WIPWed #75: New Wheel In The House

After a mildly soul-crushing shipping mishap last Wednesday which resulted in a delivery of whatever this thing is, instead of my wheel:

Nobody wants you, squirrel cage swift thing!

I finally received my brand new Lendrum DT! (Previous posts in my search for a new wheel are here and here.) As evidenced in the photos below, I didn’t even remove my knitwear after walking in the door before sitting down to spin on it. Guys, it’s so lovely to work with.

The treadles are extremely comfortable, it was simple to put together and seems easy to maintain (I’ve only oiled the flyer shaft, everything else is contained), the wood is gorgeous in person and it is spinning up my free pound of Falkland wool nice and smoothly. I’m unreasonably excited to try out all the different drive ratios the complete package came with (the regular flyer, fast flyer, and jumbo flyer each have 3) and I’m kind of enthralled with the little sliding hook mechanism (rather than individual hooks on the flyer). The Majacraft Pioneer I tried had a slidey bit and was lovely to treadle as well, but I couldn’t get over the delta orifice on that wheel, and much prefer the wood used in the Lendrum anyway.

After a weekend that involved an obnoxious amount of verbal and quantitative reasoning questions (yay GREs!), staying-up-until-3am-statement-of-purpose-essay-writing, copious grad school application activities, and general brain fatigue, I’m really looking forward to spending some free time chillaxin’ with my new spinning buddy. (I’m barely resisting giving a name to this new spinning buddy. I’ve always thought that naming wheels and spindles was sort of odd, but for some reason I’m feeling the urge. Please stop me.) Due to all of the craziness around here lately and a yoga-induced strained back muscle (really!), I haven’t been doing much knitting, but I’ll document the little WIP progress I did manage to make this week anyway.

Overdyed Cypress:

Woolen Diversions

Blurry pic, sorry! Click for project page.

Just a couple more rows added to my (former) #NaKniSweMo sweater. I’ll get there, eventually! Slow and steady with this one.

Chai Tea Latte:

Woolen Diversions

Foxfire Fibre Upland Wool & Alpaca. Click for project page.

The texture of this cowl reminds me of a nice, frothy chai tea latte drink. I started this on Thanksgiving so I’d have something smaller than a sweater to carry with me on our holiday travels. The yarn is a natural tan wool, spun woolen for optimal loft and fuzziness. It reminds me of an even airier Malabrigo worsted, it is a thick yet lightweight singles yarn. My skein is untagged, but I purchased it at my knitting guild when Barbara from Foxfire Fiber & Designs (who wrote an excellent book, Adventures in Yarn Farming) came to give a talk. I believe this yarn is her Upland Wool & Alpaca blend, technically a DK weight but I’m knitting it on size 9’s for a loftier fabric. I’m designing as I go, using a variation of the stitch I explored in the baby hat I finished last week. We’ll see how it turns out!

Petrol BFL:

Woolen Dirersions

Countess Ablaze Pertrol BFL. Click for handspun page.

Just because I have a new wheel, doesn’t mean I’m going to completely ignore my old one! The Babe is still great for spinning longwools, plying, and any art yarns that require strong pull or special techniques. Besides, I intend to use a bunch of random skeins of BFL handspun in one project, so I should probably continue to use the same tool when spinning them up.

Tropical Merino:

Woolen Diversions

Wooldancer 19.5 Micron Merino. Click for handspun page.

I finished the little sample skein I was spinning on my Jenkins Finch (pics later, I forgot!) and started this shockingly pink braid of ultra fine Merino wool. I’m surprised by how much I love this wee spindle and this unabashedly pink fiber. It’s so far outside my normal color palette, but it’s really gorgeous in person. Since the singles are very thin, I split the braid into four equal bits and am planning to spin a 4-ply. Since the colors are not distinct and will undoubtedly jumble up with plying, I’m picturing the finished yarn to have a nicely heathered effect.

What have you been working on lately? Am I the only one in the middle of crazy deadlines? I’m hoping they let up soon so I can actually relax a little and get in the holiday spirit before Christmas comes!

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Housekeeping Friday

So many things to tell you about today, I’ve had to put them in a numbered list!

