Archive | October 2014

Finally Finished: ToshDK Honey Cowl

Whee, I’m in a finishing phase! Since finishing the wedding wrap, I’ve been on a roll. I finished a lingering scarf for a holiday order, I finished two sports-related earwarmers for friends, and I finished another Princess Anna hood. It feels so good to get some projects done.

After finishing so many little projects, I needed something simple for my waiting room knitting (I have lots of that kind of time) and came across another languishing project: my Madelinetosh Honey Cowl. The pattern is super simple, and it was so close to being done, that I decided I needed to just power through to the end. An hour later I was binding off, last night I wove in ends, and today was picture day.IMG_3123 IMG_3128 IMG_3115I’m in love with this cowl and it’s going nowhere but around my own neck. The yarn is actual Madelinetosh that I bought at Looped Yarn Works in Washington, D.C.  My LYSs don’t carry Madelinetosh, so it was the first time I’d seen it, and at $22 a skein it was a pretty big splurge for me. But it was worth it. The colors are gorgeous, and the yarn feels luscious: it’s soft but springy, and knit up in this stitch the fabric is dense but still lightweight. It’s just fantastic, and I’ll definitely be making another Honey Cowl even if I can’t do it in Madelinetosh.

The relief I felt at finishing a WIP inspired me to pull out another one, so I’ve started on the second of a pair of seed stitch mitts that might end up being a Christmas present. As for waiting room knitting, well, I ended up starting something new. The life of a knitter or crocheter, right? Your pile of WIPs never really goes down!

Knitting a Wedding Wrap

My most recent FO is one of the coolest things I’ve done in a while: I got to knit a lace wrap for a bride. She wanted something to cover her shoulders and upper arms for her November wedding, something more like a capelet than a full shawl. She wanted it open and lacy, and I hadn’t done true knitted lace before. I spent days poring through Ravelry, looking at shawls and ponchos and wraps and capelets. I looked at knitted ones and crochet ones. I looked at fingering weight projects and bulky weight projects, though I was hoping for a thicker yarn so it would work up faster. We went back and forth until finally I found the perfect pattern: the Regalia Cowl Wrap. It called for super bulky yarn and has two size variations so you can wear it as a cowl/capelet, or a longer wrap. I chose the smaller size so it would hug her shoulders.

The color was the most important factor, since it needed to match her dress. She found some Bernat Alpaca in Peony that was the perfect shade, so I held two strands together to mimic the super bulky yarn called for in the Regalia pattern. Knitting lace was a little overwhelming at first: lots of wyif and k1tbl and p1tbl that I hadn’t done before. The first few rows were scary, and I thought I’d vastly underestimated the time I’d need to get it done. Fortunately, once I got going, it got a lot faster, and I managed to finish it in a little over a week. I loved watching the pattern emerge from these rows of seemingly random letters and numbers. I can’t imagine being able to design something like this, so I’m in awe of Brenda Lavell at Phydeaux Designs.

IMG_5327 IMG_5326Blocking opened up the lace pattern immensely and it held its shape pretty well once I unpinned it, even though it’s 70% acrylic with only 30% alpaca. It was a little bulkier than I intended, so it came out as 14″ by 46″ instead of 12″ x 32″, but that ended up working fine. The bride has a brooch to pin in closed, instead of buttons, so she can pin it to make it hang just right.

IMG_3098 IMG_3099Once the wrap was done and drying on the blocking mat, I made a quick pair of fingerless gloves with some of the leftover Bernat. They’re called the Iris Stitch Fingerless Mittens, and it’s my new favorite pattern for crochet fingerless gloves. It took some finessing to get the size right (I had to do the first glove four times) but I love the delicate lacy look, the simple little thumb hole, and how quickly they work up.

IMG_3107I’m so happy with how this project turned out, and I really hope the bride is too! It was a great excuse to learn some new techniques. Now I’m looking forward to seeing pictures from her big day!

This has been my focus project for a while. Really, the only other thing I’ve finished lately is an eye mask. My son had a mystery party at school where he had to dress up as a literary character. It had to be from a book originally, from a book the other sixth-graders might have read, and something not glaringly obvious (i.e. no Harry Potter). We chose Westley from The Princess Bride. It’s one of our favorite movies but the book is delightful too. If you haven’t read it, give it a shot. Anyway, the boy had black clothes, black headscarf, cardboard “sword” but needed a mask. Crafty mom was happy to oblige!

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Baseball Beanie & Wedding Wrap

The World Series starts tonight, and it’s starring my favorite team, the Kansas City Royals! We’re all so excited around here, of course, and we’re ready to party like it’s 1985. I’ve got my snacks, my Royals chip & dip tray and my Royals cupcakes. And I might even be wearing my new Royals beanie that I *just* finished knitting today! I bought three skeins of blue acrylic to make some fun projects, and a hat to match my fingerless gloves was first on the list.

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This is Dee’s Slouch Hat and I love that you can wear it either slouchy or with a folded brim. I used Bernat Satin to make it, with size 6 needles for the brim and size 7 for the body.

Okay, so not everything is about baseball around here. Mostly, but not all. I also started another project, a wedding wrap. The pattern is the Regalia Cowl Capelet Wrap and it is absolutely gorgeous. It’s my first lace pattern, and at first I was completely overwhelmed. But I took it row by row and soon it was flying along. It helps that it’s done with super bulky yarn on size 19 needles. This is with Bernat Alpaca in peony. I’m hoping it has enough alpaca in it to block nicely when I’m done. Anyway, I’m a little over halfway done, but here’s a peek.

IMG_5287Maybe I’ll finish it tonight during the game. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll have my eyes glued to the screen!

