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.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Knitterly Things :: Allure Fiber Wash Review

There is absolutely NO doubt that sweater weather is upon us. Actually, it's been more than just sweater weather around here. The cold snap that we had made it feel more like "layer on every single hand knit you own" weather. At least, that's how cold it has been for me. The Mister and I have
 been trying to hold out for as long as we could before we had to turn the heaters on but then last week the house started to feel colder inside than out, so we gave in. I really shouldn't be complaining though, as nippy as the west coast has been lately, we're still snow free (for now) and nowhere near how it's been like in the rest of Canada. Or even Buffalo!

It's cold weather like this that make me grateful that I'm a knitter and that I'm somewhat well stocked for cozy and warm hand knits! While the sweaters aren't falling off my needles as fast as I would like them to, the ones that I currently have in my wardrobe are all in heavy rotation. All the socks that I've been whipping up throughout the year are no longer hidden in the confines of my dresser, but are now a staple in my daily attire. With such consistent wear of all my hand knits comes the need for a regular maintenance routine: de-pilling, inspections for holes or other signs of wear, fixing loose buttons, and most importantly, washing.

I don't know if there's a right and wrong to it or what other knitters do, but I don't wash my hand knits after every wear. Depending on how often I've worn a garment, I generally wash my sweaters, shawls, mittens, and cowls once or twice a season; hats once a month; and socks after 4 or 5 wears each (sorry if that grosses some of you out). It's crazy to see how much makeup can build up on hat brims (which can lead to acne breakouts!) and/or how much hair products can add up and amplify the overall griminess (lately I've been a fan of dry shampoo!). Needless to say, hats can get pretty gross and regular laundering should be a requirement. I'm lucky when it comes to socks though, as my sock drawer is substantial enough that I can go at least 3 weeks before I have to wear the same pair again. I also wait until I have a small pile of socks of at least 5 or 7 pairs before I do a wash - it's just more time efficient that way and it's so much easier to have to drag out my drying rack once in a while rather than having socks in various stages of dampness all over my tiny place!

When it comes to washing my hand knits I'm a huge fan of using no-rinse wool washes. I've tried other methods like hair conditioner, baby shampoo, and basic dish soap but found that they either left an oily residue or too much fragrance, or they simply took way too long to rinse out. Not to mention that the excessive handling of a wet hand knit just made me overly paranoid about stretching and felting. Besides, I've got better things to do with my time - like knitting! - than to stand, hunched over a sink trying to rinse Palmolive off of my precious hand knits. No thank you!

Recently I was sent a sample pack of a new fibre wash called Allure by Bijou Basin Ranch to try out and review. I have to admit that my interest was piqued as I pondered what made Allure different from all the other fibre washes on the market. Cause really, once you smell one lavender scented detergent, you've smelled them all. Right? Well imagine my surprise when I ripped open the box, took a sniff from each of the 3 bottles I was sent, and discovered that none of them smelled of lavender (or any other typically used flower scent) or of some citrus fruit. Now that's a good first impression!

With a pile of knits on hand I took the opportunity to try out each scent:

:: Woodland Mist ::

The first thought that came to mind when I took a sniff of this scent was of how the Mister would like it. He's never complained outwardly to me about it, but I know the Mister isn't a fan of the usual fruity scents that I normally have on hand. According to the Mister, Woodland Mist "is like a cologne...but not" and "smells neutral enough to be unisex". And I have to agree with him. After a few more sniffs I can honestly say that you can't classify Woodland Mist as girly or manly. I really don't know how to describe it other than it reminds me of something like that soft soothing scent that you breathe in when you hug your crush or loved one that brings a smile to your face and that you wish would linger around longer. It's a warm scent with a hint of vanilla, but not so much so that it's overwhelming or perfume-y, but gentle and calming.

