Saturday, June 29, 2013

Spinning Saturday: Tour de Fleece Begins!

First, I just wanted to share that yesterday's FO Friday post was my 400th blog post*!

Despite working in the fiber industry (and, you know, coordinating such things with clients), today's start of the Tour de Fleece kind of took me by surprise. At any rate, I realized with panic at about 7pm yesterday that I hadn't prepared at all AND I would be traveling down to Kansas City for several days during the event. Even though my Ladybug has handles for easy moving, I don't see myself schlepping it on the Amtrak train 9 hours both ways. It might be time to break out the drop spindle!

I joined Team Woolery and started digging through my stash this morning to try to get organized. First, I need to finish the WIP on my wheel, two singles of BFL that are waiting to be plied:

Then, I'd like to spin through the last 2 installments of the Sweet Georgia Fibre Club, some natural black alpaca that's been in my fiber stash for a few years now, and then finish with all of the odd bits of fiber I've been collecting to spin into some sort of funky/chunky yarn.

I have resisted a LOT of tempting fiber in the days leading up to the Tour de Fleece (it's all been pinned to my spinning board on pinterest, which probably isn't fooling anyone), but I probably will purchase some new fiber with the express purpose of drop spindling on my trip. It's been a while since I've picked up my drop spindle - to be honest, I'm not even sure where mine is at the moment - so if anyone has any fiber suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

*On the blogger platform, that is. Waaaaay back in the day I used to blog via the Myspace platform. That probably makes me seem old now!  

Friday, June 28, 2013

FO Friday: Domo Arigato

I finished the little robot I started a few weeks ago right before I left town for TNNA last Friday. When I discovered that I'd missed my bus (long story) and would have to take the overnight bus to Columbus instead, I decided to spend the afternoon knitting and snuggling the cats. I brewed a nice pot of tea, watched a little Netflix streaming, and enjoyed being in our cozy house while it stormed that afternoon. I wound up leaving town later that night with one less WIP in progress, which means that I can start something new, right?

Pattern: Rebecca Danger's Louie the Lovebot
Yarn: Cascade 220 (grey) and some leftover KnitPicks yarn (purple)

I think I've also neglected to mention another FO I'm proud of: my article about Apps in the recent issue of Yarn Market News! Researching this article, I came across a lot of cool-sounding apps that I will be reviewing in the future (you can check out all of my past product and app reviews here).

Of course, I also have lots of products to review from last weekend's TNNA show, so that means that I may be increasing the number of weekly posts for a while, just to warn you! The easiest way to stay updated is to follow my blog with Bloglovin - they will email you a summary of posts from all of the blogs you follow, making it super-easy to keep up with everything.

Thanks for stopping by this week - for more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back from TNNA!

I don't have much progress to report on my WIPs this week for two reasons:
1. I have been away at the TNNA trade show and just arrived home yesterday afternoon!
2. Of the two projects I worked on the most while I was in Columbus, I can only posts WIP photos of one!

Therefore, today's post will be short and sweet. I'll be sharing more about my TNNA trip later this week as I get caught up with work stuffs and whatnot; I saw some really cool stuff that I am excited to spread the word about! As always, a nice assortment of goodies found their way home with me (my luggage was pretty much at capacity!):
I'll be posting reviews, projects, etc. about all of my fun new fiber toys in the weeks to come! 

Meanwhile, I finally finished the first Scalloped Rib Sock on the Megabus back home to Chicago - and I promptly started sock #2! I'm pretty excited to have made so much progress on these socks - that means I am getting even closer to re-releasing this pattern! I am planning on adding a chart, clarifying some of the instructions, and even providing instructions for a second size option. Anyone who has already purchased the Scalloped Rib sock pattern will automatically receive the updated pattern PDF, of course - and for those of you who are interested in buying the updated version, I'll definitely keep you posted right here on my blog!

Thanks for stopping by this week. For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Folk Socks - Updated Edition

Let me preface this blog post by stating that, on the whole, I am perturbed by the majority of reissues and updated editions of books and albums. They irritate my frugal sensibilities - whether it's intended or not, the consumer has to purchase a copy of something they already own if they want access to the shiny new bells and whistles. This can be a double-edged sword for completists like myself (and my husband, an incurable vinyl nerd - but that's another story entirely): while it's frustrating to buy something you already own, it can be quite edifying to watch the bonus DVD that is included with the reissue, or hear the two new tracks, or knit the new get the idea.

Reissues in the world of music definitely have more of a money-grubbiness feeling (at least to me), the likes of which I haven't seen here in the knitting world. However, there is one knitting book that has been plaguing me for quite some time: the updated edition of Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. I have a very well-worn, well-loved copy in my library, and I was a little dismayed when I saw a new edition come out in 2011. I knew that, eventually, I'd be buying this book again because I love Nancy Bush's sock patterns and books! Knitting on the Road is the first sock book I ever purchased, and it remains one of my favorites today.

