Sunday, October 31, 2010

Do Some Good and Win!

Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it seems to fly by, as it has since Rainbow was born 10 1/2 months ago. And sometimes it seems to creep. It seem like much longer than five years ago, for instance, since I published the first post of this blog. Many things have changed since then, both in terms of knitting and life, but I can remember sitting at my old computer in my old apartment and typing that first post like it was yesterday. It brings up lots of warm and fuzzy feelings, because through my knitting and blogging, I've made some great friends and learned a lot about myself and my craft.

So, in honor of my five-year blogiversary and because those warm-and-fuzzies make me feel like giving others the warm-and-fuzzies, I've decided to do a little giveaway. Now there is a catch, because I'd really like to do some good with this giveaway. So here's how it's going to work: This will be a raffle. For every $5 you give to any one of the following charities, you earn one entry into the raffle.

The American Red Cross: You can choose where you want your donation to go, but I'd like to suggest selecting either where the need is greatest or disaster relief.

The March of Dimes: Ever since Rainbow was born, the health of babies and children has been near and dear to my heart. This organization does a lot to support healthy pregnancies, prevent premature birth, and fund research into preventing birth defects.

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest): Food bank usage has increased dramatically with the economic downturn, and this organization works to ensure that food banks across the country are well stocked so that no one needs to go hungry if they fall on hard times.

If you're able to give even $5 to one of these charities, it can do a lot of good; if you can give more, please do. Then, send me an e-mail (paknitwit[at]gmail[dot]com) and let me know how much you've given so I'll know how many entries you'll get. I will do the drawing at random from all the entries, so the more entries you have, the better your chance of winning.

And what might you win? I know, you've been waiting patiently to find out. Because I'm asking a lot of you, I have some pretty special prizes: some skeins of my handspun.

Prize #1: Crown Mountain Farms Wensleydale

This skein of laceweight singles is approximately 770 yards and is plenty for a good-sized shawl.

Prize #2: Crown Mountain Farms Shetland

This skein is two-ply heavy laceweight/light fingering and approximately 595 yards. Also plenty for a good-sized shawl or other lacy item.

Prize #3: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Wool

This Aran-weight skein is approximately 235 yards, perfect for a hat, cowl, or pair of mittens.

The contest begins at 12 a.m. tomorrow (November 1) and will end at 11:59 p.m. on December 14. I will do the drawing for winners on Rainbow's first birthday, December 15!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just Because

I finished up a project last week that had no real purpose or intended recipient. I just felt like doing a little colorwork, and I'd had the pattern in my pattern binder for several years. Sometimes it's nice to do something just because.


Pattern: Winter Twilight Mitts by Laura Rintala
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette (100% Peruvian highland wool) in colorways Navy (approximately 31 grams) and Calypso Heather (approximately 23 grams), or less than one skein each
Needles: US 1.5 (2.5 mm) Knit Picks circs, worked magic loop
Started/Completed: September 7/October 20

These were a fairly fast knit, but they took as long as they did because they were relegated to my lunchtime knitting at work, so only about 45 minutes or so on a good day.

You may recall that I ordered quite a few skeins of this yarn, in many color options, when I was deciding on colors for my Ivy League Vest. As a result, I have a number of skeins that were untouched. This yarn, though fingering weight, isn't really appropriate for socks, but it's perfect for colorwork, so I thought I'd put some of it to use. These mitts will go in the long-term planning box for now, until I find an appropriate recipient and occasion.

I liked this pattern enough when it was a Knitting Daily freebie a couple of years ago to print it out, but to be honest I'm kind of meh about it now. I also have some weird puckering issues in a few places that didn't block out -- not because I didn't leave my strands loose enough, but from where I caught my floats. I think from now on I'll stick to colorwork patterns that don't require me to carry the non-working yarn for so many stitches.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Little Pumpkin for My Little Pumpkin

This post is long overdue, as per usual. I actually tried to post last night but was thwarted by some Blogger update or something that prevented me from posting photos, so tonight it is.

As the weather has gotten colder and Rainbow has gotten bigger, I've been thinking about making her a new hat or two. She has definitely outgrown her tomato hat from last winter, so I thought another food-themed topper was in order. Considering the season (and the fact that I recently picked up a copy of Itty Bitty Hats from the Knit Picks book sale), a pumpkin hat was a natural choice.

Pattern: Little Pumpkin from Itty Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, colorway Pumpkin, approximately half a skein, plus scraps of leftover Cascade 220 in brown and green for the stem and leaf
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) Knit Picks Options, worked magic loop
Started/Completed: October 9/October 11

This was a very quick, relatively mindless knit. I started it in the car as we were on our way out to the farm to buy pumpkins and apples and finished it up two days later, while Rainbow was taking a long nap on our day off. I love how it turned out, but I'm not sure how much wear it will get this winter. Why? See for yourself:

Note to self: make sure the next handknit hat I make has a chin strap or ties to keep it on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And Then There Were Two

Pattern: Hop by Susan B. Anderson for Blue Sky Alpacas
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton (I think), unknown colorway, and Dream in Color Classy in Happy Forest
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm) and US 5 (3.75 mm) dpns
Started/Completed: September 18/October 8

This bunny was so cute I had to make him again. Luckily, I had a good excuse -- a new cousin in the family. She'll be geting the usual handknits (sweater, hat, etc.) eventually, but we'll be meeting her for the first time this coming weekend and I didn't want to come empty handed.

Hop, version two, is very similar to the first go-round. I did make a few minor changes, some intentional, some not. One change of the latter category is this bunny's tail, which is just a bit more voluminous.

A change done on purpose this time was to alter my cast on. The pattern has you cast on as you would for straight knitting, join to knit in the round, and then later use the cast on tail to stitch up the hole. I decided that it made more sense to use Emily Ocker's circular cast on, so all I had to do after knitting a few rounds was snug it up and secure the end. It was a small change, but it did save some time.

I also did lifted increases rather than the knit front and back specified in the directions for the feet. The end result is the same, but I like the smoother look it creates.
The yarn for the second bunny came by way of my aunt -- the same aunt who taught me to knit a couple of decades ago. She knit Rainbow a couple of beautiful sweaters and wrapped up the extra yarn for me when she delivered them. There was no tag with the two skeins of yarn leftover from the one sweater, but to my eye and touch, they're Blue Sky Organic Cotton.

As with the first bunny, the face is embroidered using a bit of leftover brown sock yarn and fully secured so that baby fingers and mouths can't disfigure it. I think these two make quite a handsome pair, don't you?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

My Old Friend Merino

It's been quite a dramatic and exhausting weekend (I'll have to tell you about it later when I'm more rested), but it's Sunday and I have some spinning to show you, so I thought I'd throw up a quick post.

Despite my best efforts to keep up with the shipments of the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club, over the summer I fell behind -- mostly because a couple of the summer shipments were tricky fibers that are still unspun and may stay that way for a while. As a result, I spent most of September spinning up the July shipment, which was a delight: 100% merino top. So soft and easy to spin. The colorway of the month was Inspiration.

Knowing that my spinning time is limited these days, I didn't want to spin anything too thin, nor did I want to mess too much with the gorgeous dye job. So I decided on a thicker two ply for my yarn. It was good practice spinning a bit thicker anyway.

The finished yarn looks to be a DK to light worsted (I'm less consistent when I spin thicker yarns, but I'm working on it) and is approximately 203 yards.

It turned out just as I wanted -- bouncy and soft but with the tight twist I love. I think this will make a nice pair of mittens or a hat for this winter.