Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Traveling Knits

A couple weeks ago I found out work is sending me to Copenhagen for a business meeting. No lie, first thing I did (okay after a little happy jiggy) was look on Ravelry for nearby yarn shops!

Yay for Social Media! 
I'm super excited that I'm going to meet all these people face to face after speaking with them via webmeeting these past few months. Of course I'm getting my work stuff aligned for the trip. But you know, as a knitter I also have to get my traveling projects ready! And I'm sure you really don't want to hear me drone on and on about clinical terminologies and health care policies. :)

So here's a list of potential projects I might take (including the yarn!). Of course I'm not taking all of these (I do need room for suits!). So we'll see which one(s) actually makes it into the travel bag.

Photo Credit: © Biscottecie.com, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/biscottes-sheeps---les-moutons-de-biscotte
Remember that Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock yarn that I had? I might try it out on this sheepy sock. We'll see. I'm not sure if 1 - I like this yarn for this project and 2 - if I can do colorwork while traveling.


Photo Credit:  AnneM, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/revontuli--huivi-northern-lights 
This one has real potential to actually make it into the travel bag. Yep, another shawl! This would be with my Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi that I've had in the stash for years.


Pretty Basic by KallioKnits
Picture credits: © JaninaW, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pretty-basic 
And yes... ANOTHER shawl. I've been on such a shawl kick lately. Which is funny because I really don't even know how to wear a shawl. But this pattern looks both cute and easy enough (i.e. doesn't require much thought). This would be knit with Pagewood Farm Denali Hand Dyed Sock Yarnyarn that I purchased the previous year while out in Seattle.

As I said, we'll see which of these (or other) projects make it into my travel bags. What types of projects do you like to work on while traveling? Any knitting travel tips?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival - Here I Come

This is a preview post about an upcoming event that I'm really excited for -- The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, May 3rd and 4th!!



I went two years ago when we first moved here but it was a little over-whelming because I really didn't know what to expect. I missed it last year because of traveling. So this yeah, I have better grasp as to what to expect and to just have fun! Unfortunately I've already missed out on registering for workshops because apparently these fill up almost as soon as they are announced (duly noted for next year!).

To prep for this event (and for my own knowledge edification) I thought I'd start to learn more about fibers.

One thing that I've done was attend the Woolwinder's Yarn Properties Class, taught by the wonderful Jennifer Raymond (Tinking Turtle Designs). Okay so I was working while the class was going on but wow was this a jam-packed class! 3-hours of intense (but fun) learning of fibers that can be used to create fabrics. Jennifer is a really good instructor, she's funny and man she knows her fibers! This class was unique because she had sample cards for us to touch and feel different fibers and she was able to really explain how a particular fiber would be a good choice for a particular garment (or project) versus another. Very interesting! If you can, check out her next class at Woolwinders (or ask if there will be another one!).

I'm also working through the Craftsy class (a free demo class!) called Know Your Wool by Deborah Bobson. Deborah has a pleasant voice and she has a very organized way in presenting the information.  But it has taken me a while to get through this class. On the upshot, it is a free class! It's my first time viewing a Craftsy class and I think the format is done well. I like that you can correspond with other class attendees and even Deborah herself! What I don't care for is that it is not mobile friendly - so I have to lug my laptop out onto the couch rather than just viewing from my tablet or phone (first-world problems --- huh?). Of course not the same as a live in-person class. But still interesting and a good way to learn about wool if you can't get to Jennifer's class!  

Finally, for the past couple of months I've been reading bits of Clara Parkes's The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using and Enjoying Yarn. This really is the ultimate book to help you learn about yarn! I really learned a lot from this book and I think it helped me understand (and solidify some unknown parts) the the things that were presented in Jennifer's and the Craftsy courses. If you are interested in any way about understanding the ways of mysterious yarns, read this book. It has been helpful in so many ways. Maybe it's because I now work at a yarn shop so I can talk a little more intelligently when someone asks me about a yarn. I typically speed read through books, this is one that I've found so interesting and have been slowing reading and savoring every moment with it. There have been many "Ah-HA" moments where I suddenly realize why a yarn was TERRIBLE for a particular project. Again, an excellent book.

