Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Well Christmas is just about over. Surprisingly, I'm not asleep in bed yet- Kevin is out cross country skiing (he left at 9:00!) and I'm waiting up for him. So I thought I'd do a bit of a recap.

We stayed in Iowa for Christmas, and like all our Midwest Christmases, there wasn't much to this one. This was probably the sparsest yet- in Ohio, we usually put up stockings, but here in Iowa we haven't decorated yet. Usually Kevin makes a gingerbread house, but this year we didn't. So our house it was really more a 4-day weekend with gifts (my sister jokingly told me this is the best kind of weekend.)

So what were the gifts:
The number 1 gift: A serger!
Mom and Dad (who got me a sewing machine when I was a little girl -one of my favorite Christmas memories, I'll tell it at the end of the blogpost) got this for me. I feel like a real "sewist" (apparently the community doesn't like "sewer" I guess I understand why, and "seamstress" or "tailor" all have specific conotations, or something). I managed to break a thread pretty quickly, but Kevin came to the rescue and figured the instructions out to get it rethreaded very easily. Then I played with the settings, and set it to do a rolled hem. I'm making a headscarf in a floral batik to wear on my vacation. Nothing wrong with the one on my head, but I wanted something more Carribean :)

So what else did I get? Lots of sewing stuff.
My MIL gave me a $35 gift certificate to www.gorgeousfabrics.com and I bought 2 yards each of
a daisy design and a pink fabric that caught my eye. (GRRR! Both are on sale now for $7.50 a yard! I paid $10!!!)

And she got me 3 Jalie patterns! 2 knit tops and jeans! The knit tops will be made out of cheap fabric first (to test the serger) then the Gorgeous Fabrics are earmarked for them. The jeans- well they might sit in the stash for awhile, but what a dream to be able to make ones that fit tailor made! (I found a woman in town that gives lessons... I'd need them for this project!)

Of course I got a few stocking stuffers- chap stick from Burt's Bees Wax, a Glee calendar, and two giant vanilla tootsie rolls (LOVE THEM).

I always got a horrible back ache from shoveling a TON of snow- I mean a TON. Where did this all come from? And I got very very homesick. I'm very excited about the upcoming cruise (and very glad that we have some family coming along- my BIL and SIL) and I know I can't go on vacation and go home for Christmas, but when Kevin left for the night I just broke down. I hate missing family Christmas, I hate living so far away from my family and so many of my friends, and I hate knowing that my 2 of my nephews and my niece will never again have a first Christmas, and missing one where the older nephews on each side had a great joy in receiving gifts and playing with them. (Not sure they have great joy in Santa- at least one of them is very unsure about the whole idea.)

Hey! It's 11:00 and Kevin's home from skiing! So I'll sign off now. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, with a bit less lonelyness than I did...

*Favorite Christmas memory: As children (and still) we were quite spoiled on Christmas, always lots of presents, and always the ones we want. One Christmas (maybe I was 8ish? I don't know for sure) neither my sister or I got the "big" gift we asked for. We of course were thrilled with what we did got, but I know I was, and she probably was, secretly a little sad. We went to the kitchen to help prepare Christmas breakfast. My Mom went into her room to grab something, and she starts yelling hysterically "Mark (my Dad) I left the water on in the tub! The bathroom is flooding!!! Come quick, bring towels, I need help cleaning this up." I figured this out right away- I'm not sure if it's true, but I remember my sister running for towels. But NO- I knew there was no flood... hopefully there was a sewing machine, and sure enough, I ran to the bathroom and in the tub was not a ton of overflowing water but our "big ticket" gifts- my sewing machine, and my sister's rabbit fur coat. In hindsight, it may be very possible these weren't the gifts we got that year, but that's what I remember. (I say that because I was 8 in 1990, and I'm not sure fur still would have been in fashion by then. Maybe that was when she got her leather jacket...)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Latest quilt top...

This one is for my friend Sarah's baby, due in January. I'm doing it in Aggie Maroon and White (I asked ahead of time, she's fine with the theme. The back will be actual A&M fabric I've had since college. I think it was supposed to be pajama pants, but never quite made it.)

I like the design- it's very bold, and I think bold geometric designs are good for babies- stimulating. Unless of course it's used for a nap. LOL.


Now for the part I don't like- actually quilting the thing! (Why can't people just get tops?) I'm not really sure what to do for the pattern. I'll probably just stitch in the ditch, but with all the turns, it's going to be a pain. I'm also worried that that won't get the quilting close enough, because it's been ironed so that it will wrinkle when it washes, for a vintage look. So I was thinking that I might do straight lines across the quilt on every other square. I just need to decide if I should quilt in maroon or in white- since you'll be able to see if I do the design across the squares. Probably white- since I have a lot of that thread, and the weather won't let me go get anything else!


In other exciting news, Andi (the one who got the rainbow quilt) had her baby girl!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blanket Update

I am now (counting the end triangles) 300 squares into the blanket :) I had estimated 700-800 squares, so I'm not quite halfway... this thing may never end.

Today I spent most of the day piecing a quilt- hopefully it will be quilted over the holiday and then I can send it on to Sarah. I like the piecing design a lot, but am not sure how the quilting will go... that's always the hard part.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quilt for Andi's baby...

Andi, who I've been friends with since middle school is expecting her first baby. As soon as I heard, I knew she'd need a rainbow quilt. This one certainly isn't perfect, but I'm mostly happy with it. I always hope the lack of perfection will mean my quilts get used, and not tucked away for safe keeping.
I quilted the baby's initials into the design. If they end up naming her something else (not M), I'm safe, as her last name is W, so it can be looked at from either side. Otherwise, I don't think I'd ever do this, because there is just too much chance for change.
And, of course, the back of the quilt, to show the quilting. I'm not too happy with it- my machine was having major tension problems. I do like how the rainbow thread looks on the black background.
Now I need to make a quilt for my best friend since I was 2- who is expecting her first, also very soon (I'll probably be late). I feel bad about the friends whose births I've missed- everyone is having babies at the same time! (My twin nephews didn't get quilts- but that was because their Mom said, that while they would love quilts, blankets were over running the house.)

As bad as I am at it (there are always puckers) I really like baby quilts- because I can get a finished project. I have a finished full size quilt top from college, and I don't know what to do with it. Quilting it will run $100, plus probably another $25ish in shipping (and I need to buy backing fabric!) and the quilt isn't exactly perfect, so it doesn't seem worth the expense. Not to mention, I don't even have a full size bed anymore. Baby quilts, as long as I keep them to 5' or 6' square I can shove through my regular machine and quilt just fine. I like the vintage "wrinkly" look, so you have to quilt fairly closely, just tying doesn't work.

In other news, my feet are not good in shoes. I've been wearing size 4 kids shoes from Lands End for a few years now (since after college, when Merrells starting looking expensive with my Dad not paying...) they usually run me under $15, but I can't fit into the adult sizes. The problem is the kids sizes have no arch support at all. After spending a fortune in time and money on physical therapy, I've decided to go back to Merrells, which have good support. Problem is- apparently no size fits me! Both the 5 and the 5.5 feel good in the length, and my heels slip in the back. I decided to stick with the 5.5, since my big toe touches the front of the 5, but it's definitely too big. It's just like skates- I need split widths. Stupid stupid shoes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Problem: Solution

Problem: My pants are too big and routinely fall down.
Solution: Wear a belt!

Problem: I have no belt.
Solution: Aquire one.

Problem: I recently went overboard on fabric purchases.
Solution: Use some of it!

(Awesome photograph courtesy of Kevin)
Woo hoo! I'm gonna just say a spiffy fabric belt would cost $20 or so. Fabric purchases justified! (Well, some of them...I really did go overboard...) The belt is cheap if I only think of the cost of scraps, plus the d-rings. More when I consider the whole pieces of fabric.

Want a belt? They are kind of a PITA, but I want to get better at them. I do not claim perfection, but the first 2 people who respond with the color D ring they want (silver, gold, black-I think it's black) and length (8-10 inches more than your waist)- I'll make a belt for. No promise what fabric you get, you have to pay shipping. You can email me the length if you don't want it to be public, I mean, you have to email me your address anyway :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stocking: Complete

When my first nephew on Kevin's side was born I was informed of a family tradition: an aunt makes a Christmas stocking for the new baby. Apparently, I'm the only crafty aunt, so fulfilling this tradition falls to me. As much as I love the kiddos, I am not a stocking making fan- it's too much pressure!

