Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Knitted Gnome Family Pattern



I have been busy knitting toys in hopes of a good Holiday Season of sales here at Simply Playing.  Along with knitting toys I developed a pattern (last year actually, but finally written out) that I'm hoping to launch in the next month or two.  It's of a gnome mama with her baby and child.  Some will be in the store soon sold as mama with her baby in a sling and then the child will be sold separately.  Being new to pattern writing I am looking for a few test knitter's to test it out before it's made public.  If you are interested in being a test knitter please email me at ann"at" simplyplaying"dot"net.  

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fresh Off the Wheel - Speckled Chickens?




It's getting close to the Holiday Season of Craft Fairs for me and my knitted toy business Simply Playing so, personal knitting has slowed, if not stopped completely, while toy making goes into full swing.  Thus today's post on my latest "Fresh Off the Wheel" yarn is not intended for a hat or mittens as is my usual, but instead is for chickens - knitted toy chickens.  It is rather silly to spend all the time I do spinning yarn (I am a slow spinner) to knit a simple little toy, but I really love the results which oddly I came across by accident.  

You see I purchased this black lama roving from Friends in Fiber thinking I would ply it as a single strand to ply with a rainbow ply to sell in my shop.  Well, it kept breaking and getting away from me as I was trying to spin it being too slippery for my inexperienced hands I believe.  To solve this problem I thought I'd card it with another wool fiber to give it a bit more "grab" so the fiber would stick together and let me draft with better ease. White merino was what I had on hand and using it with the lama fiber did make drafting easier, but I had no idea what to make with the yarn it until it occurred to me that it kind of looked like a black and white speckled chicken.  

One of the venues in whose Holiday Fair I participate in is Dodge Nature Preschool.  They have an interesting feature to their classrooms - live chickens.  Yes, they have live chickens that the preschoolers get to help care for and play alongside with - it's a very wonderful school.  Needless to say I sold out of my chickens at last year's fair.  As I'm hoping to participate again this year I thought I'd make more varieties and quantities of knitted chickens.  And now I have a speckled black and white variety to add to the mix.  What colors do you associate with chickens?

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cold Sheep and Stash Update - August



 


Wow, the summer has flown by me this year!  It's hard to believe it's the end of August and the weather is already cooler.  It wasn't cool on the day I modeled the above shawlettes though; it was muggy and hot!  It made for a speedy 5 minute photo shoot before "the boys" (my husband and son) went to play some tennis at our park across the street.  My son Sam was trying to distract me while Dan was snapping pics, but I think the photos came out alright despite Sam's best efforts.   The first shawlette (not quite a scarf but not big enough to be a true shawl) was a kit that I won from Luna Grey Fiber Arts.  Yes, I won something!  And a wonderful something at that!  I was so excited to win the lovely skein of sport weight yarn  from Luna Grey along with the White Dwarf pattern by Amy Miller.  What  do you think?  The color is similar to one in the Pendulum shawl (also designed by Amy Miller) I finished last month, but being a solid color I'm sure I'll get more wear out of it.  It's asymmetrical which I'm not usually drawn to, but I'm quite pleased with the result.  The second shawlette is a pattern by Ysolda Teague called Marin done in Three Irish Girls Kells Sport yarn in their Solar Flare colorway.  I loved this pattern with it's scalloped edge and center triangle (achieved with short rows), but was pretty nervous while knitting it that it was not going to turn out right.  When I did finish it was small, very small, hardly enough length to wrap around my neck.  But once it took a bath and was stretched and pinned out to dry it shaped right up to my expectations.  While not looking too happy in the picture, I am thrilled with the end product and know I will wear it lots this Fall and Winter.  Though, safe to say I won't be knitting many shawls/shawlettes in the future as my drawer is now quite full with wonderful choices of what to wear.

August is also the month of my son's birthday, so even though I had hopes of completing more projects it wasn't meant to be.  And when you can't finish a project what should you do?  Well knitter logic says "Start more projects!"  Crazy, I know, but that's just what I did.  First up is yet another pair of Taylor's Orange Toe Up Socks, and this time I actually did use a different color for the toe, heel and cuff.  The blue is some Yarn Love sport weight yarn that I over dyed with indigo (I guess you could say I didn't just "love" it - haha.  Sorry I couldn't resist,) while the orange is leftovers from Marin.  They are going along fine, but I'm a little bored so...

