WIPWed #124: Actual Knitting Content

As I mentioned in my come-back post last week, I’ve finally managed to work on some knitting while juggling my 5-month-old. By the by, props to the people who teach themselves to knit while they’re pregnant or after the baby arrives, I don’t know where they get the energy for that. I’m a seasoned knitter and when I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was sleep. And now that the Hatchling is here… sleep is still a hot commodity. However, he’s starting to settle into a routine and I’ve finally weaned off pumping in the evenings which means I get occasional hands-free time to dally with yarn again. Yay!

Green Gathered

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Cephalopod Yarns Traveler, colorway Wolcott . Click for project page.

This photo is something of a lie as this hat is done and has been worn already, but I haven’t had a chance to take good finished photos yet so I’m still calling it a WIP. 🙂 The pattern is Gather by tincanknits and I loved it. The stitch pattern is easy-peasy but fun to work. I knit the toddler size for my kiddo because he has a big head and it fits perfectly with some stretch for future growth.

Wine Toast:

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Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Something-or-Other. Click for project page.

Speaking of easy-peasy, this project couldn’t be simpler. I’m knitting the Toast armwarmers by Leslie Friend, which are basically just plain stockinette tubes knit in the round. I often wear 3/4 length sleeve sweaters to work and my arms get cold, plus I’m always warmer with my wrists covered, so these will be a big luxurious (worsted weight Merino-cashmere-nylon yarn, yum!) treat for me. I’m making them a bit longer so they go all the way to my elbow, wider to accommodate my larger forearms, and adding a thumbhole (but no actual thumb) so they can also serve as fingerless mitts when needed.

Hatchling’s Sky Blanket:

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O-Wool O-Wash Fingering in various colors. Click for project page.

I’ve been making very slow progress on my Sky Blanket (<– scroll to the bottom of that post to read the history of this particular project). In summary, I’m knitting 360 square that represent the sky each day (minus 5)  in the first year of the Hatchling’s life. That strip represents the first couple of weeks in July. HAHAHAHA I’m soooooo behind. The worst part is, I stopped recording the weather during the first couple of weeks in November, at least before that point I’d had everything written down. So now I’m going to have to get creative with the almanac or something to figure out what to knit for the missing dates. I WILL COMPLETE THIS BLANKET.

Is there a particular project you’ve been dragging your feet about? Holiday knitting, perhaps? Speaking of, check out the Knitter’s Gift Guide on the KnittedBliss blog. It’s a great collection of gift ideas, including a little shout out to my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe sheep-shaped soaps in the stocking stuffer section (sooooo many S’s in that sentence)!

 

WIPWed #116: You Down with OPK?

OPK = Other People’s Knitting. That’s all I’ve been working on lately, things that are Not For Me. I do not even recognize my selfish-knitting-self right now.

Moonstone Fidra:

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Brooklyn Tweed Quarry in Moonstone, click for project page.

My renewed attempt at the Fidra hat using Brooklyn Tweed Quarry yarn is SO MUCH NICER than my first try. The yarn really really really makes a difference here. The fluff-factor (a.k.a. spin and density of the yarn) is apparently very important for both fit and feel, and a simple colorway works so much better than the speckled one I used before.

So Long:

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Malabrigo Mecha in Vaa, click for project page.

This is a new hat I began as a ‘see ya later’ gift for a coworker who is leaving the company this week. He is my favorite person there to chat science with, and since I process my emotions through yarn, a hat is happening. I’m winging it in a waffle knit pattern (alternate 3 rows of 2×2 rib with 3 rows of plain knit), using a 72 stitch cast-on with size 9 needles on a yarn that is classified as bulky but really knits up more like an aran weight (in my opinion).

Sherbet Baby:

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Play At Life Boundless DK in Pastels, click for project page.

After a disappointing visit to the doctor where we did NOT find out the sex of our impending baby (little thing was being ‘wily’ according to the ultrasound tech) I consoled myself by starting the baby sweater I wanted to knit for it anyway. This is the Babycakes pattern by Laura Aylor. I’m making the 6 month old size, since Hatchling is due in June so it won’t be sweater-wearing-weather until he/she/it is a few months old. I’m using a fun rainbow gradient set by Play At Life Fiber Arts in the Pastels colorway (DK weight) and you know, it’s hard to be bummed when you’re knitting with such happy colors. The construction was pretty fun and engaging since I’ve never knit anything like it before (Barbara Walker’s top-down, seamless, simultaneous set-in sleeve method) but now it’s a bit boring since it’s all stockinette for the remainder of the body. At least the color changes will help pass the time.

