Monday, February 16, 2015

On The Loom: SeaGlass Blanket

As my wrists take their merry little time to heal, I've had to find other ways to keep my hands busy and my creative juices flowing without adding any extra stress to what has to be the most über busy limbs on my body. Normally when I can't knit or sew I would use the time to catch up on all my computer-related and admin duties (or at least spend hours cruising Pinterest without feeling that guilty) but I'm still computer-less (yes, still. Don't even get me started on that) and so that idea is an obvious no-go. I've tried reading a few books that I've been meaning to read but never got around to because, well, knitting and I've yet to master the art of knitting and reading at the same time, I've found that I get too...fidgety after a while. Something about idle hands... I've given up on baking when I realized that both the Mister and the Munchkin don't have as much of a sweet tooth like I do, and so the only person eating all the baked goods was me. My sweet tooth says yay, but the rest of my body screams no. Righteously so too. My metabolism isn't as young as it used to be.
I mentioned in the last post or so ago that I had dug out my Knitter's Loom, which I had let sit in the living room until I could figure out what kind of project I wanted to make with it. I'm still quite the beginner when it comes to weaving (as in I know absolutely nothing), and the only projects I've ever made in the past were scarves. I didn't want to keep making scarves as there's only so many one can have in their wardrobe (especially when one has several handknit shawls too to keep in rotation). After a good long search for ideas and inspiration on the internets I finally came up with a project idea.
I'm going to weave a blanket. Yeah...
Do I know what I'm doing? No, not really.

Am I in over my head? Probably. But hey, go big or go home. Right?

I rooted around in the stash for a while and stumbled upon a bin of Cascade 220. Aside from the handful of skeins that I was collecting to eventually knit a Missoni-inspired blanket with, I have no clue as to why I have so many single skeins of this yarn. But the assortment of colours in the bin were glorious and so I spent several hours arranging and re-arranging skeins and coming up with a bunch of colour combinations. Even though I have a fair amount of skeins in various shades of pink (no surprise there!), I decided to step away from my "usual" colour palette and go with something different. Something that my whole family will like. I'll admit that the final palette had more to do with using up single skeins than anything else but it was also one that I kept coming back to. I'm going to call it "SeaGlass".

Random tidbit: I was sorting through this bin of Cascade 220 in the Munchkin's room when this colour palette came together. Yes, I have most of my stash in his closet...he's tiny...he doesn't need the entire closet...yet. I'm going to be in trouble when he gets older and bigger though. Eep! But I've looked at the photo below several times now and I've realized that this palette is actually very similar to the one that I had picked out to decorate the Munchkin's room with! Replace the grey with a dark chocolate-y brown and voilà! You've got the kiddo's bedroom colour scheme. I had to laugh when I saw that.

Anyhoo, this is the palette for the blanket:
The top row that's featuring a grey gradient will be the warp (the strands of yarn that run lengthwise and tensioned onto the loom). The bottom row of beautiful blues, green, and yellow will be the weft (the yarn that you weave through the warp and have all the fun with). The plan in my mind is to do a gradient of greys from left to right, and then a gradient of dark to lights hues from bottom to top. Because I have so much of the dark grey and the dark blue I'm thinking of making those sections bigger than the others. We'll see how well this will work out in the end.

Here's a stroke of good luck: as I scrolling around on my tablet looking for a specific note-taking app, I had accidentally clicked on the Craftsy app. I discovered that I had purchased eons ago (and had completely forgotten about, obviously) the Rigid Heddle Weaving class taught by Angela Tong that I never watched/took! Until now, that is. I watched the course in one night. I actually learned a fair amount and am especially happy that I finally know how to calculate how much yarn is needed for the warp. When I first started weaving I had searched for this info online but came across sites that assumed that you already knew a ton about weaving in general and had thrown out numbers like no tomorrow. Knowing what I know now, turns out a lot of those numbers were for floor looms and looms that involved more than one heddle. Back then most of my scarves were a guessing game as to how long they would turn out to be and were usually made to the length of however long it was from the kitchen counter to my table. Every scarf was also a game of yarn chicken as to whether or not if I had enough yarn for the warp for a width that I was satisified with, and if I was lucky or not to either have enough leftover, be able to find a second or similar skein in the stash for the weft.

Finally getting my hands on a basic formula for calculating the warp has been not only a blessing but a confidence booster. I feel like I can now look at my stash and know right then and there if I'll have enough of one yarn for a project or at least the warp. When I did the math for this blanket I found out that there was no need to use the natural cream coloured skeins as I was going to have more than enough with the greys for the warp. I can somewhat predict just how big my final project will be - and I say "somewhat predict" because I'm not sure how confident I am in my weaving math skills just yet. The Rigid Heddle Weaving class also taught me how to measure the length as I weave, knowledge that will definitely come in handy for this project!

