Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My New Yarn Bowl

Look who is all cool now and has a yarn bowl!

I always thought these were cute (I do have a certificate in ceramics... go liberal arts education!) so I have a profound infinity for pottery.  However I never thought this would be something that I would ever really need, let alone use.

But now that I have one (with a big thank you to my secret santa!) I will use it all the time.  It really is nice to have my ball of yarn sitting in the bowl and be able to continue knitting without having to grapple with the working yarn as it gets caught on something (like the couch, or a pet).  Although the dogs still get attracted to my yarn and want to investigate what I'm playing with all the time.

So if you were on the fence about purchasing a yarn bowl I say go for it.  At the very least it looks cute in your living room, bedroom or crafting room!  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Recycling yarn

Several years ago I knit a cute pair of legwarmers that I've worn exactly twice (Rav link).
Cute right?  The issue is that they are too big and slip down my legs and I end up with jumbled wool around my ankles.  Super embarrassing when you are walking to and from the metro and stopping the flow of people traffic to pull up your leg warmers.  Even MORE embarrassing when you say F-It and stop in the middle of the sidewalk and take off said leg warmers.

There are so many cute legwarmers (calf-high) or boot cuffs right now that would go great with my boots.  And rather than buying more yarn (which is way too easy to do now that I'm working at Woolwinders), I've decided to unravel these goodies and try something new.    

After reading a couple of blog posts and tutorials online I thought I'd take the plunge. 

Ripping out was easy (scary how easy it was to rip out my knitting project!).

 Doesn't it look like ramen noodles?

Luckily I have a new swift so I was able to wind these babies back into hanks.  Of course they were still kinky and curly so next the hanks took a nice bath:

After a little soak I had to hang and stretch the yarn.  I found the easiest way was to hang a hank on hanger and to weigh it down (to pull the kinks out of the yarn) I used cans of soup.

After just a couple hours you can see the yarn is straightening out and almost ready to wind up and use.

And by the next day I had nice re-claimed wool to knit with: 

Stay tuned to find out what these hanks turn into next! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Holiday Knits

I didn't do many holiday knits this year.  The last post described my little football heads, and this post has some lacy goodness.

For my mom and brother's girlfriend I decided to knit the Traveling Woman Shawl:

Pattern: Traveling Woman by Liz Abinante
Yarn: String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn Caper Sock, in Jett (2 skeins - 1 for each shawl)
Shawl 1: Nov 17th - Nov 26th, 2013
Shawl 2: Nov 29th - Dec 6th, 2013

If you're thinking this pattern looks familiar, you are correct.  I've knit two of these previously - once for myself: and another time as a gift.  

This is my go-to shawl for gifting.  I love the pattern, and it's really simple to knit.   

This was the first time I used my new blocking mats and wires.  What a treat!  No more wet knitting pinned and drying on bedroom floors!

The only difference in the two shawls was how I blocked.  One I left with three straight edges, the other I blocked with scalloped points.  Another cute thing about this pattern is the ability to have it either way.  I figured mom and Sandy could then distinguish their shawls from one another.

The other item I knitting for holiday gifting was lacy scarf for my mother-in-law.

Pattern: Wellengang / Swell by Christiane Stemberg
Needles: Size 6
Started: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Finished: Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cute and easy pattern that knit up in a flash.  I would have liked a fancier lace stitch but to be completely honest I don't know if the mother-in-law will like it.  So rather than spending too much time on a fancy pattern I thought I'd test the waters with her and go with a simple lace scarf this year.

I really like this yarn. Like, really - really, like this yarn.  The only complaint was that I found one knot (out of three skeins):

I probably shouldn't really complain about it... but at $29 a pop I'd like to just voice my displeasure.  Luckily this yarn has enough wool (80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon) that I could split-splice and didn't have a random area of needing to weave in.

All in all, a successful holiday knit season!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure

Image citation:
When I was younger I LOVED choose your own adventure books.  Do you remember those books?  These were typically young reader books written from a second-person point of view where the reader assumes the role of the protagonist.  The reader then (and this is the fun part) makes choices at particular points of the story that will change the next action points and has an effect on the story's outcome.  My favorite was a book I had about Puss In Boots and I remember reading it over and over again always enjoying different plot twists and turns and a number of different endings.

Anyways.  I'm taking you down memory lane because I've just joined a Knit-Along (KAL).  But this isn't just any sort of normal KAL - but instead this is a Mystery KAL AND a Choose your Own Adventure KAL!

This KAL is from the amazing designer Ysolda Teague called Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL.  With over 32 different shawl outcomes I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing all the projects.  The KAL starts January 13th (links to register are here).  And because it's a virtual KAL we are all communicating via the Ysolda Ravelry Group.

