Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Gift


My long time girlfriend was having a party for her birthday which I was going to miss due to being out of town.  So, instead of my presence I decided to knit her a present to celebrate her special day.  I sent it off in the post today even though she only lives about 20 minutes from me because we both LOVE getting packages in the mail.  We don't always exchange gifts, but sometimes the timing works out and I can knit something special for her.  I even shopped my stash for this one, Madelinetosh tosh dk, and COMPLETELY used up the yarn only having a few snipped off scraps leftover.  Yay!  I adore using up all my yarn on a project.  Leftover yarn seems sad and burdensome to me; it wants to "be" something, but it's never enough yardage.  

This is the pattern I chose for the hat which I followed to the "T" only adding a pompom at the end.  It turned out more beanie than slouchy as the pattern described, but I think that will fit Emily better anyway.  I used this fun free pompom maker for the pompom which you can simply download and cut out.  It works surprisingly well albeit a bit fussy.  The mitts I knit loosely based on this pattern and you can see my notes as to the changes here.  The combo is pleasing to me, but with one catch - if it's cold enough to wear the hat, you won't likely wear just fingerless mitts and if it's warm enough for the mitts you won't likely need to wear the hat.  Hmm... To solve this dilemma I purchased these stretchy gloves (which are also conductive so she can use her i phone with them on) to wear with the mitts on top of them to make them pretty.  Sorry no photo of this combo, as the gloves arrived in the mail after it was too dark for picture taking.

Now, I'm off to Washington DC for 3 nights and 3 days to spend with another longtime friend.  She is single with no children so it's an all girl, all grown up weekend and I couldn't be more excited!  I'm bringing my souffle dish in my carry-on bag along with truffles, tea and knitting - all the necessities in life ;) 

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along and Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Mid Winter Funk


 
Sorry for my absence.  I am in a funk of sorts:  not being able to focus on much, not settling on what to knit and ignoring my house's needs.  Time seems to be slipping by without much happening.  But, while I've been moping, my friend Emily has been busy finishing the layout/design of two of my new knitting patterns.  The first is the bunny pattern I mentioned here and keeps in the vein of my toy making, but the second is something completely different for me - a knitted hat.  

The pattern is called A Dab of Neon as the neon colored bobbles reminded me of dabs of paint on canvas.  You've often heard me talk of the lack of color here in Minnesota during the winter, well here's a blast of color to keep you going, but not so much as to overpower.  I thought of the hat being a dark grey stormy sky with flashes to vibrantly alive color dancing about.  My friend's beautiful daughter Maisie modeled it for me, and while I should have taken more pics/views I think the photos I did get turned out well. 

The yarn I used was Madelinetosh tosh dk 100% superwash merino in Dr. Zhivago's Sky and Fluroro Rose colorways.  Now oddly enough I don't wear neon colors myself, but I just had this idea and wanted to give it a try.  You can purchase the pattern either here on Etsy or here on Ravelry.  Emily gave it a lovely layout in colors that match the hat.  In fact, the pattern is so visually beautiful that I have been admiring it on and off all day long .  So, yeah I'm pretty excited as well as quite nervous about it being available and out in the world for all to see. 

Joining in late with Ginny for Yarn Along, Linda for Creative Friday 
 and Andrea for Fibre Arts Friday.    
 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Distractions form Distractions - Startitis Has Struck!


OMG!  I'm getting completely distracted from my distraction blanket knitting this week.  First, yarn arrived from eat.sleep.knit (don't you simply love that name for a yarn shop?) which had me casting on for this shawl/scarf immediately, then more yarn arrived in the mail and I found myself casting on and knitting another cozy coaster.  All the while my blanket is looking at me saying "You just have to knit one last ring Ann.  Finish me please!"  I can feel myself justifying the switch to the scarf as I "need" it for my trip at the end of the month, then the excuse to switch to the coaster is that it is small and wouldn't it be great to actually finish something.  Indeed it would, now if I can only focus!  

Both new yarns are golden yellow and super soft so I'm thinking that has something to do with it.  Minnesotans really need bright color in February, or at least this Minnesotan does.  The first yarn is from Handmaiden and it is a lovely blend of half wool half silk.  The best part about this yarn is that it was free.  Yes, free!  Eat.Sleep.Knit sends out a scratch off card with each of your orders and you can win lots of lovely prizes.  Now, I never gamble but yarn scratch off cards - yes please!  I've won a skein of yarn and a couple $5 store credits before, but this time around I won a $50 store credit!  It's been sitting in my account for almost two months as I schemed and planned what to purchase.  I pretty pleased with my choice and there's still leftover credit for something else in the future.  The second yarn is from Frog Tree and is a sport weight 100% Alpaca.  I'm holding the yarn double for the pattern and using larger needles as the original coaster I knit last year was so tiny it didn't even cover the bottom of my mug.  It's another double knit pattern like my mittens, but knit straight back and forth on a double pointed needle so much easier on the mind as well as the hands.

