Wednesday, March 30, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Resisting Temptation (For Now)

I honestly thought I would come back from last month's trip to Germany with a finished project or two, but as usual, I greatly overestimated how much time I would spend knitting while I was away. You'd think a 9 hour plane ride (one way) would be productive, but that certainly wasn't the case for me, unfortunately! I have since finished the projects I took to Germany, and now I have just two projects in play, both of which are blue:
The crochet project on the top is the Calm Cowl in Artyarns Merino Cloud that I started on the flight back to the US. I haven't logged much crocheting time since arriving home, but it has grown a little since last week. The other project pictured above is actually an IOU from the holidays, a pair of striped socks to commemorate the Royals 2015 season for Tyler (each color will represent a win or loss at an away or home game). The 2016 season opener is just a week away this past Sunday, so I figured I better get my butt in gear!

Though I've done pretty well avoiding the siren call of new projects, over the weekend I broke into the miniskeins of Finkhof Wolle that I was gifted in Germany.
I thought it would be fun to knit a tiny triangular shawl swatch, inspired by a 5 Shawls in 5 Days challenge I spotted on Instagram recently...I can't seem to remember to look up what this challenge entails, but I've seen a lot of people posting photos of their sample swatches. I like the yarn - it was a nice rustic yarn that wasn't scratchy - just had a little oomph to it. Each one is actually a little different in terms of fiber makeup (so I saved the tags to attach to each stripe later when it dries). The yarn was also nice and sticky, which makes it easy to weave in ends and/or save a dropped stitch, a quality that can really come in handy! Also, everything seemed to soften up considerably after blocking, so I am curious to feel the sample after it is completely dried.

That's it for this week, thanks for stopping by! 

Monday, March 28, 2016

H+H Cologne 2016 Recap

Now that I've recovered from my trip to Germany and gotten back to "normal" life, I should probably share some of my photos from H+H, right? This was my first time attending this trade show, which is one of the largest in the world. The company I work for, Stitchcraft Marketing, had a booth where we represented 4 of our clients - here I am wearing a gorgeous shawl pattern knit with Bijou Basin Ranch yarn, the Khyber Pass Shawl from Owlcat Designs. The designer, Simone, was kind enough to lend me the sample for the show!

The show floor was absolutely amazing - some of the booths were like their own little universe. I shared a lot of photos already on my Instagram feed, so I've tried to pick some different photos to share here - all of which were taken by my husband, Tyler, who was our official H+H photographer. 

Lana Grossa
Lana Grossa (again)
C. Pauli
Toft UK

There was also quite a bit of knitted and crocheted art - the knit tipi which has been making the rounds at VK Live and TNNA was on display at the show entrance, and the crocheted butcher shop (which was apparently a statement on vegetarianism or something...ironically that was lost on me, even though I've been a vegetarian since I was 19):

This amazing installation of granny squares also got quite a bit of attention: 

With Tyler as our photographer roving the show floor, it was kind of fun to see things through his eyes - he definitely captured some of the more curious aspects of some displays. Here are just a few of my favorites:

A few well-known characters even made an appearance! 

Le Petit Prince and Burt from Sesame Street (not sure where Ernie was?!)
Hello Kitty
To be honest, I'm not even sure I made it all the way through each hall completely, there are just that many exhibitors! There were several halls on various levels, and it was kind of hard to keep track of where I'd already been. Just to give you an idea of the scale, here are a few shots taken on the show floor: 

Here's a map of the show floor, which I didn't even know existed until I saw Tyler's photo:

Here's hoping I'll get to return in 2017!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Stash Enhancement Auf Deutsch