After putting it off for a good amount of time, I made Rylee's stocking this weekend. The outside is a gingerbread flannel fabric from Joann's and it's lined with a cotton in a printed mitten pattern.

To make it, I traced an existing stocking and cut out the gingerbread fabric and the mitten fabric. Then we decided it would be too thin, so I basted another flannel fabric scrap to the back of the gingerbread fabric. Then, I lined the stocking and sewed it together, outlined some of the gingerbread men and added glitter, just to make it more exciting.

What I should have done is waited until I had fleece to do the white band before turning the lining to the inside, but I'm impatient and didn't do it the right way.

So once I got the fleece I added a rick rack lining to bring out the red behind the gingerbread men, and attached the fleece to the top of the stocking (it's just sewn on the top, not turned neatly), wrote the name in glitter (well actually black glitter glue, but then I dropped it in a pile of glitter- thankfully it didn't smudge! so I just glittered the next) and then I added a hanging loop- another thing I should have done before turning the lining.

It's not the best stocking ever, but I think it's pretty cute and I hope Rylee likes it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A crafty round up! (oops, it's a novel)

I finished another "pair" of socks- well, sort of.
The blueish socks I finished awhile ago, and I actually only started them because the stripey looking socks I had taken to work and needed something to work at while I was at home.

Well the blueish socks are "Pointelle" from Knit. Sock. Love and they practically knit themselves. Plus, they have a diagonal pattern across the foot, and I am just a sucker for that.

The stripey socks are "Wedge" also from Knit. Sock. Love. They are a really clever design- a regular variagated yarn is turned into an interesting patterning yarn by using short rows to create garter stitch wedges that cause the pooling/striping pattern of the yarn to break up into a new pattern. Look closely (or enlarge the picture, if you can) and you should be able to see garter stitch bands and stockinette bands. This also marks my first short row toe. I don't love it, but it is really neat how it makes a little pocket for your toes.

So what else crafty happened? I made a stocking for my niece (picture soon- the name on it is drying, then I'll spend a week trying to get glitter out of the fleece top.)

I also made a quilt top for my friend Andi, who is having a baby in January. I need to figure out if my friend Sarah also wants one. I didn't make one for Shanna (and wish I had)- but bought her a registry gift, it's possible Sarah would rather have a "thing", I don't know. (Andi has always been more quirky, so I figured she'd rather have a homemade gift...)

I also went to Joann's- twice. I did the black friday thing, and on after thought probably didn't have to. I didn't do the super cheap flannel, so everything I wanted was still there the next day. Still, the knits I got weren't back on the shelf- so is that because I bought them and they weren't restocked, or because someone else did? And one of the butterick patterns I wanted wasn't available- so maybe if I had waited, I wouldn't have found even more.

I also met a group of ladies who do sewing and knitting for "The Premie Project"- they make blankets, kicking bags, and sadly bereavement gowns for all the premies at UIHC. Their website says they make 900 blankets a year- and based on the probably $2,000 of flannel they bought, I believe it. (They had 3 baskets stacked 6 feet tall with bolts of fabric, and bought the entire bolt of each one!) I filled out a form to volunteer by sewing for them. Totally worth the 6:00 a.m. trip.

So what did I get a Joann's?
10 Butterick patterns (2 are the same- in two different sizes. OF COURSE, I fall between the size range)
Red rick-rack for Rylee's stocking
A fabric yo-yo maker (stupid, but I've always wanted one and it was half off)
2 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver to knit more monsters (Luke green and Brody blue!)
2 yds Black cotton fabric for the back of the quilt for Andi
2 yds Denim to make skirt
2 yds each of 2 different Jersey fabrics- a dark flora and a bright green geometric print
1 yd Daisy patterned fleece
2 yds Sports ball patterned fleece
1.5 yd White fleece (annoying! It was "anti-pill" not "blizzard" so not on sale! But I needed a teeny bit for the stocking)
1.5 yd Baseball print fleece
1.5 yd of home decor fabric for a purse.

So what am I going to do with all the fleece? Well, I don't know yet, but I tried to get mostly boy prints in case a nephew project comes up (the Daisy was with Rylee in mind), and it was really cheap (2.99 a yard!) Fleece is what I use for purse linings, so it will get used eventually.

All this stuff, I "saved" $270.85. Sure I did- that's counting patterns at full price, and no one buys them at full price. But even still, I saved a ton. The who purchase was only $71 with tax.

And then I went again today- to pick up a rotary cutter refill. Well, a few other things fell into my basket...but everything was half off. Plus, like yesterday I had a 20% off everything coupon)
Rainbow Batiks fat quarter bundle (I love batiks)
The rotary blade I went for (those suckers are expensive... thank goodness it was on sale)
A diamond grid quilting template (for falling block quilts!! fancy!)
A square grid quilting template (Linda used one at my house and it seemed so neat- I need to figure out how to use the angle guides in the middle...)
2 spools of thread
Yellow top quilting pins (so weird- they have the exact same pins with a different label on the notions wall, those weren't on sale- just the "quilting" ones.)

Today, I only saved $35.58 (those patterns REALLY add up)... and spent $26.

So $100 isn't too bad for black friday weekend shopping.

What I haven't done yet: personal statement for my grad school application. MUST DO for tomorrow

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Simplicity 8331

I love toile. Kevin isn't really a fan, so I don't get to use it for home decor.
After drooling over it everytime I go to Joanns, I finally bought some, and decided to make myself a nice tote bag. Nice thing about sewing, is unlike knitting, the projects go fast- I cut the pattern, the fabric, and did all the sewing this weekend. It would have been a half-day project if my sewing machine didn't keep hiccuping. (Huge thanks to Kevin for his incredible mechanical skills to always figure out the problem.)

Pattern Review from Pattern Review.com

Pattern Description:
Miscellaneous tote bags in different sizes and a few shape variations.
I made view C.

Pattern Sizing:
My final bag is approximately 16" x 10" x 3".

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Kind of. The bags on the patterns are all very structured- I feel like my bag looks floppy, not structured. It makes sense that it would be floppy- since it's fleece lined cotton, and it's large size means the fleece won't support weight too well. BUT- it does stand on it's own, if you get lucky in placement, so I suppose there is some structure.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Kinda... there were lots of points that were very difficult to figure out. I don't think I did the base corners correctly- they kind of look a little funky, and I really wasn't sure what the pattern was trying to tell me to do.

I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the pattern was trying to have me do about the prep for the pocket- the folding then seaming- I ended up undoing what I thought it had me do, and changed it to another way.

But for the most part, if you've made a bag before- it makes sense. It might be tough for someone who hasn't made a bag. I drew a lot upon what I learned making Simplicity 3822

Fabric Used:
I used a home decor toile from Joanns, and for the lining a black cotton fabric with metallic foil design. I think it's just a quilting cotton.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
The biggest change was probably the handles. I didn't have any belting so I made the handles the same way as the bag I previously referenced.
The method I used was: baste felt onto the straps, and then cut the fleece off the outside of the seams. Then, fold over the sides of strap fabric and sew down onto the fleece on both sides. Then, fold the entire strap in half, and seam the end closed. (The reason I folded it instead of just seaming and turning is I found out last time that turning was nearly impossible with this length/ thickness) Then "quilt" down the middle, and to make the sides match, sew a line down the end of the folded, closed side.

Some minor alterations:
I didn't do Step 17- which is to form a pleat. My seams were so thick, I was worried running them over, folded, would cause my machine to break. But I'm actually not even clear if I was supposed to go over the seam or around the seam. This was a step I didn't really understand anyway. (I'm also not sure, based on the illustrations in the pattern, if the pleat goes all the way to the bottom- or is just at the top.)

I also didn't add the needlepoint canvas. I tried, but had a lot of difficulty cutting it to the right size, since the bottom is just formed by folds. Since tacking it down seemed really difficult anyway, I just decided against it. (I put a 2-liter of coke into the bag, and it doesn't sag too much, so I think that's a good enough test.)