:: Prairie Breeze ::

Prairie Breeze is definitely my favourite of the 3 scents. It has a delicate, earthy hint to it without being overpowering. I picked up on the bergamot and vanilla notes immediately but was really surprised to read on the Allure website that the base consisted of sandalwood and musk. All my life I've stayed away from all things musk-like and had kept quite the distance with anything sandalwood as I find these aromas to be too much for me and for my bloodhound nose to handle. So I'm really taken back by how much I like Prairie Breeze - so much so that I've already used it 4 times now!

:: Fragrance Free ::

I'm a firm believer that every knitter should have a bottle of fragrance free wool wash tucked away in their laundry room. Even if you're a selfish knitter, there's always those few (maybe rare?) times that you need to knit a baby item or a small quick gift. I don't know about you but when I do any gift knitting, and especially with baby knits, I like to wash the knit before handing it over to the recipient. I also always use a fragrance free wool wash as you never know how sensitive the recipient may be when it comes to scents, or maybe you don't know what their scent preference is. I know a surprising amount of people who don't like the smell of lavender (I know, right?? That's just crazy talk to me!!) and who have aversions to all things fruity. In situations like this fragrance free is definitely the way to go. Allure's version truly is scent free and no matter how much or how hard I sniff away at the bottle, I can't pick up a single hint of anything. There's no weird plastic-y, chemical smell that I sometimes find in other scent free washes by other companies. There's just...nothing. Which is the whole point, so thumbs up!

One thing these washes all had in common that I really liked was that they were low sudsing, suggesting either a lack of or very low volumes of sodium lauryl sulfate (which can be really harsh on fibres). Not only had I soaked hand knits but also leggings and undergarments. I didn't see any pulling of colour from any of the items and noticed that the undergarments appeared brighter when they dried. I also liked that the fragrances weren't strong during the soaking process and when all the items were dried, only a nice hint of scent was left. I decided to save the bottle of Woodland Mist for any and all knits that I make for the Mister and reserved the Fragrant Free bottle for future gift knits, meaning that the Prairie Breeze is all mine!

To learn more about Allure and to try it yourself, please check out these links:

:: Website :: Blog :: Free Sample ::

♥ Happy Knitting!! ♥

:: 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 sample pack of the product for review purposes. The opinions I've written are my own and I will not be receiving any commissions from the links in this post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fresh Off The Needles: Sprinkled Skyp Socks

Two weeks ago I finally got around to finishing up my Sprinkled Skyp socks. Yay!! This is pair #8 for the Socks With Sarah KAL and #10 for the year. I'm pretty excited that I've managed to knit 11 pairs of socks so far this year (#11 was my Halloweenie socks) and would be completely chuffed if I can finish the year off with at least 12 pairs under my belt. I think this is a totally doable goal considering that I currently have 2 sock WIPs on the needles and there's always a lot of waiting to do before and during the holiday season (such as: waiting in line at stores, waiting in line to see Santa, waiting for Christmas concerts to get the picture) AND the Mister finally remembered to take proper time off for the holidays. You just know I'm going to knit up a storm during his time off!

Anyhoo, back to the Sprinkled Skyp socks. These babies took a little longer to complete than I anticipated. Not because the pattern is hard or anything - far from it! - but because I had other knits on the go and obligations to attend to. I don't know if this is the same for you but socks always seem to go on the back burner or gets stuffed into a handbag for "strictly for the car" knitting whenever a bigger project grabs my attention. 

Lucky for me though, the Skyp pattern is a pretty easy knit and memorable to boot. The actual Skyp stitch is a two-round pattern repeat that makes it clear as to which round you've just completed and therefore makes it a no-brainer to figure out where you've left off - even if you haven't knit on the sock in weeks. I like that the socks don't look fussy (unless you knit them using a fussy yarn) and even though they're designed for men - judging by the pattern's sizing for men, that is - I think this pattern is perfectly suitable for either male or female. I can see why so many knitters have knit this pattern up more than once.

