Monday, December 30, 2013

Giftalong Interview with Cynthia Levy

We're on day 4 of our vacation and I've almost lost all sense of what day it is, but I remember enough to remember that it's almost the end of the Indie Designer Giftalong on Ravelry (it ends tomorrow at midnight!). Recently I was able to interview fellow designer Cynthia Levy (who goes by redtiger on Ravelry) about her designs and design process, and I'm happy to share that interview with you here.

How did you get started with designing?

I started designing socks just a challenge to myself. I was getting bored knitting plain socks, but love having them to wear, so I decided to add texture and interest to them. Then I became addicted and kept on designing more!

Ribbed Rope Socks

I've noticed that the vast majority of your designs are socks. What is it about socks that you find so compelling?

Socks are one of my favorite projects, both to knit and design, because the projects are so portable and the product is practical. I travel a lot with my day job so it’s nice to always have a small project on hand.

Tundra Trails Socks

Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio? If so, what is it and why?

One of my favorite designs from my portfolio is Snow Flurry Mittens. They’re cozy and cute and the design incorporates few clever techniques such as knitting inside out and varying needle sizes to balance out varying gauges from different stitches.

Snow Flurry Mittens

What can we expect from you in the new year?

I’ve got lots of ideas for new designs in 2014. I’ll be contributing sock designs for several Ravelry groups and I’m also hoping to release more fingerless mitt and hat patterns.

 Thanks so much, Cynthia! I really enjoyed looking through all your designs and getting to know you a little better, and I can't wait to see what you come out with in 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Time Suck

What day is it again? I've been on vacation officially since 5 p.m. last Friday, but that doesn't mean I've had much time to relax. We just got back about two hours ago from a quick trip to visit some friends in D.C. for Christmas, and I'm in the process of doing several loads of laundry and repacking so we can leave for Florida in the morning. Once we get there, I'll finally be able to relax a bit and enjoy my time off, but man, traveling is such a hassle!

The good thing about the trip to D.C. was that I got about eight hours of car knitting time, plus time sitting around on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, plus about an hour or so each night after Rainbow went to bed. That meant that, at least in terms of my knitting, I was pretty productive.

Before we got halfway there on Tuesday, I had finished Rainbow's Antler Cardigan.

Obviously it still needs to have its buttons sewn on (they were selected before we left) and it needs a good blocking, but the time-consuming part of the project is done. If I can manage to get all my stuff together, those last two items may get done tonight.

After we arrived at our destination, I started a pair of mittens for Rainbow, whose hands haven't been very warm in the synthetic ones she's been using. The pair was quickly finished by the next day.

The yarn is plain old Cascade 220, in a bright pink (they're not as red as they appear here). The patten is called (so aptly) Classic Mittens, and I believe it's a vintage pattern. Even if it's not, it's free online and very easy, as you can see. I made the 2-4 size, but I have plenty of yarn left in the skein, so I will probably make another pair in a size larger to have on hand. These should be very cozy and warm, as they were worked on a size 4 needle (they stand up on their own!).

Finally, I'm just a toe away from having a finished pair of socks for me.

These are definitely getting done tonight -- no way I'm dragging these all the way to Florida only to finish them in the first few minutes there!

I am mostly packed, though deciding what yarn (and how much) to take was challenging. In the end, I decided on yarn for two smallish design projects and two skeins of STR for some replacement Monkey socks for me. If that's not enough, I suppose I'll have to find a yarn store somewhere (or I guess I could just read the two books I'm taking).

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Last Skein, a Day Late

This post should have gotten up yesterday, but I didn't get around to washing this skein until last night after Rainbow was in bed, so I had to wait until today for it to be dry and photographed. This will be my last handspun skein for the year, as I'm not planning on taking any spinning with me to Florida at this point.

I started with the most recent Bee Mice Elf fiber club shipment, 4 oz. of superwash merino in a very vibrant colorway called Scenic Drive.

I split the top for fractal spinning -- I split it in half lengthwise and then one of the halves in half lengthwise -- and spun two bobbins of singles on my miniSpinner (I thought a faster option was better considering I wanted to get everything done before we went away). I plied over the course of a couple evenings and finished up yesterday morning. It fluffed up ever so slightly in the finishing and the colors stayed just as vibrant.

