Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Atypical things

Some of the newest projects I've started are mixing up my usual grey/blue/green color scheme with an unlikely hue: pink! It's not my favorite color by a long shot, but when you are knitting for people who do like pink, then working with pink yarn just comes with the territory. For example, I started these two-at-a-time socks with a skein of Long Dog Yarn I picked up at Knit 1 earlier this year:

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Once I finish the never-ending Starshower gradient cowl, I'll cast on for a hat with this Rambouillet yarn that I recently bought from Shepherd's Lamb:

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I'm also working on a design using a new yarn base from Bijou Basin Ranch called Himalayan Summit. Of the three variegated colors they currently have in this yarn, this is probably not the one you'd expect me to pick, but I just gravitated to it while I was in their booth at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool earlier this month. It's definitely not as pink as the other projects, but I won't be able to show you more until everything's done, but I can tell you that I am loving working with this yarn.

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Over the weekend, I started a new project using some unusual (for me) yarns: I'll be making a scarf using Di Lusso, a sparkly chainette yarn, for the warp and a few skeins of Be Sweet Magic Ball for the weft, which uses various types of mohair yarns, ribbon, and I'll be sharing more about this project once it's done.

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I have another finished baby sweater to share with you this Friday. Thanks for stopping by, see you then!

Friday, September 15, 2017

FO Friday: Cashmere Consolation

I finally got a chance to weave in the ends and block my Inauguration Consolation shawl, which has been off the needles for at least a few weeks now. I loved working with this yarn, a 100% cashmere sport weight from Lux Adorna Knits. The finished shawl is so soft and lovely, and I love how the textured stitches feel to the touch.

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I have to admit that I'm having a hard time styling this shawl on myself, which is a common problem with smaller asymmetrical shawls, at least for me (if you have any tips, I'm all ears!). Hence, I'm only sharing this flat lay photo today, but hopefully I can get some modeled shots later down the road. In the meantime, look at these gorgeous stitches:

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You may or may not remember that I bought this project kit back in January at TNNA after one of my favorite Royals pitchers, Yordano Ventura, passed away unexpectedly. Now it's a consolation of another kind, as the Royals baseball season is winding down into a somewhat unsatisfying finish. It's unlikely we will make it to the postseason, and after this year we will probably lose a lot of great players to free agency. We have some great new talent coming up, but this was the last hurrah for the core group who made the 2015 championship season what it was. It's sad, but that's baseball...at least I have a new cashmere shawl to console me in the upcoming offseason!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wisconsin Weekend

Last weekend, I did pretty much all my favorite things in the span of 72 hours: I went on a brewery tour in New Glarus, Wisconsin on Friday afternoon with my husband and in-laws; on Saturday, some friends and I drove back up to Wisconsin for the Sheep & Wool Festival, and on Sunday, I stayed closer to home and met up with a few friends at the Renegade Craft Fair. Whew! I seriously need another weekend to recover from my weekend, but it was worth it. Plus, I got lots of knitting done in the car!

I took the most photos on the New Glarus tour - it was seriously the coolest brewery tour I've ever been on, and the facilities were stunningly beautiful. You can see all of my photos on Flickr if you are so inclined, I've just chosen a few of my favorites here:

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The Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival is one of my favorite events all year, but I really fell down on the job for documenting the experience through photos. I did manage to take a few cute sheep snaps, and if you follow me on Instagram, I posted some fun stories of baa-ing sheep while I was there.

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I managed to bring home only 1 skein of yarn, a beautiful hand-dyed colorway from Bijou Basin Ranch on a brand-new base called Himalayan Summit (it's going to become a new design for later this fall!), but I made up for that restraint by bringing home tons of spinning fiber! I bought 6oz of shetland fiber, some layered batts, and a few pretty braids of hand-dyed fiber.

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Thanks for stopping by, I'll have another finished project to share with you this Friday. See you then!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Free Pattern: Beyond the Wall Cowl

I have a fun new pattern, just in time for fall knitting! The Beyond the Wall Cowl was designed especially for those irresistible mini skeins, and I used a bundle of hand-dyed minis from Mountain Meadow Wool. You can get it for free when you sign up for the Mountain Meadow Wool newsletter.