I did a stash dive this past weekend.  I've never knit a shawl that needed so much yarn (as I've only done shawlettes).  But I'm thinking about using: 

Knit-a-Licious by J. Knits in the colorway Boston.  I purchased this yarn while visiting home (hence the colorway name being so appro).  I know the gauge isn't exactly correct as this yarn is labeled as cobweb and the patterns calls for fingering.  But I think this yarn is a in-between cobweb and fingering.  And really do we need perfect gauge for a shawl (could be words that come back to bite me!).   

This is my first KAL and I'm excited, so we'll see how it goes.  Stay tuned! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Little Football Heads

A while back a friend asked me to knit her nephew a beanie hat in the likeness of a football.  I figured this would be pretty easy.  And it totally was!

Because I have NO concept of baby and kid hat sizes (other than most kids have big heads), I enlisted in assistance from the Twitterverse.  Luckily some nice Tweeps came to my aide and pointed me in the direction of some good resources for baby and kid head sizes.  This was very fortunate as my next step would have been to go to a park and start measuring kids' heads - which probably would have ended with me getting arrested and slapped with some sort of restraining orders.  

Once I familiarized myself with baby head sizes I was ready to find a pattern.  Ravelry is an amazing resource for pattern searching and browsing (as I mention almost daily).  I found a couple of cute football hat patterns but I ended up taking a basic hat pattern by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich because she had sizes ranging from infant to XL-Adult.  And because it was a basic hat pattern I figured I could easily add my own color pattern.  

Pattern: Swans Island Bulky Hats for the Whole Family by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Baby in Angel White and Chocolate
Needles: US Size 10 dpn
Started: November 13, 2013 and Finished: November 30, 2013

Yes I went a little nuts and made three hats.  Actually it's because initially I thought the first hat was too small (but turns out to be just right for a toddler).  I ended up getting about 14 sts per 4 inches so I CO 64 sts for the toddler hat, 72 sts for the child hat and 80 sts for the xs adult/child hat.  I maintained the ribbing as directed by the pattern for each size and two rows after the ribbing ended I started the first white stripe.  The second white stripe was started on the second row of decreases.  And each stripe was either three or four rows of white (depending on hat size).  Also, as a fun note, I tried a new technique - jogless stripes!  If you've knit stripes in the round you know how you get a "step up" each time you change color.  TECHKnitting has an excellent tutorial on how to knit stripes in the round and avoid that "step up" color change.  It's called jogless stripes and the tutorial is found at the link.  

In addition to jogless stripes, this hat gave me a chance to hone another skill - adding a fleece liner.  I've found that even with the softest, most elegant of yarns... things will occasionally get itchy. Especially when you have kids running around in layers.  One way to avoid that is to add a layer of polar fleece to the knitted hat.  And lets me honest, this adds another layer of soft warmth.

Yet again I looked to TECHKnitting (seriously this lady is amazing) and found a nice tutorial on how to add a headband of fleece lining.  I decided on that rather than the whole hat because 1 - I don't have any of these three kids near me to measure heads for accurate fit, and 2 - these are three boys, it's possible that two layers of fabric might be too much for these highly active boys.  

The pictures are not the best, but I tried to show the headband lining.  The tutorial is written very clearly (it's my sewing that is wonky) and can be found again at the link.

Overall I'm very happy with the knits.  Totally fun and I see why people like knitting kids items because they are very quick and a great way to try out new skills and techniques!
Isn't my nephew a cutie?!?!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Reflections

I'm not really one to make resolutions for the new year but I do like to take time to think about what has happened.  And for me, it's always good to reflect on accomplishments and lessons learned from the previous year. 

Of course for this blog I have to list my fiber-related accomplishments

Snapshots of 2013 completed projects (from Ravlery)

Other Accomplishments (in no particular order):
Average number steps by month for 2013
Books read from May to December 2013
  • Celebrated my brother purchasing his first house and welcomed his new family into ours
  • Watched my husband attain his goals towards becoming healthy and supporting his healthy lifestyle
  • Celebrated as my husband realized his career aspirations and took steps towards making it happen
  • Adopted Dutch with my parents and watched their relationship grow stronger with this new pup
  • Watched Rosie grow more confident and blossom  
  • Adopted Boe and watched him become 'ohana
  • Ran my first 10K 
  • Celebrated another year of being cancer-free

I also have many (MANY) lessons learned - from professional development to personal interactions.  These are a little too personal to go up in the very public blog but it's always good to acknowledge and learn from these experiences and use them to grow (professionally and personally).  I am really looking forward to 2014 -- can't wait to see what life has in store!  

Happy New Year!