Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blue Sky Alpacas EXTRA/Destination Collection :: Review & Giveaway!!

Hello Miso Friends and visitors!! My needles have been clicking madly away as Fall settles its chilly blanket over us and my cold shoulders are begging for new hand knits to warm them up. As I've mentioned in the last post I've gotten a case of Starteritis and now I've got several WIPs on the needles. I'm happy to report though that there has been a few FOs trickling out and the most recent one to come off the blocking mat features a scrumptious yarn knit in a timeless pattern - both sent to me by the lovely peeps over at Blue Sky Alpacas!! But before I start rambling on about my new knit, I'll give you the lowdown about Blue Sky Alpacas' new yarn, EXTRA, and their newest pattern collection called The Destination Collection.

First off, the yarn. You know me, I LOVE yarn. That's probably the biggest understatement of the year. Anyhoo, I've never felt EXTRA before and so when my neighbourhood postie arrived at my doorstep with the box of Blue Sky Alpacas goodies, I oohed and aahed for 10 minutes as I giddily squished the yarn in my hands. EXTRA is a luxe mix of 55% baby alpaca and 45% fine merino that makes knitting with it such a joy. It's just so soft and lofty that I found myself stopping often to give the yarn a good squeeze or to cuddle with my knitting, gently caressing the fabric against my cheek. It comes in generously sized hanks of 199m/218yds in a rich colour palette consisting of 14 colours. It's a versatile, 2-ply Aran-weight yarn that gives fantastic stitch definition and blocks out beautifully. Just because EXTRA is light and springy, don't be fooled, the fabric it creates is surprisingly dense and has a lovely drape. And unlike with other yarns containing alpaca that usually have rogue fibres floating around, I didn't find myself rubbing my eyes or nose even once while knitting. Bonus points!

The Destination Collection was designed specifically to highlight EXTRA and each pattern has its own story stemming from the 6 designers that were curated for the collection and hail from all over the world. Each designer was given a hank of EXTRA and told to go on a creative journey. Each drew inspiration from their hometowns, far away places, and locations near and dear to them. I had a hard time choosing which pattern I liked the most and then tried to narrow it down to what I would get more wear out of. In the end the Cane Bay Wrap won the number 1 spot on my list. There was something about the simplicity of the wrap and the soothing effect that the stitch pattern had that really tugged away at me. 

But let's talk about the packaging for a second here. I'm sure I've said it before but I'll say it again - I am a sucker for packaging. I was in complete awe of how well of a job Blue Sky Alpacas did in conveying "a journey in yarn and needles" with this printed pattern collection. I've never seen anything like it! Such detail, such fun, such charm! The entire pattern is folded up like a map (do people use these any more? Or is all about GPS now?) and comes in a sturdy packet that really showcases the main points of the pattern. And in true map-like form, the pattern folds out to show beautiful photos and design inspiration on one side in a layout similar to that of a travel journal, and the pattern instructions and notes on the other. I'll admit at first I was a little skeptical about the size of the whole thing and thought what a hassle it was going to be to follow the pattern with it printed on such a large sheet of paper, but really, it was easy to use the pre-folds within the paper to keep to the parts of the pattern I was using without destroying the pattern itself.

Ok, the actual pattern. The Cane Bay Wrap was designed by Sarah Smuland, whose destination was the US Virgin Islands. She was inspired by "the gentle ripples of ocean waves, sunlight on the water, and bits of foam along the shore". Well, it's no wonder that I was drawn to this pattern! Being a West Coast island living girl, I'm surrounded by the ocean and can never help it when I catch myself drawing in an awestruck breath whenever I look upon the views of the ocean as I'm driving by the water front.

I don't know if I would ever wear the Cane Bay Wrap like a proper wrap as seen here:

As I don't think I could pull off that elegant look. That, and I think I would spend more time trying to keep the wrap "casually thrown about" on my shoulders like that. I'm just way too awkward. Instead, I think I would wear it more like a cozy scarf. I was super happy to have received 2 skeins of EXTRA yarn in a beautiful grey colour called Fedora, and not the Butter Cream that the sample in the pattern was knit in. I can just picture coffee and chocolate milk stains all over that before I even had a chance to leave the house! 

I had knit my Cane Bay Wrap as written in the pattern. Well, ok. I did do one teeny tiny little mod - and that was knitting half a repeat more than called for. Solely because I wanted to use up as much of that delicious yarn as possible!! But could you blame me? If you have ever felt this yarn before, or once you do feel it, you'll understand why!

This pattern is a super easy knit. We're talking Aran-weight yarn and 6.5mm (US 10.5) needles here. Even the designer mentioned that the stitch pattern was "deceptively simple" in that the stitch combination was nothing more than yarn overs and decreases. My only complaint of the pattern would be that I would have liked a chart to go with the written instructions. There was definitely room to include one. As mega easy as this pattern was, I still managed to find myself having to tink back a few times due to me not paying attention at a knit night and thereby missing a yarn over in a previous row. Even though I can read my knitting, I still find it easier to see where you've gone wrong when you've got a chart to compare your knitting to.

Please excuse the orange glow. I didn't want to offend or complain about the sun!

I'll confess that I didn't do a gauge swatch (yes, I'm aware and take full responsibility if I had run out of yarn or if my wrap didn't come out the right size), and was second guessing myself when I bound off the last stitch if this was going to be large enough to wear and if I was pulling too tightly on those yarn overs. Blocking saved the day and those yarn overs really opened up and my stitches looked impressively even. I'm interested in finding out how well this yarn will wear over time.