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I loved working with this yarn, which is spun in Wyoming using wool fiber that is raised by ranchers in the western states. It's combed to create a smoother, softer yarn, and then hand-dyed in an array of beautiful colors! Each mini skein is 60 yards for a total of 255 yards; I chose the blue set which includes Charcoal, Spruce, Teal, and Turquois.

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You can play around with the color order to create fun combinations. To conserve yarn at cast-on, I recommend using the crochet cast-on method, which is usually a provisional method; when used to cast on with your working yarn, this method will not only save an yarn usage, it will match your bind-off nearly perfectly, too. Here is a great tutorial to help you master this cast-on technique.

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This pattern is also super easy to modify however you wish; two sizes are included in the insturctions, and the smaller size can be made into a taller cowl if you add in more rounds of stockinette stitch for each color block. Size L was designed specifically to use up all of the yarn in 1 bundle of Alpine mini skeins, so if you want a taller cowl for this size, you will need to purchase an additional bundle of yarn.

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Sizing:
S (L) - approx 23 (34)” circumference

Flat dimensions: 
Size S: 7” x 11.5”
Size L: 7” x 17.5”

Materials: 
  • 1 Bundle Mountain Meadow Wool Alpine Mini Skeins (3-ply DK 100% Mountain Merino Targhee wool, 3.5oz., 255 yards) Colors: Charcoal, Spruce, Teal, Turquois 
  • US #7 circular needles - 24” 
  • Stitch Marker (SM) 
  • Darning Needle 
Gauge: 
21 sts and 27.5 rounds = 4” in stockinette stitch

Click here to get your free pattern by signing up for the Mountain Meadow Wool newsletter
Click here to queue on Ravelry.

Love this pattern? Pin it!


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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Dyeing to Fade

Thought I haven't joined the What the Fade? MKAl, I did recently cast of for a So Faded Sweater. The idea of a fingering weight pullover that - yet again - clears several skeins of sock yarn out of my stash is incredibly appealing. This time, I didn't have all of the colors I wanted to use on hand, however. What I did have, however, is several undyed skeins of fingering weight yarn and a variety of dyes, so last weekend, I spent the better part of Saturday (and a bit of Sunday as well) attempting to dye the perfect blues to add to my Fade. And I think I succeeded! Here is my final color palette for this project:

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(side note - I have a lot of yarn from this dye session that I'll be adding to my Etsy shop soon!)

I am still working on the gradient Starshower shawl/cowl - in fact, I am just about ready to start the sixth and final section. I'm hoping that is enough rounds to get to the blue part of the gradient; as you can see, the gradient is extremely subtle thus far (but if you squint, you can make it out....right?!?!). I suppose I can always add in some extra rounds at the end if needed, and yet, I am still kind of sweating this one.

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The big news is that I started a pair of two-at-a-time socks! It feels like ages since I've knit a pair of socks, and I have been wanting to knit with this pretty skein of yarn from Long Dog Yarn that I bought at Knit 1 earlier this year. It took a while to decide on the pattern, but I finally landed on Devon from Cookie A's Sock Innovation (affiliate link). I'm looking forward to see how they knit up!

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I hope to see you back here on Friday when I have a new FREE pattern to share with you (spoiler alert!!). Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 1, 2017

FO Friday: Dillinger Hat

August has been all about finishing overdue projects (see: this post from earlier in the week). Adding to that list is the Dillinger Hat, which I started long after the KAL had concluded, and then it went into time out for over a month while I worked up the motivation to frog back a few inches to fix a mistake in my colorwork.

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The effort was well worth it, as the hat turned out pretty well! I do wish I'd gone up another needle size, though, because I forgot what a tight knitter I become when stranded colorwork enters the mix. Thankfully, it grew with blocking and fits me perfectly!  

