December 6, 2012

Classes From the Summer

I did a lot to push myself as a knitter over this summer.  Finding balance between my different little lives.  I knew the house and work would push me mentally, so I wanted a challenge I could throw myself into.

I made it a resolution for 2012 to take a spinning class.  I signed up to take 'Spinning for Knitting' at Stitches Midwest this year.  The teacher was Merike and she'd been teaching knitting since I was an infant.  She knows her stuff, and really made me feel confident.  I was one of 3 in a class of about 12 that had spun before.  I was confident on my spindle and just gotten my electric spinning wheel and was feeling good about that.  I wasn't too sure about proper techniques to ply and I wanted to play around with different fibers.  This class helped a lot on both those fronts.  Next I'd like to try spinning woolen (vs worsted?  I get the two confused because the terms hold little meaning to me yet).  I left with a bunch of samples of fibers to try, and some wonderfully balanced 2 ply.

What did I learn from this class?  I learned that a lot of things I've heard on spinning podcasts were not true. You cannot balance your yarn with 'blocking' and that water re-energizes your yarn.  It also made me realize how picky I'm going to be about my own handspun.

I took a couple classes from guest teachers at Fuzzy Wuzzy this summer.

I had a class on the History of Lace Knitting with Franklin Habbit.  He is such a wonderful, patient teacher.  Talking about knitting and lace for 3 hours just seemed so short.  I think I could sit and listen to this all day.  It was great information and fun to learn a few new tricks for making polished lace projects.  Thanks!

I had a class from Marly Bird on Entrelac Crochet.  The class was fast paced and really challenging.  Learned the 3 basic blocks and how to put them all together to make different types of entrelac patterns.  I ended up settling on the easiest set for a project.

I left class and started a baby blanket for a co-worker.  That was the original plan, rather than stripes I wanted to do something fun.  The coworker had me show her how to knit so she could start a blanket herself.  She had learned to knit a long time ago and had put her needles down.  I don't know that she's gotten very far, but at least she'll have one right away :)

December 5, 2012

The Check-in

I have been busy!  Not just with the new house, but crafting!

I have 3 holiday gifts to finish.  And I hope I can make it.  1 pair of socks, 1 table runner, and another pair of house socks.

I'm going to be keeping the socks pretty simple, my own pattern of women's socks in some fun fall colors for my unofficial SIL.  You can check out the pattern - Lazy and Cabled Socks on ravelry here!  She actually ASKED for hand knits, which makes you knit-worthy in my book.  I dug around in my stash for some yarn that would be durable and cozy.  I came up with some Trekking XXL that I think I won from the KnitPurlHunter KAL last winter.  I love the colors, I think I have these tones in at least 2 other brands of sock yarn!  I hope she loves them.

The table runner is for my mom.  She reads this blog so, no details.  I'm making it up based on the basic scarf we all make as our first project.  You know - knit every row until you run out of yarn?  Oh, but I have the right number of stitches on my needle for the width I want it to be and I'll stop at 5 feet.  I also made pointy ends.  POINTY!

The last pair of socks is for my buddy Evan.  He got one of my first scarves when I was learning to knit.  And now that I'm considerably more skilled, he should be rewarded for having suffered through my learning curve right?  He's getting hipster pink house socks.  Big man feet are my sock kryptonite, so I hope I can power through them.  I am kind of making it up as I go based on basic sock patterns.  I don't know if I want to put an afterthought heel or a heel flap on it.  I think the flap would be more durable, and I could put a heart back there, but I know a short row after thought would be quicker.  So I haven't touched them in a while.

Thems the holiday knits.  I will be back next week to touch base on the adventures over the summer.  Highlights being some classes I've taught, Stitches Midwest & Vogue Knitting Live, Guest Teachers at my LYS, Some KALS, and a new wheel  :)

June 7, 2012

All the yarn be packed!

It's moving in month - slow going too.

