Nov 132014
 

With an “Arctic Blast” happening around my home right now, I am suddenly reminded that winter is approaching fast and, with it, opportunities for my loved ones to appreciate my knitting hobby, in the form of handknit gifts.  Some of you may remember last year’s Indie Designer Gift-A-Long and may be excited that it is happening again this year!

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The Gift-A-Long  (click on the above logo for more details!) starts tonight (Nov. 13th) at 8pm EST and kicks off with a pattern sale and a knit or crochet gift-a-long.  And there are TONS of prizes.

The pattern sale starts tonight at 8pm EST and goes through the 21st.  Participating designers are offering a selection of their patterns at 25% discount using the promotional code “giftalong2014″ when checking out on Ravelry.  For a list of participating designers, click here.  Even though most of my patterns aren’t very “gifty,” I do have a bundle of things on sale – – click here to see my sale bundle.

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I’m planning on casting on for several gifts and participating in the A-Long!  I’ve so far managed to whittle my wish list down to about 400 patterns, so I need to spend a bit more time making my list a bit more achievable.  Cast on starts at 8pm tonight, so I still have several hours to decide on what pattern to start with and select my yarn…  And to be clear, the pattern sale ends on the 21st, but the A-Long goes until the end of the year.  So, plenty of time to make gifts, win prizes, and have fun with the chatting and various games being offered!

 

Oct 292014
 

My obsession with socks has recently rekindled, not coincidentally with the arrival of cooler weather and the need to warm up my feet.

A new pattern for me but with over 10,000 projects on Ravelry, I figured there must be a reason that this Jaywalker pattern is so popular.

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And now I know.  If you are like me and you enjoy patterns that are fun to work and result in socks that are well-fitted but easy to don and doff, with possibilities for fun and exciting details, then this pattern is for you!

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I modified these to be toe-up - notes on Ravelry.  And I intend to make one hundred million more pairs.

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Jul 022014
 

I finished the second knitting of my Almond Pullover this weekend and I love it!  What a difference knitting the correct size made.  (As a reminder, I originally knit this in the wrong size.)

Pattern: Almond Pullover by atelier alfa
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss and Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball
Needles: US 6
Modifications: Stripes along the yoke and one sleeve, turned hems instead of garter stitch, circular neckband (with turned hem) instead of buttonband and garter stitch
Ravelry Page: Link!

This is an awesome pattern and the sweater was so much fun to knit!  The sweater is knit from the top-down, starting at the sleeves, and then there are a lot of increases to form the yoke.  The pattern designer is a graphic designer in real life and has included a lot of diagrams to help clarify the unique construction of this sweater.  I saw that some of the test knitters for this pattern worked the yoke in stripes and I felt the stripes nicely showcased the  construction.  My contrast yarn was a fingering weight, so I held it double to achieve gauge.  I only had enough of the contrast yarn to work the yoke and one sleeve in stripes, but I love the way it turned out!

The way that this sweater is constructed, each shoulder is similar to the toe of a sock when worked from the toe-up.  As a result, there is a bit of a pucker along the cast on (I used Judy’s Magic CO rather than the recommended Turkish CO, so that may have made a difference).  Also, my finished sweater is narrow in the shoulders.  I have narrow shoulders so this works out for me (though, I did give the sweater a severe blocking to try and widen them), but I’m not sure this sweater style would fit well on someone with wide shoulders.

Overall, I’m delighted with how this sweater turned out.  I’m still not sure how I managed to knit the wrong size the first time but I’m glad that I decided to frog the first finished sweater and knit it again, in the correct size (the first time I knat this, I knat a smaller size, which was 3″ smaller in circumference around the bust!)

I also love my yarn combination!  The two yarns compliment each other nicely and I like how the contrasting yarn is a self-striping yarn, giving my stripes added interest.  I also like that this was a good stashbusting project for me, as I had had these yarns in my stash for YEARS.

 

 

May 072014
 

Today’s post is going to be a little wild and unexpected, but I thought that I would post about some knitting on my knitting blog!  You might want to sit down for this… maybe brace yourself!

Having recently been preoccupied with some big projects in my non-knitting life, I’ve been gravitating towards smaller / portable / easy knitting projects.  Specifically, hats.  While I’ve knat several hats for Josh, I’ve only knat a few for myself.  Having felted my most favorite knit hat this spring, I decided that I wanted more hats.

