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)

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014: In Stat Form


Happy new year Friends!! 

I hope you all had a wonderful winter holidays! I know I did. I honestly can't believe that it's 2015 already and that I haven't blogged in over a month. Ok...well, I can believe that last one. But you know, life can get very busy in December and for me blogging just kept getting pushed to the bottom of my to-do list. Not to mention that I've been struggling with computer problems all month and have been on the look-out for a reputable (and affordable!!) techie who could sort out my computer. Although I have a gut feeling that this time around I won't be so lucky and that I'll either be in the market for all new (and pricey) computer components and/or a completely new computer altogether. I swear, modern technology and I do not mesh well together! So please forgive me if this post comes out a little on the wonky side - third party blogging apps on the tablet is a new thing for me!

Anyhoo, these past few days I've been thinking a lot about goals and past accomplishments. I don't set or believe in new year resolutions as I think that's just putting too much unnecessary stress on yourself and find that I can never keep to them anyways. Why would I want to keep setting myself up for failure and the downer thoughts that usually accompany defeat? Instead, I like to make goals throughout the year and try to break them down further so that I can at least stand somewhat of a chance of achieving something. While 2014 was a great year for me and my family as a unit, I didn't make that many goals for myself. Admittedly my focus was on the Munchkin and so my personal goals were few and my knitting goals even fewer. My focus for 2015 is still on the Munchkin and his development, but I've promised myself to not only make more goals for myself but to actually make time for myself. As a parent it's sometimes easy to forget about yourself, hard to put yourself first, and it can take a lot of reminders to ensure that you take the time to care for yourself. But I'll talk about 2015 goals in a different post, this one is about looking back on 2014.

Even though I like to make goals year round, I do like to make knitting.and crafting goals at the beginning of each year (and financial goals...but this is a knitting blog, so I'll stick with talking about that!). My main knitting/crafty focus was sock knitting, but then halfway through the year it slowly became all about the gift knitting. I'm really surprised and proud with what and how much I've knit up, and a little taken aback by the lack of sweater knitting (hint: 2015 will be ALLLLL about the sweater knitting!!). Instead of going into great detail about everything, here are some quick stats for 2014:

Sock Drawer - January 2015
Taken from my Instagram feed

♥ I started the year with 329,436 metres (360,276 yards) of yarn in the stash. 

♥ I knitted up 11,979.5 metres (13,101 yards) of yarn in completed projects.

♥ I acquired 28,916 metres (31,623 yards) of yarn - mainly from personal purchases, but this also includes yarns gifted to me from family and friends, and from yarn companies for review.

♥ I destashed, threw out (due to possible bug contamination), and gifted 2,687 metres (2,938.5 yards) of yarn. This does not include any leftovers or minis that I gave away because I either had no idea what I was going to do with it or just didn't want to look at that yarn any more.

♥ I completed 29 knitting projects

♥ I had knit 11 pairs of socks (!!), 9 of those were for the Socks With Sarah KAL and I ended the year with 2 sock WIPs still on the needles - each with at least 1 sock almost completed. The photo above shows the current state of the hand knits in my sock drawer.

♥ 2 of those completed socks used to be super old and long forgotten WIPs that I finally bit the bullet on and forced myself to finish by either frogging and re-casting on with a different pattern, or simply changing the needles and heel. Yay for getting old WIPs off the needles!!

♥ I had knit 10 items that were gifted. Of those 10 items, 5 of them were considerably large shawls.

♥ I had knit 7 shawls and 1 wrap.

♥ Of the entire year, I had knit only 3 sweaters. Three. That's it. So sad.

♥ 7 projects used up old yarns from deep within the stash, which almost makes me feel a teeny tiny bit better about the amount of new yarn that I brought back into the stash.

♥ I ended the year with a freshly cast-on new sock and a sweater WIP on the needles. that I think about it, what I thought wasn't much is actually a fair amount of knitting! I'm especially proud of all the hand knit socks in my sock drawer and truly believe that I'll carry on the habit of doing some sock knitting on a daily basis - whether it be just a few stitches or a few rounds here and there, eventually it'll all add up and come next winter I'll have plenty of woolly goodness to keep my tootsies warm and cozy!

I'm also quite proud of the amount of hand knits I gifted and while I know that all the knits went to loving and good homes, I think I'm going to dedicate 2015 to the year of selfish knitting. Gift knitting did teach me a valuable lesson though, and that is no one "sees" the so-called mistakes and I think I loosened up a smidge on the perfectionist tendencies that I generally have when it comes to my crafting. Which is a huge deal. 

