Friday, June 5, 2015

FO Friday 6/5/15

I may only have one small FO to share this week, but this little hat is a HUGE accomplishment for me!

I have always loved the look of fair isle and color work.  I have so many projects favorited and every time I see color work, my eyes are drawn to it.  Along with my love for it I also have a massive fear of it.  I have dabbled with it in the past and had terrible results.  My first attempt was the Dark Mark bag.  From far away it looks pretty good, however up close you notice all of the gaps from my uneven tension.

Even with the imperfections, I was proud of this bag.  However, it made me even more afraid of color work.  

Last fall, I cast on a pair of fingerless mitts.  I ended up frogging them because unlike the horribly loose tension with the bag, my tension was too tight with the mitts.  Instead of gaps, I had puckering.  

One of the class prompts in the House Cup this term is to do a craft or technique that is unfamiliar to you.  I decided that I would try color work once again.  I remember seeing LaLa of the Knitgirllls Podcast had knit a few Golden Pear baby hats for some baby showers she had to go to.   I figured this would be the perfect project to experiment with.  I went up to my craft room, dug around my scrap yarn bin trying to find 3 colors that go well together.  I finally settled on a light aqua, hot pink and red combo.  I printed out the (free) pattern and grabbed the right size needles and immediately cast on.

I got to the first section of alternating colors and you know what?  My tension was just fine!  Second section, still fine!  There is one tiny stitch where I attached the yarn that looks a little off, but you don't notice it unless you really stare.

After successfully knitting this hat I am ready to knit all the color work!  

I love the hat Jess! It is adorable, and I have had that pattern in my queue forever. I think I will have to make one sooner rather than later. I have just a few FOs this week to share myself. The first one is a pattern that I have made in the past and have loved.

I made this little Bluebird of Happiness using my own handspun! I had a little sample rolag from Roe of Purls that I had spun up a while back.  It is fun to spin up these little samples, but I am never sure what to do with them. I had just enough to make this little bird.  One of the girls in Hufflepuff mentioned that someone was collecting these birds as part of Project Happiness. They will send the birds to people who are going through a tough time and could use a little happiness. I hope to make a few more before I send this bird flying to someone who needs her.

The next project is a pair of socks that I knit up with a new to me yarn.  I bought a skein of Pagewood Farm Yukon at Conversational Threads when it was on clearance. I loved the color, but I also love that the yarn is from San Pedro, California. Let's me feel a little closer to home when I use it. I have knit with their yarn before, just not this blend. Yukon is Merino/Bamboo/Nylon and I thought may breathe better than just a wool/nylon blend.  I picked a pattern on my queue and got to knitting. These are Neville's Socks on Ravelry. They are a free pattern and I enjoyed knitting them up.  

The last project I have to share is one I just got pictures of today! I went to pick up my first CSA and decided that would be a great place for a photo shoot. On a side note I am super excited about the CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Every week for the next 22 weeks I get to pick up a box of fruits, veggies and herbs according to my share. This week I got arugula, lettuce, spinach, bok choy, kale, broccoli, turnips, and a pint of strawberries (that I got to pick). I also bought some local cheese, beef sausages and a yogurt smoothie. I am looking forward to fresh produce every week from the farm! I think it will make me eat healthier and support local family businesses. 

So I took a little monster that I knit for an expectant Hufflepuff out to the farm. I was excited when she said she was doing a Rebecca Danger theme nursery. I chose a pattern that I have not knit in the past.
Baldwin the Bathroom Monster by Rebecca Danger

I can call him Baldwin the Berry Monster heh. He is knit up in Dancing Dog Dyeworks - "Big's Boo-tiful Blues" that I had from the Monster Mania club from a few years ago. I need to get back to work on my OWL my Hitofude is at about 30% and I need to get it to 50% by the end of the month!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hidden River Yarns-A Review

A couple of weeks ago, Jen told me about a new to us yarn shop in Manayunk (Philadelphia) called Hidden River Yarns.  She suggested we check it out sometime.  I checked my work calendar and decided I was able to take a vacation day and needed some bestie adventures, so we planned a trip.  