I whipped up this garter stitch striped hat in just a couple of days, using size US 6 needles and Knit Picks City Tweed yarn.  I’ve been on a stashbusting mission and I wanted to use up every last bit of the off-white (Snowshoe) and grey (Orca) colorways that I had.

I love how the hat turned out.  It has the perfect amount of slouch for me and is so soft and cozy.

Using the same yarn and in also just a few days, I was able to knit up each of these two hats with vertical stripes.  I knat a hat very similar to these for one of Josh’s brothers (who was my “secret santa giftee”) for our holiday trip to Florida, and it turned out so well that I wanted to make one for Josh and I.

The red one has a little more slouch than the grey one, so I think I’ll take that one for myself, since Josh seems to prefer well fitted hats.

I’ve been enjoying my hat knitting.  They are so easy stuff in my bag to carry around and then can easily be worked on while, say, in a waiting room or in between different appointments, and are very easy to fit.  I am working on two more hats right now, but I am excited to return to sweater knitting.

 

Jan 302014
 

Happy Thursday everyone!  I am in the most fantastic mood today, primarily because we had a big storm blow through and scour out the gross inversion (which many compare to a Dementor’s Kiss in its ability to remove all joy for life, causing people to exist merely as empty shells… so we actually have blue sky and sunshine today!) AND ALSO because I’ve finished my first knitting project of the year!  This is the Monomania pattern by Anne Weaver and I think it’s the greatest thing ever.

The pattern combines stripes and chevrons into a flattering cardigan.   The yarns I used are all special to me.  The darker purple yarn is Malabrigio Sock, which Josh bought me for my birthday a few years ago.  And both the silvery and the lighter & variegated purple yarns are Sophie’s Toes Merino sock yarn, which I procured at Sock Summit a few years ago.  I’ve been saving up these yarns for the perfect project and I am very pleased to have paired them well with a great pattern!

As per my tendency, I made a few modifications, including altering the stripes.  For one, I wanted the light and dark colorways to flow together – – light, medium, dark, medium, light – – for balance, and I interspersed smaller stripes into the larger blocks of color.  I’m not sure if this makes the cardigan too busy, but I am fond of it.

I’m kicking myself for the other major modification I made…  Rather than work the buttonholes, as written in the pattern, I decided to be clever and NOT work buttonholes and instead hammer in some pearl snaps.  I really thought I was being SO CLEVER!  …My snaps didn’t work out for several reasons.  One, I don’t think this size of snap was designed to work with this thickness of knitted fabric, and so not only did I have a difficult time getting them all hammered in, but several of the clasp thingies have continued to fall off.  Secondly, I’m not exactly sure what this was all about, but my multiple attempts at hammering in some of the snaps resulted in the knitting stitches actually being sliced by the sharp prongs on the clasp thingies.  I spent upwards of an hour mending all of the holes that I had caused.  Obviously, I felt extremely disappointed in my snap snafu!

So then I had another really awesome idea!  I would crochet a button band thing and pretend that my pearl snaps were buttons!  I did end up carefully removing the snap thingies from the one side of the cardigan (and was relieved that there were no more sliced stitches to mend!), keeping the decorative pearl snaps in place.  Then I did my super well-done crochet button band (you all know that I have no clue how to crochet, right?).  After getting it all ready and done, I donned the cardigan and found that using snaps as buttons just doesn’t work.  I was convinced that it would work, but “snaps as buttons” is not a thing that works in real life.  This cardigan is apparently not going to come together unless I remove the decorative pearl snaps and affix buttons – – and I’m just not in the mood to do that so it will be an open and swingy cardi for a while, which is just fine with me.

Despite my snap snafu, I really do adore this cardigan!

Some details on my Ravelry Page.

Dec 222013
 

If you’re anything like me, you had a rude alarm call last week when you realized that Christmas was coming up fast and that it was probably time to start your holiday knitting.  I don’t do a lot of holiday knitting, but when I do it’s always at the last minute and overly-ambitious.

In my previous post, I mentioned how Josh and I are going to Florida (leaving Christmas Eve and returning several days into the New Year).  Our incredibly friendly neighbors have agreed to care for our animals while we’re away and I am beside myself with gratitude.  As a ‘thank you’ I decided to knit them up a pair of hats.  Knowing their preference for cult horror films and the macabre, I thought that using the skull colorwork motif might be a big hit with them.