I made two teeny, tiny mods and that was knitting an extra repeat on the leg and knitting the cuff until it measured 1" rather than just the 10 rounds the pattern called for, as I thought the 10 rounds looked odd and unusually short to me. While the height of the leg is just ok, I should have knit them longer. As they are now, they are about 2" shorter than my norm. But that's ok. Not every sock I knit needs to be calf height or higher. I actually have a pair of rain booties that these socks would be perfect for!

Even though I just said that this pattern was easy peasy, I still managed to screw up on the second sock. I wasn't paying attention when I started knitting the heel flap and so I didn't shift the stitches like you're suppose to before you begin. I didn't think anything of it and kept right one knitting and by the time I realized my mistake it was too late. I had already finished the heel flap, turned the heel, and was an inch into the foot. You can't really tell but when I wear that one sock you can see from where I started the gusset to the end of it that there's a little ladder action happening. It almost looks like I dropped a stitch:

Man, is it ever hard to take decent closeup shots of your own foot!

Design feature? Yeah...sure! Let's go with that.

I used exactly half of my skein of RainCityKnits Superwash Merino/Nylon Sock so I'm definitely putting the leftovers directly back into the stash instead of the leftovers bin. I know I can eek out another pair of socks and may already have plans of using another ball of leftovers in a hot pink for the toe/heel/cuff. There's absolutely no way I'm going to let any of this yarn go to waste! It was such a pleasure to knit with this yarn. Because of the way it was dyed, the yarn has no real "pattern" to it and I had a feeling I didn't have to worry about pooling or even flashing. This colourway was so fun to knit with because I had no idea what colour was going to pop up next or how many stitches I was going to get out of a colour. I got excited whenever I got to knit up the highlighter yellow and for some strange reason I got a lot of glee from knitting a solo stitch in one colour - it didn't matter what colour it was as long as it was enough to knit that one single stitch. 

I'm still up in the air about whether or not if I made the right pairing of yarn to pattern. I love both but I'm not sure if they actually mesh well together. I wonder if the yarn is too busy for the pattern and vice versa. What do you think?

:: Project Details ::
Pattern: Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku
Yarn: RainCityKnits Superwash Merino/Nylon Sock
Colour: Graffiti 
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Sprinkled Skyp 

Friday, November 14, 2014


Via my Instagram feed
A newly caked sock yarn

These past few weeks I've been having a challenging time trying to find that "sweet spot" in the house where I'm guaranteed decent to good lighting to take photos. Usually that spot is in the master bedroom on the corner of my bed, but since the time change and the new season that sweet spot is no more. I can kind of get away with smaller, closeup shots of WIPs and yarn but when it comes to socks and larger FOs,'s a bit of a crapshoot and even then I've got mega high changes of shadows and a weird blue-ish overcast to contend with. I'm hoping that over the weekend I can either rig something up or find a spot nearby that won't garner me too many odd looks ("look honey, that girl is taking photos of mittens on our fence...should we call the police??"). 

In the meantime in between parenting and dealing with the Munchkin's school stuff I've been knitting, filling in orders, knitting, attempting to cut fabric (apparently this mama needs a new iron), knitting, and documenting most of this via Instagram. I know a fair number of people don't use Instagram so I thought I would take a few photos from my feed and post them here to keep you somewhat up to date as to what crafty happenings have been going on around here (or you can take a peak at the Instagram widget on the blog's sidebar and see more). 

So here's what's been going on lately:

The essentials for "waiting in the car on a rainy day":
coffee, knitting, and some kickin' tunes!!
Oh, and some crazy SweetLegs too!

A fair isle inspired day on a perfect Fall day!!
Because someone will ask, the leggings are by SweetLegs!

Busting out the (faux) leather and counter-balancing the biker look by casting on
 some fun rainbow self-striping goodness!!

Still knitting away on my Harvest cardigan
and wondering if that quarter of a stitch difference in my gauge will matter?

