Friday, August 29, 2014

FO Friday: New Free Crochet Pattern & Zoom Loom Turtle

I'm so excited to share my newest pattern with you today, which also happens to be my first-ever crochet pattern!

Ever since I got into crocheting amigurumi, I've been wanting to create a sister version of my knitted Button Bunnies pattern. After months (and maybe even years) of having this in my design queue, the Crochet Button Bunny is born! I used Maxima and Clasica yarns from Manos Del Uruguay, both of which are single-ply worsted weight yarns, which are ideal for crocheting - no splitting plies as you work. They're dyed in an array of beautiful colors at co-ops in Uruguay, and all Manos yarns are certified Fair Trade, which is pretty cool!

Click here to get the FREE pattern on the Knitter's Pride blog! 

My other FO this week is another Zoom Loom Turtle, which I made with destash yarn using the instructions from the DJE Handwovens Turtle Critter Kit. These fun kits were designed especially for use with Zoom Loom swatches, and there are several different animals you can choose from (view them all here)!

I did this project as part of the Zoom-Along hosted in the Woolery Ravelry group this month. I think this turtle turned out a bit better than my original one, because I actually followed the instructions this time (what a concept, I know!). As you can see, the first turtle I made is rather flat (although still cute), while my new turtle has a nice, round shell!

Thanks for joining me this week! I will be blogging on Monday as per usual, and I have an exciting post planned - so please come check it out next week! 

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Project Limbo

The exciting news of this week is that the Lory Shawl is finally starting to look like something. Specifically, a shawl!

I haven't done much on my Admiralty pillow, however. As you can see, I've only added one intarsia spoke section since last week:

This week is kind of a project limbo, as I am preparing for some events which start September 1, the first one being the FreshStitches Mystery CAL. I went stash diving for my CAL yarn:

I've also been prepping for next month's Chill Chaser Cardigan KAL by swatching....and swatching....and swatching some more:

Spud & Chloe Sweater in Manatee
As you can see, I had to go up a few needle sizes on my Nova Cubics needles before I achieved the correct gauge for this sweater with US #9 needles (the pattern calls for US#7, but I am kind of a tight knitter!).
Louet GEMS Worsted in Pewter & new Trendz needles from Knitter's Pride!
In addition to two big projects which I'll be starting next week, I'm test-knitting a sweater design (for someone else) and finishing up the final two patterns for my Conversation Socks ebook. Consequently, I'm trying not to start anything new until I finish something first!

Monday, August 25, 2014

What To Do If Your Stuffie Loses An Eye

Today I'm going to share my possibly-clever tip for bringing a stuffie back from the brink of a sad, one-eyed existence. Recently, one of my "couch monsters" (also known as cat beds in these parts) lost one of his safety eyes. It just popped out one day, quite randomly!
Two-eyed couch monster: those were the days!
I suppose it was bound to happen after years of having his face kneaded into the optimum sleeping conditions by certain feline companions. I couldn't locate the washer that was undoubtedly still located inside his body, and I wasn't about to perform some sort of crazy surgery to reinstall the safety eye. So, I dreamed up the perfect fix: Piratification (trademark pending).

I crocheted him an eye patch! How had I not thought of that sooner?! It was super simple to do - here's what I did:

Using a small amount of worsted-weight yarn and an E crochet hook (I am a crazy-loose crocheter; feel free to use whatever hook size works best for your yarn and crocheting style!) and starting with magic loop, ch 2. 

SC 6 sts in second stitch from hook.
Next rnd: *SC twice in 1 st, repeat from * 5 more times - 12 sts.

I stopped here, but you could make your eye patch slightly bigger by crocheting one more round like so: *SC twice in 1 st, repeat from * 11 more times - 24 sts.

I used the yarn ends to attach to the Monster's face, then kept embroidering the strings for the eye patch completely around to the back of Mr. Monster's head.

He has now happily returned to his post as the primary cat pillow, although I did catch him having a jolly good time recently...not to propagate that whole "drunken pirate" stereotype.