It’s always a little unnerving knitting something for someone when you don’t know their exact measurements, so I made my best guess about the sizing.

For the smaller hat (upper left) I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes sport weight in Fedora an Mink Heather, and the larger hat is in Knit Picks City Tweed (DK weight) in Orca and Snowshoe.  For both hats, I cast on 180 sts and worked in k1,p1 ribbing with US 2 needles, then switched to US 3 for the main body and colorwork.  For the decreases at the crown, I kind of improvised doing 18 decreases every other round.  Were I to knit another one of these hats some time, I might make a more inspired crown section, as this one is pretty boring.

Anyway, I still have A LOT more gift knitting to do in a short amount of time.  I’m looking forward to finishing up my deadline knitting so that I can catch up on my millions of backlogged knitting projects over the trip.  We got another big dumping of snow (though, fortunately, the temperatures have warmed up significantly) and I’m looking forward to leaving winter behind during our trip.  It seems like it’s been a long time since we took a real vacation and I’m very excited about taking long walks on the beach in the balmy 70 degree temperatures.

 

Jan 042013
 

Okay folks, I’ve decided to show you my three latest finished projects in one post, as an ensemble, though I feel each of these pieces would look better without the others.  Or rather, if I had made three coordinating outfits to showcase each piece, that might have been more flattering.  I dunno, frequently my sense of style is questionable.

First off, the top.  This is Vogue 8323 and it is my favorite of the three.
Pattern description: “Knit tops with princess seams and stitched hems. A: sleeveless armholes with bias tape finish. B: cowl collar neckline with below elbow length sleeves. C: scoop neckline with bias tape finish.”

I made View A modified with full length sleeves using a stable poly knit.

This pattern was both interesting and enjoyable for me to work.  The pattern instructions were very clear and easy to follow.  It also used two techniques that were new to me: princess seams and doublestitching.  With regards to the princess seams, I feel very silly, but I have naively assumed they were a type of seam (like a french seam), but now I understand that they are a way of shaping / fitting a garment, like darts.  And as for the doublestitching, I went the extra mile and read all about this type of seam – – and I learned that doublestitching is well-suited for knits, providing both structure and the ability for the fabric to stretch naturally (but not stretch out of shape).

I am mostly pleased with the fit of this top.  I cut a size 10 which fits nicely in the hips and waist, but as usual, was WAY too big in the bust.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take the time to measure the pattern pieces or make a muslin so I was disappointed when I first pulled the top on and realized it was baggy around my bust.  I then gave myself a mental scolding for not making a muslin and did a little slapdash fix-it wherein I seamed the fronts across to the side fronts a little higher, making for a less drapey neck but a more fitted bodice (and I am not happy with how my slapdash looks obviously slapdash).

This leads me to consider establishing a set of rules to follow when sewing garments:

  • Measure pattern pieces and compare the measurements to similar garments that fit well – or – Make muslins and carefully alter them
  • Pair patterns and fabrics carefully
  • Read reviews of patterns and make notes about helpful tips

With regards to the inspiration to make this top, a while ago on Pinterest, I saw the below top while I was browsing the “Women’s Fashion” section, and noticed its similarity to this particular Vogue sewing pattern and LOVED this purple/wine fabric.  Then, serendipitously, I found a stable poly knit fabric (as called for in this pattern) in almost the exact same color of purple/wine.  I still have more of this fabric and I think I could make this pattern again that more closely resembles the below top if I did a small-bust adjustment and kept the neck lower and drapier.

As for the skirt, I’ve been wanting to make more cold weather skirts.  A few months ago, I procured two yards of green wool (green being, naturally, one of my most favorite colors) from a thrift store for just a few dollars and I decided to try making a cold weather skirt.  I pondered my collection of skirt patterns and decided on V8328, an out of print pattern.

Actually, this is the very first sewing pattern I ever purchased!  This goes way back, possibly seven years ago when I first decided I wanted to make my own clothes (it was after I spent a week in Austin, Texas where I was confronted with an awe-inspiring DIY fashion scene).  Without knowing the first thing about sewing anything, I ordered myself a sewing machine from Amazon.com and bought this pattern (at full price!) from Joann’s (as well as some quilting cotton).  Unsurprisingly (having failed to set myself up for success), my first attempt at sewing didn’t go well, and I was so discouraged that I packed away my sewing machine, where it gathered dust until about 9 months ago (when I decided to learn to sew anew).