Well as you can see, I'm much more prepared to attend the festival this year! Stay tuned for pictures and updates about my time at the festival! Oh and if you have any recommendations for additional learning resources on fibers and yarn properties, please feel free to share!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Simple Sweater for Boe

I finally finished this sweater - and just in time for my upcoming class!



Started: February 16, 2014
Finished: March 25, 2014
Yarn: Cascade 220, superwash in 801 green
Needles: size 6 (4.0mm) and 5 (3.75mm) circs

This project sat unfinished for a while in my project pile. I think I had so many other knits that this one kept falling to the bottom of my To Do List. The sad part is that I just needed to pick up the stitches and finish the ribbing neck, legs and back. But I finally finished and good thing too... my dog sweater class is next week! Now I can use this to model the medium size sweater!



Similar to the sweater I knit for Rosie this one was knit with what I'm starting to call Suzy's Simple Dog Sweater. It's a combination of 5 or so dog sweater patterns into one super-duper easy sweater that fits like a glove. Of course I had to do some math to get it right for Boe's awkward body (we joke that he is Bichon Fris mixed with Bulldog).  

Overall a fun and easy knit. The yarn is simple enough - this Cascade 220 superwash is a workhorse. I do like that I went down a needle size on this one (I didn't for Rosie's). I think it sits a little nicer on his rump area (I tried to get a photo of the length and so you could see the nice shaping in the back):

I do apologize for the blurry pictures - it is VERY difficult to take photos of him. He is ALWAYS moving!
Except here...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sheldon Turtle

This little guy has been done for a while but I had to wait until after the baby shower. Now that he has been gifted, please meet Mr. Sheldon Turtle!
Pattern: Sheldon by Ruth Homrighaus
Yarn: Ella Rae Silkience, a DK 49% Cotton, 39% Plant fiber, 12% Silk, 
8% Rayon blend in Tealand maybe NaturallyCaron.com Spa a DK 75% Acrylic, 
25% Bamboo blend in Green Sheen
Needle: Size 7 (4.5 mm)
Started: February 22, 2014
Completed: March 17, 2014

This little guy was a gift for a friend and co-worker (and her husband) who are expecting their first. I was tempted to try a baby sweater, blanket or cocoon (actually those rather frighten me). But I couldn't bring myself to knitting one of those conventional items. So instead I found the cute Sheldon pattern from Knitty.  

I initially started the body with a fingering weight yarn as the pattern calls for. However I thought the turtle was going to be a little too small. So I did a stash dive and found two DK green colored yarns - a teal yarn (a blend of every kind of yarn possible) and a yellow-green acrylic/bamboo yarn.  

 This was actually a really fun and easy knit and I finished the knitting (body and shell) in less than a week. And that was with blocking the shell prior to seaming and stuffing! I had the most fun with the colorwork on the shell: 


Here's a picture of the unstuffed shell (and his unattached legs!):
A dorsal view of the stuffed shell: 
And a ventral view of his stuffed body and shell: 
Can you tell I had fun with this project? 

The reason why the project details indicate Feb 22nd until March 17th was due to my inability to sew on the dang eyes! I was so afraid of buttons and safety eyes. I'm not too familiar with babies so I had no idea they might chew on the stuffed animal and could accidentally ingest the eyes. Yikes - it sounds like my pup! So instead I opted to take some leftover black yarn and sew in some eyes. Not too bad. Not the best knit, but this was my first real stuffed animal so I'm not going to judge too much. 

I hope my friend, and the baby, like the little guy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Basic Dog Sweater and a Class

You know how much I love to knit dog sweaters. I've knit and blogged about many in the past year. Well I'm happy to say I've knit my best one yet! I say this because I was really able to hone my skills with the gauge swatch, modifying to really fit, and seaming. Using just a simple dog sweater pattern I have really started to practice what I preach... paying attention to your knitting!


Modified from 5 or 6 different patterns
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in colorway 879, raspberry
Needles: Size 6 (4.0 mm)
Started: February 1, 2014
Completed: February 15, 2014

Isn't she such a scruffy yorkie?! As I mentioned I really liked this project because this was the first that that I felt like I did a decent job with the details (like picking up stitches to add the border) and finishing.  



