Friday, March 31, 2017

June Cashmere Review & Coupon Code For Free Pattern

When it comes to yarn, there are a few things I can't resist: 

1. Cashmere. 
2. A great story.
3. A beautiful shade of grey.

If you're a regular reader (or an instagram follower, for that matter), none of these confessions will surprise you. I am a total luxury yarn junkie, and grey is one of my go-to colors for knitting projects - let's not even try to count the number of gray projects I knit last year!So, when I was given a choice of colors from the absolutely stunning jewel-tone palette for June Cashmere's DK weight yarn, guess what I picked? 
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Yup, I chose Slate grey. Act surprised! 

I was also offered a free knitting pattern, the Journey Mitts, which uses just 1 skein of the DK yarn. More on that in a bit - and how you can score a free pattern for yourself, too. First, I want to share the incredible story behind June Cashmere, which is sourced directly from small family farms in Kyrgyzstan, processed in Europe, and then organically dyed in Maine. It's offered in two weights, lace and DK, in a sophisticated palette which is offered in both weights. 


The June Cashmere story is a pretty cool one, but I think this video tells it far better than I could summarize: 


The story and presentation of the yarn knocked my socks off from the beginning - but I am sure that you are wondering what it was like to actually work with the yarn! A short stapled fiber such as cashmere can sometimes be prone to breakage and pilling, even as you knit with it (and, heaven forbid, should you need to rip back to fix a mistake). However, this yarn is comprised of many plied which seem to have the perfect amount of twist to minimize pills. I had to tink back a few times while knitting the project, and the yarn definitely held up. 

They're perfect for catching Pokemon on a rainy spring day!

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(Full disclosure - the Oddish ran away shortly after taking this photo)
Here they are ready for action on my desk - as you can see, the cables really pop!

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This yarn was so pleasureable to work with! If you would like to give it a try, you can get a free print copy of the Journey Mitts pattern free with purchase of yarn now through April 30. Just enter coupon code stefanie at checkout - click here to choose your yarn color

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How can you say no to that?!

You may like to know: Free product was provided in exchange for a review; all opinions are my own. 



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WIP Wednesday & YarnCon Countdown

It's been a few weeks since I shared what I'm working on, mostly because I've been focusing on a secret sample knitting project that I can't share just yet - which means that most of my WIPs are seeing very little action. In fact, the only project to progress somewhat since this post is my Find Your Fade (although I'm still not even halfway through the second to last color). Obviously, I won't be finishing by the end of this month, which is when the KAL ends, but hopefully I can get it off the needles sometime in April! Meanwhile, my knitting basket is getting a tad crowded.

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That probably wasn't helped by starting another new project over the weekend - even if it is rather small. This cute fair isle mittens ornament kit was gifted to me over the holidays and I've been meaning to break into it ever since. If not now, when*?

*Pro tip: this is how you can justify just about any cast-on.

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I also have a new project on the loom which will be a display piece for Bijou Basin Ranch when they attend the Intermountain Weavers Conference in July. I've been trying to take it slow so that there are fewer mistakes and nicer edges than my first two weaving projects, and so far so good. The idea is to show off this beautiful hand-dyed colorway (Joseph) from MJ Yarns that is dyed on Bijou's yak/bamboo base, Lhasa Wilderness:

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I've always loved knitting with this yarn (see: Molten Metal Cowl), and weaving with it it also pleasurable. It took a little bit of getting used to since it's more slippery than the wool yarns I've been weaving with, but the learning curve was rather mild, and I am loving the results:

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I am definitely planning to weave more projects with this yarn in the near future.

It's the most wonderful time of the year! This weekend, I'll be at YarnCon here in Chicago, which is hands-down my favorite fiber show of the year. If you happen to see me there, come say hello!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Weaving Wednesday: A Successful Scarf!

On Monday, I shared a review on the weaving class I took on Craftsy; today for Weaving Wednesday, I want to share more photos of my class project, a stash-busting scarf using leftover scraps of yarn.

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I got overly ambitious for this project, which is only the second piece of weaving I've created on my Flip loom - but that didn't stop me from trying to be fancy and doing a multicolored warp!

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While I'm pleased with the overall effect, I would definitely take more care to choose yarns that have similar fiber content. Quite honestly, I'm not sure how I pulled this project off, because I was not experienced enough to deal with the wide variance in tension for each yarn in the warp. It was pure luck that it all worked itself out.

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I had to order a different heddle for this project, and while I waited for it to arrive, I wound a lot of different yarn scraps onto the stick shuttle in the order that I thought I would use them. It worked for a while, but then I started to change my mind as I wove and it became annoying to unwind the yarn I didn't want to use, and then wind on the yarn I did want to use. For my next stash-busting scarf, I will definitely wind yarns onto the shuttle as I use them so that the colors are more spontaneous (and, by the way, is what Angela did in the Craftsy class - so now I know it's for good reason!!).