Obviously, I made View C and I think that for a cold weather skirt, it turned out okay.  Though, I fear that I made it drape stiffly and unflattering by lining it in a medium weight cotton.  Oops…  I like the color combination a lot; I just think it makes me look super dumpy.  And I don’t find my knitted tights with horizontal self-striping all that slimming either, so it could just be several visually enlarging factors coming together all at once.

… Maybe this would have been better as a pencil skirt, thereby not having so much bulky fabric at my waist and hips… hrm.

The pattern for this skirt, now that I have some very basic sewing knowledge and skill, was very easy to put together.  Though, I am very interested in your thoughts on this skirt, as I’m not really sure if it’s a hit or a miss.  I will definitely make this skirt pattern again, in a much lighter weight fabric because I think the shape and design have a lot of potential.

And finally, my knitted tights.  As you all know, I started these back in September, thinking that hand-knit tights were the wave of the future.  Now that they’re finished, I’m not so sure about that.

Ravelry Project Page
Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock
Needles: US 3, US 2, and US 1
Pattern: Assets of Evo (pattern for short-shorts that I converted to tights)

I have previously written about these tights sufficiently and I don’t have much to add.  While I mostly enjoyed knitting them, were I to knit another pair of tights, I think that toe-up would be more my cuppa tea.  Although, really, this was too much plain stockinette in the round for me.  Bo-ring!

But what I actually dislike about these tights, as I have stated above, is that I don’t find them to be particularly figure flattering.  Furthermore, I consider myself to be fairly tolerant to scratchy wool, but I am finding the Noro Kureyon against my upper thighs to be uncomfortable.

So, I leave you with my first finished projects post of 2013 feeling kind of ho-hum.  I definitely want to make the skirt and the top again, learning from the mistakes of these versions, and I think I might knit some thigh-high stockings in a pretty lace.  I have worn the purple top a few times since finishing it, with a flattering pair of jeans, and that combination of not-dumpy bottom garment greatly improves my feelings about the success of the top.  I have not yet worn my cold weather skirt or knitted tights (except for this photoshoot) because it is so ridiculously cold outside (this morning when I rode my bicycle to work, it was 5 degrees (F), and that called for thermal underwear and thick pants rather than a skirt and tights).

For my next sewing project, I promise to adhere to the above stated rules for sewing garments, in particular the part about making a muslin and choosing my fabric carefully.

Dec 252012
 

I hope everyone is having a happy and peaceful holiday season.  I am off work this week and am using the time as a “Crafty-cation,” trying to finish several knitting and sewing projects before the end of the year.  Among the projects that were on my list to finish were some handknit Christmas gifts for Josh.  Now that these gifts are unwrapped and no longer secret, I am excited to show them off!

The first handknit gift, a nod to Josh’s lifestyle as a bicycle commuter and recreator, is an earwarmer cozy to affix to his bicycle helmet.

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern Link: Bicycle Helmet Earmuffs

Upon casting off, I tried this on with my helmet, and the cozy factor was incredible.  I will definitely be making one of these for myself.  Josh and I are both daily bicycle commuters and I think this bicycle helmet earmuff device is a wonderful cold weather cycling accessory.  Oh, and it was rather funny when Josh opened this gift; he had no idea what it was and the look on his face as he held it this way and that was priceless.  I then scurried off to fetch his helmet and watched his facial expression transform from total bewilderment to fascinated astonishment as I slipped it over the straps of the helmet.

The second handknit gift was a pair of lobster gloves / glittens that I knat using a stranded seed stitch technique that I’ve been fiddling with, which produces a super warm and very stretchy fabric.

Ravelry Project Page

Lobster gloves / Glittens are an ideal cold weather hand-warming cycling accessory because they are effective at retaining warmth like mittens but also have enough dexterity for performing essential cycling functions such as depressing bicycle brake levers and filling the bike tires with air (and if you’re Josh, holding onto a mug of coffee while bicycling to work).  Additionally, while these may look big and cartoonish, I knat them purposefully a little on the big side so that Josh could wear some of his wool cycling base-layer gloves underneath, to provide extra insulation.