Speaking of wear, I can tell already that I will be wearing this wrap a lot this fall and winter. Having this luxe yarn wrapped around my neck is seriously like being hugged by a litter of kittens. It really is that soft!! Don't be surprised if you see me on the street, nuzzling my face into this wrap. Even the Munchkin has taken to walk-by pettings!

If you want to know more about the yarn, check out Blue Sky Alpacas' video:

I can go on and on about the kitten softness of EXTRA but we all have things to knit (and if you're a parent, kids to actually parent) and possibly yarn to cuddle. Hey, do you want to cuddle some new yarn?? Maybe make your own Cane Bay Wrap to nuzzle with? Well the awesome folks over at Blue Sky Alpacas have given me all the goods for another Cane Bay Wrap to give away to one lucky reader. That reader could be you!!!

All the lovelies that you see in the photo below could be yours! Check it out:

One lucky winner will receive:
     :: a copy of the Cane Bay Wrap pattern by Sarah Smuland
     :: 2 gorgeous luxury skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas EXTRA in the Fedora colourway
     :: a Pretty Cheep Project Bag

:: The giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents only, sorry to all my international readers!

:: Giveaway is open until Friday, October 31, 2014 at 12:00am midnight PST (yes, that's Halloween!).
:: 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 pattern from The Destination Collection is your favourite. 
Don't forget to also include your email or Ravelry ID with your comment!

For bonus entries check out the options below:

Good luck!!

A huge thank you to Blue Sky Alpacas for inviting me to be a part of the EXTRA/Destination Collection Blog Tour. Follow the Blog Tour by visiting the other stops for more giveaways and information on the other patterns in this collection:

Week One :: Cosmos and Cashmere
Week Two :: Woolen Diversions
Week Three :: Lattes & Llamas
Week Four :: Rock + Purl
Week Five :: HeyJenRenee
Week Six :: Miso Crafty Knits 

♥ Happy Knitting! ♥

Please note: all unmarked photos in this post are by Blue Sky Alpacas and are used with permission.

:: Disclaimer ::
I am not affiliated with company mentioned in this post. I received no monetary compensation from said company for my review. I was sent a copy of the pattern for review purposes and yarn to knit the pattern 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 in this post.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Sign of a New Season

At the beginning of each season I usually get a bout of Starteritis, which I'm pretty sure is a common thing amongst knitters - especially when the cold weather hits. This fall it's no different. I'm not a fan of being cold (but then again, who is??) but I'm excited that I can now fully bring out all the hand knits without running the risk of melting into a woolly puddle or leaving a sweat trail in my wake. The nippy weather has me wanting and reaching for thick, woolly and cozy sweaters, not the usual thin, dainty, fingering weight cardigans that I currently have stocked in my dresser drawers. This year I'm determined to even out my sweater drawer by knitting as many worsted weight (or bulkier!) sweaters as I can.

At the moment I've got 4 patterns and the yarn all lined up and ready to go (6, if you count the sport weight ones)...some of the yarn might already be wound up...1 or 2 might have already been cast on...there just might be a daily yarn winding party happening at the Miso household this past week...I'm not going to deny or confirm anything just yet.

I'm not even going to talk about the hats, cowls, and shawls that I'm also just dying to knit up...luckily I'm test knitting a hat pattern that has a short deadline and that's helping to curb my desire to cast on all those knits as well. 

For now.

Ask me again in a few days! Please tell me that I'm not the only one who's going crazy with the cast on party??

And of course with the colder weather here and a growing kidlet in the house, my noggin isn't the only one I have to think about. The Munchkin's hat from last year technically still fits him but I'm sure as winter arrives he'll want to be able to fully cover his ears. Not to mention that last year he was all about the colour red, this year he's all about green. Fortunately for me the Mister doesn't need a new hat (and yay that he hasn't lost his yet...knock on wood!) and hats for kiddos are mega quick to knit, so not too much time is being taken away from the selfish knitting.

Speaking of selfish knitting, I guess I should get off the computer (and perusing Ravelry, making my queue even longer!) and get some knitting accomplished! So...what are you casting on?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Knit City 2014 :: A Recap

IMG_7775 - CGY Finger Paint

Hello!! I just realized that I haven't posted in almost 3 weeks! Yikes! So much for "blogging more for the rest of the year" like I had said in my Summer Obsessions post. I didn't mention anything on the blog about Knit City (which happened this past weekend in Vancouver!), maybe in passing? Or about going to A Tempestuous Affair: Knit City Kickoff Party & Tempest Book Launch the night before Knit City officially commences. Nor did I say anything about the fabulous, in-person visit with the ever lovely Rachel of the blog House Full of Jays.

The worst part of it all? I didn't take any photos. I know, I know. Bad blogger!!! Bad!!! Of the entire Knit City weekend I took a total of 10 photos. Ten. And of those I had only posted 3 as they were the only use-able ones of the lot. The others were too blurry to even tell what the picture is actually suppose to be of, or they were last minute scenery shots of the swanky venue where the kickoff party/book launch soiree took place. In my defence I was phone-less for a while there and when I finally got it back I had spent more time catching up on messages and whatnot rather than taking photos. Maybe I should make it a mission to take more photos. I seem to always remember that I have a camera on hand after the activity. 