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For anyone struggling with the crown decreases, I did leave some notes here on my Ravelry pattern page which detail how I approached the decreases to incorporate the design motif and transition into using a single color for the rest of the crown.

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The yarn was a dream to work with: mini skein kits of lovely hand-dyed merino from Wonderland Yarns/Frabjous Fibers. I've just wound the extra yarn into mini skeins to add to my grab bags which are available here on Etsy, if you are interested


Monday, August 28, 2017

Beary Special: Mother Bear Project

Not too long ago, I confessed that I had been hoarding a Mother Bear Project Kit in my stash. Oh, the shame - how long have I been depriving a child from having a beary special friend? Better not to dwell too long on that and instead focus on the fact that I finally made the knit it up, thanks to this KAL. Here is the post-knitting, pre-assembly photo:

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Somehow, this will become a cute bear!
I have to admit that I didn't love knitting this project due to yarn considerations, but when it came time to assemble it, I was pretty excited to think about who would receive it and love it and maybe run into their house to save it right before a flood passes through their village*. These bears become prized possessions to their recipients, so I wanted to make it extra cute, and I was sure to stitch a heart on it so that they knew that somewhere in the world, there was a person who loved them enough to knit them a bear.*

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Ta-Done!

For anyone who just can't handle knitting with Red Heart, you do have the option of purchasing patterns and using your own (machine washable) yarn to make your bear, rather than using one of their ready-made kits. They do have crochet versions as well, and it looks like they have also added an in-the-round version, if you are so inclined! I have ordered the in-the-round knitting pattern so that I can make another bear with yarn that I love just a bit more. 


*These are just a few of the stories in the Mother Bear Project brochure that came with my kit, which will seriously bring you to tears and make you want to knit nothing but bears for the rest of your life. You're welcome. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

FO Friday: Wonder Woman Shawl

I finished my Wonder Woman shawl just in time for Wizard World, which we went to yesterday (though the con goes through this Sunday). Here I am nerding it up, as one does at such events:

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I used 2 skeins of Bijou Basin Ranch Shangri-La yak/silk lace weight yarn and US 3 needles to make a smaller version of this shawl (and it only took 1 skein of each color - below you can see how much yarn I had left over).

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The yarn is so gorgeous, and I really love how the shawl turned out! I used the free pattern by Carissa Browning, found here on Ravelry. Since I started this project, she has added more size options and a crochet version of this pattern - I followed the instructions for what is now the larger size.

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This took up most of our kitchen floor!

Funny story: I meant to knit this project with US 4 needles, but didn't notice I had grabbed the next size down until I was about halfway through the project. Oops! But, the shawl blocked out to a very nice dimension - if you are curious to learn more about gauge considerations for my lace weight version of this project, you can read more here on the Bijou Basin Ranch blog.

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This is going to be on display in the Bijou Basin Ranch booth at several fiber festivals this fall, starting with the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival next month. Be sure to stop by to check it out, and pick up a few skeins of Shangri-La yarn while you're there!


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WIP Wednesday: All-New WIPS

All of my active WIPs have been cleared off the needles! Let me repeat: Every. Single. One. So you know what that means....I get to start new things!

Since Baby Wave 2017 shows no signs of slowing down, I cast on for another baby sweater (does the yarn look familiar?) - this time, I am using a new-to-me pattern and modifying it a bit so that I can use worsted weight yarn and US 6 needles. Originally, I was going to make this in green and blue, but at the last minute I decided that a blue-on-blue version would be more fun.

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The only other project I've started so far is a cowl using the gradient yarn I bought in Kansas City back in June. I had a hard time picking what pattern I wanted to use with this yarn, but then I remembered spotting a project by Julie of Knitted Bliss that paired the Starshower Cowl pattern with a skein of gradient yarn. Currently, it looks like a small dark blob of yarn, but as the purple to blue gradient starts to emerge, I think it'll look quite nice! 

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I'm trying to resist the urge to start ALL the things, so that's it for this week - see you back here on Friday to share one of my recently-finished projects!   