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Both of these lessons seem like obvious "oh, DUH!" moments, but in my excitement about learning how to weave and my zeal to make this project, I totally lost sight of such important details. Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes and avoid learning these lessons the hard way!

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The finished scarf has tons of imperfections, and yet it turned out 3000% better than I thought it would - I love it! And I can't wait to weave more scrappy scarves to eliminate those leftover bits and bobs in my stash.

If you're curious about weaving, I encourage you to check out my review of the Rigid Heddle Weaving class I took on Craftsy, which is what this project is from. Weaving is super fun, easy and FAST - and if I can do it, anyone can!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Rigid Heddle Weaving with Angela Tong on Craftsy

Not too long ago, Angela Tong asked me if I was interested in taking her Rigid Heddle Weaving Craftsy Class and gifted me enrollment to the class for free. Truthfully, it had been a while since I'd even logged into Craftsy - in that time, the Craftsy website has been redesigned, and they've also created an app for smartphone and tablet users!

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Test driving the app was almost as exciting to me as taking this class (almost!!). I was able to set my iPad up next to my loom to watch the class lessons as I worked on my project, which was super handy. Also, iOS users can download lessons for offline viewing, which would be great for traveling. It was just as easy to make notes on videos as it is on the desktop version, and I notice they added a "30 second repeat" option (or maybe that's always been there and I'm just now noticing?!).

Although it's been a while since I've watched any of my (many) Craftsy classes, I am a huge fan of them; every single class I've taken has been informative and well-produced, and Angela's Rigid Heddle Weaving class was no exception. It featured 8 video lessons which were packed with a ton of great into; I learned so much as I watched each video and worked on my class project, the Scrappy Stashbuster Yarn Scarf. Absolutely everything needed to complete your first project from start to finish was covered here: keeping track of where I am in my project, making neater edges, weaving in ends as I go....and even though I was overly ambitious with my own scarf project, I had some pretty awesome results:

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(I'll be sharing more scarf photos on Weaving Wednesday, for now I want to focus on this review!).

Once students get their first project under their belts, they can try a slightly more advanced project to create two matching tea towels. These lessons cover a lot of interesting material, from winding a warp to creating a decorative hemstitch as an alternative to fringe on your project. I'm not sure that I'm ready to give this project a try just yet (and I am still really obsessed with making stash-busting scarves!), but I'm sure that day will come soon. I still got a lot of great takeaways from watching the videos, so they are worth checking out, even if you don't plan on making that project just yet.

Of the downloadable resources, my absolute favorite is the Calculating Amounts of Yarn worksheet; I have actually printed out multiple copies to use on future projects. Also included are worksheets for winding a warp, along with patterns for both of the class projects. At the end, there is a bonus lesson where Angela shares some different fringes for finishing a woven piece, which I'll definitely be experimenting with on future projects!

I would 100% recommend this class to anyone new to rigid heddle weaving; while the books I have are excellent references, you really can't beat seeing something before your very eyes. And if you can't get to an actual class or workshop, this really is the next best thing. I love that I can continually refer back to the videos when I need a refresher on direct warping my loom or finishing a project.

Click here to sign up for Angela Tong's Rigid Heddle Weaving Craftsy Class!

You may like to know: This class was provided to me for free for the purposes of a review; all opinions are my own. This post uses affiliate links. 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Startitis 1, Stefanie 0

Confession time: not only did I neglect to finish any WIPs over the weekend (act surprised), I started something new!

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This skein of June Cashmere DK has been staring me in the face since last December, so I'm surprised I made it this long without casting on, to be frank. Lately, cashmere is my kryptonite, and so far I am really enjoying this one.

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I'm making the Journey Mitts and will be sharing a full review of this yarn soon (and I might have a special coupon code for my lovely readers, too - wink, wink!).

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Also, check out this adorable sheep-like Pokemon I caught recently - he's too cute not to share!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spring Cleaning Achievement Unlocked: Craft Library

Over the weekend, I spring cleaned my craft library! My bookcase was about ready to burst, and I didn't have room for any of the newest acquisitions. Clearly, it was time to clear out some of the books and magazines that I most likely would never use, resulting in a HUGE pile of mostly magazines (and a few books) which will be looking for a new home.
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In addition to organizing everything a little better, I also made sure that my Ravelry library was up-to-date, adding in anything that wasn't already listed and deleting all of the books and magazines that I no longer own.
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Naturally, I didn't make any progress on turning some WIPs into FOs, but maybe next weekend I'll get that WIP basket spring cleaned...

Friday, March 10, 2017

I Need To Spring Clean My Knitting Basket

I really want to start a new knitting project, but with a deadline project currently on the needles and more coming down the pike for spring, I really can't justify doing so unless I finish one of the many projects which have been languishing in my project basket. While I'm totally ok with the crochet handspun blanket being a WIP for a prolonged period of time, it's pretty ridiculous that the bulky weight sweater I started last August isn't even at the halfway mark.