So, you can safely say startitis has come to roost at my house, but with no more yarn coming in the mail I'm hoping this next one will have me settling down to at least finishing one project.

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday and Andrea for Fibre Arts Friday.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Plugging Away and An Upcoming Project


 This morning I find my right forearm is sore from all the blanket knitting I've been doing as of late.  I have been diligently plugging away and finished another square ring yesterday.  While I'm pleased I'm a bit overwhelmed that there are still 2 more skeins left to knit the final edging.  There will be some leftover yarn to be sure, but it's still quite a lot of yarn to knit when I just want to get this project done and out of my WIP pile.  Actually, I want to put it into use as the weather has turned colder and in our drafty house you can feel the difference (not that you can tell by my barefooted short sleeve t-shirt wearing son but that's another story.)

Since I don't have too much new to show you on that project I thought I'd show you a future project I have planned that I'm both excited and a bit nervous about.  When reading the Interweave Press KNITS magazine Santa so kindly left in my stocking this Christmas, I ran across an article about some very unique yarn.  It's called Silver Spun and as the name implies it actually has silver spun into the yarn.  The contents to be exact are 87% Combed Cotton / 5% Silver / 5% Nylon / 3 % Spandex.  We all know what cotton is, nylon I know is added for durability and strength but I was thrown for a loop as to what the silver and Spandex would accomplish.  Well it turns out the silver makes the yarn therapeutic because it has excellent thermal properties as well as making it conductive.  The Spandex is then used to keep the silver from breaking apart.  Interesting no?  The conductive properties really hooked me because that means you could wear gloves made out of this yarn and still use your smart phone.  The Feel Good Yarn Company who makes this yarn thought of that too and put together the above kits with this free pattern for making just such a pair of gloves.  I instantly thought of my husband who is in the tech trade and gets many business calls on his cell phone, sometimes at less than opportune times as he is on call 24/7.  For example, he was walking home from the bus stop this winter with his hands laden down with many bags and got a call on his phone.  He managed to get it out of his pocket but with only three rings before voice mail kicks in there was no time to take off gloves so what did he do?  Why used his tongue of course!  Can I get an ewww!  Yes, that was my reaction too.

Anyway, I purchased this kit right away after I read the article in December, but they have yet to knit themselves into gloves so I thought I'd give myself a deadline.  My plan being to knit these up for Dan's birthday which falls on the last day of March.  Plenty of time of course, but they'll come after this blanket, a hostess gift I'm knitting for a friend who's hosting me on my trip to Washington DC at the end of February and of course since I'm going on a trip I want to knit this scarf to wear while there...  So, I'll probably won't start these gloves until I'm on my plane to see my friend Anna.  They are the perfect travel knit though as they are small and will tuck easily into my purse.  The only reservation I have is knitting 10 individual fingers knit in the round on US size 2 needles.  Sounds very laborious, but hopefully they will knit up fast.

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Distractions - Blanket Knitting


The double knit mittens I'm making have my fingers cramping (my needles are very pointy too leaving my finger tip sore from pushing the stitches off - angora yarn can be "sticky") so I started looking about for a distraction.  Well, knitting distraction that is, as there is plenty of housework needing to be done I'm just not of a mind to do it.  But, being productive is important to me, which had me turning to my WIPs hoping for something simple and a bit mindless.  This blanket fit the bill even though it's technically not a WIP, as it was finished and has been in use for some months, but I decided a few weeks back that it was too small at only 45 inches square (it doesn't really wrap around the body enough when cuddling on the couch).  

I began searching for some yarn on Ravelry looking through people's stashes of Lorna's Laces Shepard Worsted and Green Line Worsted, as those were the yarns I used previously, to see what was available in the sell or trade category.  This is a good way to find great yarn at discounted prices.  Although, really this blanket is not an economical project even having purchased all the yarn in this manner.  The afghan was knit using 8 1/2 - 225 yard skeins and now I'm looking to add 6 more - yikes!  Tallying up the cost officially is something I'm not ready to face up to, but in for a penny in for a pound and I might as well end up with a blanket in a size I'll regularly use.  See, I never really thought this project through and I think that's the problem.  It began with a lone skein of worsted weight yarn along with a bad case of "start-itis" (you know when you want to start a casting on a million knitting projects at once?  Oh yeah, it's a disease all right which comes and goes like the common cold, but leaves a devastating wake of partially knit projects behind) and thought "Hmm an afghan knit with only ten stitches - that sounds like fun."