I packed up all my yarn, that wasn't already in a project, those I have packed up but ... in a bag - easily grabbed :)

I got a comment on an older post and I thought it was timely after having revisited all of my stash... "What are your favorite types of yarns to knit with? Do you ever use eco-friendly yarns?"

I guess I love a lot of different yarns so I'm going to split this one into groups.

1.  Sock yarn.  I love sock yarns ALL the sock yarns be mine!
I have been in many a sock club, Yarn Pirate, Yarntini, Socks that Rawk, and Mean Girls YC.  I absolutely loved the tightly spun superwash merino & nylon bases of the first three, and I can honestly say I haven't used a skein of the Mean Girl yarn.  I'm hoarding it.  I love the indie dyers, hand dyed, small batches, one of a kind - just like my hand knit socks.  :)  My favorite sock yarns from bigger companies would be Dream in Color Smooshy, Trekking and Opal.  Fun colors and a tightly spun superwash merino.  :)  Least favorites would include Cascade Fixation and Socka.  Fixation's elastic content makes gauge and tension hard to maintain.  While Socka is a wonderful yarn - workhorse - it is not pleasant to the hand.  And I have used others, Malabrigo, Araucania, Tofusties, and Stroll to name a few - they are good, but not my favorite.

2. Other Wools.  I prefer to work with wool if at all possible, it's squashy and wonderful :)
  My favorites are Malabrigo, Dream in Color Classy, Cascade 220 & Eco Wool, and Lorna's Laces Shepherd lines.  I love my locally dyes - Both DiC and Lorna's colors are made right here in Chicago-land :)

3. Cotton?  I don't like cotton much, I find the lack of give very unfriendly.  Although I like some of the chainette cotton yarns like Classic Elite's Katydid.  I made the top below out of it.  Very nice on the hands.

4.  The fluffy? Those very glowing yarns like mohair and angora?  I love angora, so soft and the finished fabric feels like it floats above the skin.  I made a sweater from a Sublime Merino Angora.  

5. Lastly - Acrylic.  I honestly don't mind acrylic, it has it's place in the fiber world.  It's synthetic and good for those with sensitivities.  My mom gets a lot of acrylic blends, and these days the more affordable yarns have some acrylic or nylon in it, keeping costs down.  If I need to use a 100% acrylic I'm going to use Berrocco's Comfort or Lion's Vanna's Choice.  Comfort is very soft, easy to care for but can be splitty.  Vanna's is probably the best traditional acrylic I've worked with - actually has fluff to it!

May 2, 2012

3KCBWDAY7 - Crafting Balance

So balancing my crafting life?

I feel like hobbies are just that - you do them in your free time, and sometimes one hobby takes over.  I pretty much stopped paper crafting, and should pass on some of my stamping and paper craft stuff.  I also don't use my sewing machine much, although with the new house, I think that curtains are in my future.

I love my yarn crafting.  Knit and crochet are pretty interchangable in terms of which I want to work on.  Although it's usually project driven.  I worked very hard on my crochet scarflette when I was loving that yarn!

And now I'm in love with Malabrigo Rios and only work on my sweater sleeves in front of the TV.  yummy yarn.  Although I think that if I didn't "force" myself to spin I might not.  So Mondays are spinning days.  My guild meets one Monday a month, so that made sense to me.

Here's some spinning pictures:

April 30, 2012

3KCBWDAY6 - Improving Your Skill Set

I lost my internet - sorry about that.  Day 5 was about a different kind of post - I'm not going to do that.  It did not inspire me.

But Day 6 is all about how far on my crafting journey do I think I am.

I'm a competent knitter.  I know my knits, I can 'read' my knitting.  I can decipher a cable or lace pattern.  I can write a pattern that others could follow.  I have had a pattern published and have a pattern for SALE on Ravelry, and have had sales already! :-o  I am wear I want to be on my journey.  As far as skills go, one that I do want to pick up is double knitting.  I am comfortable with slip stitches and mosaic knitting techniques, I like color-work and am while I HATE it while I'm working it, I love the effect.  Cables come easy now, and I think they get better all the time.  I have started working on keeping even tension, and making finishing a priority.