The final handknit gift is an asymmetrical cabled sweatervest and it was with equal parts joy and relief that I discovered it to be the perfect fit this morning after Josh opened it.  Whilst designing and knitting this, I was fairly stressed out about whether it would fit well (because I have never before knit a garment that wasn’t for myself) and I spent a lot of time measuring almost all of the shirts and sweaters in his closet, to get a statistically significant sample size to determine the desired finished measurements for this vest.  As you can see, my efforts paid off!

Ravelry Project Page

This vest has an asymmetrical patterning of ribbing and cabling, with a saxon braid cable running down one side.  Before designing this vest, I conducted a search of the patterns available on Ravelry for manly cabled sweaters and vests and found that I preferred the ones with a hefty dose of ribbing punctuated with cabling, but most of the ones I saw looked fairly conservative so I decided to make it more interesting by fashioning it to be asymmetrical.  However, I did try to balance the ribbing and cables together, so there was a method to this madness.

With the success of these handknit gifts, I am re-motivated to focus future gifts towards the handmade (both knitting and sewing) and am already planning next year’s gifts.

Nov 172012
 

Swaddling my feet in cozy stranded socks is an amazing way to achieve a state of comfortable bliss during the cold weather.

Yarn: Knit Picks Palette, Pool, Celestial, and Raspberry Heather colorways
Needles: US 2 and US 3
Pattern: Improvised
Ravelry Project Page 

I flew by the seat of my pants with these socks, casting on my stitches on a whim and with no plan.  I love the finished socks, though I haven’t quite mastered the stranded short row heel (what with my jumbled color wraps).  On one sock, I did my wraps with both yarn colors, and on the other sock I wrapped with just the darker blue yarn, and both heels look equally jumbled.  Perhaps I should consult an actual pattern, ne?

There is also a lesson in color dominance with these socks.  Can you see it?  On the sock to the left, on the toe, there are two little stripes where the dark blue yarn is more dominant than the light blue yarn – – For the toe, I had intended to hold the light blue yarn as dominant, but I guess with those two lines I must have gotten my yarn mixed up.  Oops!

The chart for the main colorwork was about as simple as it gets.  For relaxing colorwork knitting, I tend to prefer simple repeating patterns that I can easily memorize and provide for mindless knitting.

Basically, I cast on 20 sts (10 on each of two needles) using Judy’s Magic Cast On on size US 2 needles, and increased every other round until there were 72 sts around, and then worked this stranded pattern.  After the short row heel, I switched to US 3 needles for the leg, and then back to a US 2 for the 1×1 ribbing.  I also gave these socks a good blocking to even out the tension in my stranding.  Eh voila!  A quick and easy pair of super cozy stranded socks!

 

 

Sep 262012
 

I finished my socks over the weekend and have been enjoying wearing them for several days.  I find them to be one of my more comfortable pairs of handknit socks… and also happy-making; don’t you love the sunshiney colors!?@

Pattern: Broken Seed Stitch Socks
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug and Knit Picks Felici (Rainbow colorway)
Needles: US 2
Ravelry Project Page

I worked these socks toe-up, with “Princess Soles” (wherein the sole is worked in reverse stockinette stitch), and a  basic gusset heel, with a slightly looser gauge than I normally use for socks.  The general thinking with socks is that for longevity and durability, work socks at a tight gauge; but I wanted socks that are squishy and sufficiently easy to pull off that I could do so with my big toe, so I used a relatively loose gauge.

I really love this yarn combination.  The Colinette is from my massive stash of grellow yarn that I purchased many years ago during a bout of yarn insanity that I’ve been gradually trying to knit down.  I bought the Knit Picks Felici several months ago to get my KP order over $50 to qualify for free shipping (I’m sure you can all relate to that).  While I absolutely adore the rainbow colorway, I had been concerned that one skein would not be sufficient for a pair of socks, particularly since I prefer socks with a longish leg length.  So I figured that combining the Felici with another yarn would be a great way to get a pair of socks to my preferred length while also making use of this wonderful colorway.

However, I am unsure if combining the Rainbow Felici with the Grellow Colinette was the best color combo.  This colorway of the Felici has a good chunk of yellow and light green that blend in with the grellow Colinette and I think the glory of the Rainbow colorway gets lost in all of the similar yellows and greens.  In hindsight, contrasting the Rainbow with a white or a black might have been a better move. Oh well, I suppose that I will just have to buy some more Rainbow Felici to get my desired rainbow socks; these are my sunshiney, mood-boosting socks.