Anyhoo, so a few events have happened over the past 3 weeks: the start of the new school year, which means trying to help the Munchkin transition from the playful days of kindergarten to the more academic ways of grade 1; the aforementioned A Tempestuous Affair Knit City kickoff party and Tempest book launch; and Knit City. 

Since I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to attend Knit City I didn't sign up for any classes. I had a game plan for the marketplace and that was to find buttons that would go with the yarns I was planning on knitting up in the next few months, to look for sport weight yarns, to avoid purchasing single skeins, to avoid sock yarn, and to purchase only sweater quantities. So how did I do? Well, I found no buttons, no sport weight yarns (the ones I did find there wasn't enough to make a sweater quantity), and I bought 4 single skeins of sock yarn. Yes, I said single skeins of sock yarn. 

I am weak.

From my Ravelry stash page

I bought another skein of CaterpillarGreen Yarn in Finger Paint (far left) simply because I couldn't resist the colourway. I was starting to get excited because I was able to resist all the other yarns, knowing that I would be able to procure them after the event. But then 10 minutes before the Marketplace closed I fell. When I stood back up I realized that I had bought 3 skeins of Tipsy Sheep Yarn in their Socktail base (not self-striping) in Cosmopolitan, Night Black, and Blue (from middle left to right).

Did I mention that I was weak?

Other purchases included super fun stitch markers and a tote bag from Tipsy Sheep Yarn, a hot pink yarn ball magnet from Rain City Knits (thanks again Arika for letting me have the last one!!), and a few pattern books (more on those later!!). I have to admit that I spent more time chatting and socializing with friends from out of town and those who I haven't seen in ages, than I did shopping or even browsing all the booths thoroughly (I had missed a few booths and am totally kicking myself for not paying proper attention!). A few people had recognized my leggings from Instagram and I got to (finally!) meet a few knitters that I know only from social media (hello Fiona and Amy!!).

I'm quite proud of myself for not going crazy and had not only purchased a few skeins of yarn (yes, 4 is a very reasonable amount considering what I brought home from previous years and other knitterly events!) but yarn that was new to me and my stash (except for the CaterpillarGreen Yarn...but look at it, can you blame me??). Normally I would have gone back to Knit City the second day but this year I went to the event with a few ladies from one of my knitting groups and there were grand plans for the Sunday of dim sum, Daiso, and cheap (and much, MUCH needed) reflexology foot massages before heading back to the island on an early ferry. It was, after all, a school night. I didn't think I had enough time to spend at Daiso, but now, I'm glad that I had such limited time as I know I can do a lot of damage in there. I came home loaded down with washi tape and more cute food containers that I really don't need. I would like to say I bought them for the Munchkin, but really, only one of those containers were for him.

As for the knitting front, I found it quite interesting that I felt the need to bring 2 fairly large projects and was actually worried that when I finished them (not "if", oh no, I honestly thought "when") that I wouldn't have anything else to knit on, even though my trip consisted of 2 nights and 2.5 days. Why do knitters always think they gain an unlimited amount of knitting time when travelling? The ferry trip over to the mainland I didn't knit at all. Actually, all Friday I didn't knit a single stitch. Saturday, I think I squeezed in maybe 10 rounds on a sock throughout the day? Same for Sunday. I have to admit that I felt a little discombobulated all weekend and had cursed myself several times for forgetting all my allergy meds. The act of knitting on a knitting related trip just wasn't in the cards for me.

Aside from the yarn and lack of knitting, the weekend was one of food debauchery. At the kickoff party/book launch I feasted on the most delicious creme brûlée (I still regret not eating more of it though), enjoyed tiramisu, sampled the most richest chocolate pudding ever, and had the best glass of perfectly chilled water. Trust me, there really is such a thing! I ate hot dogs, gelato, Chinese buns, sushi, and overly decadent waffles that were loaded down with whipped cream, maple syrup, bananas, and candied walnuts. I drank copious amounts of coffee. To the point where I think I had replaced all fluids in my body with that hot elixir of buzzing life. I'm surprised that I was able to sleep all weekend. Sadly, my weekend of indulgence is kicking me in the butt and all week I've been trying to "reset" my system by eating clean again. My body hates me.

I saw a lot of lovely hand knits at both the kickoff party/book launch and Knit City (I think it's safe to say the pattern of choice this year was Color Affection by Veera Välimäki), which has upped my desire to knit allllll the things!! I can't really pinpoint just one highlight that could sum up the whole weekend, although I'm sure finding and getting my phone back is definitely up there (you really don't realize just how much you rely on your phone until you lose it!!). I did go home inspired and with a lot of things that I needed to think over. I also came home wanting to knit more, but I guess that's really nothing new. 

Did you go to Knit City? What did you get? What was the highlight for you? Did you like the new venue? Since the event was a bit of a blur to me I want to hear what others have to say and saw! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Knit In Progress: Sprinkled Skyp

This morning has been a grey and dreary one here on my part of the Island. And if you're living in the province of BC, then it's also the first day back to school (finally!!). So I thought I would start the week by posting something bright and fun! Enter: my 8th pair of socks for the Socks With Sarah KAL and my 10th pair for the year.

I decided to take a break from plain vanilla socks and went with a patterned sock - the Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku of Mushroom Knits. The yarn, I purchased at this year's Fibrations, is Graffiti by Rain City Knits. I absolutely love this yarn and it always brings a smile to my face every time I get the chance to knit a few stitches with it. I love how pink it is without being overly pink - if that makes any sense. I love the flashes of bright turquoise, deep purple, and the oh so fun neon yellow - which my camera can not do any justice as to how bright and neon-y it really is.