I love this craft because there is a journey to take.  It's a long one, with lots of different arteries.  How has your crafting path evolved?

To read all about how others taking part in Knitting and crochet blog week are expanding their sets of skills (or not!), simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY6, or click here.

April 26, 2012

3KCBWDAY4 - A Knitter For All Seasons

Are you a seasonal knitter?  Do you craft with the seasons?

I don't think I really do.  I will knit on most anything at any-time.  Although it may require a jump in the AC if I decide I want to work on my blankets in the summer :)

I took a look at what I've completed when, and it's more deadline driven than seasonal.  In the fall it's all about the holiday knitting and getting gifts done for everyone.  In the spring and winter it's about me, and I'm all about starting a sweater for ME!  The summer is a lot of socks and cotton, since I like sandals, I don't see my socks in the summer :(  I will however work with cotton only reluctantly in the winter, so I guess that's my seasonal crafting shift.

To read all about the seasonality of other people's crafting from those taking part in Knitting and crochet blog week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY4, or click here

April 25, 2012

3KCBWDAY3 - Your Knitting Or Crochet Hero

Hi - Today let's talk about my knitting and crochet heroes.  I can't tell you how much I love The Yarn Harlot.  She's sassy and has a stash-ability that I envy.  I also find her funny and her practical knitting style is much like mine.  Don't rippit - fix it!  I love that.  She also likes simple yet engaging patterns, and I can't tell you how many times I've made a thing because she did.  Thanks Stephanie!  :)

I copied the Yarn Harlot and jumped on the Striped Noro Scarf Bandwagon

As I start designing more, I find that I have a design hero - Knit Purl Hunter - Michelle Hunter.  I got to take her class, and she even touched on design in her Mystery Sock workshop.  It was great.  I love how simple and intelligent her patterns are.  I try to emulate her in my own patterns.  Thanks Michelle!

Socks I designed inspired by Knit Purl Hunter

To read all about other peoples' knitting heroes from those taking part in Knitting and crochet blog week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY3, or click here

April 24, 2012

3KCBWDAY2 - Photography Challenge

Sock Monkeys Have ATTITUDE - BACK OFF!

Cooking my style:

And keep an eye on your shark hats ... they get hungry..

Today's challenge is a photography challenge - there's a prize thinger ---- that's cool!

To read what other people are writing for today’s prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, search Google for 3KCBWDAY2 or click here.

3KCBWDAY1 - Colour Lovers

I have decided to participate in the 3rd annual Knit & Crochet Blog Week.  It's this week.  I decided late on Monday and promptly fell asleep after killing myself doing paperwork for Exciting News for today's blog.

Day 1's theme is Color:
"Color is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over color."

What colors draw me in?  Greens, Blues, Purples, BRIGHTS.  Here's a photo of my stash of sock yarn circa 2010.  It's been enhanced.  And I have to say that I like to keep my blues and greens don't I?

And here's a picture of my stash in my bookshelf.  So pretty.....  Also lots of greens and blue.

Here's my sock projects ... again:  greens and blues are here... I like those cool and jewel tones a lot.

I love blues and brights.  Lots of love for purple too :)


I say this reflection comes at the right time - we're buying a house.  A giant 4 bedroom home with room for a CRAFT ROOM!  I have to pick a color of the walls!  I hope for a green and a purple?  That seems to be a good portion of my stash.... So excited, but I am bad at decorating.  We'll see how this goes huh?

April 21, 2012

All that glitters is knitters

In between the time that I've last posted I've been on a tour of some of the biggest names in knitting.  