Fast forward to present day, when I was browsing the Interweave Sidewalk Sale (happening now through June 26) and finally caved in; apparently, a price point of less than $10 is enough to sway me to the other side!

To judge the book solely on first impressions, it's much thicker, clocking in at 147 pages (as compared to the original edition's 117). The cover design and book layout is a lot more striking and colorful, with updated projects images and new detail shots.

The updated layout is not only fresher, it's easier to follow and read; the previous edition has a lot of dense text and very little graphic or other elements. A good example of this is in the pattern instructions - elements such as "Leg" and Foot" are in a noticeably larger font, and cues such as "Row 1" or "Joining Round" are written in burgundy. As a result, it's a lot easier to navigate the pattern instructions.

Patterns that were originally knit with yarns that have since been discontinued have been updated and re-knit, which is a nice touch.  I was hoping there were a few new patterns, too, but it looks like the only pattern lineup changes are subbing in the Estonian Crossroads Socks for the Greek Socks.

If you're buying this book for the first time, it's worth adding to your library at any price point. If you already bought the original edition, snap up an updated version for $7.49 while the Sidewalk Sale is still happening!

Now that the sidewalk sale is done, may I recommend purchasing your own updated copy of Folk Socks on Amazon?

You may like to know: I purchased my own copy of this book and just wanted to share my thoughts for anyone who was curious about the differences between the two editions! This review was not solicited by Interweave. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

FO & Fiber Friday

This morning I was suposed to be headed to Columbus, OH for the TNNA Summer Trade Show - but there was a slight snafu and I will now be taking an overnight bus there tonight. Argh! Such is life, I guess.

Before I go, I wanted to share this week's finished projects, however - first, I was able to finish my Zilver shawl with plenty of time to block and dry before leaving town...that is, if something in my luggage hadn't leaked all over it. I am currently re-blocking it, which is a shame because I had really been looking forward to wearing it at the show.

Zilver is a free pattern from Lisa Mutch of Northbound Knitting, an etsy dyer/designer selling excellent yarns, fibers and patterns. For my shawl, I used one skein of Sincere Sheep Cushy in Winter's Night, however (though knitting with some of Lisa's yarns is on my to-do list - the fiber I bought earlier this year was fantastic to spin with!). The yardage is a little less than the yarn that's called for in the pattern, so I just bound off earlier than specified; it still makes a very nice-sized shawl!

I also finished my Destash Draft Snake, isn't he cute? I stuffed him full of leftover bits of yarn and fiber, so he will be really great at keeping drafts at bay once winter rolls around (either I'm planning ahead or just really behind the times, I haven't decided yet!).

Even though I won't be back in Chicago til Tuesday afternoon, I pre-scheduled a special post for Monday, so I hope you'll come back to check it out! 

Also, I'd like to invite you to follow my blog with Bloglovin so you don't miss out on my latest posts! I'm sad to say goodbye to Google Reader, but I think Bloglovin will be a great replacement.

Thanks for stopping by this week - for more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WIP Wednesday

ETA: Since Google Reader has gone the way of the dinosaur, I'd like to invite you to follow my blog with Bloglovin so you don't miss out on my latest posts!

I've made a lot of progress since I last blogged about my Fieldwork Cardigan: both of the back pieces are complete, and now I am working on the front left side. It's definitely at that tough-to-photograph stage, so this is probably the last time I'll be posting photos til it's complete!

I find I am zipping through this pattern now that I'm so familiar with the stitch pattern, and it's possible that I can have it finished in a few more weeks, even with the TNNA Trade show this weekend.

Since I finished a few projects over the weekend that I'll be posting about on Friday, I started a Louie the Lovebot (though I'm not sure if I'll be adding on the heart - if I do, it will be after the fact using duplicate stitch rather than intarsia). Also,  I needed to have an "easy" stockinette project to work on!

Finally, I haven't made much progress on my Baah! socks, but they are going to Columbus with me and I expect I'll be able to finish sock #1 and maybe even start the second one. It's 12 hours round-trip to drive, and this year I'm taking the Megabus rather than renting a car - finally, I get to knit on my way to TNNA! It's a dream come true!

Thanks for stopping by this week. For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Latest Obsessions

Canopy Fingering in Sumac
Monday posts are always a wild card for me, but more and more frequently they are the place where I share my latest yarn obsession, what's new on one of my favorite sites, Craftsy, or some sort of yarn-related review. Hopefully these posts are interesting for you, my dear readers (after all, that's what it's all about)!