Judging from the math and my plan outline, I will need to weave 3 separate panels to create this blanket. Although if I had a warping board I probably could have tried weaving one continuous panel rather than needing to break it up. After warping the loom up for the second panel I now know of the desire to have a warping board - the constant walking back and forth between the loom and warping peg almost killed me!

I was planning on finishing the ends with a hemstitch and a tiny fringe, but in my excitement to get going on this project I had completely forgotten all about my plan and didn't leave a long enough tail to sew in a hemstitch. I had also advanced the cloth beam enough that I wasn't sure if I could go back, loosen what I've already woven and sew in the hemstitch. So the new plan is to have a tiny braided fringe instead. Not a big deal and it won't affect the project at all, but I was pretty excited at trying my hand at hemstitching. From the very beginning when I first tried out weaving I've always wanted to try hemstitching but could never find a good enough video tutorial. Written instructions just didn't cut it for my visual learner ways and found that the photo tutorials in some weaving books weren't thorough enough to show me how the stitch worked. I'm thinking that after I finish this blanket I will have to weave a few samplers and give hemstitching a go then.

As of today I have finished two out of the three panels needed for the blanket. I was so hoping that the colours would watch up across the width of the blanket but when I laid out the two panels I noticed that the colours indeed, did not match up. I think I got a little carried away with the weaving in the first panel AND I think my number tracking was shoddy because there are a few sections that are a little longer than they should be compared to the numbers that I had calculated for what each section length is to be. Oops! I left it though. This might bug me later but I have to remind myself that this is my first time weaving something to a game plan and my first time weaving such a big project. This blanket is just one giant learning curve in which I really am learning a lot. Weaving itself is just such a soothing activity and I absolutely love watching the colours and how the weaving works up.
I'm also extremely proud of my edges and how even they look to me. I'm a little nervous about sewing the panels up but again have to remind myself that this is a learning project and doesn't have to be 100% pure perfection. Yet. I do have plans to weave another blanket but will have to double check the stash to see if I have anything that will work with my vision and if not, what I have to work with. I simply refuse to dip into or break up my sweater quantities, and will either have to double up or rent/buy a finer reed to use with my fingering weight yarns.
A teeny tiny part of me is happy that I've been forced to venture into other creative outlets other than knitting to keep the creative juices and inspiration flowing. I've been wanting to dip my toes into other artsy pursuits in order to keep the brain fresh, gain a different perspective, and get the idea machine going but you know...knitting. Not being able to knit has prevented procrastination (ok, sort of) and project abandonment (when it's not knitting because I prefer knitting over everything else). Working on a different art form has definitely made me think and see yarn in a different way. I'm still waiting for that wave of inspiration to hit, but so far I'm having fun working a totally new project and in a different craft than I'm used to. It's an added bonus that I'm getting to use up forgotten stash too. I simply can't wait to get this blanket finished!
I'm hoping to avoid having to buy yarn and would rather use stash for future projects. I'm sure I'll probably give in eventually and buy yarn as there are some weaving techniques and ideas that I want to try out, like pick up sticks and soumak, and make things like placemats and maybe cushions (I'm being so practical, I know!). Have you tried weaving before or are you a weaver? What have you made? Let's chat!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Spud & Chloë Stripey Fine :: Review & Giveaway!!

TGIF mes amis!! I know it's been a week since I last posted but what can I say, life's not so crafty when you've got tendinitis in both of your wrists. But I'm happy to report that I've started a weaving project a few days ago and it has been great fun so far. I haven't used my loom in years but I've discovered that weaving is like riding a bike: once I started the process of setting up the warp everything started to feel familiar again and everything fell into place. Even the Mister agreed, since he's usually the one that has to help me wind the warp onto the loom. For those of you who don't weave, as far as I know at least, when doing a direct warping onto a rigid heddle loom there's one person holding the free end of the warp with some tension as a second person winds the other end onto the back apron rod. Technically you can do a solo warp and I've seen video tutorials on how to do that, but I definitely haven't reached that level of weaving confidence yet! There's probably other ways to do a direct wrap but that's as far as my weaving knowledge goes.
Anyhoo, guess what? I've also been knitting these past couple of days!! Well...I've only been able to knit for a few minutes here and there but still, I'm knitting! YAY!! Even though the knitting is slow going and it's so hard to put down the needles once you get back into the groove, I really don't want to push or injure myself any further so I have to work hard to limit myself to just a few minutes of knitting at a time. To avoid putting any excessive stress on my wrists I have to refrain from working on any large and heavy projects. Obviously that means no cardigan knitting for me and only knits that can fit entirely in my hand. You know what that means, right? Socks!