Other issues?
I think my lining is too big. It's not tacked to the bottom in anyway, and it seems bunchy. It is the same size as the regular bag, and I think it should actually be just a bit shorter. It lined up perfectly when sewing, so it was cut correctly.

I'm nervous about the interior pocket strength- it is just sewn to the lining. I think it would be better to have it to the interfacing (fleece) too, for more strength.

Additionally- I would prefer the flap to attach to the outside of the bag, rather than the inside.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I probably wouldn't sew this view again. I may do another view, but there are just so many bag patterns out there to try...

I like the finished product pretty well, so I wouldn't NOT recommend it. But it's not my first choice.

Conclusion:
It's not my dream bag, but I like it.

Get the to etsy?

Do you remember the stitch markers I talked about? Well, I still haven't taken pictures of the first set (penguin, 2 whales, and a polar bear).

But I won a contest and got a second set. These I had Kevin take pictures of (the others are in action and one is at work.)


Aren't they amazing? And they are teeny tiny- they'd all fit on a dime. (Which is good, you don't want stitch markers to be too big.

This is the etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/weeones

In other news, I've decided I'm reinterested in sewing. I ordered a Jalie pattern and some stretch fabric, so hopefully over thanksgiving break I can make some tops (AFTER writing an admissions essay...)

This weekend I'm sewing a toile tote bag. I'm actually kind of disappointed in it- it's too floppy. But I love toile! (If you don't know what that is -google- or wait a few days for me to post pictures of the finished bag!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I still exist...


... I'm just a bad blogger.


See, nothing interesting happens in my life. But I'm posting to share with you a pair of socks I made today. These are "In and Out" from Cookie A's new book "Knit. Sock. Love."- Cookie A is definetly my favorite sock designer. This book was a bit expensive, $26.95 (plus $5.95 for the pdf- which helps since I always copy the designs to work from them- so this way I don't have to break the binding trying to get the book into the copier) but it's totally worth it. First off, retail price of her patterns is $5-$8, and I'll knit most of these designs, but it also is appearing to be error free. Her Interweave Knits book "Sock Innovation" was riddled with errors- and testers said they weren't there early in the process, so they were publisher errors, not author errors. Error free is a really nice bonus. The book is very arty- with lovely photos of the sock, but really, the patterns are what I'm most impressed with.


I also got Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders in the mail this weekend. It's mostly non-sock patterns using fingering weight yarn- tons of them (101 I think). I marked ones I want to knit, and it is definetly enough to make the purchase worth it- $2.82 on barnes and noble, plus $4 shipping- a $7 book is a great deal. (Shipping is free with a $25 purchase- but every book I wanted was way cheaper on amazon, where we already get free shipping with prime.)


The other thing I just got- my wee ones stitch marker (seriously, look her up on etsy.) I'm hoping Kevin will photograph them- I got an orca, a penguin, a beluga, and a polar bear. I used the orca and the penguin to mark the sides of this pair of socks- everytime I knit to it, I just smiled!


Now I'm off to JC Penny's hoping to find something nice on sale. My coworkers have told me my wardrobe needs updating (we did a lunchtime shopping trip on Friday and I got a cute jacket- my facebook photo right now- that will hopefully replace my ever present red fleece, it is so cold at work)


And now you all see why I don't blog- I have nothing to say! (Especially now that I'm not skating or dancing, stupid knee)


Everyone don't forget to watch Skate America on NBC today (man I wish I had universal sports)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blanket Update

A reader asked how my blanket was progressing, so I thought I'd show a picture. It's definetly getting there. You'll notice I also started adding a black edging to the bottom and sides to make it have a flat edge. Except the corners will be truncated, because it's just too difficult to figure out how to fix that :)

I'm really happy with the progress, and I think I have enough yarn to either complete it, or at least be very close. (I have 100 balls in my bag right now- that's enough for about 200 squares, then I have a swap of 40 coming- so that's 80 more squares, plus the leftovers of all the balls already here- so enough to make the blanket twice as big as it already is...) As such, I'm sad that I am no longer going to participate in swaps. That was probably the best part- getting so many gorgeous yarn colors, without having to buy each and every one of them!


And except for the Dye-it-Yourself swap I have outstanding, here is my last- and probably favorite swap. StimpyLab. I just love it. Here is her etsy shop link (she also makes cute stitch markers). She uses one of my favorite bases (one I have a bunch of to dye), and her color sense is great. Plus she uses a neat speckled technique, so it's really unique.


Oh, and I guess there is ONE other swap. I hit a Wollmeise update last Friday (um...ooops?) so I have 4 skeins of that coming and joined a swap for it. But it probably won't go into my blanket, but to a special wollmeise only throw pillow.





Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monster Days...

So I finished another Monster. Really, I think I shouldn't have gotten these patterns. I remember the "Knit a Square, Make a Toy" disaster (a camel ended up being a pillow. It just would not work). And well, it turns out I'm not too good at 3D.

This one is Daphne of Daphne and Delilah. I decided not to make Delilah (the mini-monster that goes into the pocket) and put a bit of halloween candy into the pocket instead.

What I do like about this monster is she is a bit bigger- which I think makes her easy to play with. What I don't like is she looks all kinds of wonky.

Hopefully Cole will like her though. She goes into the mail this week.


Also, I thought I should share with you all that my husband is currently doing a magic trick with the dog. He got a bit stuck at the "pick a card" stage. Elsa carefully considered all the cards, but never settled on one. I think he assigned one to her. Then, when he told her to remember the card she did the thing where she swings her neck to the side (like the Sea Lions at Sea World do when they don't want to listen.) Now it appears he's given up.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weaving!

I LOVE my loom. It's so easy to weave scarves- something I NEVER knit (because they take so long.) Both of these were knit in just one weekend, 2 weekends in a row.

The first is a wide scarf I intend to wear by folding in half. It's warp is Knitpicks Stroll and it's weft is Noro Kureyon sock. Even after washing it's a little bit itchy, but I LOVE the colors. And my selvages are getting a bit better.

So this one I did last weekend- it is with Tahki Cotton Classic. I meant it to be a stash buster, the pink has been in my stash since college- but well, I had to buy the purple. Then, I loved making it so much I went and bought 2 colors of green so I can make another one!


No weaving this weekend. I wanted to start one, but didn't have time today, and need to do some knitting. My Dad still needs a headcover for his 3 wood.

I finished a monster for nephew in FtW- but today got the cutest call from him. He wants headcovers for HIS 1 wood- just like Papa's. Which means, now I have to go buy purple yarn.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yarn Weekend!


It has been one crazy yarn weekend.


Here's what has gone on:


1) Saturday Morning begins with a package from Jimmy Beans Wool. (Awesome yarn shop btw). I got a beautiful teal Merino Lace from Skacel, a gorgeous skein of Noro sock yarn to weave with, and 2 skeins of Black Purl color in Lorna's Laces Green Line DK (not sure if this is for weaving or a monster.)


2) My knitting patterns arrived in my email inbox. Um- the "I can only get one" didn't work. I got 5. (It's a very very good deal to get 5- highly recommend a visit to Danger Craft's etsy shop.)


3) I finished up the golf club cover I started for my Dad earlier this week. (A repair of the one I made previously and he got holes in.)


4) I dyed 2 skeins of yarn for a swap blanket swap. I think I am now done swapping, as I have what I think is enough yarn for my blanket. I believe the blanket is at 35% done!! It's looking really nice. I did a few blocks on the blanket too.


5) I knit Maddox the monster (pictured). He was SUPER quick, but knitting tightly on big needles kind of hurts my hand.


6) I finished the Rainbow sock I started knitting on the trip to Texas. Now I have to do another. I think maybe the sock obsession is waning.


7) I knit a few rows on the scarf that will never end. Not sure if I have ever even posted about it. It was supposed to be 1 skein, but that didn't work out and I had to trade really gorgeous Jade kettle-dyed stroll for more green since it's discontinued. Same dyelot, but they don't match at all :(


8) I bought cheapo yarn at Walmart to make another monster at- Daphne and Delilah is up next!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hi!

Remember me? I was the one who used to post on this blog, but haven't in ages because I have nothing to say.