  1. Remember my Blue Sky Alpacas giveaway? Well, we have a winner! Congrats, Naomi, and thanks for liking my blog page on Facebook! (I’ve emailed you for your address and will ship your prize out straightaway.) Thanks to everyone who participated, I loved reading your comments about your favorite travel destinations. Now you have me itching to visit places like the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and The Grand Canyon (I could hit those up in one weekend, right?). Also Norway, France, Italy, Australia… sigh. Too many places to see!
  2. Hunter Hammersen has very graciously agreed to review my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe lotion bars and is hosting a giveaway, as well! Head on over to Violently Domestic to check out what she thinks and enter to win a lotion bar and lip balm of your choice.
  3. Sweet Sheep is proud to be one of this month’s sponsors over at the Knitted Bliss blog! I’ve been a long-time reader of Julie’s blog, and especially enjoy her Pin Up (Pinterest roundups) and Modification Monday series.
  4. October means it’s time for the annual October Stockpile event in the Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry, which means my Malabrigo-specific patterns (Dissipative & Syrinx Shells) are both on sale for 20% off with the code ‘MalQuick’ through the end of October! Get your quick and colorful cowls on the needles, the holidays approacheth!
  5. Have I told you that I’ve added some autumn scents to the shop? I don’t think I have! If you’ve been itching to get your fix of seasonal sensory delights like Pumpkin Spice, Autumn Harvest, and Apple Butter, I can hook you up. And if we ever get a sunny day in New England again, I’ll post photos for new Kumquat, Honey Oatmeal, and Frosted Cranberry scents, too (like my shop on Facebook to be the first to know as soon as new fragrances go up!).

Happy Friday, all!

IS #60: Socks for Everyone!

If I had to choose a sock philosophy, I think mine would be this: socks should be simple, enjoyable, portable knitting. I don’t deny that socks are a great canvas to explore fancy stitches and intriguing architecture, but more often than not, I just want to knit a simple sock that I can pick up and put down with little fuss.

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway X-Mas Rocks. Click for pattern page.

My recently-reformatted free sock pattern, Ribby Holiday Socks, fits this bill exactly. Plain vanilla (all stockinette) socks don’t usually thrill me because I need a little something for my brain to do, and having all that stockinette broken up by some ribbing every few rounds gives me an easy way to keep track of repeats and make sure my legs and feet match exactly in length. (The keen-eyed might notice that the stitch pattern is the same one used in my Giving Comfort hat. Matching set!)

SizeChart

To make this sock pattern widely accessible, I’ve provided a size chart that describes the finished foot circumference for four different sizes at four different gauges. This means this pattern can be used to knit socks for practically everyone, fitting small feet (6″ circumference) to large feet (12″ circumference) depending on yarn/needle/gauge/size choice. All you’ll need is a gauge swatch and a measuring tape and a perfect fit should be easy to find. Finally, for those who are new to sock knitting, this pattern also contains a photo tutorial explaining in detail how to pick up stitches from the heel flap for the gusset. I really love that a few knitters on Ravelry have used my pattern for their first pair of socks, as that is exactly what I had intended when I wrote it.

Photo copyright unionjgirl. Click for project page.

Joanna over at The Knitlit Twit cast on some Ribby Holiday Socks as her first pair of socks for a Ravellenics project. I love the pretty pastel yarn she’s using, as it reminds me of spring and works nicely with the stitch pattern. (She’s also running her first marathon tomorrow, wish her luck!)

Photo copyright rgd18. Click for project page.

A friend from college, Rivkah, also used my RHS pattern for her first sock ever! Her version is a great example of what the stitch pattern looks like in a more semisolid yarn.

Photo copyright aknittermom. Click for project page.

Theresa is another knitter who produced a really great pair of socks on her first try! I like how the yarn choice makes this pair feel autumnal and moody.

Photo copyright hessp. Click for project page.

Finally, I had to feature hessp’s socks because I love the name of the project: ‘Too Brain-Dead to Think Socks’. Perfect!  I love it.

So if you’re not a sock knitter yet, I hope I’ve convinced you that my Ribby Holiday Socks pattern is totally within your grasp. I think it would be a perfect choice for the #SocksWithSarah KAL that’s been going on lately, as well, because truly — sometimes simple is best.

IS #58: Comfort Everywhere

Happy Saturday, everyone! This IS post is coming to you later in the afternoon because somehow, I found myself out of the house pre-8 am for a yoga class… which has never happened, especially not on a weekend. It was lovely, though, and a very zen way to start the day.

Giving Comfort, click for pattern page.