The finished yarn looks to be about sport weight (which seems to be my new default weight for two ply) and roughly 345 yards.

I really love this skein -- and so does Rainbow. She's already asked me several times if it's for her, so I suppose I need to find something to do with it that will be appropriate for her.

We are leaving tomorrow for a quick trip to visit some friends for Christmas and then head to Florida for about a week and a half on Friday. I'm still trying to figure out what knitting to pack -- that's always the hardest part of packing for me!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Epidemic

After the most recent STR hole discovery, I decided to take a closer look at the other STR socks in my sock drawers. Unfortunately, what I found was not unexpected: It seems that the vast majority of them (a couple of pairs are in the pile waiting to be washed, so I didn't inspect them) are developing definite thin spots in the same place, right where the ball of my foot hits. Given that most of my STR pairs were knit in about the same time frame, it's logical that they'd all be showing similar signs of wear, particularly as those socks have tended to be my favorites and have seen more wear than other pairs in my collection.

Judging from these observations, I've made a number of conclusions about these socks:
  1. Socks That Rock is 100% superwash merino. Although it's tightly spun/plied, it's likely not going to be quite as durable as a wool/nylon blend or even a 100% wool yarn from a breed that's a little more hardy than merino.
  2. These socks probably could have been knit at a slightly tighter gauge. I think I probably did most of them on what used to be my favorite sock needles -- two 12" Addi Turbo circs in a US 1.5 (2.5 mm). I think my gauge has loosened a bit in the intervening years, so I'd probably need to knit replacements on a US 1 or 0.
  3. It might not be a bad idea to add a little reinforcement to the soles of some of my socks.
I do have quite a few skeins of STR in my stash from club shipments from years ago that I never knit, so I may wind up a few to have on hand and keep a pair going at all times to slowly replenish the collection.

Appropriately, though it's not in STR, I did just finish a new sock and cast on for its mate.

This was a design idea that I was playing with and started working on the weekend after Thanksgiving. I ignored it for a while, so it didn't really take me two and a half weeks to knit one sock (although that's not an outrageous amount of time given that it's been my lunchtime knitting for the past week or so, so it's only seen about a half hour to 45 minutes of attention on any given day). The yarn is Lucina  in Plume from SpaceCadet Creations that I picked up at Indie Knit and Spin last month, and the color is nowhere near accurate -- it's actually a slightly blue shade of purple.

Meanwhile, I did get out to knit night last night (thanks to my parents, who were able to come over and babysit Rainbow so I could have a night out), and I spent the two hours working on the body to Rainbow's Antler cardigan. It needs about one more inch to get to the length specified in the pattern, but I think I'm going to add an additional inch or two to allow her to get some more wear out of the sweater. My hope is to get that done and make a start on the yoke this weekend, and if it's not done by the time we leave for our Christmas trip, it'll come with me in the car.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Pink Thing

I've continued to work on Rainbow's sweater, which I've come to think of as "the pink thing" because it's so not my colors (I'm not a big fan of pastels in general). I finished the second sleeve and cast on for the body on Friday night and then got a few inches of body done at my LYS on Saturday afternoon.

This weekend was Rainbow's fourth birthday (how time flies!), and in keeping with some sort of weird tradition, she woke up completely congested on Saturday morning and had a bit of a fever by midday. I'm thinking it was some sort of 24-hour bug, because she was fine by Sunday afternoon -- which is when she seems to have passed it along to me, because after her party on Sunday I collapsed in a heap feeling like I had the flu. At least this year was better than when she turned one and both she and the Mister had the stomach flu.

This is a long way of saying that I didn't get much done on the sweater after Saturday, but I am about halfway done on the body. I'll be taking it to my last knit night of the year tomorrow evening and hope to add at least a couple more inches. With any luck, I'll get to the yoke -- the fun part -- by the weekend. I think finishing it in time for her to wear it to Christmas might be a little optimistic, but I might find some buttons just in case. Worst case, I can work on it in the car and while we're visiting our friends for the holiday (in which case she'll have it in time for us to go to Florida, ha).