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Our future yogi all folded in half, with nowhere to go.

As for reading, I’ve actually zoomed through quite a few books in the best couple of weeks. I read the entire Kass Morgan The 100 trilogy, but really, those three could’ve been combined into one book easily, it was such easy fluff reading. The TV show is so different that it’s amusing to read the books and watch the show at the same time. Both are highly entertaining so even though the writing isn’t particularly ‘adult’ the concept is still pretty great. I’ve finished the Baby Bargains book (just in time to start figuring out what the heck we want on our registry) and am nearly done with Your Baby’s First Year, gifted to me from one of my best friends, who is a pediatrician and recommends it to all her patient’s parents. When things are feeling kinda shitty pregnancy-wise, it’s nice to think about the actual infant that should result from all this trouble. Also, I’m 20 weeks now, so HALFWAY FUCKING THERE. Woot.

That’s about all I’ve been up to this week. Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

The Best Gifts Are Handmade

Last week, the Fiasco and I drove up to Boston to spend New Year’s Eve with a couple of our closest friends and their adorable toddler. (My apologies for the lack of photos, she’s seriously the cutest thing.) We had what has turned into our typical, relaxed NYE celebration: yummy food, some champagne, knitting, board games, and barely staying awake long enough to watch the ball drop (all the while wondering who the heck all those newfangled pop stars are). This year, though, we were also surprised with a wonderful gift.

03-IMG_2174A whole group of our friends coordinated to knit us this gorgeous blanket as a wedding present. They each contributed a few squares, even ones who learned to knit in the past but don’t regularly do it anymore, and sent them to Bridgit for sewing up.

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I adore the pattern and color palette they chose. Apparently, I made the choice of pattern easy by gushing about the Vivid blanket designed by tincanknits right around the time that my friends were coming up with this secret plan.

01-IMG_2170As you can see, the colors of yarn they used (Vally Yarns Colrain) coordinate perfectly with our couch and the tencel in the blend gives the fabric a lovely sheen. The project took a bit longer than they had expected and I can only imagine all the plotting and scheming that went on behind my back! I was wondering why everybody’s knitting production appeared to have halted. Whenever I asked them what they were working on I got such vague responses as “Oh, that alpaca sweater still” or “Some baby stuff” or “School’s been so busy I’ve barely knit at all” etc.

Dudes, we totally love it.

We love it so, so much. I don’t know if we can ever properly thank them. Handmade gifts are the best, as are our friends, and we’ll think of them every time we snuggle up under this blanket, and I love that.

What’s the best handmade gift you’ve ever given or received?

IS #83: Bulky Cowls

‘Tis the season… for bulky handknits! Not only are they on trend at the moment, but they’re also a knitter’s best friend when it’s 12 days ’til Christmas and gifts still need to be made. Not that I’m in that situation, because I said I wasn’t going to knit any gifts this year…

Woolen Diversions

Malabrigo Mecha, colorway Whales Road

Except for one (there’s always one). There’s a young lady on my gift list who wants accessories for Christmas and no store-bought, machine-made cowl is going to befoul her pretty little neck while she’s related to me. So a bulky cowl in the yarn pictured above, it will be. But which pattern?

Casu Cowl:

Photo copyright Galia Lael. Click for pattern page.

I’ve had my eye on this lace-and-texture cowl for quite some time. It’s a free pattern that is written for worsted weight yarn but is easy to scale up. Knitted end-to-end (like a scarf) and then grafted together, you can make it pretty much any size you need.

State Street Cowl:

Photo copyright Carrie Bostick Hoge. Click for pattern page.

I’m such a sucker for lace-writ-large, and this cowl does not disappoint. The stitch pattern looks a lot like the one used on the ever-popular Monkey Socks and the size and shape make it seem so cozy.

Drop Stitch Cowl:

Photo copyright Abi Gregorio. Click for pattern page.

