Friday, August 27, 2010

Hello Blog!

I've missed my blog.  I'm considering coming back...  I'm playing around with Posterous right now.  If this works, boy do I have some knittastic stuff to share...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Knits Continued

So, while I am still employed at the moment I am employed part time. The benefit of this? Holiday knitting deadlines aren't so scary after all. Hail the return of the gift scarf.

His and hers scarves. Well, They're only his and hers because one is for my dad and the other is for his wife I guess, other than that they're totally different. His is the genius 'why didn't I knit this sooner?' One Row Handspun Scarf by the Yarn Harlot in a lovely yet still manly brown Berroco Ultra Alpaca. Hers is the also genius 'why didn't I knit this sooner?' Feather and Fan Scarf in a classic but still feminine gray Berroco Vintage Wool. I had never knitted or even seen Feather and Fan in person before making this scarf. Now I know why it's so popular. Easy as pie and pretty enough to make something simple and good like Vintage look like a million bucks. I have a feeling I'll be knitting both of these as gifts again in the future.

Something not so classic, actually kind of quirky? That would be these.

Trebuchet Hot Water Bottle Cozies, and their accompanying water bottles. Definitely not the perfect gift for just anyone but trust me, I think the people who are getting these will like them just fine. One is my godmother, who is from England, and often exclaims "Oh how precious!" in her thick English accent at charming things such as nightgowns and teacups and things like this that remind her of her childhood there. The other person may or may not see this so I won't be specific, lets just say she appreciates things handmade and comforting. So I think they will both go over well. Both knit it Patons Basic Merino.

Another big holiday success these days? Ina's white chocolate bark.

She's the Contessa for a reason people. This is good stuff. Easy too. Melt some white chocolate, spread it out in a rectangle on parchment, press in chopped walnuts and dried apricots and dried cranberries. Festive and pretty, my photos don't do it justice but in person the fruits look like jewels on snow. And taste even better....

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

B5T5 Wrap Up and the Start of the Holiday Knits

The Bottom 5 Top 5 are finally done! Last one-

Pattern: Caricia by Anne Hanson at Knitspot
Yarn: Seduction by Blue Moon Fiber Arts
Needles: Size 5 Knitpicks Options

The small triangular shawl is quickly gaining popularity over the fingerless mitt for "Most Favored Knit Accessory in My Closet." I adore this item. What a shame that I passed this yarn over for (gasp) three years??? That's right, I purchased it at Stitches 2006. Ludicrous! And I love this shawl! It is silky and pretty and has the wow factor of no one can believe you actually MADE that yourself when they see it. Was it hard? I wouldn't say hard, lace does requires concentration though. Which is ok. When I'm parked on the sofa while there's football/hockey/another sporting event I'm really not that into on the TV, I don't mind having something to concentrate on. Plus, as I mentioned-LOVE IT. Thank you again Anne Hanson, have I knit all of your patterns yet? Ok no, but I think I've knit enough to officially make me a fan. A fan of Anne. Yup.

And since that sums up my Bottom 5 Top 5 experiment let me just take a minute to say- HUGE SUCCESS! I never thought I could take yarn I so strongly felt 'meh' about and make such cool things that I love so much. I love my B5T5 items! I think in a way because they were such surprises. I never intended to make a bulky weight Katia triangle shawlette. Never. But guess what-worn it like 10 times already. 10. Times. So my new theory-there are no bad yarns. Ahem, let me repeat that -THERE ARE NO BAD YARNS. There are only yarns in search of the perfect pattern. That is all. And with the power of the Ravelry, and a little time, every yarn can find it's way. Every yarn.

Boy for someone who took such a long break from blogging I seem very enthused don't I? Well, yeh, things have been a little rocky of late. My job situation has been somewhat rocky, but I'm still employed so that's a good thing. And I seem to be coming out of some horrible head cold misery this week so that was lousy, and then the holidays are upon us, yadda yadda yadda you know the drill. But the holidays-THE HOLIDAYS! I do have quite a bit of holiday knitting to share in some upcoming posts. But I don't want this to be an epic blog post so I'll just start with a glimpse at the smallest and the cutest ok?

Pattern: Mittens from the Knitters Book of Handy Patterns by Ann Budd
Yarn: Vanna's Choice (what's good enough for Vanna, is good enough for me)
Needles: Bamboo 7 dpns

My little niece in Florida asked for mittens for Christmas. I know what you're thinking, same thing I did-"But you live in Florida!" But I'm told there are some cold(er) mornings here and there, and sometimes my niece thinks her hands are cold, and ok, yeah, my guess is that these will probably be put to more "dress up" type use than "warmth providing" use. But when the cute niece asks, you know the aunt is going to knit them right? This pattern was interesting. Normally I love everything from this book but yeah, for some reason I ended up having to frog the complete top half and thumb of the first one I knit of these. The increase section is written a little unclearly and my first thumb was ridiculously short. It was an easy fix to rip back and just make the gusset shorter and the thumb shorter. And now they're perfect. And adorable. And just in time for Christmas.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rehabilitating a Bad Yarn back into Society

To say I used to have a love/hate relationship with the yarn that is in the 4th position of my Bottom 5- Top 5 strategy is an understatement. I loved the softness, the texture, it was not complete melting soft mush like some yarns, but not itchy scratchy wooliness either. It was a beautiful bulky nubby mix of something in between. And I even loved the colors, the brownish gray-mud part, contrasting so well and playing so nicely with the lighter beige mixed in, and that jewel-y pretty purple part. Well... Most of the colors...