The pattern is super simple and feels somewhat like a step above plain vanilla with its easy to memorize stitch pattern. I was hoping to find something that would break up the colours a little and would highlight the colours well. I'm still on the fence as to whether this project is a good match up of yarn and pattern. I like how the yarn is knitting up but I'm not sure if the Skyp pattern is getting lost in all the crazy colours. Yet I love how the stitches are adding great texture to the knit. A part of me thinks I'm just so use to plain vanilla that everything else will just look odd to me. I guess I'll just have to keep knitting in order to find out. I find that it's so much easier for me to rip out my work when it's just a sock, so if I don't like how the sock is knitting up I can always frog and try something else. But I have a feeling that I will most likely keep it as is. It's just a sock, after all.

Surprise! This photo was taken from my Instagram

At the time of writing this post I'm currently at the point where I start the heel flap. I was going to do the Fish Lips Kiss heel but decided last minute to stick with the heel flap that's used in the pattern. I have to admit, I love a good heel flap, and with all the self-striping yarns that I have lined up to knit, I don't get the chance to knit heel flaps that often. That, and I'm quite curious as to how this colourway will look in a slipped stitch heel.

If I didn't have other deadlines to attend to I reckon that these socks would be finished in a flash. Considering that I've rarely knit on this project, in a 2 week span I've got half a sock done. Not bad, right? They won't be finished by the time the month is over but definitely by the end of October. But who knows, if the weather keeps being all grey and gross I just might be more inclined to knit on these to get me out of the colourless funk that fall can sometimes bring.

Any one else knitting on some wildly bright and colourful socks? These past few days I've changed up my sock yarn line up to include nothing but bright, gotta-put-my-shades-on colourways. And yes, I have a sock yarn line up. It's a handful of skeins that I plan on putting on my needles next. There's no particular order, I either just blindly grab whatever or if I'm feeling picky will take whichever one that suits my mood. They all live on the table next to my side of the bed (in a Ziplock bag, of course!) - it's half inspiration to knit, half "they're so pretty I can't bare to keep them buried in the stash". Tell me that I'm not the only one who does this...right?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Summer Obsessions

It's halfway through the month and I'm only just now posting the newest Obsessions list. Oops! But I should cut myself some slack, after all, this is my second post this week! I haven't done that in ages!! But I'm making it my mission to blog more for the rest of the year. Yay!

Anyhoo, as I've mentioned before, the summer months messed me up a little, time-wise. The teachers' strike and school ending earlier than scheduled (who knew a week could make such a difference?), having the Munchkin home full-time, sewing and prepping for Fibrations, and trying to take advantage of the beautiful weather really took up all my time. Any spare time that I did have went towards knitting. Before I knew it, July was over and August was already halfway in. I had completely forgotten to write up and post a July Obsessions list!!

So instead of trying to rush and churn out two separate Obsessions posts for both July and August, here's a condensed list of the few summer obsessions:

1. Highlighter Tape

Over the past few years I've been trying out different methods of trying to keep track of my place in patterns and charts - pens, highlighters, and Post-Its on hard copies of printed paper, magnetic chart keepers, handmade chart holders, tablet apps...if it was capable of holding a pattern and/or chart, I had it. Every method had their pros and cons and I don't really favour one over another - although I do prefer to go as waste-less as I possibly can. Meaning if a pattern is simple and easy (like socks) I'll keep it on my tablet and refer to it when needed. If I need to keep track of rows/rounds, increases/decreases, and any information required to obtain a symmetrical and/or even length of pieces, then I'll print out or photo copy the pattern so that I can write all over as needed. When it comes to charts, it all depends on the complexity. If it's super easy to memorize and doesn't require shaping and "at the same time" instructions, then I'll refer to it on my tablet or phone. If it's more involved, then I'll definitely print it out. To keep track of my place on charts I use either highlighters or highlighter tape. 

Over the summer I was working on a test knits and knitting up swatches (for inspiration) and found that I was preferring the (moveable) highlighter tape over the (permanent) highlighter. Aside from the obvious keeping track of which row of the chart I was on, I was also using small pieces of the tape over the beginning of the sentence of the instructions I was currently on. Then it got to the point where I was also using the tape in my bullet journal, bills, notes to the Mister, and notes to myself (because who doesn't need to be reminded that you're out of milk?). Before I knew it, I've accumulated a nice stash of highlighter tape - all ready to go for all that fall and winter knitting that's about to commence!

:: TIP :: If you're frugal like me, to prolong the life of your pieces of tape put your chart in a page protector and stick the tape on top. The page protector makes it easier to take the tape on and off. For small charts, use packing tape over the chart as a barrier for the same effect. 

2. Sweetlegs Leggings


Towards the end of summer I was introduced to Sweetlegs leggings. At first I thought they were like every other leggings that were on the market and had bought a single pair without seeing them in person, solely because I loved the skull print (pictured above). When I got them in my hands I was wow'd by the incredible softness of the fabric. When I tried them on I was surprised as to how opaque the fabric remained, even when stretched over my legs, and how the print didn't distort or become 'shiny' (usually from the lycra in the fabric). I completely fell in love after an hour of wear, when I realized just how comfortable they truly are. Seriously, I felt like I was wearing nothing at all (and yet, I couldn't stop molesting my own legs, the fabric is just soooo cuddly soft!). Suddenly my solo pair morphed into five, with a handful more ordered. If you follow me on Instagram then you've already seen some of the prints I have. If not, I'm sure you'll be seeing some of them make cameo appearances on the blog!