Wow, just looking at these photos from the past week, I really do have a leggings problem!! That might change as the weather gets colder. We'll see!

I'm still plugging away on my Harvest cardigan, finishing up my current sock WIP, casting on more socks, and winding up what feels like every skein of yarn I own. The weather is just getting colder and colder and so my need to cast on ALLLL the knits is getting stronger and stronger. I'm trying to convince myself that I really can keep warm by knitting up a storm instead of just huddling under the kidlet's Spiderman blanket with my hands wrapped around a mug of tea. These knits aren't going to knit themselves!!

Although, sometimes I wish they did!

So what's on your needles?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Knit In Progress: Harvest Cardigan

For a while now I've been talking about how I wanted to get back into sweater knitting, especially since the past few months I've been knitting nothing but socks and shawls. To get the ball rolling I had combed through patterns on Ravelry, re-organized my queue, tossed the stash for inspiration, and wrote up a list of knits that I want to knit now (which is totally not an easy feat!). No surprise, there's a fair amount of patterns that I'm just dying to knit up but I realized that almost all of those patterns require fingering weight yarns. If I want to get really motivated and back into the swing of sweater knitting I know that I need an instant gratification project - meaning: worsted weight or heavier and a simple pattern that would knit up somewhat quick and easy. I took another dive into the stash and I came upon a sweater quantity that caught my eye. 

Four years ago I purchased a few skeins of Madelinetosh's Steam Age colourway in the Vintage base, thinking that I will eventually knit it up into a cozy cowl or something of that sort. Shortly after the skeins arrived in the post I decided that I loved the colourway too much to wear it in a mere accessory form. So I searched the internet and scored a few more skeins to make up a sweater quantity. I have no idea what I was thinking since I've never knit a garment using variegated colourways before and didn't think I ever would (I can't handle not being able to control the pooling or flashing within the knitted fabric other than on socks), so I really surprised myself when I made this move. 

It took fours years though to finally find a pattern that I think will let the colourway shine without being fussy. Enter: the Harvest cardigan by Tin Can Knits!

Harvest Cardigan WIP

Seriously, Harvest is a super simple and basic cardigan that's knit seamlessly from the top down, has no waist shaping, no buttons or buttonholes, and requires no finishing. It's straight up stockinette with garter stitch along the collar, fronts, and hems for contrast detail. You really can't get any more basic than that.

The only fussy thing about this whole project is the alternating of skeins. I'll confess that I normally don't alternate my yarn (a naughty knitterly no-no that has bitten me in the butt before) but this time it's an absolute must. In case you didn't catch it the first time, I had bought half of the yarn for this sweater quantity from one shop, and the other half from another online retailer. Yep. That's right. We're talking two different dye lots here. And we're not talking subtle differences either. You probably can't tell too much from these photos, but in person it's quite obvious:

Madelinetosh Vintage Steam Age

Do you see it? The top two cakes are from one dye lot (well, from the same order) and the bottom two is from another. The top two are overall lighter in colour and a bit more mellow, whereas the bottom two are darker and more vibrant. The bits of turquoise and pink just pop from the sea of grey. The bottom right cake is especially a tad darker and more pigmented than the rest of the lot. I'll admit that I was disappointed that the two lots didn't come close to being a perfect match. Oh well, c'est la vie. Alternating skeins it is then. No biggie.

Usually I dislike alternating skeins on a seamless knit because there's nowhere to really hide the line that alternating skeins creates when you carry the yarn along. With Harvest though, you have that sweet spot where the stockinette changes into garter stitch to somewhat hide that line. Yeah, you can still tell it's there if you look for it but to most it looks like a clean little seam. 