Yikes! It's that acid green stripe of heck that just appears out of nowhere! What is that? I so don't love the acid green stripe. It burns my eyes and makes it sad. I swear it literally hid in the middle of the ball until I got it home and tried knitting the horrible cowl that is shown above. (Actually it's not a horrible cowl, it just wasn't different enough to mix up that green!) That acid green totally tricked me! But-don't despair-Bottom 5 Top 5 can fix a lot of problems. It can make the best of a bad situation. Maybe it could even tame that crazy acid green into something perfectly acceptable, perhaps complimentary at times, that I do now adore and welcome very readily near my face and around my neck.

Yarn: Katia Nepal
Pattern: Simple Yet Effective Shawl by Laura Chau-modified

I changed the pattern slightly so that I increased 4 stitches every right side row as written, but still increased 2 more stitches- one at the beginning and one at the end of every wrong side row. Similar to the increases from Ishbel. The result is a shallower, wider, less pointy triangle, more suited to wrapping and gathering around my neck all cuddly-like. This is not a shawly-drapey situation people. I don't really think bulky yarn ever is really. This is a "scrunch it down in that gap between my chest and my coat and block out all the chill and conserve warmth situation." Yep. That works.

Now there's just one more final yarn to go in Bottom 5 Top 5 except.. (cue record scratching sound)

Oh. It's lace in fingering weight. It's still a one skein project, and it's more of a scarf than a shawl but still... it's just not going along as quickly as the scrunchy bulky Katia shawl I just made that took 3 days. This one might be a little while. I'm much further along than in the photo above now, but still, I'll have to report back later on this one.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Three Projects Down, Two to Go

My Bottom 5-Top 5 stashbusting strategy is proving a success. Not only am I ticking these bottom 5 yarns off the list right and left, I'm finding out that some of them aren't so bad after all. I found such great patterns to match with them, I feel kind of bad I neglected these yarns for so long. First up-a hank of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport. The pattern I picked for this yarn is Grumperina's Periwinkle Beret.

I adore this beret. I find myself walking around with it on, forgetting to take it off, not wanting to take it off. First of all-the yarn is really ok. The colors are right up my alley and it's soft and pretty. But this pattern-oh this pattern. Totally awesome. Love the tubular cast on, it was really, really easy and just makes wearing the hat feel great, like I've never had a homemade hat feel. And lots and lots of stockinette in the round. I love that. So much that if I had to knit just one thing for the rest of my life, it probably would be hats in the round. Which brings me to the next project.

The Pi Topper Chemo Cap by Corey Laflamme is a free pattern on But I think if I had to pay for it I would have. More stockinette in the round-this time inspired by EZ's Pi Are Square pattern. Mine is knit in Louet Gems Sport in a purple color I had originally intended to use as socks for my mom, but she's kind of through her phase of loving this color now, so I was free to make whatever I wanted. And I'm going to donate this one to a charity. It's not a color I love, and it is a little snug, and in this yarn not really warm enough to be a warm winter hat. However-for someone battling cancer who has lost their hair it might fit them great, and they might like it that's it's a little lightweight. I have another random skein of something else that would work with this pattern though, I think I'll knit a partner for this one before I ship them out.

The third project on the list, has not thrilled me as much as those first two I'm afraid. Maybe because it's something I was knitting for the second time, maybe it's just that this yarn definitely was at the bottom of the basket for a reason...

I first made the Cloverleaf Lace Mitts from Knitspot back in April 2007 for my mom out of the same yarn I used here, Misti Alpaca Sport. The yarn is a challenge, supremely soft, but very hairy and sheddy-not something that shows stitch definition at all as you can see. But I've had it FOR-EV-ER and it was haunting me. I worked Ravelry backwards and forwards trying to find a good project for one ball of this yarn. It just never happened. Sport weight just is not popular like fingering and worsted weights are. It can be a challenge. So I decided just to go ahead and make exactly what I had made before. The results are ok-soft, warm, I will wear them when the temperature drops definitely. I made one obvious mistake in that one is actually an entire pattern repeat shorter than the other, however, they're pretty stretchy and I just don't feel like ripping this hairy splitty yarn, so, yep it's staying, I can live with it. Next time though, and oh yes there will be a next time, I'll be making this great pattern with a tighter spun yarn that shows better stitch definition like it deserves.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Playtime and the NY Times

A non-knitting post today but still worth noting nonetheless. My nephew is growing like crazy, and last week I went down to Florida to see him turn 1.