Arr, Matey! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

FO Friday: Chittery Chattery Socks

Chittery Chattery Socks in Louet GEMS Sport!
Since I don't have any FO's to share today (gasp!), I thought this would be a good day to introduce my next sock design from Conversation Socks!

The Chittery Chattery Socks are knit with Louet GEMS Sport, and while they look like they’d involve a lot of fancy footwork (or rather, colorwork), but they are actually quite simple! Single-round stripes and an easy-to-memorize stitch pattern are all you need to put your best foot forward. Be prepared to get a lot of questions about these socks, because they were very popular at my knitting group!

While the stitch pattern is simple (all you need to know is how to knit and purl), what makes these socks special is the exquisite and hard-wearing yarn I chose especially for this design, Louet GEMS Sport yarn. The tight spin of the yarn not only prevents pills, but it provides for crisp color definition within the design. Plus, it comes in a variety of wearable colors so that you can dream up your own unique color combinations to suit the whole family.

If you're just joining me, here's the deal: all 5 designs are written for sport weight yarn on US #3 needles; each pattern was created with the express purpose of being simple enough for knitting on-the-go, but interesting enough to keep you engaged. These patterns are perfect for your morning commute, knit night, or a trip out of town! They don't require huge, hard-to-follow charts or incredibly complicated techniques. Instead, they take the basic building blocks that the average knitter has at their disposal to create five designs the whole family will love. 

Your feet will look so fancy!

I'm giving everyone a chance to pre-order ALL FIVE sock designs for the low price of just $12.50. I'll be releasing the remaining two patterns as editing and layout is complete, and each time that I do, the pre-order price will increase until the final pattern is released. The full collection will then be for sale for the full price of $18.

You will receive the Chittery Chattery Socks pattern pictured above plus 2 more great designs for immediate download AND automatic updates for each subsequent pattern as they are published. 

Please do click here to follow my blog or sign up for my newsletter for up-to-the-minute updates on Conversation Socks!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Deja Vu

At first glance, it would seem like I've hardly made progress on any of my WIPs since last week. It kind of feels that way, too, but perhaps that's because I spent most of the weekend working on a project that I won't be able to share for another couple of weeks. At any rate, I did manage to start the second half of my Admiralty pillow for the Holla Knits KAL:

I also finished the second welt row on my Lory Shawl:

Finally, I just have to weave 3 more Zoom Loom squares before I can assemble my second turtle for the Woolery's zoom-along!

I ordered some yarn for new projects to start soon, but have managed to avoid startitis thus far. I have a feeling I'll be making my first attempt at crocheting a Lumpy Space Princess out of this yarn I just bought from Knit Picks, however!

To prepare, I've been watching a lot of LSP clips on YouTube (in addition to getting caught up on episodes each night). I think this one has the best. apology. ever:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Join #TeamLouet for Spinzilla this fall!

Spinner registration is open now for Spinzilla and we're saving a spot for you on #TeamLouet! Last year, we cracked the top 10 for most yardage spun together as a team, and this year we'd like to exceed our 2013 total and unseat Team Fancy Tiger Craft!

To join our team for 2014, just click here to register via the TNNA website. The cost is $10, and it goes to an excellent cause to foster the spinners of tomorrow!

If you have a Louet wheel or some Louet fiber, that is great -  however, it is not a requirement for joining our team, and you'll have plenty of chances to win Louet fiber during the competition itself! This year, we'll be introducing several new awards within our own team for categories such as spinning the most natural fibers, taking the prettiest finished skein photo, and most adventurous spinner.

This year, spinners who choose to ply their singles will receive a credit which counts towards their total yardage, which is a change I myself am pretty excited about since I had a limited number of bobbins (and ended up plying several projects during Spinzilla last year).

There is also a new event-wide category called the Monster Mile Club, where each spinner who spins a mile of yarn (1,760 yards) during the event is entered into a prize drawing!