Here's the quick update: still working on the sock blanket, swapping yarn like crazy for it (it's an addition I must stop!), had a fantastic time during my trip to Texas, decided soapmaking isn't for me, no longer ice skating, now I'm taking tap dance classes, and I want to knit a monster.

Wait- monster? What?

Okay- so I just found out about Danger Craft. Seriously are these things not the cutest things ever? I want a monster for myself, but really- they can't breed here. I need children to knit for! OH WAIT! I have nephews (and a niece who isn't quite monster ready.)

Now, I'll change the colors to suit boys, but which monster do you like better? Are these good for a 5 year old too? Or just for the young-uns?

So should it be Daphne and Delilah
Or Penelope?

I'm leaning towards Penelope as being more cuddly, but the 2-in-1 monster has lots of play value.

I also really love Tofu the Dachsund but after my last disasterous toy making experience (a camel from "Knit a square, make a toy"- it ended up as a square pillow.) I'm hesitant to make anything that has to look like anything else.


Now- the most obvious answer is "get both". But for me, these are kind of expensive patterns (yes, I'm spoiled by free. And there are lots of free toy patterns on Ravelry- but I want to buy from this designer because I think she is brilliant!) so I kind of only want to get one. AND if the boys (or I) really love them, she's coming out with a book in January- and the book of like 20 patterns costs the same as 2 individual patterns. I wish the book was out now- January is, unfortunately after Christmas.

So who will it be? Daphne or Penelope?
(Photos from the etsy shop.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lessons in Soapmaking

If you line your mold with plastic bags, make sure it's not writing side in. I have nice Hyvee soap now.




(I'm not entirely sure it's soap. I licked it and it didn't zap me, so I think it's good. I let it sit 3 days before cutting but it's very very very soft still.)

It was really neat to make. Sadly I didn't pay attention when I added the color (really cool swirl) to see that the blue mica is not stable in cold process, so the color just disappeared completely. And honestly, it's kind of expensive to get all the oils. It's going to be a long time before I can use 12 bars of funky hyvee soap, but I hope to make more again sometime. (After they cure and I use them, I might give some away if they are any good)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dye pot


When Suzy came over we did some dyeing with Wilton's icing dyes. Mine are old, so they didn't blend as well as they should (I suggested we use mine, knowing that if she didn't open hers yet they wouldn't dry out as quickly- since we wanted to use a sampler of all the colors.)

Gunky, or not, they still produced beautiful colors! Kevin just got a new dutch oven, so I arranged my nest of new yarns in it. I liked the way the small teal ball turned out so much I dyed one of my new skeins of Sheila's gold with the teal too!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I haven't had a lot to say lately. To tell you the truth it's because not much is going on. I lead a pretty boring life- don't sleep well at night, go to work, come home, attempt to sleep. That's about it. There is generally knitting thrown in the middle, and occasionally ice skating that I am not enjoying a lot, or yoga that hurts my calves. (I didn't make it to yoga today due to a stomach ache...)

Today, Suzy came over to play with yarn. We dyed up lots of semi-solids and I'll try to post tomorrow after they dry.

The other big news of the weekend is I finally finished the baby quilt. It's not a masterpiece at all, but it should be perfectly functional for a new baby. I hope baby and mom like it.

Here is the top: My favorite part is the really thin line diagonal quilting. I planned to do some more of it, but it turnd out it took forever, and I just wasn't up to it.



Turns out I love piecing quilts, but not so much quilting them. But the payoff is the back of a finished quilt. I love the way the designs look on the solid. LIke I said- it's not perfect, but I'm very pleased. I like the back better than the front, I think. (Good job picking the fabric Kevin!)



I had to use bias strip for the binding (though I didn't do the seamless binding technique, I took the sloppy, easy way out.) I usually just fold over the backing, but I accidentally cut into it when trimming the batting. Oops. So the backing got trimmed off too..
I'm happy to be done, and sorry I didn't make it in time for the baby's birthday.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yarn Swap!

Remember the adorable pictures of mini skeins of yarn I posted a while back?

Do you want some adorable mini skeins of yarn? Yarn with silver, gold, or other metallic-ness to it?

Join the swap I'm hosting!
I'll even make it easy to you- after you've selected your yarn, ship it directly to me (or order it from my yarn store and I'll pick it up- contact me on Ravelry for more details) and wind it into mini-skeins for you.

For details, check out this thread: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/blankiemania/1211333/1-25

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nothing...

I've been absent from my blog because I just have nothing interesting to blog about.

I went to Zenergi today for the 4:00 hot yoga class. It wasn't hot at all (the thermometer said 89 when I walked in... we keep the house at 80, though of course the studio is all kinds of humid) but I was sweating like crazy.

Can I be un-PC and say I really dislike having men in the class. It's distracting. During one pose- at the very BEGINNING of the class- we wrung out hands together and a waterfall-like cascade of sweat poured off the man a few mats down from me. Ewwww... it doesn't stay on their mats, it pools all around them. And men rarely wear shirts in class, and some even wear speedos. It's never in shape men who don't have shirts on. I'm out of shape, I wear a shirt to hide my stomach. Yeah, I know I'm not supposed to be looking at other people, but I'm encouraged to watch myself in the mirror, if I'm seeing myself in the mirror, I'm seeing- even if I'm not focusing- the people around me too. And while I don't care what other people's postures look like, except maybe to try to correct myself to look like someone awesome- it takes me out of my practice to see waterfalls nearby.

My other rant- what the hell is wrong with my left calf. Everytime the instructor said "this should be a nice hamstring stretch" or "do xyz if your hamstring is tight" I felt NOTHING in my hamstring, but instead felt like my left calf was burning with the fires of a thousand suns and being torn open with a dull serrated knife. It usually does this, but tonight was particularly bad.

Maybe yoga is not for me. But neither is ballet, or skating, or cycling. What the heck am I going to do?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Blanket Update...


115 squares completed.

Thanks Gary and Linda!


We finally made beer-can chicken :) It was quite tasty- moist and tender. And it didn't taste like beer at all, which was a good thing in my opinion. The lesson we did learn though- if you don't eat skin (yuck!) season UNDER the skin. Although it smelled divine, we didn't get any of the great flavors. I ended up just eating mine with a bit of cracked pepper. One of the better pieces of chicken I've had in a while.
Yesterday was a very humid, but quite beautiful day. A nice break from the insane rain we've been having lately. Kevin was finally able to mow the lawn (it had been I think 3 weeks and was growing like a jungle) and then just a few hours after he finished, it started raining again.
Today Suzy is supposed to come over to play yarn. I've been knitting on my sock blanket a bit, and working on that test knit for Crazy Girl. I tried it on last night, and I think it needs to be longer than the pattern calls for, but is otherwise quite cute.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Test Knitting... the longest swatch


Isn't this the most beautiful yarn ever! It's Blue Heron Rayon Metallic (I think the colorway is Denim?) I've been eyeing this yarn forever- since a friend used it in a project. It's expensive, and I've kind of been on a wool fingering weight yarn kick lately. But this is what Crazy Girl gave me to test knit a pattern for them, and now that I've got my hands on it, I think I'm very likely to go back and get some in a colorway that really speaks to me. Something with some pink. Look at the sheen in that picture- it really has that, and it really sparkles. I just love it so much.

So as much as I'm in love with the yarn, so far I'm not in love with the design. And I'm not sure it's actually the design's fault. In fact, I haven't even gotten to the design yet. Just the swatch. This swatch is 3 feet long. I think the gauge is impossible, and I really hope it's a mistake. I know I knit kind of tightly- but this is absurd. The gauge is 12 st/40 rows = 4 inches, suggested on size US9 needles. To get 3 st/in I had to go up to size US15 needles, and by that point a row was like 2.5 st. I never got the row gauge, because to do it, I would have had to go DOWN needle sizes from the 9 I started with. I didn't swatch in that direction. I emailed the yarn store and I'm going to just ask them what size needle they think I should use (if the gauge isn't a mistake.) I like the drape of the US10.5 the best, but since it's not for me, I need to do what they want. I'd likely just knit it with the stitch count given, and if it's too small rip it out and start again by adjusting the stitch count- but that's not testing the pattern, that's just doing my own thing.