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

WIP Wednesday: I'm Guilty

Most of my knitting time & energy over the past week has been focused on finishing up the Wonder Woman Wrap. All of the ends are woven in, so it just needs a good blocking and I can call it done! In the mean time, I am still working on the Inauguration Consolation shawl - I guess it wasn't a photo finish after all!

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A recent cleanout of my yarn stash revealed that I had a unused Mother Bear Project kit hiding in my craft room. Who knows how long I have been depriving a child of a cute knitted bear? I started knitting the kit last weekend, hoping that would make me feel a little less guilty....but it's not working because now I have a new thing to feel guilty about: for instance, I dislike working with the yarn from the kit. I'm pretty sure it's Red Heart, and it hurts my hands and just feels yucky to me. But after reading the enclosed brochure that talked about how much the kids love their bears and consider them a prized treasure, I've resolved to get over it and make the cutest darn bear possible!

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As a side note, I want to mention I don't support yarn snobbery, at least not in the form of making other people feel bad for the yarns they choose to work with. Seriously, if you dig working with Red Heart, don't let my opinions ruin it for you! It's affordable and easy to come by, and you never have to worry about dye lots. I totally get it. I firmly believe that there is a spectrum of Good Acrylic and Bad Acrylic yarns. While I'm afraid the yarn I'm using falls into the Bad Acrylic category (in terms of knitting experience, at least),  I am sure that it was chosen for the kit precisely because it is easy-care and wears well. While it may not be my favorite yarn to knit with, whoever ends up with this bear will have a lovable friend for years to come.*

There is a Mother Bear KAL happening here on Ravelry through August 31, for those of you who are interested. Even if you can't finish a bear by the end of this month, I hope you'll make some time this fall to knit a bear for the project!


* Unless, of course, the bear is set on fire, in which case it will melt. Hopefully the chances of this happening are quite small.

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Yarn Alert: Lerke Pluss

I was excited to try a new yarn courtesy of Heart of the Mitten, an online store & yarn shop in Michigan who is also the exclusive US retailer of Dale Garn. Lerke Pluss, is a shop exclusive available in a gorgeous palette of 20 colors. It's an interesting blend of 53% Merino wool and 47% Egyptian Cotton, and it's made up of several plies which creates a nice, round yarn with lots of bounce - so if you find traditional cotton yarns tough to work with, this yarn is worth giving a try. Plus, it arrived with a packet of delicious tea!

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I really liked this yarn overall; the only downside I can come up with is that the yardage per skein is on the low side (87 yards in 50g). That's not a problem for a small project, but if you plan to make something larger like a sweater, be prepared to weave in a lot of ends. Having said that, I'm confident that the effort will be worth it. This yarn has excellent stitch definition and is super-soft, but I have a feeling that it will wear really well over the years with minimal pilling.

I chose to knit a free hat pattern with my 2 skeins of Lavender: Lake Reed by Asita Krebs. I think the English version is translated from German, and some of the directions were a little funky - I had to stop and think for a few moments to figure out what they were trying to say. The good news is that the instructions also included charts, which transcend any language barriers.

The finished hat is super cute and fits really well. Just to mix things up, I had Tyler model it this time around (he offered!!).

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I fully intended to knit this pattern as written, until I realized that I would not win at yarn chicken. Last weekend, I ended up ripping back a considerable amount  and made the following modifications to working the charts: 2 full repeats of Chart 1, 1 repeat of Chart 2, and 1 repeat of Chart 3. It's a good thing I did, because this is all the yarn I had left over:

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I really enjoyed working with this yarn and wold totally use it for another project - it would be perfect for a fair isle or striped pattern!

See for yourself - Click here to buy Lerke Pluss in the Heart of the Mitten online store.

