Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP Wednesday 3/21

There are several items on the the needles at the moment and as I expressed yesterday, I'm starting to feel as though I'll never catch up.  Suffocated by my own knitting!! AGH! ;)  So it's time to crack that whip (haha...or WIP...I know...very lame joke...) so I can feel some freedom again.  (Mind you, these are all self-imposed projects.)

Squishy's new sweater needs blocking and the proper buttons.  It will happen this week.
I tinked back my bind off on the test knit to add another repeat and to bind off looser and in pattern.  Since the yarn is Cascade Soft Spun, I can easily felt the ends together - no weaving in ends - YAY!
I'm participating in a Mystery KAL (Knit-A-Long) for Elena Nodel, who has some amazing children's designs.  My friend, Lyndsey, has knit several of her patterns and I'm in love with them all.  I've only just cast on and I'm not sure how I feel about the yarn.  I'll work through Clue 1 and see if I change my mind. Otherwise, I'll frog and try something else (I am trying to use stash and I just don't have that much dk weight yarn).
I pulled out a UFO (UnFinished Object) this February.  Evie's Sweater is back (just in time for warm weather...).  I frogged my previous work and started again on larger needles as the fabric was too stiff and dense the first time.  I got distracted by Whippoorwill, though, so I need to get back and finish this.  I'm not that far from the end.
Last item to note is my Whippoorwill.  Row 65 or so, but want to be farther.  Alternating skeins is tedious but I'll stick with it because I know what I'll get if I'm patient.  When it's done, I'll be casting on Ruffle My Feathers for myself.
...and Be.Leaf for someone else.  :)

What's in your bag this week?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


As I sit here staring at the blank screen, I’m trying to decide what I’ve shared with you and what is yet to show you.  I suppose I can go back and look through my blog posts as to what I’ve written about…but that doesn’t really help if I haven’t told you about some of my finished objects AND I can’t remember what those are…

(perhaps this needs no explanation...but every time I think of how to "catch-up" I think of "catsup" which to me should really be "ketchup" there ya go...) 

I will admit to being in a bit of a haze the last month or so.  February was full of personal obligations that left me without a lot of knitting time as it wasn’t my first priority.  Then as February passed, I had a giant list of things I wanted to knit – I was in overload!  And I wanted to knit them all right away. 

We fiber artists over on Ravelry fondly refer to this as startitus.   Yep, I was bitten by that bug.  And the end result has been that I’m a bit overwhelmed with all that I took on in the first week of March. 

I’m trying to find time to dye some bare yarn so I can participate in my own, hosted Dye-A-Long.  I have colors in mind, and even the method I’ll use.  Now I just need a couple hours to do so.  (My method requires constant attention because I want to try something new…)

I joined in the Fairy Tale swap on the “Odd Duck Swaps of Ravelry” board.  This looks very promising to be a lot of fun…but I honestly need to start giving it more attention because I’m beginning to fall behind. 

I test-knit a design, which was a lot of fun because I’d never done that before.  That was a really fast knit because I had to have it done by March 9 and I didn’t start it until March 5. 

Then came Spring Break.  Relief at last, you’d think.  Except that I was super busy.  Which was my own fault.  I was hoping to meet a friend from Ravelry, but it didn’t work out.  Another time, perhaps.  And the kids had their pictures taken on Wednesday.  Neither of these things really means I was super busy, except that I decided Squishy needed a new sweater for his pictures to match Lovebug and of course that meant I’d knit him one.  Yeah, stupid idea!! I knit it in 2 days and didn’t have time to block it before the pictures.  They both still looked cute.  And I still haven’t blocked the sweater…

I crocheted some dishcloths…those were fast.  And then there was a bridal shower for Mr. Man’s cousin, so I knit a dishcloth and crocheted a couple more for her.  All of which has kept my hands very busy. 

And finally…I’ve been DYING to cast on for Whippoorwill and though…March…definitely in March.  Well, I did cast on, and I’ve gotten through about 65 row or so (hooray!!) but haven’t been able to really dedicate a lot of my attention to it. 

I’m back to work and feel like I never had a break.  So much for taking things slow and easy. 

So you see, my friends… I have lots to share with you.  This post is seriously lacking in pictures, but I felt that each FO (finished object) deserved it’s own post…and some of the knits still need finishing details. 

I do have a finished shawlette/kerchief to share, which I’ve now worn several times and love.  Perhaps tonight while Hubby’s at work I can catch up and find my breath again. 