Meanwhile, I made another alarming discovery on Sunday when I opened my sock drawer to pick out socks for the next day: Yet another pair of STR socks had developed a hole. These socks were knit just before we moved into our house, so they're about five and a half years old. They were among my favorites, so they have been worn a lot, but it was still somewhat of a shock.

I may try to find some yarn that matches well enough to darn this hole, though I'm guessing that may only be a temporary stopgap as far as these socks are concerned. I suppose this is a sign that I should really knit up the several skeins of STR that have been marinating in my stash for the past several years!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

From Deep in the Stash

About five and a half years ago, not long after I started spinning, I discovered All Spun Up on Etsy, and she soon became my fiber pusher. My first order from her contained two braids of fiber. One got spun up rather quickly (shortly after we moved into our house, actually). The other one sat in my stash to marinate for a long time. After Kristin stepped away from her dyeing business and it was thought that there would be no more fiber from her, I hoarded what I had left. But, after she came back in the last month, I decided it was high time I spin that braid, especially given that I was participating in an All Spun Up spinalong.

Here's what it looked like when I got it (photographed on plants in my parents' backyard when we were living with them temporarily):

I split the top in half and did a simple two ply, which looked about fingering when it came off the wheel but poofed up incredibly in the wash.

The twist on this yarn is tight, as I like, but even tighter than I anticipated. As a result, this skein is super bouncy and elastic. It's now about sport weight (with some thinner spots), and I ended up with 346.5 yards from my 4.3 oz.

Though I'm sad that the fiber is gone, I have to say that I love this yarn. I'm going to need to find the perfect pattern for it for something for me.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Speed Sweater

I mentioned in my last post that I'd cast on an Antler Cardigan for Rainbow. Although I took last night off from knitting to work on finishing up a spinning project, I'll be getting back to the sweater knitting tonight. I've only spent a couple of (brief) evenings working on it, and I'm about two or three rounds away from finishing the first sleeve.

Rainbow selected this yarn, and while it wouldn't be my first choice (I'd have opted for a solid or, preferably, a classic cream color), it is knitting up in an interesting way. The flashes of purple kind of look like tiger striping to me, and I don't think they're going to interfere too much with the cable pattern at the yoke.

This sweater is reminding me how fast it can be to knit a sweater for a small person. I guess I'm so used to working at small gauges that I forgot how speedy worsted knits up. Admittedly, I didn't swatch for this sweater, but that's only because I know that I can reliably get 18 stitches over four inches with Cascade 220 and a size 7 needle. This yarn is also superwash, so in a way I'm counting on it to come out a little big. I'm knitting the 4-6 size and hoping that Rainbow will be able to wear it for more than one season. She has already requested that I knit her another sweater after this one is done, so I guess there will be a bit of a rush to make sure everything is finished while it's still winter -- though, to be honest, considering how cold it's been already, I probably don't have to worry too much.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I have been known to cast on a bunch of things at once, but it's rare that I have more than one project finished at the same time, so I found myself in an unusual situation on Sunday night when I realized that I had three finished projects waiting to be blocked. Luckily, they were all small in size, so I was able to do them all at once.

First was the hot pink shawl, which I give you a peek of along with a warning that this color is nearly impossible to capture accurately even in daylight.

Then, there was the sweater for a friend's new baby. The sweater was finished about two and half weeks ago, though I only recently got around to sewing on the buttons (and blocking, obviously). It turns out that I did it all just in time, because the baby was born last week.

Pattern: Henry's Sweater by Sara Elizabeth Kellner, size 3-6 months
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, color 1925/Cobalt Heather, approximately 1.5 skeins
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)
Started/Completed: November 10/November 21
Mods: adjusted the front bands and collar

This was a quick, easy knit, and obviously it's a cute FO. I chose it because it reminded me of the Baby Sophisticate pattern, which I'd knit for the new baby's older brother. I wanted something coordinating but not entirely matching, which is why I didn't knit the same sweater again (the first baby was born in December as well, so the new one should be able to wear the sweater I made for the older one, too).

My only modification was to pick up stitches along the entire front edge -- bands and collar -- so that there would be a bit of a border on the front edges. As written, the pattern calls for leaving them untouched, and as the sweater is in stockinette, that means they will roll. The couple of garter ridges I added don't entirely stop the rolling, but they help a little, and I also think the sweater looks more finished as a result.