I did try the stitch pattern last night, and I did it at way too loose of a row gauge so it didn't look lovely, but I can see how it's going to be really cool if the row gauge was tighter. Let's hope I get to the point where I can actually do the pattern. I wish the gauge swatch would have worked out so I could have knocked this project out this weekend. Oh well.... the yarn store will have to wait I guess.

Something new for me...swatching

But first- the DNA scarf is blocked, ends are woven in, and Kevin's worn it. (Then put it away for the winter.) The scarf grew a TON in blocking. It's almost 8 feet long, which actually works well to wrap it around Kevin's neck and then let it hang down on a coat. It has a huge tendancy to curl, which blocking helped, but you have to smooth it out when you put it on. I'm a little disappointed that the blocking flattened out the base pairs (I think) inside the DNA structure. Oh well. I promised him this around 2005, so I'm glad to have finally done it.
I'm also working on a WendyKnits sock in Knipicks Felici, but it's been put aside for the project I'm about to describe. (ooh- and I got new yarns in for my blanket, but I need to do this next thing first...)

So swatching...

I'm test knitting a project for the yarn store. It's a cute little mobius style wrap - one of my friends actually made the basic version of it- but this is a variation with a lace design. The design- I can handle it no problem (though the yarn is so slippery it would be tough to recover a mistake.)

However, it's a good thing I love this yarn- I have spent HOURS swatching. I'm thinking the gauge might be impossible. I've swatched on every needle from size 9 to size 15 and I can't get close to what the pattern calls for. I'm going to bring the swatches to the store and see which needle they want me to go for. If it was me, I'd just pick one, and the design stretches, and I'm sure it was fine, but it's not for me- it's to check the pattern. I need to know what they want.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I really should go to WI


visited 39 states (78%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Kevin's DNA scarf is blocked and ends are woven in. It looks good- but it's really long and tends to curl :( Pictures soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Clapotis


I posted all about the process of making this, but never showed the final product. Probably because I didn't like it. It's designed not to be blocked (stretched), but instead to be a chunky, rippling scarf. It did nothing for me- it was too short to be worn well as a scarf, and to narrow to be a stole.


So, like many many others, I blocked it. (It's knit on the bias, so it's supposed to be a parallelogram, I blocked it as a rectangle- a bit difficult, but I think I did an okay job.)


Anyhow- now it's a great stole. I need to find a good shawl pin, and then stole-able occasions (cruise!) to wear it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The urge to spend

Why is it that so many hobbies revolve around buying things for the hobby? Are there any out there at all that aren't like that?

Knitters want yarn, patterns, needles, stitch markers, and more more more
Quilters want fabric. Lots and lots of fabric. Can you ever have enough fabric?
Stamping- omg, don't get me started.

Even my sports hobbies are easy to spend on- skating is a money pit, yoga classes are expensive, and it's just not the same at home. Plus all the cute clothes.

Why is there always an urge to buy?
This morning (and last weekend) I didn't buy more Wollmeise. I'm proud of myself for this, but I have a longing to get more. Why do I need more? I have so much yarn to knit up still. But I have project after project that I really want to do "next". The list of "next" goes on forever... but always there is something new to buy.

Yesterday I cast on for a pair of socks (Mirror Mirror pattern) in Wollmeise 100%. I haven't used this for socks and am a bit worried it won't hold up as well as the 80/20, but my other 100% merino socks seem to be doing fine. I love this fuschia color. I had tried to do "Hearts Afire" in it, but I hated every second of knitting that pattern, and decided to frog after I put the heel on just a little too late and they were too long. I'm on the heel of MM now, hopefully it's in the right position. I hate toe up- it's so hard to tell when to start the heel. Additionally, I'm giving this a go on 2 circs, and it is NOT for me. I keep switching to DPNs for awhile to give myself a break from wrestling the octopus of needles and cords. But I wanted to learn a new technique, so then I go back to 2 circs. I cannot believe people prefer this. Casting on with DPNs is ackward- but the knitting process here is crazy.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Blanket Update


90 out of 800 squares complete for 11.25%


This has all the "Mini Mini Skein" swap yarns (minus the repeat, and one I think is alpaca so I didn't want to chance). My favorite was a rainbow-ish color that I used for the base of a large square... at 3 grams, it isn't enough for a big square, but I wanted it to stand out. (I also really like the glitter yarn that someone sent.)

It also has some Lion Brand Magic Stripes I picked up when I first started knitting.

Tonight I'll probably do one more large square in the upper right hand corner- yarn Suzy gave me this weekend. I want to make it a large square because it is from her first pair of socks!

I have two more swaps outstanding, so that will be about 40 more colors (assuming no repeats) but I need to find some more!


Oh and in case you missed it yesterday:



Aren't I awesome?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Daffodil Design- Totally done.

You may remember this post. It was almost a year ago, and I had to use someone else's picture to illustrate what I was going to under take. My sister was pregnant with twins, and I wanted to make something really special for their baptism. We have a heirloom gown that is passed down through the family- but only one. I wanted to do something that would be heirloom quality for the other twin, that could be passed down with the baptismal gown.

Awhile ago, I finished my biggest knitting undertaking ever. I did the crochet bind off and got this. This alone, I think was pretty impressive.
But today, today I took the next step. First, I got 26 pins and pinned out each scallop section.

Then, each of those 26 sections got 10 more pins to complete the scallop, and really stretch the whole blanket.


Isn't it just gorgeous.

I don't think you can even see the mistakes that were completely clear while knitting. (I did find a few of them while blocking. No one will ever see them, I'm sure. And in 100 years a knitting historian should know this is handmade. LOL)


So what's the finished project.
THIS:


I don't think I will ever top this.





Saturday, May 29, 2010

A good day...

Pictures tomorrow, I promise.

This morning I woke up and went to skating. And I skated for 30 minutes without pain. A very exciting thing. My skating journal chronicles that a bit more.

For some reason, waking up at 7:45 to skate leaves me just exhausted (I got to the rink at 8, but on ice at 8:30), but all week I wake up earlier and start work at 7:30. Then again, I guess I'm generally always tired, so maybe it does make sense.

Anyhow, when I got home I cleaned the house the best I could, since Suzy was coming over, then took a quick nap.

Suzy got here and Kevin talked her ear off about cameras. (His camera is really cool. The pictures are pretty amazing) and then we moved onto some knitting. (After a bit of lotion show and tell... she went home with a bar of Yuzu fragranced lotion.) I taught her how to make a mitred square to start her sock blanket. With one square down, we went off to El Dorado... mmmm.

While there I stuffed my face with chips and salsa, and got a "Burrito Dorado" plate. I got some tortillas and ate the lettuce, beans, rice, sour cream, and pico and didn't touch the Burrito. That will be lunch tomorrow!

Then off to the yarn store! We visited Crazy Girl, though not for nearly the amount of time that we did the last visit. I resisted all the yarn- to be honest, I have a lot of yarn already- but bought a booklet "The Great American Aran Afghan". It has some gorgeous cable patterns in it, and I have plans to make at least one of the patterns (the sweater one, if you know the book) into a pillow in the near future.

Then back to the house where Suzy did her second square and I worked on my blanket a bit more (it's grown a lot. Since I got the swap in I've added quite a bit. I need to get another one in though, because the yarn supply is getting low again...) When she finished up, I showed her how to pick up the stitches to join the squares together, and she headed home. Apparently her anniversary can't be spent completely on a knitting day... thanks for spending the day with me Suzy!

Then I spent the evening working on the DNA scarf a bit. I'm almost done- it's about 6 feet long, but Kevin wants it at about 7 ft. It folds over on the 2 stitch stockinette panels between the seed stitch and the mini twist cable. I really hope blocking fixes this, because it's the worst "curling" I've seen in a scarf. Because it's on either side it really does just fold in like shutters on a window. Not good. At the yarn store, I asked for blocking wires, but apparenlty they don't carry them :( Amazon.com has them for not too much, so that will be an order soon. (Speaking of blocking Daffodil Design is on the weekend's docket... we'll see if that happens.)

And now I'm typing this!


-yawn-

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A FULL day

I present to you the DNA scarf! It's 3 feet now, so I'm getting there. (I have plenty of time! It's not even summer yet, much less winter!) This will be Kevin's graduation present, as hopefully he will be getting a job at a DNA company.