Harvest Cardigan WIP 2

I'm really liking how it's all working out and absolutely love the fabric I'm getting. My only regret is that I didn't alternate skeins at the very start and so the back of the collar is a little on the muted side and doesn't have any pops of blue or pink. Most people would say it doesn't matter though, since it's the back and most likely would be hidden under my hair. Hopefully I will forget about that little oversight by the time I cast off the last stitch. Truthfully I was feeling a little lazy about having to rip back and starting all over AND I would have felt slightly defeated since I had already ripped back once - when I realized about two inches into the raglan increases that I messed up on the increases in a few spots. I had thought about just dropping a few stitches down in those spots to fix those increases but decided that I didn't like how noticeable the introduction of a new skein looked in the back, so I ripped the whole thing back to when I had to pick up the stitches along the collar. 

I thought about adding waist shaping in order to avoid any possibility of looking like a sack of potatoes but quickly nixed the idea after I had tried the WIP on and discovered that the fit was true to size and that I didn't have a lot of positive ease going on around the waist. Aside from slipping the first stitch at the beginning of every row for a cleaner, more polished looking edge, I'm knitting the pattern as written. I don't know what it is about a slipped stitch edge along garter that I love so much, but I can tell you that I have a favourite stitch. It's this bold, vibrant, solo pink stitch that's hanging out along one of the front edges. Just chillin'. 

I love it.

Harvest Cardigan - Garter

I'm hoping that I have enough yarn to knit this hip length so that I can have a little bit of butt coverage for when I wear leggings. I just started knitting with the third and fourth skeins and I'm already at the natural waist. I know that my last 2 skeins (fifth and sixth skeins respectively) will be more than enough to knit up the sleeves, but the hems are in garter stitch and we all know just how much of a yardage eater garter can be. I know Madelinetosh is notorious for growing in length, not only is Vintage a superwash wool but the weight of the fabric alone will guarantee some growth. I haven't decided if I'm going to knit the sleeves bracelet length (to counteract the aforementioned fabric growth) or just knit them long anyways for a cozier fit.

I also haven't decided on whether or not if I should stick with a shawl pin to close the cardigan or if I should invest in a Jūl Designs leather closure. And if so, should I sew a length of grosgrain ribbon along the insides of both fronts to hold the shape of the garter bands against the weight of the leather closure? 

Harvest Cardigan WIP

Hmm...maybe I should start knitting a sleeve first and then worry about closures when I'm closer to actually binding off. That might help. And while I'm at it, maybe I should stop thinking about what I'm going to cast on next (and don't wind the yarn for it just yet!) and just focus on getting this WIP off the needles first.

Now there's an idea!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fresh Off The Needles: Halloweenie Socks

Happy day after Halloween!! I don't know about you, but I'm definitely feeling the effects of having way too much sugar last night after trick or treating!! Aside from the Munchkin's loot, we still have a good deal of candy leftover since we only had a handful of trick or treaters come to our door this year, which is still more than the 2 or 3 we got last year. And of course the Mr bought candy that we both like. I'm going to have to really restrain myself from not dipping into the bowl every time I pass it!

Halloween day itself was pretty bustling around here. I didn't mean to but I ended up sticking around the Munchkin's school for most of the day - I couldn't help it, all the kidlets were just too cute in their costumes! Then there were last minute costume fixes, errands, and of course, trick or treating and the eating of said treats! In between all of that I was in a rush to finish my Halloween socks that I had cast on last week in hopes of wearing them out while trick or treating. I'm happy to report that they did indeed get finished in time.

I'll confess that I was a little naughty a few weeks ago and bought a few skeins of yarn to make me feel better about the fact that I was not going to Rhinebeck. Not that I have been to Rhinebeck in the past, but still, seeing all the beautiful sweaters and yarn-y yumminess on Instagram made me a little wistful that I wasn't there. It also didn't help that a few indie dyers help sales during the Rhinebeck weekend. One of those indie dyers was Ashley from Nomadic Yarns. I've been eyeing her Slutty Pumpkin self-striping colourway for quite some time now but always held back on buying a ball due to the fact that I have a fair amount of not only sock yarn but self-striping sock yarn in the stash. Since I was in the mood to cheer myself up and the yarn just happened to be on sale...well...I have mentioned in the past just how weak I am in the face of self-striping yarn. Or for any yarn, for that matter.