Unfortunately the two pairs that I currently have on the needles are just too fiddly for my fragile wrists, so it was absolutely perfect timing when a lovely package from Spud & Chloë arrived in the post containing a skein of their new Stripey Fine fingering weight yarn and a sock pattern for little ones! Ok, I'll confess straight up that I knew that these little gems were on their way, I just didn't know that I would have a legit reason to cast on something new and that it would be within my knitting parameters! But first, let me introduce to you the newest yarn added to the Spud & Chloë line up:

Clockwise beginning at the top: Blueberry Cheesecake, Tootie Fruitie, Grape Freeze,
Cherry Sundae, Neopolitan, Orange Crush, and Mint Chip in the center
That there is the yummy Stripey Fine!! If you're familiar with Spud & Chloë yarns and have knit with their Fine yarn before, than you'll be pleased to know that Stripey Fine is made with the same base comprising of 80% superwash wool and 20% silk, and comes in seven fabulous (and deliciously named!!) colourways as pictured above. Each variegated colourway is composed from the solid-coloured Fine palette, meaning not only can you mix and match for colourwork, stripes, and whatever other effect you can think of, but you can also find the exact colour(s) needed to create a contrast in your project - like for example the toe, heel, and cuff for socks! Due to the fine gauge and the superwash capabilities, this yarn is perfect for socks, baby knits, shawls, and cowls.
The Stripey Fine Wristlets pattern is the first design to be released that features Stripey Fine but I chose the Lots O' Socks pattern so that I could knit the Munchkin a pair of socks and let him pick the colourway. Even though the pattern is written for babies and toddlers, the kiddo has teeny, tiny, skinny legs that work perfectly with the numbers in the pattern and all I have to do is knit a little extra length in the foot to fit him. As much as I would have loved to knit with the Cherry Sundae colourway (which I'm sure you all probably thought I would have picked), the kiddo's choice was this beauty of a skein, Mint Chip:
Random factoid: both mine and the Mister's favourite ice cream flavour is Mint Chocolate Chip. True story!
Anyhoo, due to my wrists I've only managed to knit half of a sock, but it was enough to at least get a feel for the yarn. I've only ever knit with Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn before knitting with the Stripey Fine so from that experience I kind of knew that I was going to be dealing with a standup, quality yarn. Sure enough, before I even cast on the sock I could already tell that this yarn was going to create knit wear that was going to last. From sight alone you can see just how wonderfully round this yarn is and that it would yield excellent stitch definition, especially in lace and texture work. Upon closer examination and a little manhandling, I discovered that the yarn is composed of three strands - each consisting of two plies - all twisted together to form a bouncy (re: so, so squishy!!) and super strong yarn. Yes, even if the Munchkin wore these socks on a daily basis I'm quite positive that he'll outgrow them before any holes could form in the heels or toes! Did I mention that Stripey Fine is also superwash and therefore machine washable? Total bonus. I can't wait to get these socks finished and onto the kiddo's feet. With these rainy, cold, and dreary days that we've been having, these Stripey Fine socks are going to be fantastic when worn with his rain boots!

I'm seriously contemplating knitting in an afterthought heel so that I can add length and replace the heel as the Munchkin grows. Even when the leftovers are all gone, I take comfort in knowing that I can always pick up a skein in one of the solids that make up this colourway (in case any one wants to know, Mint Chip consists of: #7804 Cricket, #7814 Shitake, #7806 Calypso, #7805 Anemone, and #7800 Popcorn) and replace the heel or toe as needed. Cool, right?
Now, the only thing that might be confusing to some would be the stripey reference in the yarn's name. Depending on your gauge and pattern I suppose you can produce a self-striping effect, like how it is in my sock pictured above. Please don't knit this yarn expecting a true self-striping pattern, it is a variegated. When you take a peek at all the Spud & Chloë colourways you'll see that they're all solids, Stripey Fine is the only yarn in their product lineup that isn't. I just wanted to clarify that.
So...would you like to give this yarn and pattern a try? The lovely people at Spud & Chloë gave me an extra skein of Stripey Fine and copy of Lots O' Socks to give away to one lucky reader! If you're too impatient and need to have this yarn in your hands now, good news: Stripey Fine has already made its way to a bunch of yarn shops and if your LYS carries Spud & Chloë they might have it already in stock too (and if your LYS doesn't carry Spud & Chloë there's no harm in asking them to!). And if you've been looking for a sock pattern for your wee ones, here's even better news, use the code "STRIPEY" from February 6 to the 14th (Valentine's Day!) and get 50% off the Lots O' Socks pattern!! Link for the socks here.