Yes, I started another project.  This pattern is a free one from Rowan and it needs concentration which is nice when your other project is simple but boring.  I used more yarn from my indigo dyed yarn stash (Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool which is a bulky weight) for this project along with some yarn I did buy (I know I am so failing at this Cold Sheep thing) from  Knit Picks called "Aloft" which is a lace weight mohair silk blend.  The Aloft really is the key to making this a soft fluffy sweater and is a MUCH cheaper version to buy than the recommended Rowan's Kidsilk.  What do you think about buying yarn to use yarn I already have - is it a good thing?  My team says Yes!

Last up, is what is going to be a very long term project (think years here) - a Sock Yarn Blanket.  Yup, you heard me right I am going to knit a blanket out of thin sock yarn on teeny tiny needles.  To give you an idea each of those squares is a mere 2 inches in diameter.  Uh huh, it's going to take an awful lot of squares to make even a throw sized blanket.  The idea behind the pattern is to use up leftover sock yarn which is a great idea for me as I always have left over sock yarn sitting around looking at me wondering why I don't knit with it (well maybe not that last bit.)  And, if you've read any of my posts before you know I love, love, love to use up every bit of yarn.  I adore scrappy projects, but I also adore balance of color, so get ready, yes, I bought a couple of skeins of sock yarn in oranges to balance out all the blue sock yarn I will be using.  Again, it's buying yarn to use yarn I already have, which is a bit of a slippery slope I'm finding out.  

Well, my going Cold Sheep lasted a whole 50 days before being reset yet again and is now standing at a mere 13 days.  Oddly enough, I think I'll make it through to the holidays without buying anything else as it's the busy season for my knitted toy business Simply Playing plus I already have all the yarn I need for my holiday gifts. Hmm...this was yet another long post so I think I'll try for a least two posts next month.  A girl can dream can't she?

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday and Tami for WIP Wednesdays (but on a Friday)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Cold Sheep and Stash Update - July

 

July has been a great month for finishing WIPs that have been laying around looking at me longingly through their Ziploc plastic bags.  Maybe it's because it's been a cooler summer here in Minnesota that I have felt like doing so much knitting.   Or maybe, it's simply the "high" of finishing one project has just been carrying me to finish more and more projects.  Either way I'm pleasantly pleased!

I finished my teal Pendulum shawl from this Spring, my Color Affection shawl from last Fall, and my 10 Stitch Blanket from the previous Summer!  Also completed are 2 more of these lovely coasters in blue and brown fuzzy alpaca yarn.  With so much yarn leftover from this project I decided to make 3 matching trivets to coordinate with the coasters.  You know how I love using up all my yarn!

Speaking of yarn, I went through my stash yet again and sold everything that I didn't just love, love, love on Craigslist.  So, my load is getting lighter literally and figuratively.  Now I just have a cardigan and a vest on the needles as well as the afore mentioned trivets, 8 patterns in my Ravelry queue with yarn in hand, and probably still too many skeins of sock yarn (but everyone could use some more socks right?)  I really feel in control of my stash again instead of my stash controlling me.  It amazes me how "good" things, like knitting or other hobbies, can turn into burdens if not kept in check.  Purchasing yarn only takes a few moments where as knitting said yarn can take a very long time; as can be seen by the projects I just finished.  Ah well,live and learn as they say.

I have been good about going "Cold Sheep" this month and haven't bought any yarn which puts my day total at 35 days.  Since I only seem to post once a month this Summer I guess I'll see you at the end of August.  Have a good month everyone! 

Joining in with Tami for Finished Object Friday and Linda for Creative Friday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cold Sheep and Stash Update - June









Well, it's the end of the month and time for a Cold Sheep and Stash update.  It was a busy knitting month for me with a Father's Day and a graduation gift to knit.  Knitting with deadlines is both easy and hard I find.  Easy as you know what to knit, but hard as you have no choice as to what to knit.  I got a little cocky and after finishing Dan's Alberta Vest for Father's Day I rewarded myself by finishing two nearly completed pairs of socks (you might remember the blue pair from this post and the rainbow pair you can find here,) spinning up some roving and knitting a 3rd pair of socks for myself along with another Grrlfriend Market Bag for my friend Christmas gifts.  This cockiness made completing the graduation gift for my eldest niece, a superman themed hat and scarf, come down to the wire of my frantically finishing the night before the party.  So frantic that I forgot to take a photo of them - whoops! This was WAY to close for my comfort level.