Trying to get a good shot of the front details was a little difficult. But trust me, compared to my previous projects where I had to seam, this one is really one of my best. Practice makes perfect! 

Back to the sweater pattern.  I ended up taking 5 or 6 patterns that I've used in the past and new skills that I've learned to make my own. And even with making it a basic sweater I still had to adapt the basic pattern to fit Rosie. And in another week or so I will be finishing my Boe basic sweater, which you will see, also had to be heavily adapted to his body. I have found that no matter how good the dog sweater pattern is, it will always need to be adapted. Dog sizes vary so much as do their body shapes (think small pups like the dachshund vs yorkie vs chihuahua). This is what I think scares people so much.

Having said that, in a couple of weeks, I hope to help others get over that fear of adapting patterns to fit. I'll be teaching a dog sweater class at Woolwinders Yarn Shop in April! The website has all the details as well as registration information. Basically I hope to give people confidence to be able to measure their pup, look at a dog sweater pattern and be able to adapt that pattern to fit their little (or big!) pooch. It should be a fun class. It's my first time teaching my own pattern it so I'm hoping that things will work out! But I'm excited and hopefully we get a good turn out! 



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Metro Yarn Crawl



I'm excited for the DC Metro yarn crawl! I have yet to par-take in the festivities because the past two years I happened to be away for most of the time the crawl was taking place. This year it will be April 5 - 13th. Look at all the wonderful shops in the area:


This year I plan on joining others to scope out local yarn shops (something I've been meaning to do since I moved here 2.5 years ago). AND I plan on working some of the event at Woolwinders! It should be fun (or crazy). I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Double Trouble

One project was not included in last week's project update post. Not because it's nearly complete (no where near that!) but because it has a story that should be shared.

If you recall I recently knit my husband the Dr. Who (Tom Baker) scarf. Well as cute as he is I figured having a respectable scarf would probably be good. Especially during those times when he needs to dress a little nicer... having a 60's inspired 12+foot scarf probably won't cut it.

So I decided to knit him a scarf that would look nice but also still have a hint of geeky, just like him.

Enter the One Ring Scarf, by Diana Stafford. This is a scarf inspired by the Lord of the Rings, with the ring inscription knitted into the scarf. But to be a little more complex... this is a double-knit scarf so the inscription is knit and can be read (correctly) on both sides of the scarf!

Image from: http://transmissionsmedia.com/lord-of-the-rings-symbolism-moria-door-and-freemasonry/

Kinda cool, huh?

Well, I've been working on this for a while. It's my first double-knitting project, and thus far I like how it's coming out.

After the mishap. Well number of mishaps.

First I had to teach myself how to double knit. THANK GOODNESS for YouTube! Lissaplus3 has some excellent (and short) tutorials on various knitting techniques. Apparently if you want a really nice looking CO in double knitting you need to do things a little different than normal. For that I watched her Double Knitting CO video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQOZ8GWM9sE.  And for the actual double knitting I watched another of her videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEXLwmTB5Ts.



As a side note - I think my combination knitting method actually makes double knitting a breeze! Rather than flicking my finger down and around the needle for the purl side, I just keep holding my yarn up (as I do with knit stitches) and just pick at the yarn with the working needle. If I remember sometime I'll snap a video.

So CO and starting the scarf was a breeze.




However, initially I thought fingering weight yarn would make a skinny scarf. So I decided to double up the yarn. Bad mistake! I got about 7 inches into the pattern and had a realization... this was going to be a LONG scarf! After some calculations I realized this was going to wind up being about 9 feet long. I was trying to stay AWAY from ridiculous knits!

I frogged back and started again with holding the yarn normal (I'm so glad I got that swift and ball winder for Christmas!). I started again with everything going great. The hubby's b-day was January 13th so I kept the scarf on the needles (I was only about 1/4 of the way through) and presented it to him. First thing he says to me... "Um.... babe...."

Oh crap.

Apparently I had one side correct... but the other side was getting knit mirrored. Yep, my husband can apparently read elfish (that's what language the inscription is written in) AND could tell it was backwards.

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Ring

So what is a girl to do?

Rip back of course!



Yeah this one will be on my needles for a long time. It will probably be my random spring/summer/fall knit when I get bored of other knits.

He'll get it next winter.