Ok, back to the giveaway. Once again, you can win this duo:

One lucky winner will receive:
:: 1 yummy skein of Spud & Chloë Stripey Fine in the Mint Chip colourway
:: a copy of the Lots O' Socks pattern by Colleen Powley
:: The giveaway is open to everyone!! YAY!!
:: Giveaway is open until Friday, February 13, 2015 at 11:59pm PST
:: All comments must include a valid email address or Ravelry ID so that I can contact you if you are the winner
:: Winner will be chosen via random number generator and will be contacted within 48 hours after giveaway ends
Simply leave a comment below telling me which Stripey Fine colourway is your favourite and what you would knit with it. Don't forget to also include your email or Ravelry ID with your comment!
Good luck!
A huge thank you to Spud & Chloë for inviting me to be a part of the Stripey Fine Blog Tour. Follow the Blog Tour by visiting the other stops for more giveaways, information on the other colourways in this collection, as well as more discounts for other Spud & Chloë patterns:
Week One :: Subway Knits
Week Two :: Miso Crafty Knits
Week Three :: Little Things Blogged
Week Four :: Hands Occupied
Week Five :: Candy & Bagel
Week Six :: Stockinette Zombies
Week Seven :: Handmade By Stefanie
♥ Happy Knitting! ♥
Please note: unmarked photo(s) in this post are by Spud & Chloë and are used with permission.
:: Disclaimer ::
I am not affiliated with the company mentioned in this post. I received no monetary compensation from said company for my review. I was sent a skein of yarn for review purposes and a pattern to knit the yarn with in exchange for posting the review. The opinions I've written are my own and I will not be receiving any commissions from the links provided in this post.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Bump In The Road

Things have been extremely quiet on the crafting front around here. Not by choice though. Oh no. If it were up to me I would drop everything and do nothing but create all day long. No, sadly the postponement of crafting of any kind is due to my annoying and ongoing chronic tendinitis in both of my wrists. Yep. That's right. I said both wrists. Sewing usually initiates and exacerbates the condition, especially when I've got several dates penciled in with the rotary cutter. Sometimes the tendinitis isn't too bad and the only thing I have to hold back on is the rotary cutter usage and so I can still get away with a little bit of knitting.
But not this time though. This time I can't really do anything that involves holding my hands in a claw-like fashion for longer than a few minutes at a time. So knitting, sewing, even texting on my phone and weaving in ends has been either limited or put on hold for now. Which really and truly sucks. Especially the weaving in ends part since now would have been the perfect opportunity to force myself to do the finishings on the several projects that have been hanging out on my desk for months now. I've made a few attempts at weaving in a couple of ends but my right hand clamps up enough each time that I decided that those ends can wait a few more weeks cause it just isn't worth it if the tendinitis turned into something more serious, like carpal tunnel.
So...since I can't knit or sew I've been trying to find ways to keep busy. You don't realize just how much of your time and daily life is dedicated to knitting and sewing (or whatever other type of creating that you may do) until you can't. As a maker I find that I'm rarely, if ever, bored. Like most hardcore knitters and creative types, I've got never ending lists of WIPs that need finishing, projects to be started, and ideas that I want to work on. Really, who has the time to be bored when there are SO many things that need to be created?? Even though I've been dealing with chronic tendinitis for a decade now, I still get rather anxious when I'm unable to knit on a daily basis. The hardest part about overcoming a bout of tendinitis is avoiding the activities that aggrevate it the most. I have knitting projects on my coffee table, on my desk, by my bed side, and socks scattered everywhere else, and every time I see one of them I instantly want to pick up the needles and start knitting. Reminding myself that I shouldn't be knitting and need to let my wrists heal is a mega hard task. It's only for a few days, is what I keep telling myself but knitting is like breathing to me, it's just what I do.
These past few days I've been finding myself bored. Bored!! Seriously, what do non-crafters do with their time? In a bid to keep myself busy I've done every single piece of laundry imaginable, re-arranged kitchen cabinets, cleaned out and purged the Munchkin's room, and spent three days doing food prep to stock up the freezer (I got an amazing deal on cauliflower and made "hipster rice" since you know, cauliflower is the "in" veggie at the moment) and over a week's worth of lunches and dinners ready to go. My sleep has been fitful - which I attribute to the lack of crafting - and have pulled out my knitter's loom as a result. The last time I had tendinitis I had used the loom to alleviate the burning need to be creative and was able to stash bust quite a few skeins of yarn while I was at it. Not to mention that I always feel utterly guilty that I don't use my loom enough and haven't in what feels like years. The thing is, I have no idea what to make. There are only so many scarves and wraps that one can have in their wardrobe, and I can't think of anyone else that I could gift a woven scarf to. Maybe as teacher gifts? I got a few good ideas from Instagram - table runners, dish cloths...maybe fabric to make project bags with. But what else? I'm looking for projects that require very minimum to no cutting, as I'm still way too scared to cut into my weaving. Hmmm...any weavers out there have any ideas or suggestions for simple, yet useful projects?