So I bought a ball of my beloved Slutty Pumpkin. But I didn't stop there. I figured since I was buying a ball, I might as well make the most of the shipping and added a ball of Halloweenie to my cart. 

Halloweenie Socks - Heel

You would have thought that between the two that I would have cast on the Slutty Pumpkin first, but the Munchkin loved Halloweenie so much that I decided to cast that one on instead. I originally wasn't thinking about getting them finished in time for Halloween but since this past week has been quite the stressful one, and knitting stockinette in the round can be so soothing, these socks had practically knit themselves up.

Being that Halloweenie is a self-striper, I automatically cast on to knit my usual plain vanilla toe-up sock recipe. When I got to the heel I was about to put in my preferred afterthought (or forethought? I guess depending on who you're talking to?) heel, when I decided to try something different. This time around I decided to give the Fish Lips Kiss heel a go. The first time I had knit this heel I had used my own hand-painted sock blank that was kind of stripe-y and wasn't sure if I would ever use this heel with an actual self-striping yarn. After a little thought and consideration (and some encouraging words from commenters from the first FLK heeled sock) I decided to just go for it. 

Halloweenie Socks - Heels

What do you think? At first I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that little black stripe that goes up the hinge of the heel, but after a while it grew on me. To make life easier on myself I decided to knit a full stripe before starting the heel instead of knitting half the stripe like I normally do for the afterthought heel, this way I could continue on with the striping sequence without any disruptions after I knit the heel. To make this work out so that my stripes are consistent and without sacrificing a stripe to the uneven "tiny stripe across the ankle" syndrome, I had to break the yarn after knitting the FLK heel and then cut out a few sections in my working yarn to get to the next stripe in the sequence. I'm pretty pleased with how it all worked out. I'm even more surprised that I really didn't have to cut out that much yarn (about 7 grams worth) or do much in general to make the socks match - as in I didn't weigh out my yarn ahead of time or wind it into 2 separate balls. I didn't even weigh out the yarn when I bound off the first sock and had just cut off enough yarn so that I could start with a black stripe. This could have totally backfired on me but I have a pretty good idea as to how much yarn I need to knit a sock and how much leeway I have within the basic sock yarn put-up to work with.

With that said, I did grossly miscalculated how much yarn I needed to bind off using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off on both socks and ended up binding off the last 10 stitches in chartreuse on the first sock and then the last stitch on the second. Needless to say, that bugged me. So on the first sock I ripped out those stitches, Russian joined more black yarn to the sock, and bound off. The second sock, I just left as is. I like to think I'm not that crazy and nitpicky (even though I totally am) and hope that solo chartreuse stitch will remind me to not be. We'll see how that works out. It's just a stitch, right?

I absolutely love how these socks turned out. The FLK heel is quite the game changer, although I'll admit that I'm not sure I'm a full-on convert on using this heel method on all my self-striping socks. Or even on all my non-stripey socks, as I really do like a good heel flap. Also, I'm going to have to keep an eye on my gauge and keep note as to how much it changes in the next little while. My gauge on these socks is a little on the loose side and I really prefer the fabric of my socks to be slightly dense to make them a bit more stable and longer lasting in the wear department. I just might have to go down a needle size on my next pair of socks. But for now, even though Halloween is over, I'll keep strutting around in my new Halloweenie socks...that is, until the next pair comes off the needles!

Halloweenie Socks 2

:: Details ::
Pattern: My own plain vanilla toe-up sock recipe with Fish Lips Kiss heel

Yarn: Nomadic Yarns Twisty Sock
Colour: Halloweenie
Needles: ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Halloweenie Socks


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:

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

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.

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