Monday, November 10, 2014

Fun Stripes

A couple of months ago the yarn shop I work at started carrying self-striping yarn. The morning Amy, the owner, pulled the yarn out of the shipment boxes was unreal. The customers (and, ahem, some of the staff) were RUNNING to the boxes and grabbing the hanks before we could put price labels on them! It was the first time in recent history that we've carried striping yarn and let's just say everyone was a little excited.

I purchased a couple of skeins myself (no surprise). And really I could justify these purchases because recently I noticed my hand-knit socks supply has been dwindling. A couple of pair have holes or are about to have holes - and I'm not really into darning my socks. I take the Yarn Harlot's approach to darning socks (see passage from The Secret Life of a Knitter). So it's time to go on a sock knitting binge (yay!!). I cast-on and have been using the short bouts of commuting time (on the bus and/or metro) to knit on the sock. And here is the first completed sock:

Pattern: How I Make My Socks by Susan B. Andersen
Started: September 7, 2014
Finished: October 16, 2014

Because it's been so long since I've knit socks from the cuff down I forgot how much I hate the regular long-tail cast on for socks. If I knit anymore cuff-down I'll need to remember to use a more stretchy cast-on method. And for some reason my first sock was super loose, I think I had an issue with my tension. Very odd. The second sock fits well. These were initially for my mom but the second sock won't fit her so these are now for me. (oops!).

As for the sock yarn... it is nice. At 80% merino + 20% nylon blend, it's my favorite type of sock yarn. The fact that it stripes is just super fun. Sure I could have done something more interesting for a pattern but I have a couple students wanting to try socks for the first time and because it's been so long since I've knit plain-vanilla socks I figured I should have a go and practice. Besides, the simple sock really does make great metro knitting - easy to stop and pick up at anytime.

Watch for more socks in the next couple of months!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Doggie Safety Coat

NOTE: I should be back from my trip by now but I'm not sure about jet lag. So this is another post from October that I've prepped for delivery!

My husband and I love hiking, especially with our crazy little pups! Many people think it's a joke that we take out little yorkie out hiking trails but let me tell you - this little porky yorkie can HIKE! In fact, we have to carry the larger bischon, Boe, more frequently than we have to carry Rosie.

One thing that I've found is that Rosie blends in with the trail, especially during autumn. 
Okay Rosie is wearing a jacket here but you can get the idea that she blends in really well with the trail. 

Her natural cameo can be an issue when we let her off leash (just us trying to keep and eye on her) and when other people or dogs don't see the little peanut. To make her seen by all I decided to knit a bright colored coat. I took my basic dog coat recipe that I've blogged about previously (here and here and here) and used some neon yarn and made her a safety coat! 

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Brites in Neon Yellow
Started: September 14, 2014
Finished: September 15, 2014

Sure I used acrylic yarn - but hey it's cheap and I don't care if it gets filthy and destroyed while out hiking. It does the job! And you can see that Boe Bear doesn't blend as well with the soundings. We'll see come winter in the snow :) 

And finally - a couple of photos from our last outing:

Here we are on a quick photo op next to a cool looking tree roots:
Rosie stands out a bit :)
Family Selfie!
And finally - a reminder of why my husband is awesome. I fell in love all over again when the hubs looked this tree and said "Go ahead take a picture - I know you are looking at it and thinking about knitting a 'twisting' pattern." Clearly I have him trained! He's not using the proper term (cabled dude, not twisting!). But seriously, that is why I love this man, he totally knows me because it's true, when I saw this tree and instantly wanted to cast-on a cabled sweater! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Travelling Shawl Post

As a treat I have a post ready to launch while I'm on my work trip -- An update on the Travelling Woman Shawl I completed with my class!

A while back I blogged about my shawl class at WoolWinders. I decided to knit along with my class and this was the result:

Pattern: Travelling Woman by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Rowan Fine Art in colorway Elm 

Although a little pricey - this yarn is fabulous! It's a blend of 45% Wool, 25% Nylon, 20% Mohair and 10% Silk. And it knits easily and blocks wonderfully. Really a great yarn for lacy shawls.

Because I've completed this pattern so many times (and this will be my last time ever) I decided to go all out and make this one bigger than my previous attempts. I ended up completing Chart A 4.5 times... why only 4.5 and not the complete 5? Oh because I ran out of yarn and had to rip back. Good thing this was a class I was teaching about lifelines (teaching makes me have better habits than I would do for my "normal" knits)! Luckily I was able to easily rip back to a spot that made it easy to pick up stitches and continue with the pattern.

It's pretty - I'm happy. On to the next knit....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Travel Projects

It's time again... I'm prepping for a work trip! This time I'm heading to Amsterdam for a week-long business meeting and conference. Last time I traveled I reminded everyone about using Ravelry to find LYS's (or to remind myself of that niffty function!).

And sure enough - I will have a couple of yarn shops around me in Amsterdam!