In the meantime all my WIPS and especially my PinkSand cardigan keep calling out to me (it's thisclose to being done!), as are all the yarns I had pulled out for upcoming knitting projects. I've got heaps of bags that are begging to be sewn up. My poor sewing machine probably has a nice layer of dust on it by now. Ok, probably not. But it definitely feels that way. My wrists are feeling a lot better but I don't want to chance it just yet by rushing back into knitting. I guess I could pass some more time by dusting the house again...or maybe toss and re-organize the stash a little? Hmmm...I think I prefer that last one.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Off The Needles: March Hare Hat & Mitt Set

Photo taken with my iPhone...and it couldn't capture the red of the hat properly!
I've realized that I'm still a bit behind on sharing the knits that I've finished these past few months. I'm guessing the main reason for this has to do with effort. Or lack thereof. Either it's avoiding the finishing process: having to weave in ends, finding suitable buttons, sewing on the suitable buttons, and clearing up enough space somewhere in the house to properly block anything. Not that the space would matter. It's been incredibly cold in my house this winter and living so close to the water means my place is horribly humid all.the.time. It's actually kind of gross. Imagine taking a shower and then grabbing your towel to dry off only to discover that it's still wet from the shower before. Ugh. Yuck! Rubbing yourself down with a cold and still damp towel is not how I want to wake up or to feel first thing in the morning.
Then there's the photography. The timing is never perfect in which I can have both the Mister and the right natural lighting to take pictures. Although lately I'm starting to suspect that the Mister is purposely taking crappy photos in hopes that I'll never ask for his help again. For instance take the photos in this post (which were all taken with my iPhone...I'm SO sorry!!), I think we took approximately 50 photos because half of them were blurry and the other 48% had half of the knitted object in the frame. Even though I thoroughly expressed and even showed him by taking a photo of him from the angle I wanted, the Mister started to get agitated and cranky, claiming that I wasn't being clear and that he wasn't a mind reader. And even though he just ate, I swear the Mister was getting hangry. Cranky and hungry, not a good combo!
Anyhoo, let's get to the FO, shall we? So back in October my friend Em had shown up at a knit night with a beautiful hat and fingerless mitts set that she calls the March Hare Hat and Mitts. As we oohed and aahed and completely manhandled her knits, several ladies in the group immediately offered their knitting services to test knit the patterns for her. Including me. So this is my test knit set.
I knew in an instant what yarn and colours that I wanted to use. Back when Em was still running her yarn dyeing business I had bought a single skein of her Sublime DK in a gorgeous red called "Bite Me" (which I think is such a perfect name for it!). I had bought it with every intention of knitting a hat with was just a matter of finding the right pattern. The skein had sat in my stash for over a year. I would have never guessed that the dyer would also be the one to design the perfect hat pattern for it. Because the red is such a showstopper it was only natural to want to pair it with a complimentary neutral. Enter: the skein of grey Madelinetosh Tosh DK that I had bought to make the Munchkin a new hat with. Well, it turns out that the Munchkin doesn't like the colour grey and didn't want a new hat (whose kid is this??). The Munchkin's loss is my gain. Yay for being able to use stash yarn and not having to buy more!
But as I was knitting the hat I started to kick myself regularly for not buying a sweater's worth. With every row I had to stop and admire just how gorgeous this tonal red is and marvel at how much depth there was. Several times I tried to capture the beauty of this colourway with both my fancy DSLR camera and my phone but both devices either couldn't handle the intensity or downright didn't like this particular shade of red (I'm guessing they just don't like red at all). I used to claim that Madelinetosh's Tart was my most favourite red, but that was before I had knit with Bite Me. If Em ever decides to start dyeing yarn again, you can bet I'll be first in line to snag a sweater quantity in this!
This set took less than a week to whip up, which is perfect for quick knit gift knitting. Each mitt took a day to knit up and the hat about two. I'm sure I could have knit the hat in less time but I was using a 16" circular and usually find the tips for that length really awkward to knit with due to the way I hold my needles. But even with the awkwardness I still find it much faster to knit with the smaller circular than to knit it Magic Loop style.
Since this was a test knit I didn't do any mods. Although please note that there are suppose to be a pair of contrasting pom poms dangling from each mitt at the cuff. I had made them but was way too eager to wear the mitts before I could attach them. The pom poms are somewhere on my desk, yet I wouldn't be surprised if I found a few of them amongst the Munchkin's toys. I'd like to say that they will eventually find their way onto the mitts, but if truth be told, they probably won't. Not because I don't like the design idea, but more so because I tend to put my gloves/mitts on before my jacket and have a feeling the pom poms would just get caught in the sleeves. That, and I'm too lazy to try to track down all four pom poms again, twist them up into pairs, and attach them to each mitt. Besides, it already took me a few months to attach the pom pom on the hat and that's just one pom pom!
I'll admit that after I had blocked the hat I started wearing it out and about. Never mind the fact that I didn't even bother to trim off the woven in ends (please tell me that I'm not the only one who sometimes doesn't cut off their ends before wearing!). Again I had made the giant contrasting pom pom needed for the hat and for months it was carried around in my main project bag. Finally a few weeks ago, after I had to move the pom pom for the millionth time to get to my notions case, I decided that enough was enough and that the pom pom needed to be attached to the hat. I'll also confess that I didn't do a pretty job of it. On the inside, that is. I had left long enough tails so that I could thread the ends into the hat and tie a bow on the underside. My friend Rebekkah had a brilliant idea of knitting her hat in a neutral colour and then plans on making pom poms in an assortment of colours so that she can switch them out interchangeably to match her outfit or mood. I love that idea and must keep that in mind for the next hat I knit that involves a pom pom.
I absolutely love my set. The hat has become the go-to hat that I wear on a daily basis and the mitts are perfect for quick errands and for when my hands are cold but I still want to knit. I find most fingerless mitts cover too much of my fingers for them to move freely but since these mitts are finished with a clean and beautiful i-cord bind off, they are short enough for optimal movement and doesn't snag the yarn or mess up my tension as I knit.
The one thing that I should have thought about as I was knitting them and that I would change for next time, would be to knit the bands for the mitts at the same time so that they would come out the same length. I don't know why but I had knit them separately and thought I would be able to keep track of how many rows I had knit for each. Nope. I completely lost track on the second mitt and I think I was off by a row or two. Which doesn't sound like much but one mitt band is a little bigger and a smidge loose than the other. I don't think it's noticeable and doesn't really feel any different. But it still bugs me sometimes. But that's the perfectionist in me.
Em released the patterns last November (I know, I'm horrible for only now blogging about them!!) and you can purchase the patterns as a set (which is the best deal) or separately. I highly recommend both patterns (and not just because Em is a friend either!), as they were clear in their instructions and included photo tutorials: one for how to twist, achieve the same length, and attach the pom poms to the mitts; and how to knit the eye-catching pleated crown decreases (which you can see two photos up). I would love to knit another hat in a grey and use Rebekkah's interchangeable pom pom idea. Because who doesn't love a hat with a big squishy pom pom on it?? But that might have to wait until either next fall/winter or until I can allow myself to buy more yarn. But let's not talk about that...yet.
Again, my phone couldn't capture the red right in this photo!
:: Project Details ::
Pattern: March Hare Hat and Mitts by Emma Galati
Yarns: Everything Old Sublime DK and Madelinetosh Tosh DK
Colours: Bite Me and Steamer Trunk
Needles: Knit Picks Nickel Plated Fixed Circular and Interchangeable in 4.5mm (US 7)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Slow & Steady