Do any of you ever feel overwhelmed or like you just can’t catch your breath?  What do you do s-l-o-w d-o-w-n a bit?  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Frogs & Fairies

I shared with you what I was sent in the “What’s at the Bottom of Your Garden?” swap, but I didn’t share what I sent to my partner. 

I think my package may have been a bit heavy on the frogs…but I still enjoyed putting it all together.  I had Pat’s name (plynn on Ravelry) and she had mentioned that she would prefer to see a little froggy sitting on her shelf. 

I dug around in my stash and found some Tahki Cotton Classic Lite in Moss Green.  Although she said it was okay for toys, I wanted to make little Ribbit (a Susan B. Anderson design) out of cotton as Pat has sensitivity to wool. 
I really like how Mr. Frog came out – the green is a dark, rich color.  And the yarn has a bit of a sheen, which makes it even better.  I opted to leave out the tennis ball as the toy knit up a bit smaller because the yarn was sport weight, not worsted.  Instead I filled his bottom with some poly pellets and fluffed him out with fiberfill and he was good to go.

A note on the hands and feet – many people weren’t really up for knitting 12 bobbles and then attaching them to the hands.  There are several helpful notes on knitters’ pages giving instruction or helpful tidbits on how to do these appendages in different ways.  I-cord seemed to be most popular.  I tried something different, but in the end went back to bobbles because I liked the effect better and I thought it gave a cleaner look (my icord fingers and toes looked terrible!).  It was tedious, but as I’ve found with most things, the extra effort was worth it when finished. 

I always like to include more than one handmade item if I can swing it.  I really wanted to sew a project bag, but I just ran out of time.  I did however, manage to include two other items I made.  I included a set of 5 frog and fairy stitch markers.  I can never get enough of markers, so I assume others can’t either.
And one of my favorite pieces of the swap, a Knit iPad Cover.  Pat recently received an iPad 2 so I thought it fitting to knit a cover to keep it safe.  Knit from Araucania Ruca Multy (color 22 Rose, Slate, Silver), this was a joy to knit (perhaps why it became my favorite). The cables are visually enticing, especially when stretched over the device.  This yarn was a self-striping, DK weight yarn made from sugar cane.  I’d never knit with sugar cane before. There is a slippery texture to this fiber, it glides nicely over your needles and hands.  I didn’t block the cover because it seemed unnecessary. Perhaps a wool would require blocking, but when pulled over my tablet, it stretched and evened out nicely.  Add a button and you’re done!

Something local is always included in my packages, so an Iowa magnet and a bar of sheep soap (Citrus splash? Raspberry vanilla?  I can’t rememeber) made locally and sold at a nearby LYS (Local Yarn Shop).
There were frog statutes and fairy & frog stickers.  A Tinker Bell Pez, a flower notepad and a little sheep eraser (okay, there was a lion too).  I also included some garden starter plants, strawberries and flowers.  I even found a frog puzzle (I really wanted a fairy puzzle but couldn’t find one.)
I sent a kit for Susan Anderson’s Flora and Fairies pattern, 5 skeins of Knit Picks Comfy Fingering (a cotton blend), Chibi needles and a pair of scissors.  Even if she doesn’t knit a fairy from this squooshy yarn, I’m sure she’ll find something she loves to knit.
Finally, some chocolate and a skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk in the Glacier colorway.  I was very tempted to keep this myself as I am a blue sorta gal…but I figured she needed a little spoiling too.

Pat – I hope you enjoyed it all as much as I enjoyed putting this all together for you! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Long Overdue

I must first apologize to Becky (gathersnomoss on Ravelry) for my incredible delay in posting this.  She sent me the most amazing package and I hardly said peep about it on the blog. 

A short while back, after Christmas, I participated in another Itty Bitty Swap.  This one was called “What’s at the Bottom of Your Garden?”  Or in my mind, affectionately remembered as the Frogs and Fairies swap.  The requirements: knit your partner a frog or a fairy (using one of Susan Anderson’s designs) and send your partner a kit for the other item.  (So if you knit a frog, you sent a kit for a fairy.)  I would say there was an even split between frogs and fairies knit.  And then of course, there were all the usual goodies that go along with a swap – treats, other handmade items, little mementos that fit the theme, etc. 

Becky got my name…again.  I hope you don’t mind, Becky, as I sure love getting your packages! And she went over and above for my box.  She is so talented in so many ways. 