This week I’d like to talk about my free hat pattern, Giving Comfort. It’s a simple, chunky weight beanie that is perfect for charity or gift knitting and especially useful in the dead of winter. It’s been getting lots of favorites and new projects on Ravelry lately, so I thought it would be a good place to start with the pattern updates I’ll be releasing over the next couple of weeks. With my new logo, I’ve changed the layout of my patterns to something I think is easier to understand, space-saving, and more pleasant to read

Copyright peggatha. Click for project page.

Since the pattern has over 260 favorites and 97 projects on Ravelry to date, I thought I’d choose a few of my favorites to showcase here. Above is peggatha’s version, knit in a gorgeous, long-striping hand-dyed Icelandic wool. It reminds me of a tropical sunset, which is a pretty great thing in the middle of winter. And she donated it to charity, too, so it’s even sweeter.

Copyright Jellybean21. Click for project page.

I also love the yarn that Jellybean21 used in her version, aptly named ‘Comfy Rockstar Hat’. There’s something badass about those black/grey/purple stripes.

Copyright beadbijoux. Click for project page.

Beadbijoux used the same yarn as in the previous hat, Loops & Threads Charisma. Those long color repeats really punch up the fun of the hat, I think. And is anyone surprised I love one that is blue/green?

Copyright Cinderga. Click for project page.

Cinderga was an early knitter of this design and I remember feeling so pleased that she liked it enough to knit 4 of them at once! I believe these hats were also donated.

 

Copyright AnnaW. Click for project page.

Last but certainly not least, AnnaW’s version is just too cute not to share. The pattern is sized from child to large adult, and the child version looks like it fits this little fella perfectly. I especially love that she used handspun yarn, the simplicity of the design makes it great for yarns that might be irregular in thickness.

I hope you enjoyed perusing some of these fabulous projects! Giving Comfort is my go-to hat pattern and I  hope it becomes yours, too! What’s been inspiring you lately? Leave a comment below and share.

Some Promised FOs

I’ve been remiss about getting photos of my finished projects in daylight (stupid winter/busy schedules) so here are a bunch all in a row!

Copycat Cowl:

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Verdant Gryphon Codex, colorway Jah Music. Click for project page.

I finally got a picture of my new favorite cowl! I totally copied another Raveler’s idea of combining the luxurious Codex yarn with this super-simple-yet-gorgeous pattern (Ingot by Lisa Mutch). The BFL/silk yarn knit at a really loose gauge makes a lovely, fluid fabric. I made mine a little larger than the pattern calls for and I think it’s the perfect size to wear either long or doubled up. Gryphon herself admired it when I wore it to Stitches East!

Purple Dissipative:

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Malabrigo Twist, colorways Zinc and Grapes. Click for project page.

I finished my first #Giftalong project! This is my own pattern, Dissipative, knit in one of my all-time-favorite yarns and new favorite color combination. I love how well the texture shows up in the semi-solid gray. It will be hard to gift this one away!

Camp Out Mitts:

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Ella Rae Lace Merino Chunky. Click for project page.

These mitts didn’t even make it to the blog before I was finished with them (there are two now, I promise). This is a modified version of the Camp Out Fingerless Mitts pattern by Tante Ehm. It’s a simple, free pattern that I customized for thicker yarn and sizing preferences. I have to admit that I’m not in love with the thumb. I tried picking up stitches to add more length to it but it kept looking awkward and pulling too tightly because of the cast on stitches. I’m going to explore this kind of mitt construction later and try to come up with a thumb I like better. This yarn, by the way, is awesome. It was my first time knitting with it and it has such a great plump, beefy feel to it. It makes a nice, thick fabric that I know will keep the recipient’s hands cozy.

Brazen:

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Verdant Gryphon Codex, colorway Ullikana. Click for project page.

Last but not least is my mom’s kick-cancer’s-butt shawl. This is another simple, free pattern (Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower Yarn) that really shines in a gorgeous yarn. I modified mine a bit by adding another section to make it larger. I love it this size and wear the one I knit for myself a couple of years ago all the time

So there you have all the FO’s I’ve been waiting to show off! What’s your favorite simple pattern? What kinds of knits do you come back to again and again?

WIPWed #38: Feeling Productive

After several weeks of working past midnight on revising a manuscript based on my master’s thesis for publication, I sent it off to my old advisor yesterday and got a full 10 hours of sleep last night. It was fabulous. I probably have a little more work to do on the paper but for now, I’m calling that a win.

