November 15, 2010

Projects on the Go

I finally finished Evan's Lucky Pinwheel Blanket. It took a while but it was well worth it. It's nice and dense which is great for the season in a beautiful shade of green (see below).

Also in green, Verena Knitting on their site has a free pattern of the day. A couple days ago, there was a halter wrap top that I absolutely fell in love wit h; started knitting it right after I pulled out some yarn for the project. I absolutely love the different textures in this wrap --- it's what made it so unique.

Gearing Up for the Holidays

Gift Ideas

A Skein of Small Wonders. Take a skein or two of yarn and wind into a single ball. As you wind add small things like a bell at the start, a row counter, Kitchener stitch key chain, stitch markers, packet of darning needles, fancy buttons, shawl pin, needle tip covers, etc... anything that can be hidden while you wind the skein(s) into a ball. With the card, include the yarn label and a pattern that can be used for the amount of yarn given. Add the required knitting needles/crochet hook(s) and a bow and voila! One of the coolest knitting packages I've ever heard of.

Deluxe Beginners Kit. Many beginners kits aren't as nice as they could be so why not make your own? Include a book that you wish you had or you used to learn how to knit. If your friend is tech savvy, include a list of the best youtube video tutorials she'll need and the link for Ravelry so she can keep track of her projects. Add a list of your favorite inspirational quotes and knitting tips. For the first project pick an easy scarf pattern, the needles for it, stitch markers, a gauge/needle sizer, darning needles and needle tip covers. You might even want to make coupons for free instructional time. Wrap everything in traveling tote or basket.

Knit-a-holic help. Have a friend whose stash keeps growing to epic proportions? Help her get organized with clear plastic tubs and baskets Make a homemade yarn index (a scrapbook with pages with spots for how many skeins left with their location, pictures of completed projects with specific yarn, notes about it, a gauge swatch etc). Make a knitting needle holder with matching darning needle holder. Get a fishing tackle box as a portable knitting organizer. Get a scale for weighing leftover yarn. Get a swift and/or ball winder.

On the Go. Fill a travel bag with knitting essentials. Include a couple of patterns that don't require much thought that can easily be done while at a game, knit-a-long, an appointment or on the bus/car/train. A interchangeable circular needle kit and/or double pointed needle case can help manage needles on the go (besides circular needles fit in smaller places than straights).

Need More Time? Create an I.O.U coupon card complete with pattern photos, measuring tape, swatch ideas and the promise to make the item for them by a certain date in the colors of their choosing. If you don't know their measurements, include a matching form they can fill out and return to you.

Splurge on Quality Tools. It can be a beautiful drop spindle, hand crafted needles/hooks, fancy glass shawl pin, decorated darning egg, sock blocker etc...

Adopt a Sheep. Adopt a rare breed in a loved one's name and they can receive it's wool for a year. There are lots of programs online available.

Hat for a Friend and a Person in Need. Knit a hat then put together a kit for making the same one for your friend's favorite charity. Provide the prepaid envelope to ship. You can also do the same for socks, scarves and mitts or anything else you see fit.

October 27, 2010

Where I've been...

For the past month and a half I've pretty much been getting ready for the latest addition to our family, Evan and also getting settled into our new home. During that time I pretty much reduced my knitting time to a halt with the exception of the few hours I spent on Evan's pinwheel blanket (still a wip but only the border and finishing left).

This week, I finished a couple meathead hats I've been working on for a friend's twin boys due in December (shown on left and below); the baby shower is tomorrow. I'm also catching up on my swap squares for my Baker's Dozen group. I've been thinking about the projects I have going on and all that needs to be finished.

I've also just started new project to challenge myself, the Zodiac Scarf by Tina13 who designs some truly amazing free double knitting patterns from all different genres. Check her work out on Ravelry. You will not be disappointed. I love having a challenge on the go where I learn something new; it keeps things interesting and my skills growing. I've never done double knitting before. On youtube I found some videos to learn the technique and also discovered that two socks can be knitted at the same time in the round by double knitting. For now I'll stick with reversible scarves but I totally want to give that a try someday.