3. Tunic Length Tops

Sweater Quantities
Future tunic-length garments

Needless to say I'm going to require some clothes to wear with my Sweetlegs leggings. While it would probably be easier and faster for me to sew a bunch of jersey knit tops, I'm pretty determined to hand knit a few before the winter is over. That, and I really need to get my serger serviced as it is in dire need of a new blade and a good cleaning!

I already have a good idea as to what patterns I want to knit up and as much as I would like to knit them all in neutral colours (re: black or grey), my bank account statement is demanding that I knit from stash. Sadly I do not have any sweater quantities in either black or grey so I'm either going to have to get creative or be content in wearing a lot of colour. On the knit list thus far: Veera Välimäki's Laneway, Amy Miller's Sweet Jane and Isabel, a lengthened Tin Can Knits Harvest, and possibly Joji Locatelli's Boxy Cape (which isn't tunic length, but I think would look awesome over a simple, black, tunic length basic tee or tank - as long as it covers my butt. The cape would merely be a cozy snuggly piece that could possibly cover up the tummy area while offering some warmth).

What do you think? Got any other tunic-like pattern ideas?

4. Cold Brew

I don't think I could have made it through the summer and my Fibrations prep without the aid of Discovery Coffee's Cold Brew (and sometimes decadent donuts!). I used to think all iced coffee were the same - just make simple double strength coffee, chill, and add ice cubes (I like my coffee black, even iced). Boy, was I wrong!! The cold brew method is definitely the way to go!! Cold brew coffee is just soooo smoooooth, clean, bright, and even a non-iced coffee drinker would find this a pleasant and refreshing treat on a hot summer's day. I also love that Discovery offers their cold brew in cool looking bottles that you can return and refill. Because trust me, I refilled mine a lot over the summer. And I mean a lot.

5. Lavender-Infused Simple Syrup


In the May Obsessions post I listed lavender as one of my obsessions. Well, lavender makes another appearance on the obsessions list. But this time in the form of lavender-infused simple syrup. At the start of the summer the Mister and I had made a pallet garden for our kitchen balcony and my two little lavender plants yielded enough buds to soak in a batch of simple syrup. I wasn't sure how long the syrup would keep for and so I was using it in everything. Mainly in tea lattes (fairy tea...oh yeah!) and as the sweetener in lemonades (the winner beverage of the summer!). I tried baking blueberry muffins with the syrup but the lavender was too soft of a flavour to even noticed. I'm going to have to use the actual buds next time for a proper flavour impact. 

I'm sad that my little jar of syrup is almost gone. I think I have enough for a few more fairy tea lattes. But you know what? It's probably for the best. Aside from this syrup I've been cutting down on my sugar intake and I'm sure my body will be happy once this lavender-infused yumminess is all gone! 

Well, that, my Friends, was the gist of my summer. It doesn't seem like much now that I'm thinking back on it, but with all that was going on I'm surprised that I even remember this much! How was your summer? What were you up to?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Off The Needles: A Sock Parade!

In the spirit of trying to get this blog up to date on all the knitty action that has been going on around the Miso household, I thought I would finally post all the sock FOs that have been gracing both my feet and my Instagram account since the beginning of time. Ok. Maybe it hasn't been that long. But seriously, aside from the CaterpillarGreen Yarns Concrete and Tulips socks post from a few months ago, I haven't made a sock FO post since February!! It's been all "here's what's on my needles" but nothing about what has been coming off them. I honestly do finish projects, I swear!!

Now, while my sock knitting isn't as fanatical as it was at the beginning of the year, I'm pretty pleased with myself for having churned out 6 pairs of socks in an eight month span. Especially considering that I've been working on other knits and have been sewing up a storm (or at least tempting to). In the meantime I've been accumulating sock yarn like there's no tomorrow. Does that count? It's guaranteed future sock FOs. Well, it's what I tell myself anyways.

Anyhoo, without further ado I give you a mid-year sock parade!!

:: JECK ::

This pair came off the needles in February and since then I've tried to take an accurate photo of the blues within the colourway. The photo above is the best I can do. The turquoise blue is just so vibrant and bright against the cobalt. I don't know if you can see it in the photo, but there are also some lovely peek-a-boo stitches of cappuccino beige and coffee brown throughout. Mixed together, it's just so, so lovely. 

I hemmed and hawed about the toe and whether I should do my standard toe or the one used in the pattern. In the end I went with what was written in the pattern - only to rip it back twice as I didn't like how the stitches at the side of the leg wasn't lining up with the decorative ones along the toe box. I fiddled around and moved the stitches a bit so that they would all line up nice and neat, and be more pleasing to my eye. For a more detailed account of what I did, check out my Ravelry project page (link below).

:: Details ::
Pattern: Jeck by Regina Satta
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock
Colour: Cold Mountain
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Jeck

:: HUDSON ::

From my Instagram Hudson socks. Or otherwise known as "Canadiana" - the actual name of this colourway, now currently being dyed by Jo of Fishknits Yarn (it was originally dyed by my friend Em when she was Everything Old, and has since passed on the formula to Fishknits Yarn), and has been made famous by Susan B. Anderson when she knit her pair of Hudson Bay socks last month.