File Under: When will I learn? I went to Germany with the foolish notion that I would just bring home a few souvenir skeins of yarn and that would be that. I've shown a little restraint at the last few shows I've been to, but that wasn't the case for this trip. First, I happened upon a yarn shop in Berlin near where I was staying quite by accident - and while they didn't stock Wollmeise, they did have some very lovely handpainted yarns from Schoppenwolle and Austermann. These 3 came home with me (and I honestly thought that was IT for the yarn - pretty funny, right?!):
Stash enhancement started innocently enough at H+H...but before I knew it, I had quite a ridiculous amount of skeins and other knitting-related items that I had to cram into my suitcase. First world problems, I know. Rather than (re)sharing the dimly lit photo I posted here on Instagram while still in Cologne, I've taken some nicer shots that really show everything off. First, I had a little blowout at the ArtYarns booth, which was just across the aisle from our booth (so I had the entirety of the show to ponder what skeins I wanted to get). I got a ton of Merino Cloud Fingering yarn in the form of a Grassy Green Gradients kit and 3 full-sized skeins (one of which I wound off on Sunday night so that I could start a crochet project on the plane back to Chicago):
I also snagged three pretty skeins of Koigu KPPPM and one Koigu Sparkle from their booth which was was just around the corner from us:
Some of my own client's yarn came home with me, too - I couldn't resist these two undyed skeins of Powder River yarn from Mountain Meadow Wool:
...or this bright and very uncharacteristic (for me) colorway of Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Basin Ranch:
My final yarn-related score was this colorful Mitten Kit from the Knit Like A Latvian Booth, which my friend Mari and I had been planning to shop at the close of the show:
I saw some really curious-looking needles which I am trying in the name of science - they are made by Neko Knit, and the first time I saw them I totally didn't understand how they worked. Bent DPNs, what the what?! After seeing a live demo in the booth, I figured they were worth trying out. I'm not sure I'll convert to them completely (at least, not the way I've taken to magic looping on a fixed circ for socks of late), but it will be fun to give them a try and expand my horizons a little.
I got a few samples of animal craft eyes to try out, which means that I need to get back to toy-making this summer!
Last but certainly not least, I got some samples of some new products in the KnitPro booth (which is the brand Knitter's Pride products are sold under outside of North this may very well be a sneak peek of what they'll be debuting at TNNA?! I sure hope so!). They had some cute new fabric bags, so I got a zippered pouch and an interchangeable needle case, and I also wanted to try some of the Royale DPNs and Zing fixed circulars.
I guess I better clear some more knitting (and crocheting) time in my immediate future to enjoy all of these wonderful goodies!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Back in the USA

On Monday, we traveled back to the US from Cologne, Germany - a long trip which involved a cab ride to the airport, an hourlong flight to Berlin, a somewhat confusing transfer to a huge Airbus which we were taken to via bus from the boarding gate, and the 9 hour transatlantic flight back home. Going through customs, changing our Euros back to dollars, and getting our luggage was a cake walk in comparison. And then there was the 20 minute ride home via the CTA Blue line, complete with a passenger having a very loud and angry phone conversation in our train car - ah, it's good to be home! Doorstep to doorstep, I think we were in transit some 18 hours. Pretty exhausting but totally worth it because Germany was awesome. I can't wait to share more posts with you about it, but for now, I just want to get back to "normal" and share my current WIPS.

First off are the projects I started before the trip - the Boson Cowl in Ancient Arts Merino/Silk Fingering:
And a simple stockinette hat using Bijou Basin Ranch's Xanadu and Shangri-La yarns held double:

I was really worried that my knitting needles would be confiscated on the trip home to the point that I packed both of these projects and took some yarn and a crochet hook with the express purpose of beginning a crochet project on the return flight home. I'm not sure why I packed extra yarn when I was at a place where there was all the yarn and it was inevitable that some would come home with me, but for some reason I did, and it ended up not being used because I couldn't resist winding off one of the skeins of ArtYarns Merino Cloud I got at the H+H show. On Monday morning at the Cologne Airport (AKA Sunday night CST), I had a ball of yarn and a crochet hook:
By the time I was ready to go to bed on Monday night (at 7pm, thank you, jet lag!), here's what I had completed of my second Calm Cowl:
On Friday, I'll be sharing my stash enhancement from the trip, but for now, here are some amazing little samples of some yarns that are made in Southern Germany which were gifted to me by my new friend Patrija:
I'm excited to play around with these little skeins, and I'm pretty sure I will be ordering a full skein or two in the very near future!

Friday, March 18, 2016

FO Friday: Red Truck

At last, the mystery of the weird blobby knit pieces is solved! All this time, I have been making parts of a stuffed toy truck for our nephew Ethan's third birthday:
He's completely obsessed with the color red right now - to the point that anything that isn't red is doomed to be ignored by him, I think. I think he liked it, and I had fun making it, so mission accomplished! Yarn and pattern details here on Ravelry.