The buttons are the real stars here, though. I found them at my LYS and amazingly they match the yarn perfectly, so they blend really well. They're cute without being cutesy, and I think they add the perfect amount of sweetness to an otherwise relatively plain sweater.

I also finished something for me this weekend, thanks in large part to a snow storm that kept me in the house all Sunday afternoon.

Photo taken with flash
Pattern: Quinta Cowl by Amy Maceyko
Yarn: my handspun Polwarth/silk from Gale's Art in Winter Is Coming
Needles: 24" US 3 (3.25 mm) Knit Picks circs
Started/Completed: November 28/December 8
Mods: added two repeats to the pattern around and did one additional vertical pattern repeat; subbed beads for bobbles

I'd been wanting to knit this ever since my friend Amy released it, and I knew it would be perfect for handspun. I added additional repeats to get the stitches to fit all the way around my needle so I wouldn't have to magic loop or use two needles, and I did an additional vertical repeat because I had plenty of yarn and wanted to use as much up as I could (and I still have some leftover, but I was worried it wouldn't be quite enough for a fifth repeat). My other main modification was to use hematite beads in place of the bobbles, both because I wanted a little bit of sparkle and because I'm not a huge fan of bobbles.

Photo taken without flash
I really loved knitting this pattern and am planning on knitting it again (I think it would be really gorgeous as an infinity cowl, though I might not twist the stitches in that case because they slow me down significantly). This may be my go-to pattern for a quick-ish gift in the future, and it really is excellently suited to handspun.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of finishing all those things, I cast on for an Antler Cardigan for Rainbow using yarn she picked out at my LYS's Black Friday sale. It's Cascade 220 Superwash Paints, in a pink with some splashes of light purple, and it's knitting up quickly so far. I've spent hardly any time on it and already have at least half a sleeve. I expect that will soon be a whole sleeve.

*Today's post title might be a sign that I've been watching too much Doc McStuffins with my kid.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Spinning the Precious

After marinating in my stash for quite a few years, I finally pulled out some All Spun Up fiber last week -- a braid that was half of my very first order. I finished spinning the singles earlier in the week and started plying on Friday night. Although I spun the two halves in opposite directions, the colors seem to be serendipitously matching up.

I'd estimate I'm about a third of the way through plying and will work on it more this evening.

Meanwhile, I think I know what's going on the wheel next. The latest shipment of the Bee Mice Elf fiber club showed up on Thursday and it's a stunner.

This colorway is called Scenic Drive, and it's on superwash merino, one of my favorite fibers to spin. I don't have to decide just yet, but I'm leaning toward splitting this in half and doing a fractal two ply. I don't want to mess with these colors too much -- they're just as vibrant in real life!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Another Day, Another Hat

I have recently been told, in no uncertain terms, by my almost-4-year-old that I am required to make "a lot of hats" for her because the ones I've made in past years are all starting to get small on her. I made her the Hearts and Butterflies hat a few weeks ago, and it has seen a lot of wear since it came off the needles, but apparently one hat does not cut it.

My LYS has made the difficult decision to stop carrying madelinetosh yarn -- they have good reasons for doing so, but I'm still sad about it -- and as a result I've been irrationally acquiring random skeins of whatever tosh they have in stock. Several weeks ago, I picked up a single skein of tosh dk in Nostalgia, a pretty lavender purple with a hint of gray, as I knew it would be perfect for a hat for Rainbow. Then I saw Amy Miller's new aviator-style hat and bought it immediately. I had to make some minor adjustments, because the pattern called for tosh vintage (which is an Aran-weight yarn) and my yarn was a bit lighter, but it worked out just fine. I knit a size larger than what I'd normally knit for Rainbow and it came out just the right size for her.

Pattern: Amelia E. by Amy Miller
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk in Nostalgia, less than one skein
Needles: 32" US 6 (4.0 mm) Addi Turbos, used magic loop
Started/Completed: November 23/December 4
Mods: made the largest size to end up with a hat roughly 20" in circumference due to gauge change; used I-cord instead of twisted cord.