Aside from not doing anything in the sewing department (other than sew project bags) I think I did pretty fantastic in the crafty side of life and can't give myself a hard time (especially since I didn't really give myself that many goals to begin with). How did everyone else do? Did everyone accomplish their 2014 goals? Who else participated in the Socks With Sarah KAL? I'm going to spend the next few days thinking over and setting some crafty goals for 2015. Anyone already come up with their 2015 goals?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tempest :: Review & Giveaway!!

Judging by my Ravelry project page, there's no doubt that I absolutely love knitting with SweetGeorgia Yarns. Almost all of my cardigans and a good chunk of my sock drawer is knit in SGY. If the 25+ items isn't enough to verify my love, then hopefully the 3-drawer chest that I use as a bedside table that's stuffed to the max with the majority of my SGY stash will confirm it. I fell in love with the bold, vibrant colours that SweetGeorgia is known for from the get-go. It's my goal to knit a garment in every semi-solid colourway that they have (FYI: I only have 12 out of the 58 completed) and to own every colourway in their current lineup (I have no idea where I'm at with this one). I know it will take a long time to accomplish these goals, but I already knew I was an SGY lifer.

Earlier this year I had caught wind that SweetGeorgia Yarns was about to embark on a special project. Not much was leaked at first, but little by little tidbits of information slowly came out and soon I discovered that SGY was going to collaborate with knitwear designer, Holli Yeoh, on a collection of patterns for a book! 

I've always been intrigued by Holli's patterns ever since I laid eyes on her Entrelac Mittens pattern years ago. I'll admit that I was too intimidated to give that pattern a try as Entrelac just seemed too complicated and completely above my skill level. I tucked that pattern in the back of my brain, thinking "one day, when I'm more experienced, I'll knit that". Fast forward a few years to last year's Knit City when Holli released another mitten pattern that I wanted to try out (Gumdrops, in case any of you were wondering) but again, was a bit intimidated to try out - it's colourwork and I like to yank the working yarn tight, so what if my colour changes were crap? I don't know if I could handle that. And again, I tucked that pattern in the back of my brain. Since then Holli's work has popped up again and again, and I keep telling myself to "grow some lady balls and do it!". So when the chance to test knit for her came about this summer, you bet I jumped at it! Little did I know that that test knit would not only be the most enjoyable and thorough test knit that I've ever done, but it would also be one that would encourage and build my confidence in seaming and lead to a spot on the blog tour.

So here we are, the last stop of the Tempest blog tour. I was sent a digital copy of the book to review but I knew after "thumbing through the pages" that I wanted a printed hard copy to add to my bookshelf as well. At a glance you can immediately tell that everything about Tempest remains true to what SGY and Holli stand for - the colourful and vibrant photos of SGY; the use of textures and colourwork of Holli; and the clean, classic layouts with thorough instructions and attention to detail that you expect from both. 

There are SO many details that I thoroughly appreciate about this book: the closeup shot of the highlighted stitch pattern used within the design above the pattern's information; the use of both written instructions and charts; the chart key located right next to the chart itself, rather than having to flip to the back of the book to find out what a symbol means; the detailed and very thorough schematics; the tips and techniques section that talks about understanding ease, how to work with hand-dyed yarns (it even includes photos to show the difference in alternating skeins, pooling, and the use of multiple skeins of slight colour differences); the handy "Tempest Colour Palette" guide for quick references; and the yarn information for all the yarns used in the book in one spot. They're minute details that often get forgotten or not utilized at all.

The collection itself? Absolutely beautiful. Consisting of cardigans, pullovers, cowls, a blanket, and a hat and mitt set - there's something for everyone. Each piece in this collection just exudes elegance yet manages to have that ability to be either casual or dressy, depending on how it is worn. I love how each design has just enough detail, whether it be a stitch pattern or lace panel, to keep it interesting and yet still highlights the beauty of the hand-dyed yarn being used. A perfect example of this, my most favourite design of the whole collection, Haven:

Isn't it just gorgeous? Such a simple design but the ombre effect really just takes it up a notch and if knit in the same yarn that's used in the sample (which is Cashluxe Fine), it's just sheer, every day luxury!! I absolutely love the colour palette that Holli used and when I get around to knitting my own I definitely want to use these colours. Just stunning! The colour combinations for this pattern really is endless. If I didn't see this design in these colours already, I would have such a hard time deciding what colours to choose!