In addition to eating birthday cake with our hands we spent a lot of time laughing, playing, swimming and reading stories. Ok, most of the time he kind of just sits and hugs you and smiles and walks around but his sister-let me tell you!

She is becoming such a little card! What a character! She's a big girl now and well she is just totally smart and logical and bust-a-gut hilarious. All. the. time. Every little thing gets a reaction or a statement or a funny face or pose out of her. More entertaining than tv. Seriously. The time just flew, but I'm so glad I could be there with them again. I never get to spend enough time with them especially now since they are just growing up so, so fast.

While I was gone I kind of fell behind on my internet surfing, including reading blogs. Which was a mistake because for a few days I missed out on a blog post that mentioned me. A Big One.

If you look here there's a post called Lessons from Gardeners. Yep, that's my photo. And my name as the first 2 words of the post. My husband is running around telling people I made the New York Times, and I'm right behind him saying "The New York Times Website hon! It's the website, not the paper!" But still... Michael Tortorello has been writing this blog since the spring on what it's like to have a first garden, the victories, the successes. It's really good and all too familiar to me. Reminds me of all the stuff I went through last year-the joy of an abundance of basil, the defeat of the squash vine borers attacking all of the squash. Anyway, a few weeks ago he asked people for stories about their gardens. I emailed, sent the picture, and heck-whaddaya know I guess he liked it, even my cheezy joke about the wide margin of error! Ha! Anyway, so it's not the paper, but it is the website and I do keep going back and looking at it and it's cute how my mom printed it out to show all her friends. Oh and another thing-just so you know, if you go to the link, and then click for the Home Page at the top, and then scroll down and click for the Dining & Wine Section, and then click "Bitten" for Mark Bittman's blog. Well yes, I am a mere 3 clicks away from the ever amazing and fabulous Mr. Bittman. 3 clicks. Swoon/sigh... Now that-that has you jealous now doesn't it?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bottom 5? Top 5!

Wow, 2 weekends in a row with finished objects! A girl could get used to this!

Pattern: Pembroke by Kirsten Kapur from Petite Purls
Yarn: Encore worsted
Result: Nauseatingly cute.

Not to mention this was fun. Fast, interesting, came out looking very much like the one in the pattern photo-always a plus. I love it. I'm going to visit my nephew next week and I'll be there for his 1st birthday so this is one of his gifts. Anyone considering making this pattern I say make it-I think it would be a great choice for beginners who want to practice cabling or basic construction. Also-I would love to see one made in pink or purple for some brainy little girl toddler too, I just think that would be awesome.

But what to knit next? Well, I've developed a new strategy to deal with this very question. I'm calling it-Bottom 5, Top 5! From the bottom of the stash to the top of the queue!

I was a little at odds what to knit next. I know I should probably be starting Christmas gifts, but I do already have a couple done, and I still have a lot of time right? I figured that I really want to do is to knit the yarn that I’m always passing over. The yarn at the bottom of the stash. So I decided to single out my bottom 5. They are clockwise from the left-2 balls (one in the form of a cowl that needs to be frogged) of Katia Nepal, an odd ball of Misti Alpaca Sport, Lorna's Laces Shepherd's Sport Multi, one hank of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Seduction and a mystery amount (1 skein? 2?) of purple Louet Gems Opal which is now discontinued. Now there’s nothing specifically wrong with any of these yarns. Except maybe the fact that 3 of them are sport-weight (not a lot out there for sport weight in terms of patterns it seems). I think maybe they’re only fault is that they were purchased with no set pattern in mind and as a result, they’ve never been matched up with the patterns that are their destiny. So I decided that what I needed to do was to find these yarns some patterns. I’ve finally singled them out, poured over and over Ravelry and have found them 5 acceptable patterns to work with. And voila-these yarns and their patterns have moved from the bottom of the stash to the top of the Ravelry queue. Bottom 5-Top 5! More on the patterns that I've picked later but I will mention that I'm hoping to tie this in with some entries in the Single Skein September Knitalong over at the Stash and Burn Podcast. Just for the heck of it. I am starting a little late, but I also have some good travel knitting time coming up so it's possible to at least have a couple of entried finished by the end of the month. Also I have a feeling that while I do really love these yarns, I just don't feel like I see some of them (especially that crazytown Katia Nepal and that 'meh' purple Louet) fitting into anything I'd ever wear or any upcoming gift opportunities I have in the near future. It's likely some of the finished items will end up going to charity too. And I haven't knit for charity in awhile, and I do love knitting for charity so I'm happy to get to do that again.