The length of time between casting on and binding off for this project isn't really indicative of the actual amount of knitting time. This was a very quick knit, and I probably could have finished it in a few evenings if I hadn't gotten so distracted by other things (though isn't that a case for a lot of things in my life?). The pattern is brief and to the point -- the instructions fit on one page, as a matter of fact -- and easy to follow. It's also very intuitive, so I didn't have to refer to the pattern all that often. The hat is worked from the top down, which made it a lot simpler to adjust for my difference in gauge because I could try it on Rainbow to check the length.

Other than the gauge thing, the only big modification I made was to do short-ish I-cords for the ties at the bottom of the ear flaps other than the twisted cord called for in the pattern. I didn't really feel the need for very long cords, as I doubt Rainbow would ever want to tie this thing under her chin, so I added them for decorative reasons alone. The directions have you decrease the ear flaps to five stitches (for this size) and then bind off; instead, I did one more decrease row with a double decrease to end up with three stitches and then worked about 5" of I-cord. I tied a knot with the cord at the end of each both to add a little weight and to help to secure the end that I buried in the center of the cord.

I have a decent amount of yarn leftover (I haven't weighed it and the hat to determine just how much yet), so I'll have to come up with something creative to do with the leftovers -- I hate to see good tosh go to waste!

As to the continuing hat replenishment project, I already have a skein of sparkly handspun wound and ready to become a Wurm. I have a feeling, though, that I might want to keep that hat for myself, which is a distinct possibility because I can get Rainbow's hats easily and only need a little more depth to fit my head (not a problem with a slouchy hat). There may be a hat fight in my future.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Little Things

I confess to being entirely distracted by spinning the last few days (and I have two full bobbins to show for it), but tonight is all about getting back to small pieces of knitting that need just a little more attention.

For one thing, I finished the blue baby sweater almost two weeks ago and bought buttons about a week and a half ago, but I have yet to sew them on. That gets remedied tonight. Aren't they sweet?

In real life, the sweater and buttons are royal blue, not purple.
The sweater clearly needs to be blocked, after which it will be packaged up with the blanket and put aside until Christmas (though perhaps I'll use the extra yarn to knit a small coordinating hat as well first).

Speaking of things that need to be blocked, I finished the hot pink shawlette on Thanksgiving but still need to weave in my ends and block it. Luckily this is not the sort of thing that needs an aggressive blocking, but I did do a picot bind off and probably need to pin out those picots to get it to look nice and tidy. Then there's the pattern writing and photo shoot to do, but those can wait for a bit. And I will spare you a photo because there's no way to capture the color anywhere remotely accurately in the dark with a flash.

Finally, there's the hat I started for Rainbow (Amelia E. by Amy Miller) in tosh dk in Nostalgia.

I got all the increases done -- it's a top-down hat -- in the first day or two of knitting but seem to have stalled out somewhere along the way. I probably have another inch or less to knit before the main part of the hat is done, so that will be my goal this evening once all the other finishing is done.

I am really dying to cast on for a new sweater for Rainbow (the yarn for which she picked out on Black Friday), but I'm making myself finish this stuff up first. Being good is so hard!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Wrapping Things Up

Oh, hello. Remember me? I had every intention of blogging at least once late last week, but I guess I was enjoying my Thanksgiving vacation a little too much. The good news is that while I wasn't spending that much time in front of my computer, I did get a lot of fiber-y stuff done. For one thing, I finished spinning my polwarth/silk into a lovely skein.

Although there were some thick and thin spots, it's mostly fingering weight. I have about 327 yards, so more than enough for the project it's already becoming:

I also finished plying the rest of my singles from Spinzilla (well, there's a little leftover, but I'm not worried about it).

The smaller skein on the top was all the little bits of leftovers combined. In total, I have about 562 yards, which should be enough to make Rainbow a sweater. She has already requested that we "add some color" to it, so we may be playing around with food color dyeing in the near future.

Finally, I pulled out some of my most precious fiber to spin -- one of the two braids from my original order from my favorite fiber pusher (who is recently back to dyeing, by the way). I'm doing a straightforward two ply and wondering why it took me so long to spin this up because it's so gorgeous.