I'm really enjoying this pattern, but man do I keep messing it up! Just really stupid mistakes since i'm not really paying attention to the pattern. The picture is courtesy of Kevin. He got a new camera: a Canon Rebel T1i. (He also got an awesome lens for it.) So I'm having him take all my pictures now.
So what else happened today? Well, I went to an ice skating competition at the mall. It was a very small competition- just 2 hours, but I wanted to be around to congratulate all the kids I skate with. While I was there I knitted on my sock yarn blanket. My first swap came back- I have 38 new colors to knit with (there was 1 repeat, and I got one fewer skein then I sent-40. No big deal, though I'm a little annoyed with the "swap Mom" because she had put my name in the thread as an unidentified package, and when I PMed to apologize, I mentioned that my name WAS on the bag (and there it was on the bag when I got it back) PLUS I labeled my skeins with my name, it would not have been difficult to determine who I was... I've hosted swaps before and she was being lazy... sorry, just ranting) Anyhow- the yarns I did get are very nice, and I can't wait to start working with them. One seems to have either angora or alpaca in it, so I'm going to toss it aside. I don't want alpaca in the blanket, and angora doesn't really fit with the whole "sock" theme. Kevin helped me wind the yarn, and this particular skein gave him fits. Poor thing. Guess he won't be helping again.
Then, earlier this morning I made lotion bars. I got this kit from Brambleberry.com and loved it. It contains enough stuff to make at least 15 lotion bars (about 1 oz each). I made 5- 1 unscented, and 4 with different scents I have. I really like the Energy scent that comes with the kit. (Not completely in love with the Chipotle Caramel I also selected. It smells like a jelly belly- maybe Caramel Corn? Not like actual Caramel, but like scent. Bummer. But I am going to give it a few tries. I need to get more Pineapple Cilantro next order. I love that one so much and use it all the time.) Anyhow- the lotion was super easy to make, and so easy to use. It's a softer lotion than the bar I got from Chagrin Valley- which sometimes doesn't melt easily and you have to press hard. This melts on skin contact and is perfect. It is a little oily feeling compared to commercial lotion, but that's because it IS oil. The skin absorbs it and you don't feel oily after a few minutes. It's so luxorious feeling I've wanted to reapply it so many times today. Which is silly, because it's so moisturizing, there is absolutely no need to reapply. I've got lots of them though, so if you're interested in one, I might be up for a trade... (Remember, they are my first ones, so they aren't perfect)
And then, two more things today. First the super exciting one. I caught a Wollmeise update on Claudia's site for the first time. I have 2 grab bags headed my way; Blacks/Browns and then one that is a total mystery. I just cannot wait.
Lastly, Kevin and I played Killer Bunnies for the first time. Uh- that did not go well. I feel like that even though you CAN play with just two people, it doesn't really work. Lastly, we kept forgetting rules, and killing off bunnies that shouldn't have been killed, etc. So finally, we just gave up.
And now- Spaghetti Frittata is ready! Time for dinner.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Is it a blanket yet?


42 small squares, 1 large square- so many more to go.
Also- see the transition strip? The house is getting really really close to being done. Yay Kevin!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oops...

I needed new reeds to refill one of my diffuser bottles. It's tough to find the reeds on their own- all the shops just sell them with bottles. But I don't need a new bottle, I found that water and essential oil mixed together is just fine to make a good smelling mixture- but after a few uses the reeds don't diffuse the scent anymore.

I found a store in Cedar Rapids that sells candle and soap supplies- they have reeds! $3 for 10 of them. That doesn't seem too bad.

But then I remembered that Brambleberry(.com) sold them too. So I checked their price- $6 for 100! WOW- that's MUCH better.

So $60 later... I have super cheap reeds.
And a kit to make solid lotion bars, 2 new diffuser bottles (yeah, I said I didn't need a new bottle- but that was for the bathroom- these ones will be for the bedroom and at work...), the proper base for diffuser solution (water isn't exactly the thing you're supposed to use), and an ounce of Chipotle Caramel fragrance. How great does that sound. I'm thinking I'm going to want to eat it.

As much as I'm excited about getting the reeds- I'm really excited about the kit for the lotion bars. I love the lotion bars I've used before, so it will be fun to learn how to customize them.

And while my cheap reeds cost $60 (with shipping)- I used the price lists online at the local stuff, and it would have been at least $50 more to buy it locally (likely more since I gave them the "equal" price if they didn't have it listed.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Quilt top in a weekend

Here from the Pets on Quilt show? Scroll down to the bottom to see how my dog helps me quilt! She checks that all the blocks are nice and comfortable!

So yesterday I got an invitation to a baby shower for my SIL in the mail. EEK! I better get cracking on that quilt I bought fabric for awhile back. So I got to work- and voila! Quilt top in a weekend. It's 44" square (there abouts). It is actually made up of two base blocks- because I'm an idiot and sewed them wrong without realizing it. Having made 8 of one block and 4 of the other after my inital cutting, I wasn't ripping out and starting again. I just made the other 4 blocks the same as the mistake blocks.

This actually went really quickly, and I think pieced together pretty well for the most part. (There is one green square that is embarrasingly misaligned, but the rest are good enough for me. I am not a perfectionist, and sometimes I think that's good for baby quilts. A "perfect" one might be too perfect to be used. I know the last quilt I made for my SIL got used, and I hope this one will be used too.)

I think the technique I used is called strip piecing. I wanted to start with 6" squares, so I cut a long strip of pink, blue, and green that was 6" wide. Then I cut the green into 6" squares, but sewed the blue and blue together first- after pressing the seams, then I folded it back together and cut them 6" wide.

I did the same thing with the purple and yellow. I cut 3 1/4" strips, sewed them together and then cut the individual pieces. Then I flipped one of them, and sewed them together to form the block.

Once I pieced the small blocks, Kevin and I worked to find the perfect layout- since none of my original ideas would work: I didn't make the right blocks- remember. Then I started assembling the whole top. Elsa helped every step of the way!!! (Thankfully the recipient has dogs, so after washing this shouldn't matter.)


Here's a close up of the patterns: pink butterflys, blue stars, purple polka dots, a kind of floral pattern on the green and the yellow.

Could someone please come over here and do the backing for me? I hate the quilting part- I just fold it up and stuff it through my machine, but there is always the worry that once I'm done it will have a fold or wrinkle quilted in. (The baby quilt I made for my sister was a bit like that.) I'm going to cheat on the binding and just fold it over to the top.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

AAARGH!

This weekend I started knitting a DNA scarf for Kevin. Hopefully it will be done before his graduation! (He could have used it today- it's freezing here.)

Anyhow- I'm using Knitpicks Gloss Lace, and the cables are popping great on it. The problem- I keep miss crossing them. Since it's for Kevin and not me, I want it to be perfect. First- I crossed them in the wrong direction- rip out. Then I knit on the backside when I should have purled- so the DNA backbone had purl show up on the rightside... oops- rip.

So I got those mistakes fixed and was about 3 repeats into the scarf. And then I noticed it- another set of purl bumps on the DNA backbone. I just ripped out an entire 40 row repeat to get back to it. That was the entirity of yesterday and todays knitting.

I am so bummed, but I want this scarf to look great. I cannot believe I have to reknit that whole repeat again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week: Day 7

What a Yarn

There’s one love that we all share: yarn. Blog about a particular yarn you have used in the past or own in your stash, or perhaps one that you covet from afar. If it is a yarn you have used you could show the project that you used it for, perhaps writing a mini ‘review’. Perhaps, instead, you pine for the feel of the almost mythical qiviut? You could explore and research the raw material and manufacturing process if you were feeling investigative.


I'm going to cheat a bit on this topic too. I love knitting socks- sock yarn easily costs $20-25 per 100 gram skein if you want it from an "indie dyer" with a great sense of color. Even knitpicks is $10 for a pair of socks! So socks can really add up. After experimenting with quite a few "indie dyers" I kind of realized I couldn't afford to keep that up, and decided I should dye my own yarn instead. (Though I won't give up Wollmeise- such a cool base and such rich colors!)