I also made the decision this month to sell my undyed yarn from my stash as dyeing, while fun, has more of a learning curve than I have patience for at this time in my life.  Also, it completely takes over our tiny kitchen, which makes making meals and getting snacks quite difficult.  They all went to Judy of Mamajudes on Etsy who dyes all my yarn for my toy shop Simple Playing. So, 9 skeins of undyed yarn are gone, 2 sock WIPs are completed, 1 vest WIP is completed, 1 roving is spun and knit and 1 skein of my indigo dyed yarn is gone.  Pretty good for one month don't you think?  I've also decided to sell some more yarn, skeins that I don't just love that feel more burdensome than exciting to knit.  Retaking my stash photos to reflect all these changes I believe is in order, as being able see all my yarn at once is helpful in choosing what to knit next.

On the Cold Sheep front I went 136 days, before I made a purchase of some lovely wool/silk yarn to make this summer top.  I caved due to a huge amount of stress that's currently happening in my life.  You see my mother, who lives with us, is moving out and it isn't under the best of circumstances.  It's a really stressful and emotional time for me and when I feel this way I either eat or buy yarn/fiber online.  So, while I'm disappointed that the Cold Sheep process has been reset, I don't feel guilty or bad about it as it is pretty understandable, at least too me.  I will start Cold Sheeping afresh and my new total is 4 days :)

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fresh Off the Wheel - Midnight Campfire


The spinning wheel was calling me after a  long reprieve and even though I have other projects in the wings (ones with an actual due date) I just couldn't resist.  I dug into my fiber stash and found this roving dyed by Wishfox Dyeworks called "Midnight Campfire".  It's Southdown wool which is a new fiber for me to spin.  A medium length fiber with lots of crimp it's supposed to be a hard wearing wool that's good for socks. 

So, socks they became!  I loosely used this pattern again with Ravelry notes found here.  They are my first pair of socks knit from handspun and even though they don't match hardly at all I am pleased.  Because I still haven't mastered spinning very fine yarn they are a bit thick.  I will actually need to get some wider clogs so I can wear them this winter.  It sounds a bit extreme, but my current clogs only fit with very thin socks so it is something I have been thinking about purchasing for a while now.  I mean who wants thin socks when it's cold out?

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cold Sheep Stash Update for May (in June)




 
 

Well, the month of May was so busy it just flew right by me with Mother's Day, friend's birthdays, scrapbooking ladies night and an awesome Unschooling conference.  So, I thought I'd catch you up on what I have been knitting and how this Cold Sheep experience is going.

Socks for my mom for Mother's Day were the first thing on my list.  I had some left over skeins of Madelinetosh Vintage which is a DK weight yarn that I had already made her a hat and two cowls from.  My mom loves hand knit socks so it was pretty easy to know how to use these skeins.  Here is the pattern I chose and you can see my modifications notes here.  First, I thought I'd only make one pair, but I was having so much fun I made two.  I did run out of the darker wine color, but luckily I had more of the rose yarn to finish the cuff.  The effect is rather sweet I think.  They came out thick and cushy; perfect for a Minnesota Winter.

Next, I knit a few chemo hats for my friend Amy's charity - Team Yarn.  I used this same pattern as before using up all my little scraps of the Madelinetosh Vintage yarn (I had 14 ends to weave in - yikes!)  Then, I knit another with some pretty Artyarn variegated yarn, but it came out a little short which bummed me out.  It is hard to measure a lace pattern I find, as there is so much wiggle room and stretch with the holes.

Last up is a project I did buy yarn for, but I'm not counting it as a divergence from my Cold Sheep project since it's for a High School Graduation gift for my oldest niece.  She wanted something handmade and "special" and I just didn't have a any yarn that would suit her.  You see she's a huge Superman fan so I'm knitting her a superman colored "school" striped scarf and a matching Superman hat with the "S" logo.  The college she chose is in northern Minnesota so she needs some warm acessories as she's walking from building to building this next winter.

The final photo is of some new yarn.  "New yarn?" you may ask.  Yup, I was hankering for some yarn to knit a couple of summery tops with and getting really close to purchasing (online shopping is dangerous!), but my dear sweet husband Dan saved me and purchased the yarn I wanted as my Mother's Day gift.  I was thrilled to say the least!  I'm hoping to knit this and this with those skeins.

Since this post is also for Yarn Along I'll quickly mention my latest book - Jane Austen's Persuasion.  I enjoyed re-reading Pride and Prejudice so much I thought I continue to read more of her books.  They are so well written and are so soothing after a day of video gaming with my son.  I am trying something new and reading a "free" version of this book with my Nook app on my Ipad.  Reading in bed is easier with the larger print and the light from the screen - I might be swayed to do this with more books.  We'll see...
  
My new Cold Sheep total is 113 days!  YAY!

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along