I'm going to sit down now and try to work on the second bobbin for a while. There's more fiber content to come in the next post!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giftalong Interview with Sara Peterson

As I'm sure you're aware (if only because I've mentioned it quite a few times here), the Indie Design Giftalong is in full swing over on Ravelry. Seriously, if you haven't peeked in on the group, you should -- there are lots of gorgeous gifts being whipped up. In any case, part of the reason for starting the Giftalong in the first place was to promote indie designers and encourage knitters and crocheters to use indie patterns for their holiday crafting needs. I have to say that for me, even though I usually try to keep up with the patterns that are being released, it was a real eye opener -- I've seen so many amazing, beautiful, creative patterns that I wasn't aware of before. And while most of the design-related talk on this blog is about my own designing, I wanted to use the Giftalong as a good excuse to introduce you to some other indie designers whose work you may not have seen before.

Today, that designer is Sara Peterson of knottygnome crafts. I've "known" Sara (as least as much as you can know someone from interacting with them online) for several years now, and she has some beautiful knitting designs and a really inspiring blog. Sara was kind enough to answer a few questions about her design process, and I'd like to share her answers with you.

What’s your design process like when you’re coming up with a new pattern? Do you start with an idea for a finished product, for instance, or does the design take shape as you’re swatching and knitting?

I admit to being a selfish knitter and I'm most inspired to design when I want something specific but am unable to find a pattern that is just right. I'm a visual person and I often make charts for both color and texture patterns on my computer in my spare time. I do a lot of interplay between charting and swatching until I find the combination of pattern and yarn that sings to me. Then I apply it to the garment, but I don't plot out everything in advance. I try to leave room for flexibility in the actual knitting. When I was designing Jane, I knew I wanted a stranded yoke, but I decided later on that the white sweater needed more visual interest. So I added colorwork bands to the sleeves.

I like sweaters but I love to design accessories the most. There's something about starting with a small basic structure and finding unique ways to express yourself within those limits that i find very appealing. Plus as someone who always wants to move on to the next fresh idea, I like to make things that I can finish before I get bored with them!

You spin and quilt in addition to knitting. How do your other hobbies influence your designing?

My design inspiration often comes from other crafts. A space-dyed wool top might influence a color palette for a quilt or a stranded knit design. I would say that color play translates the easiest from one craft to another. I love putting together color schemes whether it's for a handspun yarn, a quilt, or a plaid woven scarf.

I've also experimented with using classic blocks in quilting for colorwork charts. For example, even though the Norwegian star in Tindrer is a classic stranded pattern, I was drawn to it for its similarity in shape to the Lone Star block.

What’s in the designing pipeline for you?

I took a long hiatus from knit and crochet design to focus on other things, but I'm happy to say that I'm back to pattern writing. There's something about winter that makes me want to cozy up with wool. Right now I'm working on the sample for a pair of colorwork mittens and I'm swatching for a cabled hat. Naturally both of these ideas came to life because the weather is getting colder and I need a new hat and mittens for the upcoming winter season. I'm hoping to self-publish both patterns before the end of the year.

Thanks so much to Sara for sharing some insight into her design process. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next! In the meantime, do take a look at her Ravelry pattern shop to see the other designs she has available. You can also visit her blog for an interview with me!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Spinning the Winter

After spending Friday evening and a little bit of yesterday morning at my wheel, I managed to get my second bobbin of singles finished. Last night, I started plying. I still have a ways to go, but I love how it's plying up.

This colorway -- Winter Is Coming -- reminds me so much of the winter sky when a snowstorm is brewing. I'm trying my hardest not to ply as tightly as I usually do because I want this yarn to have more drape. It's silky smooth running through my fingers, so I already know it will feel fantastic around my neck. I'm hoping to finish this up today or tomorrow so I can cast on later this week!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hearts and Butterflies

It's been quite a while since I did any test knitting, mostly because I don't have enough time as it is to work on my own designs and knit baby gifts and whatnot. That said, I still keep my eye on the Ravelry testing groups because I'm interested to see what others are doing. One day late last week, I stumbled upon a test for a stranded colorwork hat that would be perfect for Rainbow. I contemplated it for a few minutes but then clicked elsewhere (because have I mentioned that there aren't enough hours in the day?). I kept thinking about it, and I logically came to the conclusion that (a) Rainbow needs some new hats, which I was intending to knit her anyway, and (b) this was a really cute one that had all the work done for me and likely wouldn't take me more than a few days. So I signed up.