There are so many to choose from! I am pretty booked up with meetings so I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to visit one this time. It'll depend on time availability and location but I do hope I get to visit one in particular. This past week I came across this tweet:

That would be THE Stephen West (oooh I'm SUCH a fangirl!), partnering with Penelope Craft which is now Penelope + Stephen, Yarn and Craft Boutique! Fingers crossed I can visit any of the wonderful shops, and double crossed it's this one!

Aside from locating shops to visit while on a trip. What about patterns? Last trip to Copenhagen I found a knitwear designer based out of Denmark, purchased a pattern and bought yarn at one of the Copenhagen shops specifically for that pattern. It's my Copenhagen knit! (Have I CO the project yet... no, but that's a separate issue!).

So what I wanted to focus on this time was reminding everyone (but mostly myself) of some of the advanced features available for Ravelry pattern searching. As a librarian I LOVE using these filters to hone in on specific aspects of patterns. And when I'm going to travel to another country I like to find patterns from designers from that country. So for example:

Step 1: Go to the Patterns Tab and Click on the Advanced Search

Step 2: Start Applying Filters! Here I've picked Knitting and Has Photo

Step 3: Scroll all the way to the bottom. In the 'More Search Options' widget find the Designer Country option.... 

Step 4: Find the Country (or more) that you want. You can use the Or, And, Not for Boolean searching. Here I want to hone in on Dutch knitwear designers. 

And Wa-La! I have 38 pages of projects to drool over! Of course if I wanted to apply more filters I could (for example if I wanted to find a shawl pattern, or a project that calls for a certain yarn weight). But that give a basic idea of how I find patterns for designers from countries I visit. It gives a little extra something special when I go to knit the project. And it gives me something specific to shop for at these yarn shops (although... I can't say that is ALL I purchase - I think I purchase the yarn for the project ON TOP OF "souvenir yarn"!!). 

What project will I pick? Not sure yet. What projects am I bringing on the trip? Not sure yet. I'm a little busy with getting ready for the work aspect of the trip. But I still have some time to figure that stuff out...  I don't leave until Friday. So until then... happy travels and happy knitting! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DrChopSuey Knits er Crochets

I've been meaning to learn how to crochet for a while now. Thing is... it always slips to the end of the 'To Learn List' - too many other things creep up and take it's place. And I've been lucky enough that all of the people I've had to help at the yarn shop (thus far) have needed assistance with knitting projects. But a couple of weeks ago I had a co-worker ask if I could help out a customer with a lesson on crocheting... and I sort of freaked. I would LOVE to help someone. I love helping and teaching people (after all, it's what I do in library/clinical terminology-land (you know, my "main" job) and at the yarn shop). So I felt a little useless not being able to help someone when they wanted to learn.

An hour or so later I opened up Facebook and guess what smacked me in the face - A big huge advertisement to learn how to crochet.

Grrr you Google, Facebook and other personal data analyzing applications! (Although honestly, from a data perspective I would LOVE to learn how to code and then analyze those data-crunching algorithms!).

So Mr. Google and Mr. Facebook have spoken.

I learned how to crochet:

Okay. It's ugly.

But the fact that I learned how to do it is a little amazing. One afternoon I got dropped off at the shop early and decided to pull up YouTube, a crochet hook and some yarn. And with a little guidance from a co-worker (thank you Susan!) I was off!

Kind of.

It took a couple tries. And with the careful directions from Naztazia on Youtube,  I was able to crochet this simple ball. I even learned how to crochet the magic ring! Naztazia's Youtube page has a nice video on how to crochet the magic ring as well.

So now I'm off to new adventures with a new fiber art technique in my tool belt! I'm going to attempt another crochet project soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Classic Cabled Aran Sweater

Rosie is one spoiled pup! Soon I think she'll have a better wardrobe than me! Here is a new dog sweater, based on my Basic Dog Sweater pattern and spruced up with a classic cabled aran design:

Yarn: Cascade 220 superwash (100% wool)
Started: Feb 21, 2014
Finished: July 13, 2014

Clearly she's not too happy modeling the sweater. Could be that it was 90+ degrees (F) when I took the photos. Come December and January she will love the sweater!

I love the fact that it actually fits her! The basic dog sweater "pattern" is really excellent and now I'm realizing all the potential designs I could make from this basic design.

So it might not be in an classic aran weight wool (as it's in plain and simple Cascade 220 superwash wool) and it might not have any sort of significant meaning to the pattern... but it's a classic Ireland Aran Island sweater in this half-asian's eyes! :)

The top has a typical cris-cross diamond motif with alternating moss/seed stitch and reverse stockinette stitch interiors. This is bordered by a simple cable (with twists to the outside on both sides).

And the under panel has a what I call a lobster (lobstah) claw or a faux-cable.

A fun knit really. I will be teaching a class on how to create this cute sweater later in the fall. More details soon!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ekks - I'm going to try to STEEK!

This coming Sunday (9/21/2014) I'm going to take a class on steeking! I'm excited and frightened to cut into some knitting. If you are near the DMV-area register now at WoolWinders yarn shop to learn and master this technique from Terry!

I'll let you know how it goes! Stay tuned....