Friday, July 27, 2012

Dueling Shawls

Warning: there are WestKnits Mystery KAL spoiler photos in this post!!
Last Sunday, I was determined to finish the short-row section on my Color Affection. It took the better part of the afternoon, but I did it! I am now working through the final rows of the edging...and it's taking forever, not surprisingly. I am determined to get this off my needles before the month is out so I can spend August making a birthday present for my nephew and finishing both socks I have in progress (and maybe, just maybe, finish the designs I've been ignoring for several months, too). It's definitely at its least photogenic stage, and it appears as though I may have gotten carried away and did some additional increases. The only way to know for sure is to finish it!
Color Affection: Getting close!
Meanwhile, the WestKnits Mystery Shawl rolls on. I finished Clue #2 last night, just in time for Clue #3 to hit my inbox today. I have a hard time imagining where we'll go from here, and unfortunately, the needles I'm using aren't quite long enough to give you the full effect:
Mystery Shawl: Halfway through Clue #2
What you can't see in the above photo is the nightmare of ends lurking behind all of the pretty intarsia. I think I'll try to tame them this weekend before I get too far along on Clue 3:
I am really happy with my color and yarn choices, and I think the pattern is interesting, even if it's not something I would have gravitated to on my own. However it turns out, I'm sure it will come in handy once winter rolls around!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tour De Fleece: Fin

Um, where did July go?! The Tour de Fleece ended this past Sunday, and I can't even claim to have been an active participant, except for the fact that I did spin nearly every day...if even for just five minutes. I wish I'd had more time to see what others were doing and be a little more involved, but it's just been a crazy summer. I've checked in here and there, but mostly I've just been lone wolf-ing it.

To recap, here are my modest accomplishments from this year's Tour de Fleece:
  • Louet Camel/Silk top:  finished spinning up the singles and plied them together (photo here)
  • Rhinofluff Handpainted BFL top in Barn Owl: Spun into a single to be plied with something else (photo here)
  • Spunky Eclectic Dark BFL top: Single is in-progress on my wheel still  (see below!); will most likely be plied with the Barn Owl BFL
The real test will be if I continue my daily spinning and actually work through the giant fiber bin I've been accruing for quite some time!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Celtic Cables Blog Tour!

I'm psyched to be a stop along the Celtic Cables Blog Tour to promote Carol Feller's exciting new Craftsy class, Celtic Cables! As you can see below, it's starts today, so be sure to check out all of the stops along the way (there is apparently a super-secret stop not listed below, I guess we'll all find out about it together)!

July 23 - Heatherly Walker,
July 25 - Miso Crafty Knits
July 28 - Ursa Hawthorne, The Pagan Knitter Podcast
August 1 - Anniken Allis
August 3 - Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts
August 5 - Yours Truly
August 7 - Romi
August 9 - A Good Yarn Sarasota
August 11 - The Sexy Knitter

I'll be sharing everyone's posts on the HBS Facebook page & my Twitter feed as they happen. Don't miss my own post on August 5th, where I'll share an interview with Carol, a brief class review AND a signup link giving you a significant enrollment discount...what's not to love?!

Finally, I have a few exciting announcements that I can't wait any longer to share: first, my long-time readers have probably noticed the new banner I debuted this weekend. I've been busy!  I also gave my Patterns page a major overhaul & update, which it really needed. Finally (and this is what I'm most excited about, I think), I am starting a monthly Handmade by Stefanie newsletter.   I hope you'll sign up!  It'll be short, sweet, and always fun - plus I'll have special discounts and other goodies just for subscribers.  That's how I roll! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Entrelac Cowl is finished!

Just a short post on this FO Friday - last weekend, I finished my Entrelac Cowl!  There were lots of ends to weave in (you break the yarn with every tier), but Gwen had a really clever time-saving finishing tip at the end of the final cowl lesson.  I opted to block my finished project, but have yet to take some photos of myself modeling it, since it's been over 90 degrees every day this week.  I'm longing for the days when I can wear a cowl out-of-doors!