The drive wasn't bad.  It took a little over an hour to get there.  The shop was on the main road so it was easy to find and only a few blocks away from the parking lot.  Manayunk is a artsy section on the outskirts of Philly.  The sidewalks had decals on them with birds and fish, the main street had all sorts of different cafes and shops.  

Manayunk reminds me of little artsy towns back in California. As soon as we got there, I texted John saying that we definitely had to make the drive down there sometime. There are so many little shops, bakeries, restaurants, and cafes that I think we could have a wonderful day just wondering around. There is also a trail along the canal that I think would be fun to walk along too.

When we first walked into Hidden River Yarns I was surprised at how small it was.  It's one room, with a couch and a table with a few chairs.  The ceiling was red with this cool, vintage gold detail work.  I was pleased to discover that 95% of the yarns in stock were brands I had never tried before, but have been on my list!  I saw a skein of Manos del Uraguay Alegria that I had to have.  It is so soft and the color is delicate with pops of bright in it.  I think it will make a gorgeous shawl.

We stopped next door to get a drink. Jess and I each got iced-tea that was brewed at the shop. So nice to go to an independently owned cafe and have something to drink. Evidently in the mornings they have great pastries too.  We then headed back to the yarn shop to hang out. The owner, Lisa, was delightful!  We sat in the shop for 2 hours, talking and knitting.  We would have stayed longer if we could.  Next time I will max out the parking meter, or park closer so we can stay longer. It would be great to go down for their Knit Night sometime too.

I also got some new to me yarns while at the shop.  I decided I wanted to try some Quince and Co. yarns. They are an American company, and they had such lovely colors to choose from. I am trying to be thoughtful about my yarn purchases so I sat down and scrolled through my Ravelry queue on my phone. I wanted to find a pattern that I have been wanting to make, but didn't have yarn for yet. I decided that I wanted yarn to make the Zig Zag Chevron Hat and picked out two skeins of worsted yarn for it.

The yarn is Lark which is 134 yards of 100% wool worsted yarn. The skein on the left is in the colorway River and the one on the right is called Glacier.  The blue hat will be a welcome pop of color in the winter without being too extreme.  This hat will give me a chance to work on my colorwork skills as well.  

I also found a skein of Manos del Uruguay that caught my eye.  I do not have a pattern in mind for this yarn, but it screamed out to me. It will make a lovely shawl.

The colorway is Cabaret, but Jess said it looked like Cherry Blossoms at Midnight. The owner of the shop said it looked like Ballerina Camouflage. Once I heard both of those names I knew the yarn had to go home with me. 

I give Hidden River Yarns a 5 skein rating.  Inviting atmosphere, friendly staff, quality selection of yarn.  If you are ever in the Philly area I hope you check it out.  I know I will be making a return visit in the future!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2015

So as we catch up on the blog I decided to  talk about my trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool this year. I say my trip, because this year Jess didn't go. I had a nice time, but I definitely missed having my bestie with me.  I hadn't planned on going either until a friend of mine posted on Instagram that she was wondering who was going.  In the end it was the two of us and another friend who got up early on a beautiful Sunday morning and took the 3 hour drive to MDSW. Of the three of us, I was the only one who had been to the festival before.  I went with a game plan in mind. I needed buttons for my Grandpa Cardigan. I knew I wanted to look at Into the Whirled's booth, and see if we made it in time for Miss Bab's special colorway.  I had a few other places I knew I wanted to check out.  The only thing I needed was buttons.  This is what I came home with that day:
Can you see the buttons? They are next to the pink yarn...
I got a bag of Odds N Ends from Into the Whirled. I am looking forward to spinning these up for Tour de Fleece this year (Fiber Fangirls will have a team again this year too!) I visited the Little Barn booth (not in my original plan), and got three bags of fiber for about $16! I plan to somehow spin that fiber up into either corresponding skeins or some kind of gradient.  I managed to snag a skein of the Miss Bab's MDSW colorway in a fingering weight yarn.
So bright and lovely. In the past, I have knit up socks with my Miss Bab's yarn, but this skein is all merino so I am not sure what I will make with it. I picked up a skein of Marigold Jen yarn. This is a new to me yarn, and I know I will knit it up to make a pair of socks as a gift.
The pink yarn is an unknown yarn that I saw at the Sweitzers Countryside Fiber Mill booth.  It is 4 ounces of many a DK weight yarn and the color drew me right in.
I got a gradient set from Fiber Optics yarn. I bought a braid from them last year and now that I know how to n-ply (thanks Julia!) I can spin that up. In the mean time, I can knit up this lovely gradient set that has cashmere in it....
Chocolate to Aqua
I also got a needle felting kit for sheep from Going Gnome, a lamb cookie cutter, some cute sheep cards and an adorable yarn bowl and necklace from Jennie the Potter. I don't have a great photo of my buttons, but will post them on my sweater when I get them on there.  It was a fun day, and I got way more yarn and fiber than I intended, but it is MDSW and only comes once each year.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Yarn Dyeing