Back to searching for those 6 more skeins of yarn.  I found 2 skeins of a Navy Blue which I loved, and I thought would make at least one ring around but I still needed even more yarn to get the 60 inches square blanket I desired.  As luck would have it I found 4 skeins of the exact same yarn, same colorway (Lorna's Laces Shepard Worsted in Edgewater) that I began with in the blanket's center.  Yay!  It will now look like I planned the colors out instead of buying random yarn as I went along.  The messages were sent, money changed hands and in a manner of days 6 skeins of yarn arrived in the mail  - easy peasey!

The navy ring was completed yesterday and I'm hoping by next week I'll finish the last 2 multicolored rings.  Then the blanket will be complete and the distraction will have passed and maybe, just maybe I'll get back to those mittens. 

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday and Andrea for Fibre Arts Friday.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Double Knit Mittens


First attempt.

Second attempt.

 Here you can see the inner and outer layers of the mitten.

I was flailing around a bit this weekend trying to figure out where to put my knitting energy when, while cleaning up, I found the above lone failed mitten.  Perfect small project to crank out to completion, or so I thought.  The first attempt was a fail because I made them too big and my brilliant idea for making them double layered with an angora liner (ooo bunny warmth!) was poorly thought out.  I started with a provisional cast on thinking I would simply undo those stitches and begin a second mitten that would mirror the first.  This is the same method I used when I sewed a pair of double layer mittens out of felted sweaters a few years back.  But, after trying the idea out the cuff got too bulky and stretched out funny on the folded edge where the two layers met.  So, I frogged back and did a stretchy cast off on the cuff with a new plan of picking up stitches on the inside above the cuff to knit the second layer.  Well, that idea also crashed and burned leaving me with a too big single layer mitten - exactly what I didn't want.

In come Ravelry to the rescue!  I knit double knit coasters a while back and the thought occurred that I could use the same construction method to make the mittens.  I love that Raverly has such great search options and I could choose to search this specific construction method, as well as what I wanted to knit.  Most of the patterns that appeared in my search had two color patterns which looked awesome (I love this one), but weren't a good fit for the handspun yarn I was using (You may recognize it as leftovers from that yellow hat.  That's right I'm making a matchy-matchy set - yay!)  Then I ran across this pattern, which was a simple single color on the outer layer with a liner - perfect!  It's more of a recipe than a pattern per se, but still really easy to follow.  Now I'm finally on the right track, a slooowww track, but the right one.  You see you knit the one row in the outer color and then work back around in the opposite direction in the liner color.  It has no formal gusset for the thumb.  Instead you knit in a scrap piece of yarn which you will undo after you complete the body of the mitten, picking up the now "live" stitches to knit the thumb in the round just as you did before.  The only tricky thing is to remember to make a right AND left mitten as this style makes the mittens hand specific. 

I wish you could feel through the internet how squishy soft these are, but alas you'll just have to trust me the resulting fabric is fabulous!  The only downside to this project is that I cannot just crank them out like I was hoping for, but the end product will be just what I want and that's what matters most. 

Joining in with Rachel for Yarn Fanatic Party, Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fresh Off the Wheel - I've Got the Blues

 

Lately, I've been at my spinning wheel finishing up projects like trying to complete my yarns before the plys sit around for too long and lose their energy.  The above fiber is from The Painted Tiger and is New England Wool Top dyed in beautiful shades of blue.  Navy blue is my favorite color, besides orange that is, and I love finding it in yarns and fiber as I know it will go with all the clothes I own.  I also purchased this fiber for it's "type' which is really a region and not a specific sheep, basically a representative of American sheep in the Eastern United States.  It's not super soft, but is rumored to be hard wearing which suited my needs for luscious blue socks.  Now, I am still pretty new to spinning (as can be seen in the tangled mass of plys plied in the wrong direction in the photos above) and I realized I should have given this yarn more twist to make it stronger and more durable.  Thus, I am a little forlorn to have gone to so much effort for socks which might not last as long as I want (which is forever of course.)  The yarn turned out to be a bit thicker than planned which pushed me to use US size 3 needles instead of the US size 1s I would normally choose for socks.  They were knit from a general gusseted heel toe up sock pattern from Wendy Johnson's book Socks from the Toe Up.  Honestly, I have yet to knit any complicated sock patterns as the yarn always seems pretty enough in a simple ribbed pattern.  Which is your "go to"sock pattern?

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday and Amanda for Fibre Arts Friday.
representative of American sheep in the Eastern United States - See more at: http://www.thepaintedtiger.com/category_69/New-England-Wool-Top.htm#sthash.GZdPT2AY.dpuf
representative of American sheep in the Eastern United States - See more at: http://www.thepaintedtiger.com/category_69/New-England-Wool-Top.htm#sthash.GZdPT2AY.dpuf