I’ve seen this cowl turn up quite a bit on blogs and project pages. I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be simpler, and would look best in super bulky yarn (as shown) vs. my tiny-in-comparison regular bulky yarn. I would especially love this drop stitch pattern knit in colorful yarn.

Shawl Collared Cowl:

Photo copyright nevernotknitting. Click for pattern page.

This cowl is just hands-down, super classy. The thing I hate about some short cowls is that they’re never QUITE close enough to the neck! They tend to just hang there like pretty knitted jewelry, too short to wrap twice around for snugness but long enough that they let too much air in around the neck. The shawl collar here fixes that with double thick garter stitch coziness right where you need it! I probably won’t knit this for the pre-teen gift I’m planning right now but I’ve certainly talked myself into making one for me ASAP!

Voluminosa:

Photo copyright Katja Ottosson. Click for pattern page.

This cabled gorgeousness would be right up my stylish giftee’s alley. It’s lush and dramatic and a little bit sassy, plus it looks totally snuggle-able.

I’m not yet sure what I’ll end up knitting, I have been kicking a few ideas around for a design so I might end up going with one of those if I can get my swatches in order. Do you have a favorite quick gift pattern? Any great bulky cowls you’ve seen lately? Share with us in the comments below!

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IS #82: Small Business Saturday Edition

I must keep this post quick because I’m taking a big exam tomorrow (eek) but in the spirit of #SmallBusinessSaturday and the upcoming #CyberMonday, I thought I’d highlight a few small, independent businesses that handcraft perfectly gift-able items. There are so many incredible things to choose from on Etsy, so I’m narrowing this list down to shops that I’ve purchased from personally or the shops of people whom I follow on social media (blogs, Instagram, etc).

Royalty Soaps:

Photo copyright Katie White of Royalty Soaps. Click for shop.

Katie makes the most incredible cold-process soaps. The things she does with color and ‘toppings’ (for lack of a better word) are so creative. I’ve been using a lemon creme scented bar that is just divine. I’ve tried out a fair bit of handmade soaps lately, and the ones from Royalty Soaps have an incredible lather and feel so good on my skin, they don’t dry it out at all. They are my current favorite, hands-down.

Amy Hood Arts:

Photo copyright Amy Hood. Click for shop.

Amy is a Rhode Island knitter and artist that I met at a knit night some time ago. Her shop is a mix of gift-able items, with handmade zippered pouches prominently featured. As a marine biologist, I love the nautical and natural themes that run throughout her work.

Haldecraft

Photo copyright Lorena Haldeman. Click for shop.

These monster mugs are just the cutest! So creative, they’d make a really fun gift. Lorena’s mix of products is impressive. She carries ceramics in her Etsy shop, as well as handspun and hand-dyed yarn and handmade soaps on her other website. Busy lady!

June Pryce Fiber Arts:

Photo copyright Cheryl and Jenn. Click for shop.

Cheryl and Jenn are the lovely (semi-local!) ladies behind June Pryce Fiber Arts. They carry hand-dyed fiber, yarn, gradient kits, stitch markers, project bags, and shawl pins. I really liked the look of the lap mat featured above. Its job is to catch any VM that drops out of your fiber while spinning or to protect your lap from whatever messy crafts you are doing. Nice idea!

Northbound Studio:

Photo copyright Misty Ostrowski. Click for shop

Apparently I’m on a bit of a pottery kick, but I think these mugs and other table accessories made by Misty are so adorable. I’ve been watching her make these on Instagram and I love the kind of ‘cutout’ patterns she decorates them with.

katerynaG:

Photo copyright Kateryna Golovanova. Click for shop.

If you’re looking for a handwoven or handknitted beauty of a garment for someone really special, I’m pretty sure that Kateryna is your gal. I found her shop through some posts on the Socks That Rawk! group because she uses a lot of my favorite sock yarn to weave her gorgeous creations. They’re all as breathtaking as this one!

Mary Buttons:

Photo copyright Mary Clarke Edwards. Click for shop.

Speaking of weaving, Mary occasionally weaves amazing fabric from some of my other favorite dyers (Cephalopod Yarns! Verdant Gryphon!) and fashions it into lovely pouches. The one pictured above is actually fabric printed with a cable knitting design, which is pretty nifty in its own right!

The Knitting Artist:

Photo copyright Lisa Urban. Click for shop.