Last month I held a yarn dyeing party at my place for our knit group.  Everyone brought some yarn to dye and there was a variety of food coloring and kool-aid to play with.  Since the weather cooperated, I was able to set up a dyeing station in the back yard.  I opened up my clothes line umbrella so we could hang the yarn to dry, covered the table with newspaper and busted out the collection of mason jars.  

For my yarn, I took my vinegar soaked skein of Knit Picks Bare Stroll Fingering, about 20 toothpicks, some Wilton's gel and one packet of Tropical Punch Kool-Aid.  I took the toothpicks, dipped them in the gel and stabbed my skein of yarn to give it the polka dot effect.  After I had a bunch of dots, I took the kool-aid and sprinkled it all over for a confetti effect.  Then I wrapped it in plastic wrap and stuck in in the microwave for a couple of minutes until the dye was set.  

I ended up knitting a pair of monkeys out of it and am in love with how it knit up.  I am definitely trying this technique again.

After the dyeing was done, we made some pizza and salad, sat around, knit and just enjoyed the rest of the day.  Jen's husband even made an appearance!  Overall, I would say the day was a success.  I can't wait to host another dye session soon.

Jess was a wonderful hostess and I look forward to another dyeing party sometime soon.  I bought a skein of sock yarn from Kramer Yarns in Nazareth. They are a local mill and sometimes that have mill ends that they sell for a discount. The skein I bought appeared to be the superwash fingering (none of the yarn is labeled), but it was only $3!  I took a little snippet and tried to felt it in my hands. When I couldn't get it to felt up I decided that I must be right with it being the superwash yarn.  I made ten 10 gram mini-skeins and then dyed them up in mason jars. I used a variety of food coloring to dye my mini-skeins. Here are the results:
Phoebe's has to be in all my photos....
I plan to knit up squares on my sock yarn blanket with these.  I have enough in these skeins for Jess to knit a square of each color in her blanket too :-)

Friday, May 15, 2015

FO Friday 5/15/15

So we have been quiet for awhile, but our needles have been moving! We are hoping to start back into the blog and have a few posts to catch you up on all we have been up to.  From knitting and other crafting, to fiber festivals and bestie adventures. 

One of the bigger projects that I have finished recently is a baby blanket that I made for my cousin. She is expecting a little boy (any day now) so I wanted to make sure I sent something she could snuggle the little guy in.  
Gradient Blanket by Sara Marks

It is made with Caron Simply Soft, so it is perfect for a baby blanket. I love that it is machine washable too.  I didn't have enough yarn to make the blanket as written, but it is still a big baby blanket. It was pointed out that this looks like a Ravenclaw blanket, and although that wasn't my intent it is probably pretty fitting. Both my cousin and her husband have earned PhDs in the sciences, so their baby will certainly be surrounded by wit and wisdom.

