Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Knitting Frenzy!

 It occurred to me a few weeks ago that blogging was going to be tricky during the holiday knitting season.  Most of the people who I would knit for also read my blog, so I can't start mouthing off about my gift knitting.  I'll just have to leave it up to you over this next month to guess which things I'm knitting as gifts and which things will serve another purpose.  (And maybe I'll just throw in some lies to throw my family & friends off the scent!)

Anyway, the first picture of gorgeous gorgeousness is none other than the Honey Cowl.  It's simple and lovely, but gives a warm, squishy texture that will be very cozy this winter.  It's no wonder that this pattern already has 8366 projects listed on Ravelry.  My favorite thing about this pattern is that it it simple enough that you can use any type of yarn for it.  A plain color would look elegant with the simple slip-stitch pattern, and tonal & variegated colorways won't look too busy when paired with this pattern. Either way, it will be lovely.

I used two fingering yarns held together to approximate the dk yarn that the pattern calls for (I got gauge using a US #8 needle).  I used one skein of Cascade Heritage in plain red and held it with a Crazy Zauberball that contained reds, pinks & purples. 

The next thing I have underway is my little stuffed froggie.  This project starts with the arms & legs, so they are sitting around waiting for me to knit a body to attach them to.  So far I am really happy with how it's coming together.  I began a body, but decided I didn't love it, so I frogged it (har, har, knitting pun intended) and I'm going to try again.  This should be a fun pattern to release mid-winter or so!

What else?  I'm working on a second "Leap of Faith" along with my testers!  This one is made of Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, and I love how it's knitting up.  The colorway is less busy than the Zephyr Adorn Sock Yarn that I used on the original sample, so the cable detail pops a lot better.  I'm not sure if I'll finish this one with a zipper or if I'll do a different finishing technique on it.  Either way, I can't wait to steek it!  (It's addicting, people.  I'm just warning you right now - once you steek something, you'll look for every opportunity to convert your flat-knitted cardigan patterns to in-the-round just for the fun of chopping them down the middle!  - And because you'll love avoiding all those purl stitches!)

Finally, a gift picture, but this one is for my kids and they aren't interested in reading blogs yet.  (Especially knitting blogs, and especially their mother's knitting blog!  I mean, how boring would that be??)  My daughter has been begging for felted clogs for a few years now, but I've resisted due to living in a house with lots of wood floors, kids who like to run through the house despite me telling them to slow down, and the inherent clumsiness of the pre-teen crowd, combined with slippers that have slick sounded like a recipe for a trip to the emergency room for stitches.  But, both kids have matured a lot over the last year and I think I can now count on them to be old enough to wear their felted clogs responsibly enough to avoid bills from a plastic surgeon.  I believe this will make pairs #7 & #8, and I think I've just about got the pattern memorized.  This pair was the women's size medium (which will fit my 12-year-old son since we can now share shoes!) and each slipper took me about 3 hours to make.  I'm using Paton's worsted wool held double, which is what I've used on all my past pairs, and it felts beautifully!

By the way, using Paton's worsted this time has alerted me to the fact that their skeins contain 23 yards less than they did a few years ago.  I get it, Paton's can keep the price the same if you just give us a little less wool.  But it's really annoying to pick up a pattern that was written a few years ago and buy the number of balls that the pattern specifies, only to realize that you don't have enough yarn because the company changed the yardage.  I'd much rather just pay an extra 30 cents and have the right amount of yarn.  Who's with me?!

That's all the pretty pictures I have for you for now!  I hope you are getting lots of knitting done for the people on your holiday gift list!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Where Have I Been?

 Hello Dear Knitters!  I feel like I've been neglecting the blog lately, so I'm here to show you why.

Typically, I'm a pretty monogamous knitter.  I like to have one or maybe two projects on the needles at a time.  This is partially because my brain gets confused if I try to work on writing more than one pattern at a time.  But I also like starting something, then finishing it as quickly as possible, and this gratification is delayed if I have
 more than one thing going at a time.

But, 'tis the season for holiday knitting, and this year it coincides with a big creative burst.  It's not often that I look at my stash and have no idea what to knit, but it's just as rare that I look at it and come up with 8 ideas simultaneously, all of which I love, and all of which I need to make right now.  That happened about a month ago and I'm still casting-on those projects!

In the top picture, you can see that I have finished the Very Manly Socks that I made for my husband.  I don't love knitting socks, but they were my desperation project while I was waiting for ALL THE YARN to be delivered.  I had a dry spell of about 5 days where I could either knit something from my stash or have nothing to do with my hands while watching tv or riding in the car.  I hate that even more than I hate knitting socks, so I cast on!
The second picture is my daughter's green cardigan.  I've actually been at this point for almost a month now.  I was waiting for my yarn reinforcements to arrive.  As it turns out, 600 yds of dk yarn is not enough for a child's size 8 cardigan.  I bought 600 more yards to finish the thing, just to be safe, but I think I'll need more like 400 yds.

I cast this red guy on yesterday.  I'm going to keep you in suspense about what it is (you'll know it when you see it!) but I thought I'd show you the fun yarn.  I went to the LYS yesterday with the very specific idea of "red, variegated, spun (not single-ply) dk or worsted yarn"  They had two types that almost fit the bill, but they weren't exactly what I had in mind.  This wasn't either, but I think it will be a good substitute.  It's one skein of Cascade Fingering held double with a Zauberball that is mostly red but has pinks and purples in with it.  I figure it approximates the right weight of yarn and I got gauge with no problem, so I'm going with it!