As one of my favorite yarn stores prepares to close its virtual doors (read more about that here), I found myself placing yet another order a the beginning of this month. I've fallen in love with the yarns from The Fibre Company and simply couldn't resist snagging a sweater's worth of Canopy Fingering for under $50!

Peruvian Manta
When it arrived, I absentmindedly piled the yarn onto a pretty piece of weaving (called a manta) that my colleague Leanne had bought for me in Peru. Later, I realized that they both complemented each other quite well, so I took some stash photos using the manta as a backdrop. I'm planning on making the Grace cardigan from Jane Richmond's ISLAND collection once I finish my Fieldwork Cardigan.

I am also really excited about Carol Feller's new Craftsy class, Sweater Surgery. I have plenty of sweaters from my early (and, let's face it, recent) days of knitting that could use a few nips and tucks to make them fit a little better. At this point, I am having a hard time justifying signing up for another Craftsy class simply because at last count, I had 12 classes on my roster.  However, this one is pretty different from the classes I've already signed up for: it's focused more on fixing existing projects (instead of making something new) and can even be used to alter store-bought sweaters.

Reading the class description, I am most excited to learn Carol's quick sewing technique to add shaping; I have a sweater with some sleeve cuffs that are way too big and I'm loathe to rip them out and knit them again. I'm sure this will come in handy in other instances, too, and it also covers steeking! Bonus: Sweater Surgery is currently on sale for $10 off!

Yes, despite the temperatures rising, I can't seem to stop thinking about making sweaters. Come fall, I should have a pretty nice wardrobe of handknits to keep me warm. I decree this to be the Summer of Sweaters!

Thanks for stopping by this week - see you back here on WIP Wednesday!

Friday, June 14, 2013

FO + New Pattern Friday: Like the Tides Cowl

Earlier this week, I put the finishing touches on a brand-new cowl pattern: the Like the Tides Cowl is a quick, simple knit that lets the gradient colors of the yarn take center stage.

I fell in love with the colorway, Seaglass, when I was visiting Windy Knitty with a friend last month. I knew I wanted it to become a cowl, but when I searched Ravelry for the perfect pattern, I couldn't seem to find one that looked like what I was imagining it in my head.

I chose a simple, easy-to-memorize stitch pattern that would be as soothing as the sea; all the better to show off the stunning colorway, too! Later on, I found out that this yarn is 100% made in the USA: the wool comes from sheep raised in Colorado and it's handpainted in California - how cool is that?

Pattern Details: 
Yarn: 2 skeins Freia Flux Sport (290 yards total)
Needles: US #6
Gauge: 22 sts & 32 rows = 4 inches in pattern stitch
Finished Size: 20" circumference; 9" wide

Cowl is knit flat and then grafted. Knowledge of provisional cast-on methods is helpful; here is a link to my preferred method, the crochet cast-on. Pattern includes written instructions and color photos.

Click here to purchase on Ravelry.

Click here to purchase on Craftsy.

(Many thanks to my wonderful husband for taking these photos!)

Thanks for stopping by this week - for more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WIP Wednesday: More New WIPs!

I'm still making steady progress on my Fieldwork Cardigan and Scalloped Rib Socks, but to be honest, they aren't super-exciting to look at right now. Plus, last Wednesday I cast on for a new shawl using a skein of Sincere Sheep Cushy in Winter's Night - a new project is always more exciting, am I right?!
The pattern is Lisa Mutch's Zilver, and it's available for free here on Ravelry. As you can see, it knits up nice and quick!

I also realized it's been a while since I've crocheted anything, so I decided to start something that has been on my to-do list since last fall: make a silly snake to block the draft that comes in through the kitchen door in the wintertime. Um,'s not exactly timely, but that's just how things go sometimes! I am using Stacey Trock's Slithers the Snake pattern as my guide, minus the shaping of course. For added draft-blocking insulation, I'll be stuffing him full of leftover bits of yarn and fiber. I've just worked through a few stripes using leftover scraps from my Amigurumi stash since starting on Monday night, but I'm hoping to have this done by the end of this coming weekend!
Thanks for stopping by this week. For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Socks + Craftsy Pick of the Week

Summer has finally come to Chicagoland, which means it's time to trade in my jeans for skirts (for those of you who care, I don't believe in shorts) and bust out my ankle socks. One of my first-ever sock patterns is my go-to for the summer months; since I also don't wear sandals or flip-flops (yep, I'm weird like that), it's necessary to pair anklet socks with my shoes. The Lacy Summer Socks are quick to knit with a lacy motif that's perfect for peeking through mary janes; it's now available as a free download on Ravelry and continues to be one of my most popular patterns. I recently came across a very sweet blog post from a fellow Raveler who recently made her own pair and shared her feedback about the pattern itself. Seeing a finished project from your own pattern is already one of the highest compliments a designer can get, but so is getting positive feedback from your fellow knitters!