I was a little behind Jess in my Follow Your Arrow 2 so I didn't have it to share the last time that we blogged. I finished it now and I really like it.
Follow Your Arrow 2 - Ysolda Teague

I enjoyed knitting this one as much as the first Follow Your Arrow. I ended up with an ABABB shawl. If I make another one (maybe there will be a Follow Your Arrow 3?!) I would like to use a solid color yarn, or even a gradient. I think that would show the lovely stitches off better. The slight variegation of this yarn muddles things a bit, but it is still a pretty shawl.  

I made a Barley hat for my cousin's baby as well. Then it worked out that the next Quidditch prompt had a few patterns as options, and Barley was one of them! So I knit one up for myself too. This one was Madeline Tosh DK. It is soft and squishy.  I love the pink color, and I think it will be great for this fall.  (I am not thinking about cold weather for awhile).

One of the residents is going to be a mom so I knit up a quick Ruffled baby hat and a pair of baby socks.  To go with the socks I found the perfect book!

Leftovers Baby Socks - by Matthew Hesson-McInnis
Ruffled Baby Hat - by Maryann
The hat is Knit Picks Comfy Worsted and it is way too big for a newborn.  This works out ok as the baby is due in May and will really need the hat later in the year.  

The project I am most proud of is my Grandpa Cardigan by Joji Locatelli. I knit it up in Wollmeise DK and it is just lovely.  I knew it was quite a splurge to make a sweater out of Wollmeise and I am lucky to have had the opportunity.  This sweater is ALL cables. Cables on the body and sleeves.  I have temporary buttons on the sweater in these pics because I knew I would get some at Maryland Sheep and Wool (more on that later).

Just a few more projects, I promise. I knit up a pair of Pin Striped Socks by Julia Swart using some Cyborg's Craft Room sock yarn in the colorway Lagoon. This was the only knitting project that I brought with me on our trip to Aruba. That is a good thing because I did not have too much time to knit.

I knit a tiny gnome for Project Gnome Diplomacy! He is on his way to South Korea now!

Last, but not least. I knit up a shawl that I have been wanting to make for a long time. A family member is going through a rough time, so I decided to knit up a shawl for her. That way I can give her a hug from afar and she will know we are thinking of her. I used a bright skein from Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock in the colorway honey fig to make this Multnomah.  I am also excited I got a picture of this beautiful tree in my front yard while it was in bloom.

Late winter I somehow lost my knitting mojo.  It's back in full force now and I have a bunch of FO's to show.  

To start, back in January I was asked to test knit Wasabi by Susan Claudino as part of the Dancing Dog Dyeworks Monster Mania club.  I knit one out of Knit Picks WOTA and a baby one out of The Cyborg's Craft Room Assparkilate.  The pattern was finally revealed in April and if you weren't part of the Monster Mania club, you should be able to purchase the pattern in a few months.

I have knit a few Citron shawls in the past, but never ended up keeping one for myself.  Late in the winter, my friend Barb, was trying to find a shawl to make with some yellow Wollmeise.  I was searching Ravelry trying to find patterns for her and felt the urge to knit myself a bright yellow shawl.  I ordered 2 skeins of Malabrigo Lace from Eat Sleep Knit.  The colorway looked like sunshine.  When it arrived, I was a little sad to see it was more of a marigold color.  Yellowish orange.  I started the shawl anyway, figuring I would be giving this one away, too.  However, by the time I finished I was in love with it.  It is so bright and happy!  It's also the perfect size.  I can wear it around my neck as a shawlette, or I can wear it over my shoulders if I get chilly at work and it keeps me warm.  

I've also knit 3 pairs of socks over the past couple of months.  I know I retracted my goal of knitting 12 pairs, but right now socks ARE making me happy so I want to knit them while I still have the urge.
The first pair is just a basic vanilla sock with a heel flap.  I used Desert Vista Dyeworks "If They Kill Daryl".  

The second pair are No Purl Monkeys using some yarn that I dyed when I hosted a dye party with our local knit group.  (More on that in another post).  I am SO thrilled with the results and these are my favorite socks right now.