I took my merry little time knitting this pair up. It was just so much fun to knit! Yes, even the plain, cream coloured foot was enjoyable - solely because I still got to see the fun stripes on the leg as I knit along (pun completely intended!!). I didn't even mind that I had to re-do the heel on my second sock a few times if it meant that I got to spend some more time with this yarn. It got to the point where I procrastinated on grafting the toes together on that second sock simply because I didn't want this project to end!

I'm particularly proud of the joins between the heel flap and gusset, which I normally get the tiniest of holes. I'm a firm believer that when something is simple, such as a plain vanilla sock, the item itself demands to be nothing less than perfection. After all, there's nothing there to disguise the mistakes and flaws. Especially when the fabric you're creating is as light as this cream coloured base. So I'm beyond pleased as punch to have produced a pair of socks that don't contain the usual little flubs that hand knit socks generally contain. Just don't expect me to pull this feat off again though. Because the chances of that happening are pretty slim!

:: Details ::
Pattern: My own plain vanilla leg-down recipe

Yarn: Everything Old Signature Sock (dyer no longer in business but you can purchase this colourway via Fishknits Yarn)
Colour: Canadiana
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Hudson


Unikitty 2

Next up on the docket: the highly anticipated Lego kitty inspired socks, Unikitty!! Highly anticipated by who, you ask? Well, by me! I had decided to knit these socks until I ran out of yarn, which meant they turned out to be taller than my usual socks but not quite knee high either. They're definitely an awkward height but you know what? I love them just the same. They'll be great with my rain boots and will always bring a smile to my face whenever I wear them.

I used my usual plain vanilla toe-up sock recipe with an afterthought heel, and had started my sets of increases at the center back when I reached calf height. I took a lucky guess as to when to start the 2x2 ribbing for the cuff and managed to eek out 2 inches of ribbing before I started the game of "yardage chicken" on the bind off. In total I used one ball of yarn for each sock. 

Not only is this the fourth pair of socks for the Socks With Sarah KAL, but I also used them for my Stash Dash final yardage count. You know me, I love a good two-fer! I haven't had the chance to wear these yet but I've gotten a lot of compliments on them while I was knitting them. It saddens me deeply that Knit Picks has discontinued the Felici line and wonder if they have received enough hate emails and messages of concern to make them consider re-introducing the yarn back into their product line-up? I know of several knitters who have been patrolling Ravelry stashes in hopes of snatching up a few skeins of this colourway. If I didn't already have 2 skeins in reserve, I'd be on the look out too!

:: Details ::
Pattern: My own plain vanilla toe-up sock recipe

Yarn: Knit Picks Felici (now discontinued)
Colour: Jellybean
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Unikitty


Positively Pink

This pair of socks have actually been on the needles for years before I finally decided that it was time to just buckle down, knit them up, and get these bad boys off the needles. One of the dangers of having such an old WIP is that over time (and in this case, years) your gauge changes. When I had cast on this pair back in 2011 I guess I was somewhat of a looser knitter than I am today because I was using a pair of 2mm (US 0) needles. I tried to match my gauge in hopes that I didn't have to change needles, which I think I managed to pull off - minus the tight little line that goes across the top of the foot where it meets the ankle on both socks (you can kind of see it on the photo above). 

When I first started these socks I had intended to knit them with a short-row heel, and throughout the years I had picked these socks up and knit a round here and there. This time, I decided that the short-row heel just wasn't working out for me (re: SO many holes!! Ack!!) so I ripped back both socks (luckily only one sock had any real leg progress going on while the other had a mere few rounds after the heel) and went with a simple gusset heel. Generally I'm not a fan of heels that could interfere with the striping action on the top of the foot but this time I gave in and went with the flow. Luck was definitely on my side for this project, as the pinks were sometimes so close in shade that I really couldn't tell that there was one stripe that just wasn't like the others. But let's not talk too much about it...don't want to all of a sudden get stuck on that and get the urge to do something rip out the socks and re-do the heels. Cause only extremely insane knitters would do that.

Moving on.

Once I fixed the heels these socks had knit up in a flash and after three years of being on the needles, these bad boys are finally done, done, DONE!!! feels good!

:: Details ::
Pattern: My usual plain vanilla toe-up sock recipe using a gusset heel
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici (now discontinued)
Colour: Positively Pink
Needles: Knit Picks Nickel Plated Circulars in 2.0mm (US 0)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Positively Pink Striped Socks


Fish Lips Kissing

And finally, the last pair of socks in this FO parade: the stunning (if I do say so myself!) hand-dyed by me, Fish Lips Kissing socks! Aside from the heel everything about this pair is pretty much my usual plain vanilla toe-up sock recipe. I was pretty surprised as to how dead on I already was about when to start the heel on my socks. The instructions for the Fish Lips Kiss Heel has you constructing a template of your foot, and with simple math you find out exactly where you should be starting the heel. My usual measurement was mere millimetres off! 

The FIsh Lips Kiss Heel is such an easy peasy heel to knit up, despite the fact that the instructions are pages long. I became a believer after knitting the first heel and then an official convert after the second after discovering that not only did I not have to count stitches, need to use a million stitch markers, or have to fan-dangle around with an extra set of needles to get a completely hole-less and perfect fitting heel.

Don't believe me? Check out the proof:

Fish Lips Kissing Heel

Awesome-sauce, right??