Craftsy Pick of the Week

I've been getting back into designing after taking a sabbatical last year, and of course, having a nice, fresh sketchbook is essential for such endeavors. I was lucky to be gifted one of these nifty sketchbooks last year, but you can snap your own up for 60% off here on Craftsy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

FO Friday: Elfe & Fleece Artist Socks!

At long last, I get to share the two projects I finished over Memorial Day Weekend!

The Fleece Artist Socks are a new design I'll be releasing later this summer. I'm not sure what I'll be naming them quite yet, but of course I will keep you posted here on my blog, or you can sign up for my newsletter to be notified via email when it comes out (just enter your email on the top right sidebar)!

This is just a quick shot we took yesterday before Tyler went to work; there will be a more 'official' photo shoot soon!

I also finished my Elfe sweater, which surely must be a record for me. I am the world's slowest sweater-knitter but I still managed to make this project in under a month! The yarn, Grinning Gargoyle's Seda Sock, feels sooo nice to wear. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out:

Worldwide Knit in Public Week kicks off tomorrow, but I'm not sure if I'll be going to any of the events here in Chicago. It's been a really busy week - I feel like I've been running around non-stop! Since I knit in public quite frequently, I think I can indulge in my contrarian side and knit in private this weekend, am I right? After all, in the last week, I have knit on mass transit, at a coffee shop, at two bars (don't judge me!!), a salon, and at an outdoor concert. That is quite a lot of public knitting, if you ask me. If only I hadn't done it a week too early!

Will you be knitting in public? If so, you might be interested in some of the promotions Craftsy has for WWKIP week!

Thanks for stopping by this week - for more FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog

Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Big Progress!

Over the weekend, I met my goal to finish the first sweater piece for the Fieldwork Cardigan:
Of course, unblocked, it just looks plain weird, but that is the sleeve and one half of the back of the sweater. The pattern is from the new Pom Pom Quarterly (you can read my recent review here) and I'm using some gorgeous hand-dyed yarn from the Sincere Sheep!

I visited family over the weekend and made some major progress on my Freia Cowl. It's now at that difficult-to-photograph phase, which means I am very close to being done:
Finally, Tyler and I went to the a free show downtown (Speck Mountain and Sharon Van Etten) on Monday night, which was the perfect time to work on my Baah! socks. I even got the heel turned and made it nearly all the way through the gusset shaping:
Tyler took some really cool photos at the show - the show took place in the Pritzker Pavilion, which was designed by Frank Gehry and is pretty cool to look at, much less sit in and enjoy music. He also used his telephoto lens to take some band shots from where we sat. Even though it was chilly, it was a great show; it was the kind of night that reminds you why it's so awesome to call Chicago home. We also realized afterwards that we accidentally upheld a tradition we had when we first started dating - on or around June 2, our arbitrarily determined date when we became an "official" couple, we always try to go to a show(on June 2 in 2000, we went to go see Sleater-Kinney together, hence the arbitrary date - it was the first major event we could both remember).
Sharon Van Etten
Pritzker Pavilion

Thanks for stopping by this week. For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Review: Pom Pom Quarterly, Summer 2013 issue

Ever since its launch one year ago, Pom Pom Quarterly has been one of those publications I knew I should keep my eye on. Each issue has had at least a few patterns that piqued my curiosity, but I never purchased an issue til now: with postage and the exchange rate, I wound up paying about $20 USD for the printed copy (which includes a PDF download as well). I know that seems pretty steep, but the Summer 2013 issue celebrating Pom Pom's one-year anniversary is just too good to pass up...and worth every penny!

The paper stock is good quality (and smells great, if that's the kind of thing you're into!), and every page is printed in full color. There are many photos of each pattern - all 7 patterns include well-written instructions with schematics and charts and are mostly knit with indie-dyed yarn (Yarn Love, The Uncommon Thread, Skein, and Sweet Georgia, for example). There are three interesting feature articles and two pages with technique illustrations, plus a delicious-sounding recipe for S'mores Brownies. Just as I couldn't resist casting on for the Fieldwork Cardigan right away, I found myself whipping up a batch of brownies for an impromptu gathering last weekend. They received two enthusiastic thumbs-up from everyone, incidentally!

If twenty dollars feels a little steep for you, there is also a PDF-only version you can purchase here on Ravelry for just under $13 USD - though I have to say, it's truly a joy to thumb through each physical page of this issue!

Click here to visit the Pom Pom Quarterly website.

Click here to join the Pom Pom Ravelry Group!

You may like to know: This review was not solicited by the good people at Pom Pom. As mentioned above, I purchased the magazine with my own personal funds.