Speaking of secret projects....I'll show you these two ladies, but I'm not talking about them!  You'll see them again after the holidays, but some things must be kept secret! 

And finally, the reason I was in such a hurry to get those socks off my #2 needles.  I've done an almost-toy pattern before (the sock monkey lovie blanket) but this will be my first stand-alone-with-no-blanket-attached toy.  I'm sure you can guess what it's going to be!

What projects are you juggling these days?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wicker Park Winner!!!

Let's start the week off right, shall we?  Time to hit the random number generator website and see where these 3 skeins of yarn and hat & mitten pattern set are going to go live!

It was very exciting to see people from all over the world leave comments on my blog.  Since I'm in the US, I think the prize for farthest entries have to go to a person in South Africa and one in India.  But really, you guys are all over the place! 

So, without further delay, I'll enter the numbers 1-23 in the random number generator (there's 24 comments here, but one is just my sister being enthusiastic, so for the purposes of this drawing we'll pretend her comment isn't in there).  And the winner is.......
....Kelly!  Congratulations, Kelly!  If you're reading this, contact me with your mailing address and I'll get your prize sent out right away!

For everyone else that entered (or even blog readers that are still lurking but didn't enter this time), please take advantage of a consolation prize coupon code.  If you purchase the Wicker Park Hat & Mittens set either through the link on my blog pattern page or through Ravelry between now and next Monday, enter the coupon code "$1 off" to get both patterns for just $3.99!

Thanks everyone for entering and I hope you enjoy making your new winter sets!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wicker Park Release!

This is a really fun knit. 

I tend to do a lot of stockinette stitch in my designs because my style is pretty "un-fussy" and I like focusing on nice lines and a good fit more than I enjoy working with intricate stitch patterns.  But sometimes it's great to mix it up a little and do something out of the ordinary.

This set combines 4 different stitch types - stockinette, ribbing, a "criss-crossed" woven stitch, and a "faux-color work" dimple stitch.  It'll keep you entertained, maybe teach you a new stitch or two, and you'll end up with a cozy winter set that I'm sure would be perfect for someone on your Christmas list!

Did someone say "give-away"?

Oh yeah!

One blog reader is going to win this pattern along with the yarn to make it.  You'll get these three skeins of Knit Picks Capretta in 'harbor' and 'platinum'.  I will ship it anywhere on Earth!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment after this post with a way for me to contact you (your Ravelry member name or sign in to the comments with your e-mail address or your personal website).  Remember, the comments are now "open" so if you don't want to "sign-in" you can just select the "Name/URL" option before you hit "Publish".  I'll leave this open through the weekend, then on Monday I'll do a random number generator to pick the winner.  If it selects number 5, then the 5th person in the comments will be the winner.  I'll contact you for your shipping address and get the yarn in the mail asap!

If you just can't wait, the pattern set is for sale on Ravelry and through my blog.  (You can go to the pattern page or click here:  )

If you happen to purchase the pattern before the contest winner is announced and you happen to win, I'll just refund your purchase through paypal and get your yarn on its way!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Post away!

Hi there!

I think it's fun to blog.  I've always been a journal person....I probably have 6 journals from my teen years tucked away in a box in my closet (which my husband and I have entertained each other with by reading entries in a valley girl voice, because, ohmygosh! I, like, totally sound like that in, like, my teenage journals!) I've also kept a "family blog" for the last 11 years.  It began as a way of keeping my extended family caught up on what was going on with my little family since I live 2 hours away from our closest relatives and many live out-of-state.  But I've kept it up as a way to chronicle the life that our young family is leading.  I love being able to look back 3 or 5 years ago and see what we were up to on a day-to-day basis back then, and I know that when I'm an old lady I'll love reading the entries I write today.

But you know what makes a blog the totally most funnest of all?  When your readers interact with you.  When you put a thought or a picture or a story out there, and people write back to you.  It is super-fun and makes you feel like you're not just writing for yourself or for the three people in your family who will read anything you write.  And it's not that I'm not totally thankful for those three people, but it's always a thrill to know you're reaching people beyond your immediate circle of family and friends. 

That was the main reason I enjoyed the Jazz Hands give-away so much.  Having 8 people comment on a blog post was Very Exciting.  It encouraged me to keep posting because I knew people were reading.  A few people also sent me messages on Ravelry saying, "I want to comment, but I don't know how to sign in"!  At the time I didn't know how to change my comment settings to make commenting easier.  But this afternoon I did a little poking around and did just that.

I'm hoping that the new "open commenting" won't make this blog a target for spammers, and I hope that people at least leave some sort of name (even if it's just a first name or your Ravelry ID, or even just a fake name so I can reference you if I want to respond.)  There is now an option that says, "Name/URL.  You can leave both your name and your website, but you can also just fill in the "name" box before you hit "Continue".  You can also use the "Anonymous" option, but I really hope you don't.  I want to get to know my readers and if you just post anonymously, then I have no idea if you're someone I've corresponded with in the past or if you've commented in the past, and I'll never really get to know anything about you.  Plus, I like to live by the Golden Rule of the Internet: "Don't post anything that you wouldn't sign your name to".  It just makes the Internet a nicer place to be! :) 

So comment away!  Try it out, say "hi", then get ready to come back later this week for ANOTHER GIVE-AWAY!  Yep, you read that right, this time it's a brand-new pattern set and the yarn to make it, and one person is gonna win it for free!

Happy commenting!