TGIF!! I have no idea how this week has flown by so quickly, but it has. I've been pretty quiet due to the lack of knitting, sewing, and pretty much anything. Except for eating. I've been doing plenty of that. Especially when chocolate is involved. Mmm...chocolate. Ok, let's not get distracted!
This past week has been quite the challenge for me, as it would be for anyone who has experienced temporary limited mobility. Last weekend I managed to mess up my neck and back and have spent all week painfully reminding myself to take it easy, only to forget minutes later and proceed to do something like turn my head to the side to look at something and then spend the next minute in agonizing pain. Hence the source for the reason why I haven't been knitting and sewing lately. For a while there I was tempted to wear one of those foam collar things around my neck to avoid any sudden, and otherwise normal, head movements. The pain was so bad that I couldn't knit for a week! A week!! That alone almost killed me. What's the point of being sick or injured if you can't spend the heeling time knitting?? Agony. It was sheer agony. It goes without saying that while I spent my week moving about my house feeling like I was balancing a giant book on the top of my head, I also couldn't blog, attempt to block the few FOs that I have, or even do any proper photography either.
I was so bored. As an avid knitter I didn't think I would ever see the day in which I would find myself bored with nothing to do. It was such an odd feeling. Days of muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory medication, and one really good massage later and I'm slowly starting to feel like my ol' self again. I even managed to knit for a bit yesterday.
It was bliss.
My computer is still in the process of being looked at, and so I'll just forewarn you now that my posts will still continue to be sporadic and all photos will have to be taken with my smartphone or tablet. Please, just bare with me in my time of desktop-computerlessness. In the meantime I'm knitting towards and itching to get my PinkSand cardigan off the needles. I haven't been this excited and giddy about a hand knit in a while. I'm really hoping to have it all done, blocked, and ready to wear before the month is over. So on that note, I'm going to see if I can sneak in a few stitches before I have to go pick up the Munchkin from school.
What are your plans for the weekend?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Knit In Progress: PinkSand Cardigan