Yarns: The Sanguine Gryphon Codex in Le Petit Prince, The Fibre Company Acadia in Asparagus and Blue Heron

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The WIP Report

Warning: there is a WestKnits Mystery KAL spoiler photo in this post!! 

Startitis has hit me hard this summer. I know a lot of people quit knitting once the thermometer starts to rise, but I'm just the opposite: I grab a beer and some yarn so I can hide in the air conditioning til cooler temperatures prevail. My line of work is perennially enabling my yarn-buying, pattern-queueing, casting-on habit, and right now it seems to keep getting worse as the summer progresses...not that I'm complaining.  Far from it!

Last month, I indulged in some retail therapy by purchasing enough Canopy Fingering to make a Color Affection shawl. I've been making regular (yet slow) progress, but am nearly done with the short row section:
The short rows are getting longer!
I'm using Manatee, Conifer and three favorite colors! I can't wait for this shawl to be done - I'm already envisioning myself wrapping up in it all winter long.

My WestKnits Mystery Shawl is coming along nicely. As you can see, I did a last-minute color substitution, and I'm so glad I did! Even though I have no idea what this will become, the greater contrast in colors is certainly going to be they key with my overall happiness once this shawl is complete.  This first clue was easy to memorize - a tiny bit of intarsia, a little bit of short row shaping, but not terribly complex overall (and that's a good thing!). I'm still using Anzula Cloud in Denim, but my pinch-hitter yarn substitution is Malabrigo Sock in Alcaucil. It's turning out to be a stellar combination!

Even the toe-up sock has gotten some attention finally. What brought it out of hibernation?  I needed a CTA-friendly project to keep me happy on my trip down to Union Park for Pitchfork this year (click here to read my husband's awesome synopsis of our day). Having three colorwork projects on the needles that were in various states of not traveling well, I avoided the temptation to start something new and instead started sock number two of the nearly-forgotten Traditional Gansey Socks.
A modest beginning on sock #2!
Finally, I've been chugging away at my colorwork sock, ever-so-slowly but surely. I'd like to finish sock #1 by the end of this month; I think that's a reasonably attainable goal.  I still love the yarn and pattern - and now I can tell you about the needles I'm using!  They are a sample from my client of the soon-to-be-out Karbonz from Knitter's Pride.  These fancy needles are made from the same technology that brings us the Stealth bomber - they're supposed to be ultra-light and very, very strong.  They're a lot grabbier than metallic or wooden needles (but yes, the stitches still have a nice glide), so I think they'd be a great choice for beginners whose stitches have a tendency to fly off of more slippery needles.
I know that's not a very good photo of them, so here is a better image from the Knitter's Pride website:

I chose them for this project because I tend to knit too tightly when doing colorwork; the needles slow me down to a comfortable rhythm that allows me to keep a looser tension.  Translation: these socks will actually fit over my heel when I try to wear them!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tour De Fleece Check-in + Indie Rock Ruminations

I realize I haven't posted much since the Tour de Fleece began.  It's been several days since I finished my Rhinofluff BFL roving with flying colors (no pun intended):
Then I promptly started some natural dark brown BFL that I bought a few years back from Spunky Eclectic.  It's spinning like a dream, but I am so distracted by the WestKnits Mystery KAL, my socks in progress, and nearly-finished Color Affection that I am barely even a half-ounce in.