There were also a few sites I went to for written/photo directions. Learning how to double knit has been an adventure of sorts. There are many teachers and tutorials but I have yet to find a complete source with all the information in one place. I think I smell a project coming on.

Anyway, back to my boys and my knitting needles. Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

July 14, 2010

New on the Needles

It's been a while since I last posted. Lots going on. I've been reading and looking up more on techniques than designing lately. I've also gone queue crazy on Ravelry. Here's some of the highlights:

Ebony Wrist Warmers: check!
I just found out that my local book store carries Verena; a German based magazine that is printed in other languages. I picked up the Summer 2010 and just completed my first project from there, Wrist Warmers :) They turned out great and knit up relatively quick. The written directions were a little confusing but I figured it out. I will probably make another pair with a few mods. Longer and a but looser. I also hemmed the picot edging as I knitted.

New treasure to replace the lost
While I was browsing through my favorite thrift store for donated needles and yarns I came across two skeins of Lion Brand Chenille in forest green... the same yarn I used for my first completed knitted project, a scarf I had made a couple years before I met my hubby. I sent him to work with it (it was a cold night) and he accidentally lost it. It was was my favorite winter scarf and I thought I'd never be able to replace it... until now. I made my mother one in the wine colorway last November. It's just basic garter stitch but the texture looks so much more elegant with this yarn. I can't wait till it's done!

Drop Spinning
At the WWKIP Day event a few weeks ago I met a woman who was drop spinning. Since the initial investment is much cheaper and more portable than working with a wheel, I thought I'd give it a try. I picked up some prewashed, brushed and dyed fibers and gave it a go. I love it! I also found out there is a local guild here that teaches and rents out wheels and a reasonable rate so I might give that a try as well. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to knit out of the yarn I spun but I'm excited! It's still a work in process and I'll have to get pictures up and find some good links.

Recently I've become very interested in lace patterns. With today's available yarns and innovations in knitting tools, designs and techniques the idea of old granny lace is gone. I am particularly attached to the Haruni shawl (meaning "grandmother" in Tolkein's elven language). I also found a book called "A Gathering of Lace" that I have on hold at a local used book store. I noticed a lot of the directions and patters appear to be well written. I'm looking forward to working on some of the projects in that book.

June 13, 2010

Celebrating WWKIP Day in Kelowna, BC

I had a blast yesterday celebrating World Wide Knit in Public Day with a couple local groups. I met new people, worked on a toy net I'm improvising for my son (I'm taking notes and will be posting the pattern in a week or so), and even tried hand spinning. It was cool seeing so many knitters/crocheters in spot and seeing what they're working on.

There was one woman who had a piece of ribbon with the exact measurements marked (kind of like a personal ruler) of the various parts of a sock to get the perfect fit. That's a very cool idea that I'll have to try as I work on the "Girls Best Friend" and "Movie Socks" this month.

There was another who was knitting a bag out of plastic bags; I especially loved the purple she found from a local chocolate shop.

There were people working on sweaters, socks, scarves, and outfits for a baby. People from different generations and different locations with other artistic talents. More and more people trickled in early afternoon. For once the weather man was right; there was a nice breeze and the sun was hot high in the sky. My hubby affectionately refers to me as lobster cakes... a play on my nickname combined with the color my arms turned. I was glad I had picked something that doesn't require much thought because socializing in a knit together would have been hard if I had chosen something more complex.

WWKIP Day is celebrated globally from June 12th through the 20th. Find a local celebration in your country at:

June 06, 2010

Active Works in Progress: A Sad Update

Until we had all of our things out of storage, I had been keeping my "Girls Best Friend" WIP in a white grocery bag tied up so my son couldn't get at it. We were cleaning up and my hubby must have accidentally thrown it out with another trash bag. Unfortunately there were a couple other skeins of mystery yarn I intended to make a bikini set out of from a favorite thrift store and two of my favorite reference books in it as well. The organizing and cleaning is still a huge task... especially with a super curious 13 month little boy around getting into things he sometimes shouldn't. I'm hoping he hid it somewhere but so far it doesn't look good.