Nancy Bush was at the Windy City Knitting Guild in February.  I love her.  She's a wonderful storyteller and had a wide range of knitting knowledge.  Talked about Sock Summit and where her sock knitting started and how that led into Estonian knitting.  It was amazing.  The class itself I found ok.  Heels and Toes.  We spent about 3 hours knitting heels, but no talk of fit or wear.  All those wonderful socks from the books - have never been worn!  NEVER!  Ah!  She is a process knitter :)

Token picture of some Nancy Bush Socks

I also got to meet Knit Purl Hunter at Mosaic Yarns - after completing ALL of her amazing Skacel KAL patterns, it was great to learn directly from her, instead of through a YouTube video.  Thanks Michelle!  She even held up my tons of kept projects (about 1/3 I gave away to friends and family - lucky ones).

We did a little mystery sock.  It's Celtic Cables and I have just finished the heels.  What a wonderful day.  

Socks in Progress

Then for my birthday at the end of March I went to see Miss Babs at Loopy Yarns in downtown Chicago.  It was a good trip with a bunch of my knitting friends.  They are all so great.  And all the color!  I love Miss Babs' stuff.  Here's what I got - TardisH yarn and LIME GREEN ROVING.  Hurray!
And I've been so excited about the roving - I worked through it a little.

Last weekend I got to meet Cookie A and was pretty well featured on her blog!  Here's a pretty awful picture of us - but meh.  I love her just the same.  I wish I stopped talking to get a good shot. 

I have to say Cookie was pretty amazing too.  High energy and a genuine LOVE of her subject.  I took the Cable Suckage Factor class.  It was very mathy and made that design of socks with cables attainable.  She's a smarty every day.  We laughed a lot and knit a lot and measured some.  This was again through the Windy City Knitting Guild.  It was a good deal to join.  They are a wonderful group of women.  I think I might have met about 80% of the knitters in the county now.  

Now the big news.  

I've been not posting because I was burnt out from work - end of fiscal year meant lots of extra work & a lot of burn out.  But our group rocked it - deadlines met and clients happy.

I've got a pattern coming out in the 2013 Knitting Pattern A Day Calendar.  A Toe-Up Garter Chevron Sock :)  I'm thrilled!  

I need to work on a 2014 pattern.  Thinking about my Penguin Christmas Socking and my Pirate Christmas Stocking.  :-D  That would kick butt.

I am going to teach a beginners sock class at Fuzzy Wuzzy Yarns starting on May 16.  Thrilled!  If you haven't knit socks before, you will leave the series of 3 2-hour classes with your first sock.  Worked in DK yarn - Simplicity.  :-D

Happy Knits!

February 25, 2012

The knitter's quandery

So, what do you work on?  You have several projects on the needles.  A sock, a vest, two shawls, and a couple hats.

You work on whichever project does NOT have a deadline.  That's what you do.

I have finished at least one of my deadline knitting projects.  I completed the knitting on my Fuzzy Wuzzy UFO project.  It's a summery shawl, square shaped, netting.  I bound the project off a long time ago, but found that the extra yarn I had purchased for the shawl WOULD work after all!  (HURRAY!)  I needed to use the other end of the skein to work from, since the two ends were considerably different.  One side dark, leaving stains on my fingers, the other side light and bright.  I suspect the dark will eventaully rinse out in a good soak.  However, I am glad how it turned out.

I have my Progressive Needles KAL project rolling.  Very cute socks by Michelle Hunter.  I love them, but they are much longer than I like in a sock.  Maybe Jessi will get them.  She loves her Spitfire made Hand Knit Socks, and she has long skinny legs.  It is a really neat pattern - and stranded colorwork.  They will be very warm!  I am so close to finishing these that I can taste it.  I have to do my sewn bind off - they are toe up and I love a sewn bind off for that.  I need to finish the after-thought heels too.  I like my bind off to be the LAST thing I do, I dislike the after-thought heel for that reason.

I have been inspired to spin though - amazingly fun stuff.  And I've been plying!  Two ply on my spindle.

Here's some Merino-Mohair blend :)

And some Valentine yarn - Designer Batts by Serena Rachels.  It's a hodge-podge of fibers - with some sparkle and silk.  It was a ton of fun to spin.  I do hope I can get my hands on some more of that :)

January 22, 2012

New stuffs for a new year

I guess I should publish my knitting resolutions - because it's about that time of year.  And yes, we are 22 days in, but you need to stop judging me.