On the plus side, I have been better about spinning every day, even if for a few minutes.  I'd like to think that this will stick, but I know that it hasn't in years past.  Maybe now that I work from home full time, things will change (she said, optimistically)>

In other news, Tyler and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary (and 12 whopping years of being together in general) tonight at Revolution Brewing Company.  We were in luck tonight- there were tons of brews on tap!  I tried the Bastille Day brew and the Red Scare, then finished with the Repo Man Red Rye Stout.  DELICIOUS.  Our evening started out by spotting Ty Segall and his excellent band on the California Blue Line platform as they were heading to O'Hare - not bad!  I wanted to shout a friendly "thanks for being awesome" at them, but the heat had honestly melted my brain at that point.  I wish I'd been able to catch the entirety of their amazing Pitchfork set yesterday, but the genius who planned the show thought it was a great idea to have Thee Oh Sees play an overlapping set with Mr. Segall. Bah.  We stayed for the entirety of Thee Oh Sees, which was totally incredible and worth it, but of course, when I got over to where Ty Segall was playing I found myself gnashing my teeth at what awesome songs I must have missed.  I did still manage to catch plenty of great songs and witness his impressive crowd surfing.  Lucky for me, I was at the Ty Segall show a few months back at Lincoln Hall.  But seriously, people of Pitchfork: don't ever do that to us again!  Not cool!
Ty Segall surfs through the crowd

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tree of Life Cowl

I've been obsessed with this pattern ever since it came out, and at the beginning of June, I finally cast on with some Road to China Light I bought at Doodlebug Yarn. I chose Carnelian, which I thought was going to be more reddish in color (those laptop screens can really fool me sometimes!); it turned out to be more of a purple-red - I'd call it a mauve almost. I was weighing my options between Carnelian and Garnet and probably should have gone the other way when I placed my order. At any rate, it was a surprise, but I decided to just go with it and start knitting. I tend to buy the same colors of yarn over and over again, so sometimes the caveat emptor of online yarn purchasing is a good way to get me out of such color ruts.

RtC is a super-soft blend of baby alpaca, silk, camel and cashmere. Yep, it's incredibly soft! I used my Cubics special interchangeables (they're great for hats and cowls, hence I am now obsessed with them) and quickly realized that this pattern will knit up much faster if I cabled without a cable needle. I probably could have knit this in a week if crazy life events hadn't conspired against me, but at least I finished it before the month of June was out. It may have taken an additional few weeks to photograph and blog about it, but that just seems to be par for the course lately!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Starting More Things: KAL + Entrelac

I've clearly given up on the whole three-at-a-time rule for WIPs; that's long since gone out the window. In addition to the four projects already on the needles, I've added my first-ever entrelac project to the mix, and will be casting on for the WestKnits Mystery Shawl KAL today. The more the merrier, right?

It's well-documented that I've been wanting to give entrelac a try for quite some time (see here, here, here and here, for example).  I haven't done anything to act on that impulse until now, however.  Last month, I signed up for Gwen Bortner's entrelac class on Craftsy, though I thought it would be better to wait til after the madness of TNNA before getting started.  Last weekend, I watched the first few lessons and was surprised at how EASY (not to mention, addictive) entrelac really is!

Like so many things in knitting, looks are deceiving - while the entrelac fabric looks intricate and the charts seem complicated and intimidating, the technique itself is quite simple to grasp.  Even those new to knitting will have success with entrelac (this class seems particularly geared towards the beginner knitter - Gwen spends a lot of time explaining everything from working a SSK to picking up stitches; experienced knitters, of course, also stand to gain from this, since there is always more than one thing to do something).  I'm now obsessed with my entrelac cowl-in-progress, which I'm making with some leftover skeins of yarn from The Sanguine Gryphon and The Fibre Company.

I also can't resist this year's WestKnits Mystery Shawl KAL which starts today.  I really enjoyed last year's KAL, which was my first real foray into intarsia.  This year's will be a two-color shawl similar to Daybreak, if the rumors are to be believed.  Sounds good to me!  I just finished winding off my yarn: I got a skein of Anzula Squishy in Clay while in Columbus, which will look great with my skein of Anzula Cloud in Denim from Doodlebug Yarn.  The yardage on Squishy is just a bit shy of what's specified for the KAL, but I'm pretty sure I can make it work somehow (famous last words, right?).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crafty Goodies