After digging in my stash to find the yarn (Knit Picks Swish Worsted that I'd bought as part of kit years ago and will never make), I cast on Friday evening, worked on it some more Sunday afternoon while binge-watching The Paradise, and finished it Monday night. In the first half hour or so of knit night last night, I knit the butterfly, which I attached when I got home. Clearly, the recipient loves it. And this mommy is happy, too, because the stranding and the hemmed brim make this a super cozy topper -- much needed, as the weather's getting colder.

I might even knit this one again, but with a couple modifications. First of all, I'm not sure that I really love this hat shape on Rainbow (I keep worrying that it's going to fall off her head), so I might adapt it to more of a beanie shape. I also think I'd also go down a needle size or two and knit a larger size; I used worsted weight yarn, though the pattern called for Aran, because that's what I had. I think the colorwork would look tidier at a slightly smaller gauge. I used 7's for the brim hem and 8's for the colorwork, but I think it would work well with 6's and 7's.

The pattern is by Kate Bostwick of Cowtownknits, and I'm expecting it'll be up in her store sometime next month, if you're interested.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mergers and Acquisitions

I mentioned in my last post that I made a brief stop at the Indie Knit and Spin event over the weekend, and I promised you a shot of my spoils. With apologies for the bad lighting (this is why I hate this time of year for getting blog pictures!), here you are:

While I didn't need anymore sock yarn, I do have a couple of design ideas percolating and want to use some indie yarn for them. The burnt orange is from Fibernymph Dye Works. It's a blend of 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon in a colorway called Earthenware Red (and it's really a bit more orange-y than it looks in this photo). The slightly sparkly purple is Lucina from SpaceCadet Creations, a 75% superwash merino/20% nylon/5% sparkle blend in the colorway Plume. The very bright bagged fiber is also from Fibernymph, 6 oz. of polwarth in rainbow shades that's for a certain preschooler (who specifically asked me to bring her back a surprise), and the other fiber is 4 oz. of Falkland from Cosy.

As if these goodies weren't enough, I came home later on Saturday to find a yarny surprise waiting for me -- two skeins of Malabrigo Sock (in Ivy), my prize from the Stockpile event in the Ravelry Malabrigo Junkies group!

I will have to ponder these two for a bit to decide if I want to use them together in a large-ish item like a shawl or split them up for smaller accessories.

Finally, yesterday's mail had my final stash enhancement. About a week or so ago, I'd heard that Quince & Co. was going to be giving 10% of its profits on a given day to typhoon relief efforts. I'd long wanted to try Quince yarn, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I ordered six skeins, and they arrived beautifully packaged up yesterday.

From left to right are two skeins of Chickadee in Goldfinch and Lupine and four skeins of Lark, two each in Twig and Chanterelle. I can't believe how soft and squishy these skeins are. I haven't even knit with them yet, but I already know I'm going to love them.

So now that I've added all these yarns to my stash, I suppose I should get knitting!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Winter Is ... Well, You Know

Another crazy weekend here. I only accomplished about half of what was on my to-do list (and on the half that was not accomplished was some photography, which is getting harder and harder to do as we get later in the year). I was able to get over to Indie Knit and Spin for a bit on Saturday morning and made a handful of purchases that I'd really like to show you, but the light right now won't do them justice. I spent most of the day wrangling the kid (first at a big birthday party and then at home through an exhaustion-fueled temper tantrum), so I rewarded myself with an evening of DVRed episodes of Masterpiece Classic, a big cup of milky tea, a couple of cookies, and some spinning. Earlier in the week I pulled out some Gale's Art polwarth/silk that I bought at MDSW this year, and after staying up past my bedtime last night, I managed to finish up the first of two bobbins.

Here's what the fiber looked like before (the colorway is called Winter Is Coming -- so apt for these shades):

and here was the bobbin yesterday morning, before I put in all the time at the wheel:

This is such an enjoyable spin that I really didn't want to stop last night (and fortunately it was a weekend and I could stay up so late). The fiber is beautifully prepped; it drafts effortlessly and, but for a few slubs of silk and a couple of tiny pieces of VM, it's perfectly clean. Polwarth is probably my favorite fiber to spin, and combined with silk it's an absolutely dream. I'm hoping to get the second bobbin done this week or at least by next weekend. The plan is to use the resulting yarn for my friend Amy's Quinta Cowl as a present to myself.