I don't think I would use this heel on self-striping yarns though, unless I experimented a bit and figured out a way to avoid the "solo skinny stripe syndrome" that I'm not a fan of. I don't mind it on this pair since all the stripes are of uneven widths that I don't think you can tell which stripe was forcibly shortened. But I'll definitely be trying out this heel on non-striping yarns and different patterns!

Because of how this yarn was put-up I had to knit my socks two-at-a-time on one long circular needle. As I've mentioned before, normally when I knit two at a time the socks are on two separate circs and I'll knit either a round or a portion of the sock each. But because the yarn was double stranded in sock blank form, I had to start out and knit the foot of the socks as one. I couldn't take it any more after the heel and ended up dividing the socks onto two circs. Next time I knit from a sock blank, I'll just have to suck it up and deal with twisting strands of yarn rather than have to fight through the minimal elbow room that I had on my needles. Ugh.

I ended up with a fair amount of yarn leftover and while I entertained the idea of just knitting until I ran out of yarn like I did with the Unikitty socks, I decided I didn't need another pair of awkward height socks. I can't imagine knitting up all the leftovers into hexipuffs for my Beekeeper's Quilt, as there's probably enough to knit another pair of socks. I've found another sock pattern that I can potentially use in conjunction with another yarn, I'll most likely put the leftovers back into the stash. In the meantime, I'm planning out what to do with my other sock blank!

:: Details ::
Pattern: My usual plain vanilla toe-up sock recipe using Fish Lips Kiss Heel by Sox Therapist

Yarn: Knit Picks Sock Blank (now discontinued)
Colour: My own dye job
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps in 2.25mm (US 1) and Knitter's Pride
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Fish Lips Kissing

Well, that's it for this FO sock parade but I'm sure there will be at least one more before the year is over. I've got more sock yarns lined up just waiting to be turned into socks. Seeing all these FOs has really given me that sense of accomplishment that makes me want to whip out my current sock project and knit until the wee hours! 

Hmm...I just might do that.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ending the Radio Silence

CaterpillarGreen Yarns Stacked Up

Hello Friends! Oh wow...has it really been well over a month since I last made a post around here? Yikes! How could I have let that happen? I'm going to assume poor time manage and non-existent planning on my part. The summer has passed by in a flash and I can honestly say that I spent the majority of my time trying to balance prepping and sewing for Fibrations with trying to keep the Munchkin both occupied and as close to having a so-called "normal" summer (re: not stuck indoors all day left to entertain himself because Mommy has to sew) as possible. This was not an easy task for me. Especially throughout the month of August, where I swear I spent most of the month living off of coffee fumes.

Anyhoo, before I get distracted by something shiny (oohh...look at all the new patterns that are "Hot Right Now" on Ravelry...), I'll get you all up to date on what has happened around here. Point form, of course! So here we go...

♥ Several people have been asking me about the teacher appreciation gifts that I had knit up for the Munchkin's kindergarten teachers. I had run out of time in knitting a third shawl and so one lucky teacher received my Follow Your Arrow shawl. I couldn't decide who should get what shawl so in the end I had let the Munchkin decide. All shawls were very well received and appreciated. Due to the sudden teacher's strike and school ending a week earlier than scheduled, it was a mad rush to get all the shawls blocked, wrapped up, and ready to be gifted. I didn't get the chance to do a proper photo shoot of all the shawls and I had about 10 minutes to snap quick pics of all three before I had to rush them to the school. So please excuse the crappy-ness of the following photos.

Swiped from my Instagram feed, photo taken during blocking process

I've always wanted to knit Spectra but knew that I would rarely, if ever, wear it. So, like the other shawls that I've knit for the Munchkin's school, this pattern was never high on the "to knit" list for myself but I took this gift knitting opportunity to finally get this pattern on my needles. This shawl was fun and incredibly easy to knit and memorize. After 2 wedges you can have the pattern down pat. It's that easy. Once you got going and started to see the colours play out, it was hard to put the project down because you just wanted to see what the next wedge was going to look like. When I got to the required amount of wedges needed to complete the pattern I noticed that I still had a ton of yarn leftover. So I decided to keep on knitting and that since this was for a kindergarten teacher and at the time the class was learning to count to 100 and had just celebrated their "100 days of kindergarten" I thought it was fitting to make the shawl 100 wedges long. I wish I had mentioned this little detail in the card to the teacher but because I was under such time constraints I didn't even think of it at the time.

Other than knitting more wedges than called for in the pattern, I didn't make any mods. If I were to knit this pattern again though, I think I would either shorten the border or extend the border edge of the wedges.

:: Shawl Details ::
Pattern: Spectra by Stephen West

Yarn: Knit Picks Chroma Fingering
Colours: Pool Party and Black
Needles: Knit Picks Rainbow Wood Straight 14" Needles in 3.75mm (US 5)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Spectra :: A Pool Party

Viciously taken from my Instagram feed

Sadly the photo that I took of this shawl turned out to be pure crap and you really couldn't see any of the details. The colours within this yarn were so vibrant that both my camera and phone couldn't handle it. But if you really want to see it, I've posted the photo of the shawl in its entirety on my Flickr - which you can view here.