The most recent pair I knit is a pair of Socks on a Plane using my Miss Babs that I got at Maryland Sheep & Wool last year.  I skipped MDSW this year, but I felt it was appropriate to knit with my yarn on the weekend of the festival.  These socks are shorties.  They only go about an inch above my ankle bone, but with summer just around the corner I wanted to try something different.

The final project I have to share this week is kind of a secret, but as long as I don't say who it's for it should be ok ;)

I knit a Hogwarts Express for a friend of mine.  I've knit this shawl a couple of other times in the past.  It's a fairly simple knit and super fast.

I've knit a couple of washcloths and some ornaments for the Little Lippy Ewe swap, but I will hold off on showing all of them until the end of the year.  

I hope you all have a great week!  

Friday, March 6, 2015

FO Friday 3/6/15

After 3 storms in the past week, not only have I done a lot of snow shoveling, but I have also been busting out the FO's and working on my sock yarn blanket.  Last month, in the middle of my February socks, I decided that sock knitting wasn't making me happy for the time being.  I am participating in 2 different year long swaps and the last thing I need is another major deadline project.  I have knit a pair (and sometimes 2 pairs) a month for the past 3 years, so my previous stated goal of knitting at least 12 more pairs of socks this year is over.  This year, I am knitting what makes me happy.  No pressure knitting (other than the already signed up for swaps).

So, with no socks on the needles I have had plenty of time to work on my blanket.  In the past week I have knit 25 squares and will be working on it most of this next week, too.

Susan Claudino released her Bonbon bunny pattern on March 1st.  I had the honor of test knitting for her,  The first sample I made was using some mystery (I think it's Opal) sock yarn that has been hiding in my stash for years.  It's speckled and super teeny and adorable. 

The second one I made was out of worsted weight.  I needed a gift for a co-workers soon to be born baby girl.  She saw me knitting the tiny bunny and asked me to knit her a bunny for Rowan.  We were throwing her a surprise shower the next week, so I had the perfect opportunity to knit it for her.  I used Gnome Acres House Gnome in Flamingo Fling.  

Bonbon Bunny in Opal (?) fingering weight

Bonbon Bunny in Gnome Acres House Gnome
I have another bitty bunny on the needles that I hope to share next week :)

Late last week, I FINALLY finished my Adrift cardigan.  You know, the one I started LAST MAY.  I blocked it aggressively and now it fits perfectly.  It's the perfect sweater to wear in the office.  Lightweight, but so warm and cozy.

Adrift Cardigan in Malabrigo Lace
 Last week, I also finished up a pair of basic hand warmers.  I used Chroma Fingering in the Regency colorway. 

Chroma handwarmers
The last thing I have to share was technically finished back in January, but I finally blocked my coffee break Tubularity late last week. I still have to sew on the buttons, but I think I might re-block it first.  It's a little snug when I wear it over my head.  For now, it's going to sit in my hand knit basket until I decide what to do.  I really enjoyed knitting it.  It was very meditative.  I just wish it fit me better.  :(

Endless Coffee Break Tubularity in Miss Babs Coffee Break Polydactyl kit
I have been getting serious cabin fever sitting at home this week with the bad weather. Tomorrow will be the first time I actually will drive in days! Spring cannot get here fast enough. I have been plugging away on my big projects, and yesterday I worked on my sock yarn blanket while the hubby and I did a "House of Cards" mini-marathon.  We have finally started season 3.  The other projects I had on my needles take too much concentration for that show.  So the blanket got some attention and I completed 6 more squares bringing me up to a total of 250 squares! 

Compared to Jess I look like a slacker! I finished up a baby blanket for a family member, and a little hat too but still need to take pictures when I have better light. I do have one FO to share though.
Bonbon - The Cyborg's Craft Room Bested "Without Borders"

I did not test knit this little bunny, but cast on just as soon as the pattern was released! I love this bunny, and know that I will be making a lot more of these in the future. I need to make one in sock yarn like Jess because they turn out so tiny and cute!