Friday, March 11, 2016

FO Friday: Tortie Cat Socks

My two-at-a-time Tortie Cat socks are officially done, just in time for my trip to Germany. I'm probably going to wear these on my trip!

For the leg, I used the stitch pattern from Hunter Hammersen's Knowledge of What Was Sensible socks from Fine Things for Plain Occasions. Then, I put in placeholder yarn for an afterthought heel and switched to stockinette stitch for the foot. 
I think I'm finally on board with 2-at-a-time socks on circular needles with magic loop. As much as I've enjoyed knitting socks with DPNs, it sure is nice to have two perfectly matched socks finished at the same time. What's kind of funny about this pair is that one sock is a little darker than the other, something that can happen with hand-dyed yarn (that's why it's usually recommended to alternate skeins every other row, so that you can minimize these differences). I split this skein in half by weight and there was no way I wanted to split it into fourths and juggle 4 strands of working yarn, so I'm totally ok with the slight difference between the two socks.
Incidentally, the yarn is BFL Sock in the tortie cat colorway from the Ancient Arts Yarn Meow Collection, which benefits pet rescue charities!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Whittling Down the WIPs

As you probably guessed, I've been working hard to finish projects that are already on the needles so that I can start a few new projects when I'm in Germany for the H+H Show. Over the weekend, I finished my secret knitting project of blobby proportions - it took a good, solid afternoon of watching a Royals spring training game to finish that sucker up, but I think it turned out well and I plan to share the FO photos next week, once it's been gifted.

After that, I set my sights on the Tortie Cat Socks; on Sunday night, I finished the toes, and this week I am now working on the afterthought heels so that I can officially move this project into the "done" pile!
I did start another handspun baby bear hat so that I had a simple knit I could take on-the-go; on Monday, I found myself randomly at the International Home & Housewares show at McCormick Place here in Chicago, which was a total trip. Seriously, that show was bonkers. I was so dumbfounded, the only photo I managed to take was of this awesome Pac-Man wall that was attached to a booth I now remember nothing about (so, mission not accomplished for this display, I guess).
On the plus side, I had some transit time during which I could knit on this hat, and my goal is to finish up this hat before Germany, which I think is doable!
And that's it for this week. Whew. Thanks for hanging with me and the kind of scant blogs which have been occurring this month. Once I get back from H+H, you can bet I will be blogging full-force once more. I will have a lot of photos to share from Berlin, Cologne, and of course, the H+H show itself, where I'll be looking for the latest trends to share with you. And who knows? Maybe I'll come home with an FO or two!

Friday, March 4, 2016

FO Friday: Potato Chip Knitting Edition

Well, this is probably the fastest I have ever knit a shawl, especially while working on other projects at the same time! I cast on for the Sail Shawl on February 12th and had it off the needles by February 25! Of course, blocking took a little longer to get around to, but I finally did it this week and look at how awesome it turned out:
The yarn is a mini skein kit from Wonderland Yarns in a colorway that was specially dyed for the Fiberista Club this month, Rogers Park. This pattern was totally addictive - I couldn't stop knitting because I was excited to make it to the next color block.
And here is the finished shawl, which is a soft and squishy asymmetrical shawl that I can hopefully figure out how to wear (I find non-rectangular items a little difficult to style). Even so, it was really fun to knit; I thoroughly enjoyed both the yarn and the process!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Forced Hiatus

Late last week, I came down with the flu and was really down for the count, hence the brief hiatus from blogland. Once I came back to the land of the living, I took stock and realized that I've been pushing myself a little too hard in pretty much every area in my life, and I need to dial back wherever I can. So, I will be posting a little less frequently for the next month or so in an attempt to achieve a little more work/life balance. I'll still post weekly, but three posts every week just isn't sustainable at the moment.

Not much progress has been made since last week, unfortunately. The first few days I had the flu, I could barely knit at all, which to me is the worst part of being sick. Eventually I got to the point where I could get a few rounds knitted on my Tortie Cat socks before I had to rest - so the essentially look the same as last week. Now that I'm feeling better, I've been trying to focus most of my knitting time on my top secret project, which needs to be done by the 12th - look at how many new random shapes I've added to the blob pile!
That's it for this week - sorry it's not a more exciting post!