Bijou Basin ranch Order!
I'm not sure when the Fourth of July became synonymous with buying a lot of STUFF, but apparently that is a thing now. All last week, I got tons of e-mails for July 4th sales.  Most were deleted, but I couldn't pass up my client's flash sale, which was on the actual holiday only.  I ordered these two skeins of Bijou Bliss to make Ysolda's Hendreary Hat - I would have been crazy to pass up 25% off my entire order! Plus, 10% of all online sales from the beginning of last month til the end of the summer will be donated towards High Park Fire relief efforts.  I'm a sucker for a good sale, and the photos and reports from all of the wild fires burning in Colorado right now are just so awful, I'm glad there is a little something I can do to help.  Bonus: they included a QR Club pin with my order!

I also fell victim to (yet another) irresistible Craftsy deal - this one was for a Westminster Fabrics reusable bag, made from recycled water bottles.  How cool is that?  For $4.50, I snapped up this cute birdie bag... little did I know how awesome it would be.  Check out the interior: it's got a spot for you book or pattern, a few sleeves for a bottle of wine or your beverage of choice, and plenty of space for your project and a snack!

Finally, the recent WEBS catalog that arrived at my house enabled two non-yarn purchases (and gave me a chance to add a few needle tips to my Knitter's Pride Cubics set).  The first is a pom pon maker, which is something I never envisioned myself needing, wanting, or purchasing for that matter.  However, there are some hats in my queue that feature pom pons, and while I used to leave them off because I thought they were goofy, I'm willing to cross over to the dark side and give it a try.  For $7.45, I got this handy little doo-dad that will make the process quick and painless - which is great, because if I had to invest any real effort in making a pom pon DIY-style, I doubt it would ever come to fruition.

The second is the Color Grid by Gail Callahan ($7.95), which is supposed to help me combine colors and plan colorwork projects.  Since I'm totally obsessed with colorwork everything right now, but often shy or, let's face it, completely clueless about what colors to pick for a multicolor project, I thought this would be a good thing to add to my arsenal.  Most of my stash is monochomatic and tending towards the neutral side of things, so hopefully it will also help me expand my color horizons in general.  That's the plan, anyway!

Finally, I've been wanting to pick up a few of these needle tips to add to my Cubics Special Interchangeable set - I've been totally addicted to using it for hat- and cowl-making, but I only have sizes 6-10 in the specially-engineered shorter tips.  Ergo, I added size 4 and 5 Nova tips to my order, and bang zoom! I've got a pretty nice range of sizes to choose from.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Designer Dinner

I've been remiss in sharing all the details about Marly Bird's Designer Dinner in Columbus last month! This was the first time I've gotten to attend and had been looking forward to it for quite some time. It was supposed to be a masquerade, but I just didn't have time to do something creative, so I packed my mustachio nosewarmers for the occasion. You'll see I was able to coerce someone else into going incognito via knitted mustache!
There were some pretty cool masks and costumes, but I think my favorites were by Alasdair Post-Quinn's (his was, of course, double-knit & SPECTACULAR) and Gwen Bortner's (she being the entrelac queen). You can view all of the photos here on Facebook - don't forget to like Marly's fan page while you're there!  I'll spare you my opinions on the food - the vegan options were a little lacking, but that's something I've come to expect pretty much anywhere I go, especially in the midwest. It's not like I starved (also, I strategically snacked beforehand), and I can understand how all of the various food allergies and dietary restrictions that folks have these days can pose a problem when putting together a large event.  Besides, I was way more interested in meeting new people to hook up with my clients...and having fun, of course!

In addition to the swag bags that everyone received, there were some other prizes that Marly awarded Oprah-style by having us check the bottom of our chair or the number on the back of our name buttons. My colleague Rebecca won one of the prizes - four skeins of Lhasa Wilderness in a Bijou Basin Ranch project bag! The folks from Kollage also made a speech inviting people to submit designs in their yarn that seemed to be unscripted but possibly had been rehearsed beforehand - it was kind of hard to tell, actually. They included some sparkly yarn in the swag bag - I'd like to submit something, but I'm not sure I can make the August 31 deadline, considering the sock design I've been working on for myself has been in progress for more than half a year now.