Lisa is an artist who makes incredible paintings of handknit still-lifes. I especially love the colors and textures in the piece featured above. You can purchase prints of her paintings or handmade greeting cards featuring larger-than-life knitting stitches, perfect for all the fiber enthusiasts on your gift list!

Caffeine Girl:

Photo copyright Deborah Kades. Click for shop.

Deborah makes colorful and creative polymer clay necklaces and bracelets. I love the button necklace shown above, all the colors make me so happy! She recently posted all sorts of nice things about my Sweet Sheep lotion bars on her Caffeine Girl Creates blog, which is what inspired me to write my own post featuring small businesses that I admire! Thanks, Deborah!

Woolen Diversions

Use coupon code THANKS2014 at checkout!

Don’t forget that the free shipping special is still ongoing at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. Enter code ‘THANKS2014’ at checkout to receive free shipping on all orders, everywhere, through Monday Dec. 1st. Happy indie shopping! What’s been inspiring you, lately?

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FOFri #27: The Fiasco Gets His Socks

Oh, my Fiasco. So patient, so loving, so appreciative of knitwear, and so often neglected when other knitted gifts or deadlines are nigh. However, he is neglected no longer! This past Valentine’s Day he finally got one item of knitwear he’s been wanting for sooooooo looooong and another that he didn’t know he desperately needed until he had it.

Ribby & Blue:

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BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight, rare gem colorway. Click for project page.

I started these socks way back in August thinking “Good for me, I’ll have plenty of time to finish these for Christmas”… yeah. Not so much. But, better late than never. Since I was getting some really fabulous pooling with this colorway, I kept the stitch pattern simple with a swirling 3×3 rib that transitioned to a standard 3×3 rib after the heel. Nothing too fancy but I like the results.

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Another glamour shot for good measure.

The poor guy hasn’t had a new pair of socks since I finished my Fiasco pattern sample in April 2012, so it was definitely time. Hopefully this pair will keep him happy for a little while! 😉

The Fiasco’s New Hat:

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Feederbrook Farm Shetland/Alpaca. Click for project page.

My man is rough on his hats. His last hat, made out of baby alpaca, is pilled and fuzzed beyond recognition. He tosses his hats in the car, tramples them on the floor, stuffs them in pockets, whips them off his head, fills them with his gloves and smooshes them into the sleeve of his coat, etc. etc. I made this new hat as thick, warm, and tough as I could so hopefully it’ll wear longer. I used a very farm-y yarn I got at Rhinebeck a couple of years ago, knit a doubled-up brim so it is extra warm, and used a tight gauge. I added a garter stitch accent so that it would match his new gloves and I went for longer than I felt like I should before decreasing so that it would be long enough to fit his gigantic head the way he likes. I’ve knit him what I think is — dare I say it? — the perfect hat. Let’s hope it lasts!

It feels good to have (finally) finished up the last of the gifts I had planned. I checked my Ravelry project page and of the 29 projects I’ve completed over the last 4.5 months (since October), only 4 of them were for me! That makes me an 86% unselfish knitter. I’ve had enough of that craziness, back to knitting for me, me, me for a while now! Check out more FOs at Tamis Amis.

The Cuteness!

I can’t even stand all the adorable-ness that I’m about to post. First, I went totally pom-pom crazy yesterday:

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A veritable pile of pom-pom ornaments.

Turns out pom-poms are kind of addicting to make. I now want to knit myself a big chunky hat with a gigantic pom-pom on top. I probably will.

Next, I finished a tiny baby vest that made the Fiasco actually say “it makes me wish we had a little one to put inside it!”:

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Malabrigo Rios, colorway Bobby Blue

This pattren, Dyvest, is one of the patterns eligble for the Indie Design #Giftalong that is going strong through the end of the month. (There is still time to sign up and join in with a quick knit or two! My superbulky Syrinx Shells cowl or the small size of my Dissipative cowl would be fast projects and are both eligible.) The Dyvest designer, Anjali M, has been super helpful answering my gauge/sizing questions, which I really appreciated. Having never knit a garment like this before I was/am a bit worried about fit but I think it will be ok. My little nephew measures about 19″ around the chest and this vest is 19″ around unstretched, and the fabric is plenty stretchy. A little more ease might have been better so he could wear it longer, but it also was looking really big on the needles already so I didn’t want something that would totally hang off of him right now, either. I modified the pattern slightly so that the ribbing would line up with the cable pattern of the vest, it was offset as written and that is one of my knitting OCD triggers. Overall it’s a nice pattern and I’ve cast on a matching one for his older brother. I can not wait to get pics of the two of them wearing them.