I have some goals for 2012 for my fiber life.

1. Knit 12 hats for Halos of Hope.  It's not a huge stretch for me, but one a month is a good clip :-D
2. Knit at least 3 patterns from the 2010 rockin sock club.  I need to work some of those amazing patterns, even if they aren't in the STR colorways
3. Take Basics Basics from TKGA, when it fits into the budget (after my Nancy Bush Class and After Knitpurlhunter comes to my LYS)
4. Take a spinning class at The Fold.  I'd like to go and try out some wheels.

About these goals.  They are about building knitting karma, using what I have and expanding on my knowledge base.  All things I really do believe in.  I did not talk about stash enhancement nor building a library.  I think I'm good in that respect.

Where am I in these goals.  I have a hat ready for Halos, just need to weave in ends and bring it in.  I have NO socks on the needles.  None, but I am obsessed with the blanket/shawl I'm making from leftovers.  M came over today and we knit and chatted (great time), she asked how much longer I was going to go.  I could not answer, just "longer than this."  It is lovely.
I've been reading the Rav group for the TKGA and their courses.  Based on some of the chatter I hear, instead of jumping into the Master Class level 1, I'm going to take the Basics^3 course.  Get a feel of what they expect and get some initial feed back on my knitting before getting into it.

Last one says it all.  I'm wanting to wheel to take pressure off my shoulder while spinning.  Spinning on a drop spindle is not ergonomic.  I would love to try wheels, The Fold does private lessons too :-D.  

January 16, 2012

Packer win?

The Packers lost on Sunday - in the first game they HAD TO WIN.  *eye roll*  My Packer Playoff Project was the French Press Felted Slippers - a really quick and simple knit.  I made in Malabrigo Worsted in Jaen - the Packer colorway.

I am ready to felt :-D  Here are my amazing slippers pre-felting.  I will felt Wednesday after knit-night tomorrow.

January 4, 2012

Not the holiday I had planned

Well, it's been a little bit of a roller coaster over here.  However, I did finish all the knitting I intended too.  I didn't get to get all the baking in I wanted, nor did I get in the cleaning or organizing or decorating.  We always travel to our families for the holidays, and so I feel like I have more time than I really do.  All of a sudden we'll be leaving for Wisconsin in the morning.  This year was no different.  Well, a little different.  I lost an aunt over the holidays, my mom's side of the family.  It was a bittersweet holiday, she hung on through Christmas (which she loved).

Our plans changed a lot, popping back home (300 miles) for the dentist and to complete everything we had intended to do while on vacation that week, then coming back for funeral activities (300 miles).  Then back home (300 miles).  And on to New Year's activities...  Far too much packed in to a small amount of time.  Going back to work was a vacation from this vacation.

When life was getting away from me I was knitting balls.  BALLS!!! (I also made candies ... all in BALL form ... sorry)  I made a few for a knitting friend who lost her Christmas decor in a flood this summer.  Our knitting group pooled together to start rebuilding her collection.  I also made a few more for me.

I also finished (but not blocked) a Spectra (by Stephen West).  It was made with Dream in Color Starry in Deep Sea Flower and Jawoll Magic, a one ply color changing fingering weight yarn by Lang.  So pretty, stunning really.

The Christmas gifts went over well - the flower headband for my boyfriend's sister got a delightful reaction.  My brother's Packer scarf was great, he even said "It'll match my hat!"  Yup, that was the intent :-D.  Grandma loved her slippers, one of my aunts said I should take orders.  Oh, no these are for Grandma only.
And over Christmas I was knitting with handspun... a RhombusCowl out of Beyounce the llama's fur.  I have loved her so much, my mom bought me a TON of her roving for Christmas - there will be a Beyounce sweater - but not yet.  I think I would like a class on plying first.