You may like to know: This yarn was provided for free in exchange for my honest review. I don't receive any compensation for the links included in this post. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Close to Coming Off The Needles

I think it's going to be a photo finish for the dueling shawls; the final rows of my Wonder Woman Wrap are looooong, though I don't have many left to knit:

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While I have further to go on my Inauguration Consolation shawl, the rows are just a bit shorter:

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Even more exciting, however, is that I have only ONE other WIP on the needles: the ill-fated Dillinger Hat, which is still in time out. I think I ripped back far enough to fix the mistakes I made, so it's just a matter of picking it back up and finishing it. Easier said than done!

Here's hoping I can finish one, some or all of these WIPs this coming weekend so that I can start some new, exciting projects!

Friday, August 4, 2017

FO Friday: The 10-Month Sweater

Part of the appeal of a chunky or bulky weight sweater probably has something to do with how quickly it knits up...but I wouldn't really know, because I spent exactly 10 months knitting this sweater!

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The pattern is the Rockling Cardigan from Graphic Knits, and I used the called-for yarn, Cascade Eco+. It turned out a little larger than I was expecting, especially in the sleeves:

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..but I can fold up the cuffs and make it work:

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The idea is that this would be a snuggly layering sweater, so I'm ok with an excess of positive ease....although we discovered that it fits Tyler (albeit snugly), so perhaps I went a little overboard in that department? Honestly, it's been so long since I started this project that I can't even recall whether or not I got gauge - and of course, I kept no notes whatsoever, because why would I want to refer back to those at any point?!

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Last fall, I bought these fun owl buttons to use on this sweater, thinking I would have it finished before Christmas. Pretty funny, right? I was excited to finally use them, and so was Tilly, who "helped" me attach them.

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I think this will be a nice, snuggly sweater to keep in my office during winter, and I'm happy with how it turned out overall. Now I need to decide what sweater to start next - when I was doing some stash reorganizing I discovered I have several sweaters-worth of yarn languishing in my stash. I think it's time to turn them into something wearable.

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Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Favorite things: July

Sirka Row Counter
I have been curious about this product for years, but never bought one until recently. Then it sat in its cute little bento box, unused, for several months. Finally, the dreaded "at the same time" popped up in a pattern and instead of being annoyed as I usually would be, I was super psyched because it meant I could test drive my Sirka.

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Obviously, I loved it, or it wouldn't be included in this post! Though it seems like it might be complicated (yes, it comes with instructions!), it's really quite easy to use, and I just kept a key of what color was assigned to what set of instructions handy, since I tend to forget such things. The only drawback is that it's kind of big and I don't think I would want to use it on-the-go - but it's perfect for keeping near my knitting nook at home. And realistically, a project that has instructions that necessitate the use of a Sirka probably won't be leaving the house anyway, since I prefer to take more "mindless" knitting on-the-go.


Baby Got Yak Enamel Pins
My collection has grown considerably in the last few months, but hands down my favorite one is this Baby Got Yak pin from Bijou Basin Ranch. Full disclosure, they are my client, and I don't want to brag, but I woke up one morning and nearly shouted "BABY GOT YAK!" because it jumped into my brain after several days of pondering what slogans would make for a fun pin.

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Wonder Woman
I got a free issue of one of the new Wonder Woman comics on free comic book day and was totally blown away - honestly, I was never a huge Wonder Woman fan up until this point. But ever since, I've been reading all of the WW books I can get my hands, and I am also knitting a Wonder Woman shawl to wear to Wizard World next month!

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T2
A friend gifted me a tea sampler and now I am completely obsessed with T2tea.com. I scored some gorgeous new teaware (and tea!) in the clearance section on their website:

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It arrived beautifully packaged, I really wish I had thought to photograph or film the unboxing, because it was quite the experience. All of the teas are delicious, but the two that I am most obsessed with are the New York Breakfast (which tastes like pancakes, but not in a sweet or gross way) and the Darjeeling....but honestly, every single tea I've tried so far has been delicious.


I can't believe that the first day of August is tomorrow! Where did the summer go?! I don't know, but I'm already thinking about the fall and feeling the urge to knit all the sweaters. Luckily, I finally finished the bulky weight sweater that's been on my needles since last August, and I'll be sharing photos on here this Friday. See you then!