Finally, I started the sweetest little cuffs/wristwarmers:

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Madelinetosh DK, colorway Cathedral

The pattern is Miscreant by Hunter Hammersen. I love the ruffly eyelet so much! After the first few rows the cuffs are just a simple slipped stitch rib pattern so they go quickly. I couldn’t find my size 4 needles so ran out and bought some Karbonz needles, I really like them! I’m usually anti-metal because they are too heavy and cold, I much prefer wood or bamboo, but these needles feel like a nice balance between the two. Lightweight and warm to the touch but with substantial and decently-pointy metal tips.

Ok, that’s enough cuteness from me for now. Must keep knitting xmas gifts!

WIPWed #42: The Rush

It’s that time, folks: 14 more days until Christmas! My gift knitting suffered a bit this year while I took time out to knit my mom’s kick-cancer’s-butt shawl and chemo cap so I fell behind more than I thought I would, considering the head start I got with the Malabrigo Stockpile in October. This means that there are no less than 9 projects I am still hoping to finish before Christmas and 4 I’d like to finish shortly thereafter. (Are you laughing yet???) The 9 consist of: 2 pairs of socks, 1 pair of cuffs, 2 hats, 1 headband, 1 pair of mitts, and 2 toddler-sized vests. The 4 shortly-thereafter projects are a scarf, a pair of mitts, and baby-sized hat and mittens. It sounds rather insane but I’m still at the point where I think it is possible, even though I work full time and have a busy weekend coming up. We’ll see! Onto the WIPs of choice this week…

Novelty:

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Feza Yarns Alp Light. Click for Ravelry project page.

Only for my mother would I knit with novelty yarn composed entirely of browns and oranges! We saw this crazy yarn at a great yarn store when I was on Long Island (Infinite Yarns) which is basically composed of different novelty yarns knotted together so that when you knit it, you get a really funky scarf. I’m knitting a simple *k3, p1* rib to help combat the curling of plain stockinette. My mom fell in love with the sample and all thoughts of the socks I was knitting her for Christmas flew out the window. A scarf will be much faster, but still she’ll probably get this one half-finished as it was such a late-in-the-game decision.

Little Dyvest:

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Malabrigo Rios, colorway Bobby Blue. Click for Ravelry project page.

This sweet little thing will be a vest for my youngest nephew, Logan. I’m planning a matching one for his older brother, too. The pattern is Dyvest by Anjali M and is eligible for the #Giftalong KALs and prizes that are still going on through the end of the month. I really love the cabling on this, simple yet effective.

Simple Seaside Socks:

KnitPicks Felici Sport. Click for Ravelry project page.

This, folks, is one of the oldest WIPs I have! I started these socks three years ago back in 2010. Then I realized that I liked gusset heels and lost the motivation to finish this afterthought heel pair. However, having half-finished pairs of socks lying around is really great come gift-giving time, so these have been resurrected and I’m almost halfway through the second sock. Woohoo!

Icy Adiri:

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Bittersweet Woolery Ingenue, colorway Iceling. Click for Ravelry project page.

And another hat FO! This is for a gift, it came out beautifully soft and drapey even though I didn’t really love the yarn while I was knitting it. I worked an extra repeat to get enough length as my gauge must have been tighter with thinner yarn. I’m a bit upset because I noticed this when I was finishing up the hat:

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Gasp! A mis-crossed cable! Little bastard…

The third cable from the bottom on the right hand side is crossed the wrong way. Oh well. Here’s hoping that the recipient doesn’t care because I have about a dozen other people waiting for knitted gifts so fiddling around to fix that one little blip is just not a feasible option!

That’s all I have this week! Check out more WIPs and perhaps some more frantic gift-knitting at Tamis Amis.

P.S. The Fiasco and I went to go see Straight No Chaser (an awesome a capella group) perform the other day. Here’s the perfect frantic theme song to accompany hurried holiday knitting: The Christmas Can-Can. Enjoy!