I checked the LYS I got the yarn from originally and they still have that color in the same dye lot... phew. At $11 a skein, I'm glad I put the other two with my stash so I'll only need to replace one skein, the needle set and the 10 hours of work (and learning: my first pattern with short rows) already invested in it. Needless to say I was a little crushed but it could have been worse and there's still hope it might turn up somewhere.

Until I actually replace everything in the next few weeks, I found a skein of some nice crimson red sock yarn (Pattons Kroy) I was gifted after my son was born. I'll be working on the "Movie Socks" by Kate Blackburn. Both patterns are from one of my two favorite sock books, "The Joy of Sox." The other is "Sock Innovation."

Anyway, so lesson learned... never leave projects in plastic bags unless they are clear or clearly marked.

June 03, 2010

On Needles and Hooks: Active Works in Progress

My family and I recently brought all of our things out of storage and among the boxes I found my stash and the supplies I couldn't take with me. This past year has been all about crochet until I knitted a pair of yoga socks for my mother. Right now I have a few things on the go (all links below go to a Ravelry page):

"A Girl's Best Friend" by Star Athena
While visiting my parents in the US, I picked up "The Joy of Sox" and instantly fell in love with this pattern. It wasn't until I got home that I purchased the necessary quantity of yarn to finish this project. I also had never had experience with short rows but a couple youtube videos later and it's coming along. I'm still on my first sock, working my way up the ankle but loving how handmade socks fit so perfectly! I have large feet so finding one in a store that looks good, fits just right and goes up so high is hard for me.

"Blissful" by Keridiane Chez
Among the boxes I found one of my favorite books, The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. I had bought some yarn in a beautiful Forrest green for a different project but when I started working on it, it felt wrong for the pattern. Then I found this one:) 

I'm currently 6 months pregnant with my second child and it's summer... if you have ever been pregnant in the summer... you know how your body temperature goes through the roof! The the lace in the skirt of the shirt would allow me to keep cool at home and would allow my baby bump to grow. Then when the baby is out, I can lace up the back like MariaTheresa's Blissful.

I also found another edit that I like in LittleO's Purple Bliss. She used the Queen of Hearts bikini top pattern from one of Debbie's other books, Stitch N' Bitch for the bodice. It looks so much more elegant than the standard hdc rows the original pattern calls for.

Knit a Square
Around the time that I found out about Ravelry, I found this charity group. Knit 8x8" squares to send to South Africa to be sewn into blankets to keep the 1.5 million plus orphaned children warm. They do accept other things but recently there has been a call for more squares because people have been sending in too many hats and sweaters that are size specific which greatly slows down the distribution process. Summer is also their cold season so the need is even greater.

Since I'm on the bus lots or in waiting rooms or places with time on my hands, this is my mobile project. Squares can be knit, crochet or felted from old sweaters. I've also used this to try new techniques. You can sew 4x4" swatches together or add borders to make it 8x8" if you like as well.

I also found in my projects on Ravelry that I have a lot of FOs without pictures so I'll need to update those in the next little while. I made a blanket for my friend's son months ago that has his name on it. I intended to design the letters for the rest of the alphabet and post them on here so that's another project I'll be working on this month. Anyway, I better get back to my needles, hooks and boxes. Still plenty of stitches to stitch and plenty of boxes to unpack.

January 27, 2010

Sometimes the best information is free :)

Lately I've been going to the library lots and finding all sorts of books and magazine back issues I've missed great articles or patterns I love. I went on a MAJOR binge. I discovered some books I probably would have never bought but will most likely in the future and others I really wanted aren't as good as I thought. Either way, if there is a book you're dying to check out, you can make a request and most libraries will send it in from another location or order it. I've also learned a few helpful techniques that in the future I might make videos or tutorials of my own. The best part about this, is it's FREE!  
Speaking of free, my branch apparently hosts free learn to knit classes where they even supply the project yarn and needles free of charge for a dishcloth and scarf. I went just to check it out, meet new people and ask questions. There is also a more advanced class for mittens and socks I intend to eventually take. There might be something similar in your area, you just have to look.
I'm constantly trying patterns with stitches or techniques that are new to me. Each new thing I try, builds my confidence in my abilities to make more advance pieces and provides inspiration to design my own patterns (hopefully more complex pieces in the near future). These days, great information is available if you look.