The loot:
Remembering the kids, the box included fairy-stamp pens, a toy for Lovebug (it’s attached to her car seat handle), and some matchbox cars for Squishy.  The coolest part about the cars is that they came in a neat sewn pouch/envelope. You open and unfold it to reveal two pockets, one for each car.  Then you close up the pouch, secured by Velcro and they’re snug and safe.  A great way to travel with a couple toys for my boy!

There were also notepads and sticky tabs, a “Sheep Happens” notepad and a package of pretty tissues. 
A dangly, colorful frog, raspberry chocolate, Chocorooms, hard mushroom sour candies (which Squishy and Mr. Man enjoyed), and a tin of mints for myself. 
Pretty gardening gloves and seeds and the prettiest gardening spade I’ve ever seen.  Now I have no reason not to get my hands dirty in the backyard!
What else?  Yes, there’s more.  As I mentioned, Becky is very talented and she didn’t disappoint in the handmade gifts.  I received the prettiest fairy in her blue skirt and blue petal pouch (she sits in my bedroom, guarding my treasures)…

…a felted bouncy ball…
…a felted flower brooch (I think this will be especially great in the spring on my denim jacket or various scarves)…
…a butterfly barrette for Lovebug…
…a beautiful project bag that’s been stuffed full of my knitting since I pulled it from the box…
…and by far my favorite – a button clock!  The clock is a needlework hoop (used for cross-stitch or hand-quilting) with canvas for the face.  Buttons are used to mark each hour.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and think it would just make the neatest gift for those who are the talented, crafty sort!
I can’t forget to mention that I also received a skein of Manos del Uruguay in a beautiful teal-blue…
…and in the project bag was a skein of Spud and Chloe Sweater in Grass with a tennis ball to knit Ribbit; a pretty tin with stitch markers, a “Knit Happy” retractable tape measure, an emergency crochet hook, yarn needle and puppy snips!; as well as some frog and flower buttons; AND enough yarn to make a fairy friend for my blue fairy. 

I was spoiled rotten, top to bottom!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Finish or Frog

Suzanne, from KnittingKnirvana Video Podcast has sort of kicked me in the butt to get some things done.  She's challenged herself to either finish or frog any projects she had on the needles at the beginning of 2012 by January 1, 2013.  I think this is a fantastic goal to make for yourself, and certainly one which would help me clean out my project bags!   So I'm joining in.

I'm not going to stress about finishing old projects before starting new ones, but any lingering UFOs (UnFinished Objects) will be off the needles in one way or another by 2013.  Last year I had so many things going at once it was driving me crazy.  I had to work on them after Christmas.  And I finished several before I lost steam and got distracted by other pretties. :)

So what's my list?
1.  Evie's Sweater:  I cast this on last February for my little girl, Evie.  She'd just gone to the groomers and I'd mistakenly gotten her cut too short.  She was freezing in the cold weather and needed a sweater.  Too bad she never got one...
2.  Sinful Ribbed Scarf:  I have had this on the needles since I learned to knit.  It's so dreadfully simple I can't work on it for extensive periods of time.  I'm on my last skein of yarn, though and once that's gone it's done!   (You've all seen this one.)
3. Some Assembly Required:  remember this one?  I really just need to dig in and do it.  I have it in my head that it's going to be hard (I blame the designer for this one, she's the one who put the idea in there...) so I've avoided it.
4. Dream Catcher Baby Blanket:  this is going to be made with the leftovers from Some Assembly Required.  I can't finish it until I finish the above project.
5. Bathrobe:  love the look, hate the endless seed stitch (and it's only for a baby!).
6. Elly the Elephant:  my first crocheted toy.  My hands started hurting so I put it down.  Just have to finish the legs and I'll be done!

And as an informal WIP list I have:
1. Test knitting: This needs to be complete by March 9 so I'm plugging away at it.  I love the look, but think it will be too warm here by the time it's done to really enjoy.  So I'll save it for next fall/winter.
2. Whippoorwill: I've got the yarn caked and ready.  I was going to cast on March 1, but instead I started a test knit.
3. Bunny: For the Itty Bitty KAL - Bunny will be basic, very similar to the example in the book...but with accessories of some sort.  I haven't decided how I'm going to make it work yet.
4. Little Treasures: I think. Squishy needs a matching sweater for pictures with Lovebug next week. I know where to get the matching yarn without having to order online.  A week should be enough time, right? :)

And as an aside - I'm hosting a DAL (Dye-A-Long) in the Itty Bitty Forums.  I'll be doing my dying next week, although the idea is to start mid-March/early April and just go along until people have had the chance to try it.  Come on over and join the fun if you'd like!