It was an interesting experience and I'm certainly grateful to the sponsors who made my bursting-with-fibery-goodness swag bag possible (for the full product review, click here to listen to last week's Yarn Thing Podcast):
Whew! That's a lot of stuff! Hopefully in the months to come, I'll get a chance to play with everything and share my thoughts on this blog.  Many thanks to Marly Bird for putting together this fun event, and still more thanks to the many sponsors who helped make it possible!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Topiary Beanie

My hat obsession continues....I've had the Topiary Beanie from Weekend Hats finished and blocked for a few weeks now, but things have been so crazy that photographing and blogging about it has been at the bottom of my to-do list.  I love the way it turned out, though - it's nice and slouchy, and the MadTosh Merino Light is so very soft and squishy.  I am in love with the color, graphite - while it may not photograph well or display the stitch detail while atop my head, I really dig the subtle gradient greys of this colorway.  Plus, I have plenty leftover to make matching fingerless gloves!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Lately, socks seem to languish on the needles.  I'm not sure why - I love knitting them!  And yet, the colorwork socks I started last month have been cryogenically frozen since before real reason, but I just can't seem to progress past the heel turn:
I'm having similar issues of inertia with my toe-up socks. While I love the yarn and the pattern, second sock syndrome - something I've never had to deal with in my seven or so years of sock knitting - has set in. Getting the toe started on sock #2 is my main stumbling block; I'm either too tired or stressed or pressed for time to sit down and work through the cast-on and first few rounds of toe shaping.  Here's #1 - it looks great, right?  If only it had a friend!
Meanwhile, my Narwhal Mittens are also progressing at a glacier-like pace. I started them at the beginning of June (before the colorwork socks but after the toe-up socks, for those of you keeping track) and have yet to proceed to mitten #2. The yarn is amazing, though - a natural brown color contrasting with a hand-dyed goldenrod of Lhasa Wilderness, a bamboo/yak blend.  It's heavenly.
I'm just going to assume that my Color Affection is going to be a slow burner, too.  I'm thrilled that I've made it as far as I have, to be perfectly honest. I'm planning on doing the WestKnits Mystery Shawl KAL that starts on July 15, and while it would be nice to be mostly finished with the shawl that currently resides on my needles, I'm trying hard not to entertain such delusions.
I ordered the yarn for my Color Affection the same night my dad called me to give me the news that Grandpa wasn't doing well; something about a big, stripey shawl knit in The Fibre Company's Canopy Fingering sounded incredibly comforting.  I happened to have a gift certificate to Doodlebug Yarn - all the better to enable my retail therapy.  I'll be using two new colors, Manatee and Conifer, plus an old favorite, Sarsparilla.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tour de Fleece

Camel/Silk Singles Waiting to be Plied
I wasn't planning on participating in the Tour de Fleece this year.  I told myself I was too busy and rationalized that I've barely touched my spinning wheel since the last one.  Strangely enough, I started spinning yesterday, quite by accident.  I finished the first camel/silk single that had been languishing on my wheel since February, and then I spent the next hour or so spinning through the second camel/silk single.  It didn't even occur to me til much, much later that Saturday was the first day of the Tour de Fleece!

Quite by accident, I will be challenging myself to spin every day til July 22nd.  It would be great if I could stay in the habit of spinning a bit every day, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves, right?!  I'll just be happy if I can spin through a few braids of my fiber stash this month.  Meanwhile, here is my plied yarn (the fiber is a 50/50 camel/silk blend from Louet):
I had some extra camel/silk that I plied with a mystery single that hangs out near my wheel, hoping for just such an occasion. Today was its lucky day!