There really isn't much to say about this shawl that I didn't already say on my Ravelry project page (link below in the details). I discovered that I'm not really a fan of not knowing what I'm knitting and had to wait a few days after a clue was released so that I could see what others were knitting before I could pick and knit a clue. I finished the shawl within a matter of a week and a bit after the last clue was released but didn't get around to blocking it, so it sat unloved in a pile of FOs that were all waiting to be either blocked, have their ends woven in, or simply needed buttons sewn on. Maybe it was a good thing that I didn't block it immediately or else I wouldn't have had a shawl to gift! While the end knit turned out absolutely beautiful, I'm glad that it went to a loving and appreciative home as I don't think I would have ever worn it if it had stayed with me. The shape of the shawl (half circular) is one that I don't really wear so it would have most likely stayed in that FO pile collecting dust. And how wrong would it have been to let such beautiful yarn knit into a fabulous shawl be? 


:: Shawl Details ::
Pattern: Follow Your Arrow by Ysolda Teague

Yarn: SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock
Colour: Pomegranate
Needles: Signature Needle Arts Fixed Circulars in 4mm (US 6)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Following My Arrow :: Mystery KAL ::

Another photo shamelessly ripped from my Instagram feed, and yes...that really IS bits of masking tape holding up the shawl

In case you didn't pick up on it with the first Daybreak that I had knit, I'll say it again: I absolutely LOVE knitting this pattern. It's so incredibly easy peasy and therapeutic, and if knit with a gradient or self-striping yarn the shawl will look insanely impressive with very minimal effort.

As with the first Daybreak I had knit the largest size since I had a lot of yarn to work with. I had also learned my lesson and went with a garter stitch border from the get-go rather than try to make the original border work and stop curling in on itself. Also like the first Daybreak, I had a hard time giving this one away. I think it's just so stunning. I still have a fair amount of Knit Picks Chroma in my stash that would look fabulous as a Daybreak, it's just a matter of finding the time to knit one for myself!

:: Shawl Details ::
Pattern: Daybreak by Stephen West
Yarns: Knit Picks Chroma Fingering and Stroll Sock
Colours: Atlantis and Dove Heather
Needles: Knitter's Pride Karbonz Fixed Circulars in 3.5mm (US 4)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Atlantis Daybreak

♥ Things have been a little hectic around here due to the fact that school has yet to start up and so I've got the Munchkin hanging out here during the afternoons still (and trust when I say I'm not cut out for the homeschooling bit...I give major kudos to those of you who homeschool full time as I can barely get my kidlet to sit through one so-called lesson!). For those who don't like in BC, there's currently a teachers strike happening that started the last week of the last school year. I won't get into the details, but if you're really curious about it I'm sure a quick Google-fu will send you in the right direction for more info.

♥ I've also been asked how Stash Dash worked out for me. Well...I didn't win Stash Dash (and no, there were no prizes or even pressure to finish...just encouragement to knit, knit, knit!!). I only managed to knit up half of the 5k required, coming in at a measly 2770m and finishing 3 pairs of socks, 2 shawls, and 1 baby set consisting of a hat and bootie socks. I'm not at all discouraged by my results and definitely have plans to do Stash Dash again next year!

♥ As for the Socks With Sarah KAL, I'm still plugging away on the sock knitting but not as vigorously as I was at the beginning of the year. I've just cast on my 8th pair of socks for the KAL (10th for the year, YAY!!) which isn't so bad considering that we're not even halfway through September yet. I'm pretty pleased with this progress and can see myself getting back on the sock knitting speed train once all these baby knits are off my needles.

♥ Baby knits. 2014 has been the year in which everyone I know has either had a baby or announced their pending arrival of their bundle of joy. Now that I'm not spending every waking moment sewing I'm trying to catch up on my baby knits. Luckily baby knits are small and quick. Sadly, I won't be posting any of those knits on the blog for fear that recipients might see (even though I honestly don't think a single one of them reads this blog), but I have and will be Instagramming it!

Surprise! Also ripped from my Instagram feed :: My Fibrations booth with Rebecca of Nook.

Fibrations was a great success! A HUGE thank you to all who came and visited my booth to either say hello and/or to purchase a bag, or one of the surprisingly (well, surprising to me) popular plastic notions cases that I had in stock (for markets only, sorry online peeps!). And a MASSIVE thank you to my friend Rebecca of Nook. for helping me out all day long in my booth! I couldn't have made it through the day without her!! Thanks Rebecca!!

♥ Now that Fibrations is over I'm (VERY) slowly updating the shop with the bags that I still have in stock. It's amazing just how time consuming taking product photos and editing them is - especially when you don't realize until after the photo session that the camera strap was in the corner of! Blast! So please bare with me as I slowly update the shop!

♥ Updating the shop also means that I will not be vending at Knit City this year. I'm truly sad faced about this. The date for Knit City is a little on the earlier side of October this year and due to several factors, I wasn't sure if I would be able to sew up enough stock and take part as a vendor. In the end I decided that I didn't want to fully commit just to find out that I couldn't make it. But as it turns out, I will be able to go as a customer! So I won't be missing out completely!

♥ Before I forget, the yarns pictured in the photo at the very top of this post are all CaterpillarGreen Yarns. I won the top 2 skeins in the Fibrations Twoonie Fundraising Raffle (that's Concrete and Tulips in the new merino/silk SHAWL self-striping base and the lovely blue, grey, and charcoal is Skyline in the BFL sock base) and I purchased the bottom skein (Spectrum in BFL sock). Aren't they just the loveliest??

Ok, I do have more things to mention but I've got kitchen and chauffeur Mommy duties to attend to. But stay tuned...I've got an Obsessions list to post...'til then...

Happy Knitting!!

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