I’ve finished up some lovely little projects, too! Here’s a purple version of my Syrinx Shells cowl design:

IMG_5196There’s nothing like a project knit with Rasta (superbulky Merino wool singles) to make you feel like a knitting whiz. This thing took exactly 2 days of just periodic, here-and-there knitting. I’m at a loss to how to close it, though. What do you think, buttons or ribbon? I tend to love ribbons but those buttons look pretty great, too.

IMG_5197Here’s a closeup of the stitch pattern. That central motif is called an Estonian Shell Stitch and it is so fun to work. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite simple, too, and has a really dramatic effect. All of my patterns are on sale for 20% off for another week with the code “MalStock13” on Ravelry, so why not give it a try?

ruffiamI finished my purple Ruffian hat, too! (Sorry for the early-morning-selfies, the Fiasco and I are no longer home at the same time during daylight…boo.) I made a few minor modifications to Hunter Hammersen’s really neat design, which you can see on my project page. I love how slouchy the hat turned out and the fabric is really perfect in the Malabrigo Twist. I was a little worried that those little grey ‘poofs’ would look silly when worn, but I think it’s actually pretty cute. What do you think? Would you wear this hat?

IMG_5200I left my only actual WIP this week at the office, so instead I’ll show you the swatch I knit from my lovely Malabrigo Nube handspun. I’m loving the fabric on US size 9 needles (3rd section from bottom) and I was thinking of doing a simple slouch hat with a little faux-cabled rib on the brim (top section).  Though I am open to suggestions! Do you have a favorite hat pattern that calls for a gauge of about 4.5 or 5 sts/inch? Preferably one that uses buttons?

I’m linking along with Tamis Amis, check out some more WIPs there!

IS #41: Stockpile Inspiration

Ahhhh, Malabrigo October Stockpile – that time of year when Mal Junkies furiously plan, queue, and knit up as many one-skein project as possible, posting their progress throughout. I’m pretty sure Mal March and Stockpile are responsible for ~80% of my 41-page Ravelry queue and entirely responsible for motivating me to get started on holiday knitting early enough to accomplish so many knits.

IMG_5118One gift down! This is my own pattern, Giving Comfort, modified to have slightly shorter repeats and throwing color changes in on the knit/purl rows just to spice things up. (Can I take a second to say how happy I am that there are now 61 projects for this pattern on Ravelry and over 200 ‘favorties’? So many of the hats were knit for charity causes, too,  which is just so awesome!) For this Inspiration Saturday, I figured I’d give a little run-down of the other patterns I’m planning to knit because who doesn’t love one-skein projects in fabulous yarn?!

Copyright Hunter Hammersen, click for pattern.

This hat, knit in Malabrigo Twist, is the primary reason I immediately loved Hunter’s new booklet of patterns, Ne’er Do Well Knits. I’m digging the luscious, dimpled look of the fabric and I bet it is super duper warm. I like envisioning color combinations for this, too. I’m pretty sure I’ll be knitting one in teal/white and another in grey/purple.

Copyright Hunter Hammersen, click for pattern.

Another Hunter pattern (about time I knit some of the zillions in my queue!) — this one is going to be for me. 🙂 I need a new pair of fingerless mitts and I have a kitten-belly-soft skein of Finito waiting specifically for this project.

Copyright Justyna Lorkowska, click for pattern.

This is Rama Lama, a really great slipped-stitch colorwork cowl designed with Malabrigo Worsted but which would probably be equally awesome in Twist (my favorite Malabrigo base). You can knit it short or long and use just two or as many colors as you’d like to help stashbust, which I always appreciate. Not sure if I’m going to get to this pattern, but I still really like it.

Copyright tma, click for free pattern.

These mitts by Tante Ehm are very simple, but great for showing off some of the more variegated colorways of Malabrigo Worsted or Rios. The garter detail on the hand is just the right amount of interesting to make these mitts practical but still pretty.

There’s also something about Stockpile that gets my designer juices flowing. Here’s a hat I’m throwing together using two colors of Rios, each held double for a chunkier weight:

IMG_5121

I think it’s gonna be pretty great when it’s done! What one-skein projects have you been working on lately? Do you have your holiday gifts thought out yet? Leave a comment to link to your own Inspiration Saturday post, if you wish!