So where do I get my undyed yarn from? Well knitpicks was where I started, they have multiple bases available and they are fairly inexpensive. But knitpicks isn't the highest quality out there, it's just good, I want great.

Well, I found great! Great undyed yarn is Wool2Dye4.

I have ordered quite a few yarns from Wool2Dye4: Sheila's Sock, Platinum Sock, Socks2Dye4, BFL 4-Socking, Crazy Eights and Cash Sock.

I have not been disappointed by any of them. I'll review each here.
First, I haven't used Crazy Eights or BFL 4-Socking yet, so I won't discuss them.

I think that my favorite of the yarns is Sheila's Sock. It has a really unique twist- I think maybe it is a cabled yarn. When dyed, the plies plump up on each other and this becomes a soft, plush, springy yarn. I used this yarn to make my rainbow socks and they are wearing very well. The yarn doesn't have any nylon in it, and I don't think it needs it. However, I've heard she is releasing a new yarn in this style with the nylon in it. I'm going to have to try that soon!

Next, there is Platinum Sock. This yarn has a much more smooth appearance- it's almost wollmeise like in it's sheen and tight twist (maybe a bit thinner... at least then the 80/20). This yarn also contains some nylon for strength, and I think because of this it takes dye SO well- it just eats it up and makes the most vibrant colors. I haven't used this for socks, but knit my cowl with it. The yarn is just soft enough to wear against my neck, and would probably be even more comfortable in socks.

My next love is Cash Sock. This is an "MCN" blend- merino, nylon, cashmere. It's an 80/10/10 blend of merino/nylon/cashmere (like most of the MCNs, though the mythical "Bugga" is 20%). This also yarn- it costs about $8 per skein. That's unbelievable. I think the majority of MCN yarns start at $28. Well worth the money to dye it yourself!

And last, there is the Socks 2Dye4. I put off ordering this yarn because it is a bit more expensive (I think) than the other options (still really inexpensive as yarn goes) and because the name is kind of boring... However, I'm glad I finally gave it a try. This is a good utlitarian yarn. I dyed it up in mini-skeins and used it for my sock blanket. This is a thinner fingering weight, so I think I'd use it at a tighter gauge for socks, but it does plump up a bit after dyeing.

I'd use ANY of these yarns again. So there's my "one true yarn" of the moment- anything Wool2Dye4 sells.

An Anklet a Day... Keeps the Stash Away

I'm quickly amassing a huge amount of sock yarn- stupid knitpicks with their gorgeous tonals and irresistable new colors of Felici (OMG the Rainbow color!!)

So when my giant box came yesterday, I thought I should immediatly use up some of it. I only got 1 skein of some of the sock colors, and 50 grams isn't enough for full socks, even for me. So anklets are the answer (I love to wear anklets around the house in the summer. Or with tennis shoes if I go to the grocery store and am not in flip flops.)

I've been knitting socks for quite some time now and figured "I can just wing this". Well it worked! And after casting on at about 2:00, knitting, stopping to do laundry, dinner, watch TV and stuff, the sock was done by midnight. What a quickie! (But let me tell you, that sock blanket messed me up- I kept trying to twist the last stitch of the row on the heel flap, don't do that here!)

So here it is:
An Anklet a Day ...



Yarn: Knitpicks Felici Fingering Weight (shown here in Green Veggies)
Needles: US2 (2.75 mm) or size needed to get gauge
Gauge: 8 st/in
(Note: For the gusset and toe, I've divided the stitches between 3 DPNs for easy explanation, since I knit on 4 DPNs. But if you are used to doing your socks another way just ignore that part!)

C0 56 stitches, join being careful not to twist

Leg:
K2, P2 ribbing for 6 rounds
Stockinette Stitch for 2 rounds.

Heel Flap:
Row 1: (S1, K1) repeat until 28 stitches have been worked, turn work, the remaining 28 stitches will sit on hold for the top of the foot.
Row 2: S1, P27

Repeat these rows 15 times (30 rows total)

Turn Heel:
Row 1: S1, K16 K2tog, K1, turn work
Row 2: S1, P7, P2tog, P1, turn work
Row 3: S1, K8, K2tog, K1, turn work
Row 4: S1, P9, P2tog, P1, turn work

Continue in this manner until all stitches have been worked. 18 stitches remain.

S1, K8, place marker
Gusset:
Needle 1: Knit to end of needle, Pick up 16 stitches- (15 from the slipped heel flap stitches and 1 in between the heel flap and front of foot, I like to twist the stitch after I pick it up to prevent holes)
Needle 2: K28 across front of foot.
Needle 3: Pick up 16 stitches, Knit to marker

Row 1: Needle 1: Knit to 3 stitchs before the end of needle , K2tog, K1
Needle 2: Knit
Needle 3: K1, ssk, Knit to end of needle
Row 2: Knit

Repeat these rows until 56 stitches remaining

Foot:
Knit until 2 inches before the end of the foot.

Toe: (This makes a pointy toe.) The marker should remain from after the heel flap to tell you where the middle of the bottom of the foot is. Divide as follows, from the marker. (Needle 2 is the front of the foot, Needle 1 a 3 are the back.)
Needle 1: 14 stitches
Needle 2: 28 stitches
Needle 3: 14 stitches

Row 1: Needle 1: Knit to 1 stitch before the needle, K2tog, K1
Needle 2: K1, ssk, knit to 1 stitch before the end of the needle, K2tog, K1
Needle 3: K1, ssk, knit to end of needle
Row 2: Knit

Continue until 8 stitches remain. After Needle 3 you'll end up in the middle of the back row, knit 4 more stitches to get to the end of the back row. Graft stitches to finish the toe*

(To graft, or kitchener stitch- another name. Estimate the amount of thread it will take to finish the toe. I like to do about 8 inches, so I have plenty left over. Thread a darning needle. Put the stitches from the back of the sock onto a single needle, hold parallel to the front of foot needle. Insert darning needle into the 1st stitch on the front needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through and remove the stitch from the needle. Insert the darning needle into the 2nd stitch (now the 1st) on the front needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through, leave the stitch on the needle. Insert the darning needle into the 1st stitch on the back needle as if to purl, pull the yarn through and remove the stitch from the needle Insert the darning needle into the 2nd stitch on the back needle as if to knit, pull the yarn through, leave the stitch on the needle. Return to the front needle and repeat the process.

Here's how to remember it: Front: Knit goes off, purl stays on, Back: Purl goes off, knit stays on)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week: Day 6

Revisit a past F/O

Bring the fortune and life of a past finished project up to the present. Document the current state and use of an object you have knitted or crocheted, whether it is the hat your sister wears to school almost every day, or a pair of socks you wore until they were full of hole. Or maybe that jumper that your did just didn’t like that much…


I'm going to revisit a few different objects.

My first scarf ever: (no picture available. I should take one.)
This scarf is in my closet with all my other winter clothes. In theory, I could wear it whenever I want, but I never grab for it. I won't get rid of it though, it's a great piece of my knitting history. I actually rarely will wear scarves at all, which is sad because they are a great opportunity for knitting.

Charlotte's Web: This was my first real lace project. I remember it being a big challenge because it doesn't have a full chart. You had to extrapolate the pattern. Wow hard. I used to wear it every occasion that I could, now it's been replaced more by a fleece jacket. For the past few months its been sitting in the back of my car bundled up in a pile of junk :( However, it's still my go to "fancy" shawl. I plan to take it on the cruise in January to wear in the dining room.

First socks: Lion Brand makes some good sock yarn. These socks are wearing like iron. They are nothing compared to the socks I knit now, but they are in regular rotation. These socks are plain (something I don't do much), a bit too big, and too short, but I'm still proud that I did them so early in my knitting career.

Bjerk: My first real sweater. This one is now a pile of yarn. I was never happy with the seaming of the shoulders, and the fit wasn't great. Now that I'm much heavier than I was when I knit it, I can't wear it anyway. So I reclaimed the yarn, and I'm sure in this Longhorn family I can find a good use for the burnt orange yarn.


Chullo Hat: Still my absolute favorite hat. And it's been what 2 years? The ends are still not woven in. I do wish the ear flaps would lay a bit flatter though.