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This stripey cowl in Seraphim yarn has been on the needles since the beginning of September, and I've moved it to my office so that I can sneak in a few rows here and there during conference calls. The last time I did that with a project, it became an FO pretty quickly - of course, that project was worsted weight, not lace weight yarn!

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Technically, the Find Your Fade KAL ends on March 31, but it seems to be pretty laid back in terms of the rules. I'm totally fine if I'm not eligible for prizes, so I'll try to finish my Fade by the end of the month, but I'm not going to make an extraordinary effort.

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And these stockinette socks are still very much on the needles, hanging out in my purse for whenever I leave the house and need something to knit on that doesn't take a lot of brain power!

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Wouldn't it be amazing if I finished one of these projects over the weekend? I won't be holding my breath....

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Weaving Wednesday: Destash Scarf Project

Last weekend, I started my first class project from the Craftsy class I'm taking (full review will be forthcoming!) I'm using leftover bits and bobs of yarn to make a long scarf, and I was so excited about it that I wound the stick shuttles two weekends ago while I was waiting for the heddle I needed to arrive. The idea is that it will be gradient-ish from black to blue to green to grey for the weft.

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Once the heddle arrived and it came time to warp, I had an idea: why not make a gradient-ish warp, too? The thought entered my head and stayed there when it came time to warp the loom. Apparently, I was feeling very experimental and devil-may-care last weekend, because I went all-in and decided to use....five colors?!Not only that, but they were all different kinds of yarn, and as you can imagine, that produced some interesting tension issues to start things off.

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But this wacky little experiment isn't all for naught: so far, my favorite of all of the warp yarns is the Berroco Vintage. I would totally use that again as a warp for a future project! And though things were a little wonky to start, most of the tension issues seem to be working themselves out as I keep adding more weft to the project. With any luck, I'll have this project finished by the end of this month, if not sooner!

Friday, March 3, 2017

FO Friday: Legacy Mittens!

I finally have an FO to share this week - these simple striped mittens using both skeins of yarn from my first shipment of Mountain Meadow Wool's Legacy Yarn Club:

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I used a free pattern from Kelbourne Woolens, the Lychee Mittens, and two skeins of  Mountain Meadow Wool Tweed Worsted (you can read more about the yarn here). This was also the perfect opportunity to use my new mitten blockers!

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I really enjoyed working with this yarn - it just felt good in my hands. If I had to elaborate more, the best I can do is describe it as crisp, the perfect blend of softness while still feeling substantial and durable. Though it's it's a 3-ply, it wasn't the slightest bit splitty as I knit.

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Hooray for finished mittens!

The resulting mittens feel so warm and cozy; I could totally see myself making a sweater out of it down the road (you know, when I finish the two sweaters currently on my needles and work through the various sweater quantities of yarn still lurking in my stash).

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Now, if I can just manage not to lose one of the mittens the first time I wear them outside of the house, I'll be in business!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

For The Love Of Sheep

Last fall, I reviewed Love+Leche lotion bars (click here if you missed it). I'm the first to admit that I'm a bit of a product junkie, and I particularly am always on the hunt for ways to keep my hands moisturized. Working with wool sucks a lot of moisture out of your skin, and I have also been traveling a lot more for work in the past year, so a really good lotion bar can come in quite handy since it's TSA friendly for your carry-on.
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There's a lot to like about Love+Leche lotion bars, but first and foremost is that they work. They really do melt into your skin and are easy to use - I've tried a few other lotion bars that simply wouldn't melt into my skin as promised, and it was frustrating to say the least. My hands feel moisturized and supple, but not sticky or greasy. After a brief moment, I can pick up my project without fear of getting my yarns and needles gunked up with product.
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I also love that the products are natural & handmade (more on that here); they are scented with essential oils and every single bar I've sniffed smells fantastic. This time, I chose the Lavender Rosemary and I'm quite pleased with the woodsy, herbal scent. However, the new sheepy shape they've introduced is really the star of today's review!

This new design took over a year to come to fruition: the folks at Love+Leche worked with a local Santa Fe sculptor who designed the mold was designed from a touching photo of two sheep that was turned into a sketch and then finally carved out of clay.
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Image via loveandleche.com. 
I honestly didn't think they could top the sleeping cats shape, but clearly I was wrong. It's so cute, I almost don't want to use it because then my little sheep friends would slowly fade away. Perhaps that is the one con, but I'll let you in on a little secret: you can preserve the shape of the sheep by grasping the sides and rubbing the bottom of the lotion bar over your hands (or whatever you want to moisturize), depositing plenty of moisture wherever you need it while still leaving top of the lotion bar intact. You're welcome!
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Love+Leche's new Sweet Sheep lotion bars are perfect for your knitting bag or to gift your knitting friends!

UPDATE!

I have a special offer for anyone interested in trying these lotion bars for themselves: Buy one lotion bar in a tin (min $14) get a free mini balm sample ($4 value) when you enter STEFANIE at checkout. This offer is expires on 5/1/17, click here to shop now!

You may like to know: Free product was provided in exchange for my honest review. Opinions are my own.