IS

FO Friday #20: Sock Foot Slog

I finished these wee little socks for my new nephew:

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway On Blueberry Hill

The feet on these things look comically large, but they’re only about 4″ and apparently 3.5-5″ is the recommended size for newborn sock feet. That seems pretty big to me but we’ll see! I’m heading down to Long Island later today to meet him, which I’m very excited about.

I’ve entered the dreaded sock foot slog on my Tour-de-Sock pair:

Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga, colorways Blue Ringed Octopus, Ghost Moth, and undyed

I’m not sure why but once I reach the gusset the sock just starts to feel endless. I love the cuffs, the legs are exciting because I’m still learning the pattern, the heels are fiddly and therefore interesting… then it’s just sameness for a long while until the toe. When my socks stall out, they stall out here. That won’t happen with this one, but the instinct to do so is there! Especially with more-or-less plain stockinette.

So my boredom prompted me to start something else:

Malabrigo Dos, colorway Lettuce

This is a prototype for my first shawl design! I’ve had the idea kicking around for a while now but haven’t had time to sit down and chart things out. The actual shawl will be knit with an aran weight yarn so it’ll be nice and thick, but I’m working up a prototype in sport weight because 1) I didn’t want to keep frogging the shawl yarn and 2) it felt easier for me to see the pattern develop with smaller stitches. I’m really loving it so far and am excited about designing again! There’s no deadline on this and I still need to figure out the edging but progress is progress.

Hope you have wonderful Fridays! Check out more FOs below.



Dissipative Release!

Drumroll please… here’s my new design for the Malabrigo Quickie series: Dissipative!

The large size is a long cowl that can be wrapped twice around the neck or worn scarf-like. It uses less than 2 skeins of Malabrigo Twist and is designed to play nicely with variegated colorways.

Dissipative beaches are composed of fine sand with gentle slopes that cause high energy waves to break in a spilling, washing motion over the wide beach face. I tried to mimic this idea in this cowl, which begins with long, undulating waves of a contrast colorway that wash their way up onto the textured shoreline of the variegated main yarn. And get this: the reverse side of the textured section is even called ‘sand stitch’, is that perfect or what?

The pattern includes a small size for a more standard cowl as well as a little trick for knitting garter stitch in the round without purling, in case you’re anything like me and love garter stitch but hate purling. It can be purchased for $5.00 through paypal by clicking the button below, or it can be found on Ravelry, Craftsy, and (soon) Patternfish.

BONUS! Since it’s my birthday this week, I’m running a promotion on Ravelry for 28% off (not like that’s my age or anything…) the price of any and all of my patterns when you enter the coupon code ‘bdayweek’ at checkout. The coupon is good through Monday 1/28/2013. I hope you enjoy!

Secret FO Friday

This is all a bit of a tease, but I have four finished objects this month so far and I can’t really show you any of them! They are all for designs but at least one of them will be released shortly. Secret FOs 1 & 2 are for the Afghans for Afghans e-book that Cephalopod Yarns is putting together. I’m not sure about the publication date yet but once I know it, you’ll hear about it, because it’s going to be a fantastic collection!

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Secret FO #3 is my newest design, to be released on the 22nd as a Malabrigo Quickie pattern!

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And secret FO #4 is another version of my new pattern, in a different size. I don’t have a photo of the FO yet but I can show you what I used to knit it with:

Malabrigo Yarns Twist, colorway Teal Feather and handspun

I used a bit of my first wheel-spun handspun for the contrast color, which I don’t think I’ve shown here yet either:

Handspun 2-ply Merino wool

This was spun from fiber that came with my wheel, I think it is Merino but I can’t be sure. I spun two singles semi-woolen (unknowingly on different sized bobbins, with screwed with my tension) and then plied them together. The resulting skein is perfectly fuzzy and lightweight with great bounce. The yarn is quite thick-and-think but it it’s roughly the same thickness as the Twist in most places so it worked well in the design, though it only used a little bit so I’ll have to figure out what to do with the rest!

Also–fun fact–the photoshoot for the new pattern took place here:

Rhode Island kinda rocks.
Spending a gloriously foggy and freakishly warm winter day on the beach taking photos of knitwear was probably more fun than it should have been! We have the Fiasco to thank for being a good sport and playing along. I can’t wait to show you guys the pictures!