-----
I got a big knitpicks order today! And started knitting with my "green veggies" Felici right away. I made up my own anklet pattern, and will share it tomorrow,. (Yep- these are that fast- I started knitting around 2:30 today, and am on the toe now. Plus I had time in between to fold 2 loads of laundry.)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Location, Location, Location

Where do you like to indulge in your craft? Is your favourite arm chair your little knitting cubby area, or do you prefer to ‘knit in public’? Do you liek to crochet in the great outdoors, perhaps, or knit in the bath, or at the pub?

This one isn't going to be too interesting: my favorite place to knit is sitting in the middle of our love seat couch.

I also like to knit in the car during long drives, making sure not to put my DPN in my mouth between needles like I do when I knit on the couch.

I have no issues knitting in public, but I don't go out of my way to do it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week: Day 4

A New Skill

Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day? maybe you’re a crocheter who’d also like to knit? Maybe you’d like to learn to knit continental, knit backwards, try cables or attempt stranded colourwork.

Right now I would like to learn the Knit One Below technique for 2 color knitting with vertical stripes. My yarn store is teaching a class on it starting this weekend, but I have conflicts. I'm guessing going to youtube would be enough for me to figure it out, but I've been too lazy to try.


I'd like to learn 2 socks on 2 circs, but honestly, I love DPNs, so I've been too lazy to put effort into that either.


I've never had a need for entralac or intarsia- but I feel those are gaps in my knitting skills.


Short and sweet- unlike yesterday where I rambled for pages.

I'm not really in the mood to type. PT today was really painful. In an effort to help my hips she worked on muscles in my back, and now my back hurts so much if I touch it even lightly. Every muscle that is connected to my hips are apparently too tight- she's worked on my legs, my abs, my butt, and now my back. And every single one of them feels like she is stabbing me with a kitchen knife when she touches them. It sucks, and honestly hurts worse than my hip usually does, except when the hip is really flared up and I can't walk on it. I hate my hip.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week: Day 3

One Great Knitter

Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way.

When I was thinking about to write I was thinking of three knitters: The Yarn Harlot- who I think may be the best humor writer ever, if she ever branched away from knitting she could easily become the next Erma Bombeck. She makes knitting so interesting and accessible that sometimes my husband doesn't complain when I make him read her entries (though he usually does). I can't imagine the knitting world without the Yarn Harlot, so I was quite shocked when I looked back and found out her blog didn't even exist when I started knitting.

The next was my favorite designer: Cookie A. She takes the simple sock and makes it COMPLEX, and then she writes the pattern so that it's not complex at all.

Finally, I thought of Wendy Johnson- author of the blog www.wendyknits.net
As well as I can remember, Wendy Johnson was the first "blogger" I was exposed to. Rather than being part of the blog-o-sphere during my early knitting time, I was part of the livejournal community of knitters, as I ventured out into blogs Wendy was one of the best ones there was. If I remember correctly, when I started knitting Wendy was in her stranded colorwork phase (she tends to knit in phases...) and man was it inspirational- because the colorwork it flew off her needles (as everything else she knits seems to). Every week it seems a new, AMAZING sweater was being made- not little baby sweaters but adult size ones- and gorgeous designs by Starmore or Dale of Norway- complicated stuff. It was increibdly inspirational, and because of it, my first real sweater was actually a Dale of Norway (the now reclaimed for yarn Bjerk). (Also note, my first garment was actually a turtleneck tank out of Lion Brand Glitterspun). I think it speaks miles to her ability to make this sort of colorwork look manageable that a relative beginner took on a Dale of Norway after seeing her do so many. I think I may have even ordered from Allegro Yarns- who she often sited as a source.

The next phase of Wendy's that I remember is socks. Wendy knit socks like some people eat chips. She started and I'm guessing she didn't finish until all the chips in the bag were gone. I have never seen one person knit so many socks. Wendy favors toe up socks, which I do not. She has published two books on them, both that I own. I'm still not sold on the method. Her first book is kind of the opposite of Cookie A's style- they are all very simple designs. The socks are utilitarian, but pretty. It wasn't my favorite book, but I wanted to buy it to support someone who has spent so much time blogging. So then she released a second book. I was going to skip it. Wendy's sock style is not mine. But man, I'm glad I didn't skip it. It turns out Wendy can design complex patterns too. The newer book is filled with complex cables, involved lacework, and colorwork designs. I want to knit EVERYTHING in that book.

The last phase Wendy has gone through (is it waning?) is lace. She's done lacework since I read her blog, interspersed with other projects, but the last year or so (from sock burnout?) it seems a new lace shawl is cranked out every week. Remember how Daffodil Design took me over half a year? She'd probably do it in a week. (Actually Cookie A did "Rose of England"- Daffodil Design's sister pattern as an Olympic project- which is a 2 week task, if you recall. It probably didn't even take her the whole time. While I'm interjecting Olympic achievements, Yarn Harlot did Hardangervidda- the design that I worked on for Kevin that made me so mad when it didn't fit that I gave up knitting for almost 2 years in 2 weeks also). So I'm not exagerating when I give the estimate as a week. Her lace patterns are inspiring- they make me want to knit lace. Is it any wonder that I've done multiple laceweight shawls this year? And that my lace stash has grown?


So, there is my "One Great Knitter". I'm kind of surprised that she's who I chose, I'm such a Yarn Harlot fan girl. But really- Wendy has been an inspiration to me from the beginning.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Knit and Crochet Blog Week: Day 2

An Inspirational Pattern

Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!

Honestly, I don't think I have a pattern which I aspire to complete. I kind of feel like I can take on anything I try, and having just completed Daffodil Design, I actually of believe that. Knitting is all just one stitch at a time. I can do one stitch, so I can do them all.

But at the same time, I've had huge failures: like Hardangervidda. Man, knitting a sweater that fit Kevin would be a huge accomplishment. On the Dale of Norway train, what about my recently frogged Bjerk. That was my first sweater- an amazing feet since it involved colorwork, but the construction was poor. Still- construction is sewing, not knitting. I don't care that my sewing sucks.

Then there are things I've never tried- intarsia, entrelac. I'd love to learn to do these, and I have no doubt that I can. I just haven't gotten around to it. (Entrelac should be a breeze now that I've taught myself to knit and purl backwards...)

I'd like to be able to knit Kevin a DNA scarf. Last time I didn't manage it because the selected yarn wasn't suitable, but I have no doubt that I can do it. It's not the knitting skill, it's the patience. Cabling drives me batty. (Back to Dale of Norway- i'd like to reknit "Ask"- it grew in the wash and didn't fit.)


So I admit I have much to learn, and tons to practice- especially for patterns that require fit. But there is no specific pattern I aspire to complete.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Day 1


How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

Well, I started knitting right before it really became very cool on the internet- I think I was already in the livejournal knitting community before it doubled in size, and was there WELL before Ravelry existed. I was even a member of a "super secret" knitting cabal on livejournal. But rather than recap the story of how it started, i'm going to let my livejournal (I refused to "blog" back then) tell the story.
Here is my very first ever about knitting entry.
July 29, 2003
so earlier today I was going to HEB to get some groceries. I passed by hobby lobby and thought, hey maybe I could learn to cross stitch well (I have the basic idea.) I went inside, looked at cross stitch patterns, realized it required way to much detailed work and looked around. I picked up a knitting kit that had horrible instructions. So I went online and I learned how to knit today. I started by casting on backwards, but I can do it now, and I have about seven rows done and they don't look to bad. I'm so proud of myself.


The knitting kit was awful. It was for a cutesy little purse. It had teeny tiny needles and yucky blue worsted acrylic yarn. Once I figured out the basic stitch, I went back to Hobby Lobby and picked up size 13 needles (the only straights I still have besides my turkey basters) and "good" fancy yarn: Lion Brand Homespun.

Then I posted this entry:
August 4th, 2003 Interested in keeping up with my knitting? My scarf, which is now nine inches long, will be detailed in [info]jessimary

Honestly, I don't remember even creating that journal. There are some entries in it. Certainly more than I expected from a journal I don't remember. I might need to go and catalog them now, and relearn my early knitting progress. And my regular livejournal is FULL of knitting entries too.


So there you have it- I didn't start knitting because it was trendy, I didn't start knitting because of a relative passing down an american tradition. I started knitting because I thought cross stitch looked too hard.