Last month, while most people were feverishly knitting up and finishing Christmas presents, I decided to selfishly cast on a BlueSand cardigan. I've been coveting this cardigan and have been itching to knit it ever since it was published a year ago. I don't know why I held off on casting it on for as long as I did, especially since I had bought the pattern the second I spotted it on Ravelry and had all the yarns needed to knit it up on hand. I thought and thought about the cardigan but did nothing. Then during the summer and fall months I started seeing photo after photo of so many beautiful versions of this cardigan being knitted up all over Instagram. Some knitters were even knitting up their second and third BlueSands! And I have yet to knit one. Before I could stop myself I started pouring over all the project pages on Ravelry - taking in all the beautiful cardigans and making notes of what knitters did and didn't do. After a week of this torture I decided that I couldn't wait any longer. I had to cast on.
When I first saw this pattern I immediately knew what colour combination I wanted to do - honestly, is anyone surprised that I went with a hot pink and grey colour scheme? The light grey is Madelinetosh Tosh DK. It's actually the very first Madelinetosh sweater quantity that I have ever bought and dates back to 2011 (three years doesn't seem that long but when it comes to stash yarn it does!). The dark grey and hot pink were custom dyed for me by my friend, Em, before she closed up her yarn dyeing business (it was the fantastic Everything Old label) and reinvented herself as EmmaKnits (or knitfastdiecozy on all social media). I'm excited to be able to knit up some old stash but truthfully, I wasn't sure if I liked how the greys were looking next to the boldness of the hot pink, which really stands out. But after knitting on this project for a while now the combo has grown on me and I think after I add the hot pink stripe on the sleeves and the little detail around the front neckline it will all tie in nicely together and not be so "BAM! Look at all this hot pink goodness going on up around here!" in your face like.
If you follow me on Instagram then this cardigan WIP is old news and you've already seen all the progress I've made...and that massive "what in the world did you do??" mistake, which you can see in the photo below:
That there is what happens when you spend more time yapping away at a knit night and don't pay attention to your knitting, and therefore don't realize that you've made two increases in the same spot. In the same row. I had knit a good four inches into the body before I decided to stop and do a stitch count to make sure I was still on track. I am SO glad that I did! Although, upon discovering that there was something wrong, what I should have done next was put the knitting down and gone to bed. Instead, completely bleary eyed, I decided to try and fix my mistake. Yeah...
After counting my stitches and realizing that I was either one stitch over or one stitch under, it took maybe five minutes to contemplate my options, which were: rip back, fix the mistake, and carry on; OR save time (or so I thought) and just drop down to the unsightly area (at the time I didn't know it was two increases, it had looked like a weird hole/maybe accidental yarn over kind of mess), fix whatever needed to be fixed, and just work that column of stitches back up. Guess which option I picked? Again, I have no idea why I didn't just put my knitting down that night, get a good night's sleep, and then try to fix the mistake when I was rested and somewhat alert (obviously this would be after the consumption of coffee!!). I also don't know why I thought it was a good idea to drop down all those stitches and then leave it at that before going to bed. In the mornin when I picked my knitting back up and saw the mess I had made, I might have said a few choice, unlady-like words. I'm just glad that the column of stitches didn't keep dropping down on its own.
As soon as I figured out that I had made the double increase I was faced with another problem: what to do with all that extra yarn between the stitches? A huge part of me really want to just bite the bullet, say good bye to all that knitting, and frog back to that area and re-knit it all. Normally that's what I would have done. But the devil on my shoulder had somehow managed to convince me that that was all totally unnecessary as I could save time, energy, and heartache by simply tugging and re-distributing the extra slack of yarn evenly along the rows.
Well. This method did save me heartache. Time and energy? That's debatable. I suppose this way was much faster than having to re-knit those four inches, but sitting there and pulling on each.and.every.single.stitch along the 20+ rows? Duuuude. Crazy is as crazy does, I guess. But I'm happy to report that you can't tell at all that I had made a mistake or where that mistake was located. You can't tell that there used to be a major difference in tension in one area on the body. Oh yeah, I'm one happy camper.
I was super lucky and managed to get a huge chunk of knitting accomplished during the holidays. If it weren't for the last minute road trip to the Okanagan for Christmas (and being the passenger the entire time), I probably would still be knitting away on the body length. I totally took advantage of the visit with the inlaws and had knit at every chance I could get. Which was almost every waking second. It was bliss. The Munchkin barely acknowledge mine or the Mister's presence since he had a new audience to "perform" for, which my mother-in-law absolutely loved, and in between the "look at me Grandma!" and "watch this" the Munchkin relished in all the holiday cartoons and animations that were on TV (we don't have cable at home so I didn't mind the screen time overload). And in that entire time I was able to sit on a comfy La-Z-Boy and knit away to my heart's content.
It was heaven.
What would normally take me a month to knit, I managed to knit up in less than two weeks. Aside from having so much time dedicated to knitting, the BlueSand cardigan pattern is a very enjoyable knit that I honestly couldn't and can't put down. In fact, it's so enjoyable that of the four projects that I had brought along with me I had knit solely on BlueSand. When I got back home and unpacked all my knitting I had wondered why I had even bothered to bring along any other project! This is truly rare.
From the very first stitch this pattern had me completely committed. The designer offers two different yoke constructions for this cardigan: the easy raglan version that's a hybrid between a saddle shoulder and a raglan sleeve; and the complicated combination yoke version that combines several methods that all happen at the same time that not only is there a quick overview page for it, but a detailed chart that shows each row and what kind of increase should be worked that row for each size, AND thoroughly written row by row instructions. Yes, all for the yoke. It might sound and look intimidating but it was actually quite painless and nothing but smooth sailing. The detailed chart is sheer genius. Seriously. I love that by having that chart there's no guessing or misinterpreting what should be going on. It's all right there in front of you. Even though I just said that the yoke was easy to knit up, this pattern is definitely not for the weak, timid, or for those who are used to being babied and having their hand held throughout the entire knit. This is not a hard knit, far from it, but it does require your attention and the ability to read and keep track of your knitting. If you can multi-task within your knitting, then it can be somewhat of a mindless knit after a certain point.
But it's all worth it. Seriously. All the new-to-me techniques, the little makes me giddy with knitterly glee just thinking about it! Before I started knitting BlueSand I've never knit a contiguous shoulder/sleeve (I absolutely love it), I've never used German short-rows (, I've never knit set-in pockets (love!), and I've never done an i-cord cast on (so classy). There's just so much knitterly goodness jam packed into this one pattern! I haven't even finished this cardigan yet and already I'm planning my colour scheme and yarns for a second! I hhave a feeling that I will get plenty of wear out of this cardigan - it requires no buttons or other closures so I won't have to spend forever and a day trying to find the perfect buttons for it and then wait an eternity to get off my lazy butt to sew them on, it's long enough to cover my butt so it'll be great to wear with leggings, and with Spring just around the corner this cardigan will be a great transitional piece and most likely a wardrobe staple.
I'm so excited!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Off The Needles: Mister Beer Mitt