I'll be sharing more details between now and October 6, when Spinzilla kicks off. Trust me,  you'll want to be a part of it all!

Friday, August 15, 2014

FO Friday: Gnome + MORE exciting news!

My gnome is done and he's already causing trouble!

Well, maybe not trouble, but he's definitely having adventures. For instance, he decided to hang out in the free library to surprise anyone who might be looking for a book to read!

Then he climbed some more trees....

...after which he tried to mail himself to Abu Dhabi.

I destashed several worsted-weight yarns to knit my gnome using the Jumbo Gnome pattern from Mochimochiland!

Also, I just received word that individual pattern downloads for the Forever Linked Hat & Mitts are now available on Ravelry and Craftsy, or you can purchase a discounted project kit containing the yarn and pattern from the Bijou Basin Ranch website!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WIP Wednesday: New Stuff & Exciting News

I decided to make a destash version of the turtle I made last month on my Zoom Loom! This project is part of the Zoom Loom-along which is happening right now in the Woolery Ravelry group; I am using the instructions I received with the Turtle Critter Kit and various leftover bits of yarn to weave my squares. I might make more than the pattern calls for so that I can give different color combinations a try when it comes time to put everything together!

As I mentioned in my Stitches Midwest recap on Monday, I cast on for the Lory Shawl from Knitscene using one of my favorite yarns from Bijou Basin Ranch, Himalayan Trail.

As you can see, I'm not very far along - the shawl is knit long ways and I just finished the first ridge row, which took me a LONG time! It's been a while since I've used my Karbonz needles, so I was glad I could bust them out for this project.

I've also finished the first side of my Admiralty pillow for the Holla Knits KAL that's happening right now:

So far, I'm still enjoying the process, intarsia and all!

Also, last week I needed a travel-friendly project for knit night and decided to start a not-so-jumbo Jumbo Gnome (fun fact: there is a pattern sale happening on the Mochimochiland site, just enter SUMMEROFSQUEE at checkout for 15% off books and 20% off PDF patterns and kits)! I'm just using destash yarn to make a smaller worsted-weight version.

Last but not least, my Conversation Socks ebook was recently reviewed on one of my favorite blogs, Knitting Sarah - click here to check it out!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stitches Midwest: Leaving the City is Always an Adventure

After skipping Stitches Midwest last year, I wanted to be sure to make it out for at least one day this year. Living in the city and not having a car, however, can make getting to Stitches quite a feat. While I knew a few knitters with cars who offered me a ride, I decided to give the much-hyped Stitches Shuttle a try to see if it was an acceptable solution to the problem faced by yarn-loving but car-less Chicagoans.

I am fortunate to live near the Metra line which connected to the Stitches Shuttle, so for me, my journey should have been rather simple: catch the Metra train, ride it for about 30 minutes, and then hop on the Stitches Shuttle for another 15 or so. I could be there in about an theory!

I carefully timed my trip so that I had enough time to catch the 9:30 am shuttle bus on Saturday. Imagine my surprise when I got off the Metra Train at Arlington Heights at 9:22 and....nothing was there. I looked high and low for anything that resembled a bus or a shuttle but came up short. I thought that perhaps it was running late, but just in case I thought I should pull out my phone and see if there was an alternate way to get to the Schaumburg convention center (short answer: no).

About 15 minutes had gone by and still no shuttle, but I saw someone who looked like she could be headed to Stitches as well and took a chance to ask her if she was also looking for the mythical Stitches Shuttle. Indeed, she was.

We decided to call a cab, since my GPS said we were less than 6 miles away from the convention center. My new friend Sheila told me she had started her journey around 7 AM from Hyde Park. She'd taken a bus to the Metra station downtown, and until we ran into each other, she had been thinking of heading back home.

Our cab arrived (eventually), ten minutes later, we arrived at Stitches at last! I had only a short window to shop before working a shift in the Bijou Basin Ranch Booth that afternoon, so we parted ways, but I ran into Sheila later that day and she told me a few interesting tidbits: first, she'd relayed our story to someone who worked for Stitches and they'd apologized for our trouble, which is definitely nice to hear. Second, she had gone to catch the 2pm shuttle back to the Metra station...and it never showed!