So there's my list.  I'll share progress as I go.  As well as any current WIPs. :) Do you have lingering projects that you just can't seem to finish?  How do you motivate yourself to get them done?

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Every year I make Mr. Man a new hat.  Usually it’s not done before Christmas.  Last week, I finished his new hat.

But I sort of have to say that it’s not my fault.  I’ve known which hat I’d knit him since well before Lovebug arrived.  There were even several occasions when I wanted to cast on for the hat.  The problem was the pattern.  It wasn’t available yet. There’s nothing mind-blowing about any of the stitches, or decreases.  It’s my kind of pattern – simple.  I probably could have figured it out myself and had the hat knit before the pattern was even released. 

But why re-invent the wheel, right?  Heather, from the Fiberista Files & Highland Handmades designed and knit this hat for her husband.  She wanted to make him something that would be super warm, cover his ears and keep out the cold and wind.  All things my husband likes in a hat. 
Sometime between when Lovebug was born and Christmas, I realized the pattern was available.  I cast on for it a few weeks ago and I’ve slowly been working away when I had a few minutes. 
So what makes this hat special?  Out of ALL the patterns on Ravelry, why did I choose THIS particular hat and wait so patiently for the pattern?  Because of one design feature.
It has a hidden lining.  You’ll notice that the brim of the hat isn’t ribbed, but instead stockinette.  You’ll also note that the edges aren’t rolling up.  Everyone knows that plain stockinette rolls up on itself, so techniques like seed, garter or ribbed brims are traditionally used to keep that problem at bay.  Instead, you start this hat with about an inch of ribbing, then you transition to stockinette for awhile.  After you reach the desired length, you place a purl row, after which you continue on with a stocinette again.  That one little purl row allows everything knit before it to fold to the inside of the hat, creating a second layer.  And now you have a lined hat! 
I know, I know…probably many of you have thought of this before, and I’ve thought of it too, but never acted on it because I never put too much thought into what that design would look like.  So someone else did the work for me and I was just able to enjoy knitting and reading along with the pattern.
(Oh yeah - did I mention that the hat closes with kitchener stitch instead of pulling the yarn tail through the remaining live stitches?!  Love this!)
You’d be amazed at the difference that lining makes in a hat.  Mr. Man took it to work with him the morning after I finished it.  It hadn’t been off the needles for even 12 hours yet!  That’s the sign of a good hat.  And I keep putting it on because it’s cozy.  I WILL make one for myself.  And one for each of the kids, I think.

Which brings me to another point, this hat could be knit for any person at any age as long as you can do simple math.  

I sort of feel as though his hat has a neat little secret, that if only other people knew, they’d be amazed.  Silly how some things just make you that happy, right?
I would recommend knitting this in a true worsted weight yarn, or perhaps even aran weight (a little heavier than worsted).  That will give your hat a nice, dense, quality fabric that fits snugly on your head.  It will keep out wind and cold, and then you’ll be in on the secret too!

Just a few more items I want to note.  I knit this version with Spud & Chloe Sweater in Penguin & Beluga.  (LOVE 1000)  The black is a true, saturated black and the gray has depth I was surprised, but pleased to find.  It was worth it spending the few extra bucks. 

Second, I knit the stripes with an idea in mind, but I’m not 100% sold on how they turned out.  Each stripe decreases by 1 row.  So after the purl row, I knit 9 rows in black, then 8 in gray, 7 in black, 6 in gray, and so on until I had 2 rows of gray.  I then switched to black to finish off the hat.  I only used 1 skein of each color, but I came close to running out of yarn.  I only had 3 grams of Penguin left when I was done.  Somehow, to me the stripes look as though they suddenly got smaller, I was hoping the effect would show a more gradual decrease.  My guess would be that the eye is drawn to the lighter color and so the black isn’t really seen.  We know it’s there but pay it no attention.  Oh well.  C’est la vie. 
Finally, I’m considering ways to incorporate the knit lining into future hats.  If I eliminate the ribbing on most hats, it could easily be done, even those hats that have textural elements different than stockinette.  As long as they are a beanie-type design, this would work, I think.

We’ll see.  We’re moving out of hat season so I’ll likely only be making one more round of hats for the family and then moving on to other things, like shawls and fingerless mitts, and crocheted squares and toys and things.  Yes, people.  I have plans