Last year I did a lot of gift knitting but had only knit one Christmas present. I didn't have plans to knit any gifts but then the Mister spotted a beer mitt being hocked by one of the guys from Epic Meal Time and decided that he MUST have one of his own. Luckily for me, I didn't have to figure out a pattern as there was one already made up and available for free on Knitty! Yay! An added bonus: I got to knit up some really old stash yarn that I had no idea what I was going to do with. Double yay for not having to search for and buy more yarn!!
The beer mitt was a huge hit and the Mister has used it several times already. The pattern itself was a super easy and fun knit that is also quick enough to whip up within a day (that is, if you're a monogamous enough of a knitter to do so), or up to a weekend to complete (like it did for me since I usually can't concentrate on just one project at a time). I'm so pleased with how the mitt turned out that I'm thinking of knitting myself one. It would be great for camping - which we hope to do at least once this summer - and for those mornings when I'm walking the Munchkin to school and my regular mittens just don't cut it when I'm holding my slippery travel mug. I also wouldn't have to sacrifice my fingers by donning fingerless mitts in order to combat the aforementioned slippery mug situation. Not to mention that I have three more skeins of the yarn that I used for the Mister's mitt that I still have no idea what to make with it. Since it took one skein to knit a mitt, I should just knit myself one and then knit two more large sizes and add them to the gifting box. All skeins can get used up, I'll have fun knits to gift, and I can have a toasty warm drinking hand. It's a win-win-win situation.
Done. That's the new plan.
Ok, back to the Mister's mitt. I had knit the largest size and made only three mods: I used a reverse kitchener stitch to close up the middle of the cozy; I picked up two additional stitches at each join at the top and bottom of the mitt when I joined it in the round for the hand, and then decreased back to the original stitch count on the next round; and I picked up and knitted the bottom rather than attempt to crochet it like it does in the pattern. For a more detailed account of how I knit the bottom, please check out my notes on my Ravelry project page (the direct ink is at the bottom of this post in the "project details" section).
Unfortunately I didn't get any more photos of the mitt other than the one I took with my phone and posted on Instagram (which you can see above). Not that it would matter if I did or not anyways, since my computer is still out of commission and I have no access to any photos on my DSLR. You're just going to have to trust me when I say this mitt is all kinds of awesome.
:: Project Details ::
Pattern: Beer Mitt by Toby Roxane Barna
Yarn: Berroco Peruvia Quick
Colour: Charcoal Grey
Needles: Knit Picks Rainbow Wood Interchangeable in 5.5mm (US 9)
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