I decided to post in the Stitches group to see if anyone else had had our experience, and I ended up hearing from Sheila with another update! I was a relieved to hear she'd found her way home, and in her post she explained that we had apparently had the incorrect stop all along (we were at Arlington Heights, but the Shuttle was running from Arlington Park)! Of course, even if we had been at the correct stop, the shuttle driver was not keeping to the schedule advertised by Stitches, and we probably would have ended up having a long journey door to door either way.

Spotted at Stitches: Dyed colors of SilverSpun yarn!
Sounds like we all have a lot to learn from this experience, but I truly hope the Stitches folks take this to heart: mass transit in the Chicagoland area can be complicated, and those of us who live in the city know virtually nothing about the suburbs unless they grew up in them. If there are two stops with similar names, we probably won't know the difference, unfortunately. Or maybe that's just me!
One of two yarn trucks at Stitches!
Furthermore, Metra trains cater more to those who live in the suburbs and commute to the downtown Loop, and vice versa. If Stitches really want to reach knitters who live in the city of Chicago, a shuttle bus from the Blue Line would have been more effective - plus, the Blue Line runs much more frequently on the weekends.

Bijou Basin Ranch at Stitches
I also learned a few lessons myself: first, bewared the similarly-named Metra stop. Second....NEVER TURN DOWN A FREE RIDE!

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending - I made it to Stitches, had a great time at the marketplace, and came home with some pretty yarn and fiber! I met a lot of folks in person whom I'd previously only communicated with via email, which was super-cool. There were a lot of interesting vendors who tested my resolve to avoid impulse purchases, but I did come home with 2 lovely BFL braids from Fairy Yarnmother - my only show purchase!

As I mentioned above, I worked all afternoon in the Bijou Basin Ranch booth; my plan was to earn enough yarn to make both the Lory Shawl by Bristol Ivy and the Lace Leaf Edge Shawl by Jen Lucas. I picked out 3 skeins of Himalayan Trail in Geillis for the Lory Shawl:

And 3 skeins of Lhasa Wilderness in Sassenach for the Lace Leaf Edge Shawl:

It was a tough decision, but I decided to cast on for the Lory Shawl first (as in, immediately upon arriving home from Stitches). I'm hoping to finish it in time for the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival in September.

Also, I'm working on a writeup about Stitches Midwest for the next issue of Chicago Knits Magazine and I'd love to hear YOUR story! Feel free to leave it here in the comments or Rav PM stefaniegrrr. Thanks!

Friday, August 8, 2014

FO Friday: Hello, Hippo!

Just in time for Stitches Midwest, my handspun hippo is complete!

Last night I put everything together mostly without incident, except for the part where I sewed the ears onto the snout instead of the back of the head...and cut the yarn ends before I noticed the mistake. DOH! Luckily, I was able to safely remove the ears and sew them back on in the proper place.

I used Susan B. Anderson's Hippo pattern from Itty Bitty Toys and some of my handspun yarn which was the equivalent to worsted weight, so I didn't have to double my yarn. I still used the needles called for in the pattern (US #5) to produce a nice, close-knit fabric, and my finished hippo is just over 9" tall when sitting. He sits up all on his own and is super cute - I can't wait to take him to the Yarn Geek Fibers booth at Stitches this weekend so they can see what I made with the BFL fiber I bought from them at YarnCon this past April!

Here are the cliff's notes to summarize this project from start to finish: I purchased the fiber at YarnCon in April of this year (BFL and BFL Sparkle from Yarn Geek), spun the singles and plied them the first time (a bit too loosely) in June, re-plied the finished skein during the Tour de Fleece and cast on for this project in July, and finished it during the first full week of August!

Thanks for joining me today. Have a crafty weekend! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Breaking News: August Big Course Sale at Craftsy: Save 50%!