I also finished the second skein of yarn from my Spinzilla singles, but as it looks pretty much like the first one, I'll spare you another picture of cream-colored yarn. I'm hoping to ply the third one at some point this week. If I can get that done and deal with the leftovers, there should be a dyeing experiment to document in the near future!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Keeping It Going

After finishing up the long-suffering baby blanket, I figured it was best to start on the sweater right away, before I lost my baby-knitting mojo. I think I mentioned that I'd picked up some blue Cascade 220 Superwash, so on Sunday night, I sat down to watch some back episodes of Masterpiece Classic and cast on for Henry's Sweater. As of last night, I was just a few rows shy of finishing the body.

Tonight I'll finish the body and tackle the sleeves, which should knit up very quickly (they're in the round and small). I'm already planning some minor adjustments to the collar. The pattern calls for picking up stitches only around the neck and along the increases to the front, but I'm going to pick up along the whole front edge. Otherwise, the fronts are going to want to curl under, and I just don't like that.

Finally, a reminder: The 25% indie pattern sale for the Giftalong ends tomorrow (11/15) at midnight GMT. The knitting and crochet portion of the Giftalong (including the awarding of hundreds of prizes) will continue through the end of the year, but this is your last chance to save on patterns! All of my self-published patterns are eligible for the discount, as are thousands of others.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Is That How Big You're Making It?*

After months of working on it on and off, the waffle-y baby blanket is finally finished!

This yarn will never photograph accurately -- it's purple, not red!
I didn't really have a pattern for this; I just did some garter stitch borders around a waffle-like ribbing and knit until it looked big enough. The yarn is Dream in Color Classy, one of my favorite hand-dyed superwash yarns. I'd had two skeins of it buried in my stash from a couple of years ago, when I bought them intending to make a sweater for Rainbow that never materialized. I bought a third skein to supplement them but only ended using about half of it, so I'll figure out something to do with the leftovers. I'd originally intended to make it a little longer, but I got bored with it, in all honesty. I took advantage of the tendency of superwash to stretch when wet to make it a little larger when I blocked it, so it now measures about 23" by 33".

The recipient of this blanket is due in December and will be the second son of my best friend's older sister. The family has been very close to us for my entire life -- they're the family we spend Christmas with every year -- so obviously they are very deserving of handknits. You might say that this blanket is a bit of a cop out when you consider that the first baby got the intarsia blanket, but a new baby with an older sibling gets hand-me-downs, right? He'll be getting a sweater and probably a hat to go along with this present, so he should be good and covered in wool.

* The title of this post is courtesy of a comment I got from another customer at my LYS this past weekend when she asked what I was making and I told her it was a baby blanket. We're still not sure if she expected it to be bigger or smaller than it was.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Twisted Up

This week was the week to ply, apparently. I find myself with not one but two skeins of handspun finished this Sunday. The first is the first skein from my Spinzilla singles, undyed Romney spun long draw.

I plied until one of the three "storage bobbins" ran out, then broke the other two singles (I'll save all my leftovers and ply them together later). The skein is nice and poofy and looks to be in the DK/light worsted range. It's 183 yards, so I'm hoping I will have close to 600 when I ply up the rest of it. My intent is to use this yarn for a sweater for Rainbow. I showed her the first skein and told her so, and do you want to know what her response was? "Mommy, can we add some color to it?" I guess there's some dyeing in my future.

Because I needed some color after all that cream, I spent the last two evenings plying up my Bee Mice Elf Pool Party. The depth of color doesn't seem to want to be captured by my camera.

I may have put a tad too much plying twist in this (if you look carefully, you can see a couple of corkscrews), but I like it. It poofed up to about sportweight and 291 yards.

My spinning mojo has come back in full force, and after I ply some more Romney singles, I have my next spin all picked out -- this Gale's Art polwarth/silk that I picked up this year at MDSW.

The colorway is called Winter Is Coming, which seems appropriate for the time of year.