Here's the lowdown:

1.  Foliage Hat - Malabrigo Worsted in Vaa (to replace the one I lost a few years ago) Finished!
2.  Madison Hand Warmers - Malabrigo Worsted in Vaa (to match hat) Finished!
3.  Metheglin Cowl - Malabrigo Rios in Solis and whatever odds and sods I have sitting around in Worsted, Twist or Rios!
Madison Mitts at twilight.
4.  Robin's Egg Blue Hat - Malabrigo Chunky in Charrua (my favorite color!) In Progress
5.  Travel Shawl - Malabrigo Sock in Aguas In Progress
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

Above: Travel Shawl
Below: Vintage Socks Redux

So what other projects are on the needles?  I've still got three - THREE! - socks going.  I know, I know - I think it's ridiculous, too.  I have a simple sock that is my "train knitting" (now that the car's fixed, it will become my "conversation" project when knitting in public....assuming I leave the house in the foreseeable future ).   It uses the free yarn from Stitches and a pattern from Nancy Bush's Vintage Sock book, one of my favorites (I've actually knit this pattern before, too!). 

I'm also knitting a pair of Huron Mountain socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road - one of the first sock books I ever got (also my go-to book when it comes to socks)!  I'm knitting mine with some gray Scholler + Stahl Fortissima Sock that I got in a swap many, many moons ago (my swapping days have long since passed) and what's left of a very generous skein of The Wool Dispensary's Useful Stimulant  superwash BFL in Circus Popcorn.  I LOVE the way these are knitting up! 

Finally, I'm preparing to cast on for sock #2 of my test knit for Two Sticks and Sheep's Fireworks and Folly e-book (which is part of the Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project!).  The first one knit up super quick and look how cute it is!  I don't knit many toe-up socks, so it's fun to get out of my usual norm with this one.  The pattern for these socks will be available soon on Ravelry, and Amy Duncan (the designer) has given me her blessing to post spoiler photos on this blog. Enjoy!

Sock Spoiler Alert!
Meanwhile, I'm definitely starting to feel a little bit of panic as I think about my holiday gift knitting - there are still a few more projects that need to get done (or closer to done) before I'll be able to relax.  I'm sure it's all doable in the 2+ months that remain, but I don't like to sweat it....and I'm definitely starting to feel a few beads of perspiration! Perhaps I'm also feeling the crunch because I want to release 1-2 more patterns this calendar year.  A little too ambitious?  Probably.  But if you saw my design queue, you'd understand!

P.S. Don't forget!  ALL of the patterns in my Ravelry Shop are 25% off til Oct. 31st when you enter "Stockpile2011" at check-out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spotted in the Wild: Gifts to knit for a friend (or maybe yourself!)

Here's the latest crop of FO's from Ravelry users around the globe! 

Clockwise, from top left:

1. This cute version of my Kitchy Pleated Bag was knit by Rav user Spyoung.  She added an extra round of increases (and subsequently, an additional round of decreases) to make it even more puckered.  Cute and roomy - makes a great project bag or fun little tote for the bag addict in your life.

2. Lacy Summer Socks by Rav user birgit - these socks are a quick knit and a great way to use up 220-yard skeins of sock yarn! 

3.  Stuffed Ostrich the first - two have been added to the herd recently (do ostriches run in herds?  I have no idea).  Rav user Shinanigans says Mallie the Ostrich was a quick-knitting, unique gift!

4.  This smartphone cozy by Rav user annelive uses my whale chart - a fun way to protect your fancy phone with the magical powers of the whale!

5.  House of Mirrors fingerless gloves - this is the first official FO (other than my own, of course) on Ravelry!  Koviljka knit this pair super fast in a pretty red yarn.  You can really wow someone with this complicated twisted-stitch cable pattern that I promise isn't as complicated as it looks.  Really! 

6.  Stuffed Ostrich the second -  this cute fella was made by Rav user Elizza using Malabrigo worsted in Bobby Blue and what has to be the best-named yarn that ever lived for the contrast color:  Schmutzerella Yarns Sweet! in Mine is an Evil Laugh.