Don't miss Craftsy's Dog Days of Summer Sale happening now! Enjoy up to 50% off ALL online classes on a variety of crafty topics. You know you'll be glad you took advantage of this sale come fall, which is just around the corner! I have taken several excellent Craftsy courses since joining the site, and I've reviewed many of them right here on my blog:

You may like to know: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Intarsia, We Meet Again!

Not too long ago, I entered a subscriber giveaway for the Holla Knits blog tour - and I won! I was pretty thrilled to receive an entire project's-worth of yarn, and it was excellent timing, too, since the Holla Knits Special Collection KAL/CAL kicked off this past Monday. The yarn I won was enough to knit a nautical-themed design called The Admiralty, and I'm pretty excited to be making it since I have a special recipient in mind. However, I am forced to revisit one of my most hated techniques: intarsia.

Most recently, I have avoided intarsia in projects by knitting with the main color and then duplicate stitching the design once the piece is done yes, that's how much I hate intarsia. However, that's really only viable for smaller projects. However, I dreamed up a compromise that I think will work: rather than wrangling 3 colors to make each section of the pillow, I'll be working the chart in the two main colors, then duplicate stitching the third color later (to be honest, I might just leave the third color off altogether!). I'm pleased to report that so far, this plan is working out well, though I suppose it's still too soon to tell for sure!

My handspun hippo is nearing completion: I'm just two ears, a tail, and lots of finishing work away from being done!

I'm also thrilled at the response my new ebook Conversation Socks has gotten! Many thanks to those of you who have preordered your copy and/or shared my blog post with friends. You are awesome! I am really excited to publish the next pattern from the book, which will be coming out later this month. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's projects!

You will receive both patterns pictured above for immediate download and updates for each subsequent pattern as they are published.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Conversation Socks Pre-Order

Today, I'm bursting at the seams because I finally get to reveal a project I've been working on since January of this year: an eBook comprised of five unisex sock designs called Conversation Socks!

I dreamed up this project because I find myself with less and less time to devote to holiday gift knitting, but I know that my family members love and cherish the gifts I make them, especially socks! By choosing sport weight yarn and US #3 needles, each sock knits up quickly and produces a mid-weight fabric that is nice and toasty without being bulky.

Each pattern was created with the express purpose of being simple enough for knitting on-the-go, but interesting enough to keep you engaged. These patterns are perfect for your morning commute, knit night, or a trip out of town! They don't require huge, hard-to-follow charts or incredibly complicated techniques. Instead, they take the basic building blocks that the average knitter has at their disposal to create five designs the whole family will love.

Indeed, all five of these patterns were designed to be good, basic socks that both men and women would love to have in their sock drawers. These unisex patterns rely on textured stitches and cables; if you are a lover of lace, I apologize - you won't find a single eyelet or lace chart in the whole lot! This was a conscious choice, as most of the men I know wouldn't be thrilled to get a sock with eyelets or lace on it, and to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of lacy socks myself (if anything because they tend to wear out faster).

At any rate, I have spent the last eight months designing and knitting these socks with care, and I am very excited to introduce the first two to the world:
Persuasive Socks by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter
Knit with Valley Yarns Northampton Sport
Retort Socks by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter
Knit with Malabrigo Arroyo

Today, I'm giving everyone a chance to pre-order ALL FIVE sock designs for the low price of just $10. I'll be releasing the remaining three patterns as editing and layout is complete, and each time that I do, the pre-order price will increase until the final pattern is released. The full collection will then be for sale for the full price of $18, so this is an excellent deal for all five patterns if you purchase now! All patterns will be out by the end of October at the absolute latest.

You will receive both patterns pictured above for immediate download and updates for each subsequent pattern as they are published.

I will be sharing sneak peeks of the remaining three sock designs on Facebook and Instagram; you can also click here to follow my blog or sign up for my newsletter for up-to-the-minute updates on Conversation Socks!