Clockwise from top left: Seaswell, Watermark, Stormwatcher, Eventide

I was really surprised to see how different each garment was from each other and yet managed to keep a cohesive vibe. I love the ballet-neckline of Seaswell and feel that its overall aesthetics matches the type of cardigans that I like to knit. I can't wait to knit up Stormwatcher (I'm having a hard time choosing a colour!) and think it could be a wardrobe staple come Spring (if I could get it knit up in time!). I love the oversize, comfy feel of it - although I would most likely have to shorten the length due to my vertical challenges - while the lace panels give enough visual and knitting interest. I love all things chevron so it's no surprise that Eventide immediately won me over. I really like the use of the 2 different yarns/fibres to create the contrast and texture in this pullover. Watermark is an A-line, tunic length raglan pullover that features an oversized cowl neck with matching hems and is another piece that offers endless colour possibilities. This particular design doesn't speak to me but only because I tend to stay away from horizontal lines that cross my hips and could potentially cut me in half and make me look shorter than I already am. 

Clockwise from top: Breakers, Ebb & Flow, Procella

As for the accessories, well, Breakers is definitely on my 'to-knit list'. The double garter stitch pattern and the type of cast-on that it uses has me intrigued and I absolutely love how oversized this cowl is, and can imagine just how cozy it would be during the cold winter months. I also really like the hat and mitt set that is Procella. Although I honestly don't think I would knit the mitts as I generally don't wear fingerless mitts that often. The hat though, is definitely right up my alley. It's slouchy, has a non-fussy lace pattern, and has the ability to feature a few special buttons that one hordes until the right project comes along. What? Are you saying you don't horde special buttons??

 Another cold weather must: Ebb & Flow. This blanket is offered in 3 different sizes: baby, lap, and throw - just in case you're like me and would love to have a closet full of hand made blankets and quilts but don't have the patience to work on something too large. Knit in chunky weight yarn, the blanket will practically knit itself up!

Clocketwise from left: Second Beach, First Beach, Third Beach

And then there are "the beaches". If you're familiar with the Vancouver area, particularly the English Bay/Sea Wall area, then you'd know about the First, Second, and Third Beaches and how these cowls are connected to them. Like the beaches, these 3 cowls are similar but are different in their own way. Such as one buttons up, one can be worn hood-like, and the other deep and cozier - all 3 utilizes the same stitches but uses different yarn and weight combinations. There's a Beach cowl for everyone!

Tempest truly is a gorgeous and inspiring book, and judging from the test knit that I did, would also teach even the most experienced knitter a new technique or two! If you would like to get your hands on a copy of Tempest, you can get print copies through the SweetGeorgia Yarns website, the digital eBook from Ravelry, and in January 2015 individual PDF patterns from the Tempest collection will be available for sale (also via Ravelry). 

Check out the Tempest website here for opportunities to join the Tempest community to learn (via video tutorials), chat (via discussion forums), and share all those Tempest projects (using the hashtag: #tempestknit)

For more information about Holli Yeoh, SweetGeorgia Yarns, and Tempest please check out the following websites:

Want to WIN a copy of the Tempest eBook? Of course you do!! Holli has generously donated a copy of the eBook to give away to one lucky reader, and that reader can be you!! Sweet!! Thank you SO much Holli for having me on your Tempest blog tour and for giving me the chance to host a giveaway for your fabulous eBook! ♥

** Giveaway is now closed! **
**Thank you to all who have entered! **

One lucky reader will receive a digital copy of Tempest

:: Giveaway is open to everyone (yay!)
:: Giveaway is open until Sunday, December 7, 2014 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

Leave a comment telling me which pattern is your favourite and what colour(s) would you knit it in? Don't forget to also include your email or Ravelry ID with your comment, because how else can I get a hold of you if you are the lucky winner?

Good luck!!

Please check out the other fabulous stops on the Tempest blog tour for more reviews, interviews, and giveaways:

Oct 17th :: Hunter Hammersen, Violently Domestic
Oct 20th :: Megan Goodacre, Tricksy Knitter
Oct 25th :: Kate Atherley, Wise Hilda Knits
Oct 27th :: Stephannie Tallent, Sunset Cat Designs
Nov 1st :: Julie Matthews, Knitting At Large
Nov 3rd :: Very Shannon
Nov 10th :: Heather Zoppetti Designs
Nov 15th :: Donna Druchunas, Sheep To Shawl
Nov 22nd :: Anniken Allis, Confessions of a Yarn Addict
Nov 24th :: Lucy Neatby, Happy Stitches
Nov 28th :: Knit Social Event Company
Dec 1st :: Miso Crafty Knits (me!!)

♥ Happy Knitting! ♥

* Please note: all photos in this post are © Felicia Lo, Holli Yeoh, and Rod Yeoh and are used with permission.

:: Disclaimer :: 
I am not affiliated with the designer or company mentioned in this post. I received no monetary compensation from the designer or company for my review. Although I was sent a digital copy of the book for review purposes in exchange for posting the review, I had purchased a print version (hard copy) of the book with my own funds. The opinions I've written are my own and I will not be receiving any commissions from this post or from any of the links provided.
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