The Magic of Baseball & The Kansas City Royals

I’m not thinking much about knitting today. I’m thinking about baseball. I’m thinking about the Kansas City Royals, my lifelong baseball team. I was lucky enough to go to the game yesterday, and I got to see them sweep the Orioles and become the American League Champions. This was my view from the club level, right next to the broadcasters’ boxes.IMG_5211Craft was involved a little bit, I guess: I was carrying a handmade purse I bought over the weekend at the craft show, and I was wearing the Royals fingerless gloves that my SIL made and I stole. IMG_5166 IMG_5210It was an amazing game, but I might not need to tell you that. I’ve been to a lot of baseball games in my life, and this was easily the best. The joyousness in the crowd, the unwavering belief, the collective breathlessness…it was magical to be right in the middle of all of it. There were big moments when the Jumbotron urged us to get loud, but we couldn’t. We were all holding our breath, silently urging our boys in blue to get this strike, this hit, this out, this game. And when they did, when they won…WOW. High-fives everywhere. People were jumping and yelling and crying, and nobody left. There was no big exodus to be the first to leave the parking lot. We wanted this magic to keep going. We all stood and watched the team celebrate on the field. We saw all the players’ wives and kids come out, and the little kids ran around the bases and played on the field like it was just an ordinary playground. Thanks to a cameraman in the locker room, we got to see the champagne celebration.IMG_5213Once the players went into the locker room, some fans started leaving. We stayed. My friend and I stayed, watching from the balcony that is the club level, until they kicked us out. Then we went downstairs, and saw the players reemerging. Salvador Perez was on top of the dugout, talking to fans and giving away his hat and shirt. He took photos with fans. When he jumped down to do a lap around the stadium, high-fiving fans along the way, Nori Aoki took his place. We were behind the visitors’ dugout by then, and as Salvy came around in front of us, I stood on a seat so I could see him as he went by. He was beaming. I thought too late that I should get a photo, but I was too busy enjoying the moment. I watched Nori jog out to center field and lie down, clearly savoring it all. As he leaped up and jogged our way, I got my camera ready.IMG_5228Nori is my favorite Royal, I think. He’s not the big-name, big-moment guy like Moose or Gordo or Cain. He’s not flashy like Dyson or consistently amazing like our bullpen trio of Herrera, Davis and Holland. He gets pulled late in the game so that Dyson, a speedy base-stealer, can go in. But he’s steady, and he’s good. Nori can be so very good, but people don’t always recognize it. And I think that’s true about the Royals too. It has been true all this season, maybe longer. They were, are, so good, but they’ve been the joke in baseball for so long that people didn’t figure it out until near the end of this season.

We’re not the joke anymore. We’re the feel-good story. We’re the proof that success can come to those who keep pushing on. Finally, everyone else gets to see what I’ve been seeing for years. Yeah, we’ve had rough years, and there have been times I’ve joked too about the Royals being the farm team for the other major league teams, but in my heart I believed, and I know there are a lot more like me out there.

So why is there so much emotion tied up in this? I’m not sure. But I know I’m also thinking about my dad right now. In 1985, he worked for Marion Laboratories, owned by Ewing Kauffman, who owned the Royals. Thanks to Kauffman’s generosity with his employees, we got to go to a lot of games as a kid. I remember the cotton candy, the roar of the crowd, being silly with my siblings. I remember eating hot dogs at home early so we could leave as soon as Dad got home. I remember my parents going to the World Series and watching the Royals win, and even then, at 9 years old, I was aware enough to be excited and jealous. So now, with my dad gone over two years, I wish he could be here to see this. I wish he could be there at the watch parties with my mom and my siblings. But I’m so thankful that he helped bring this game to my life. I’m so thankful that he helped it become something I can share with my family and my friends. Maybe that’s where the emotion comes from, from having these experiences be so intertwined with the people you love.

I’ll be watching the World Series starting on Tuesday, waving my rally towel and cheering on my underdogs-made-champions. I want them to win. I believe they *will* win. But in so many ways, they already have.

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On making all the things: progress

Time is limited today so I have to write quickly! I am so stupid busy right now, I almost can’t stand it. The time has come where knitters and crocheters must start making all of the things, in a frenzy to complete everything before that one winter day we will not mention yet. I am no different, but before I get to the projects for that day, I still have some orders to fill. With that in mind, I spent Sunday on the couch with my hook and yarn. The girl and I had a Rachel McAdams movie marathon (Mean Girls, The Vow, and The Notebook) and I completed two and a half sets of boot cuffs. Two are Kansas City Chiefs colors and one is Denver Broncos.

IMG_5172Oops. Can’t find the picture of the Broncos set. Well, it’ll show up sooner or later. It looks like these, only navy and orange. Use your imagination.

And I can’t remember if I shared the other hat I finished. I’m making hat and scarf sets for two boys, and my SIL will embroider their names on the brim. The hats are complete, now I just need to whip up two crochet striped scarves. No problem.

IMG_5163Ok, that’s all for now! I must drive the children all of the places!

Craft Show Success

My first craft show of the season is over, and I think I can call it a success. I didn’t sell everything, but I sold enough to make table and then some. My SIL, the one who got me into this awesome yarny hobby, shared the booth space with me, and we went up together Friday afternoon to set it all up. I really like how it turned out.

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It looked interesting and eye-catching. So many of the crochet booths focus on multitudes of the same item in different colors, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you don’t want any of that one item, you walk past that booth. I like to think we have variety to appeal to more customers. Or maybe it’s just not how we work. We get bored working the same thing over and over, so we make what we want and hope someone likes it enough to buy it.

It started at nine, and I was a little worried because by noon I had only sold one hat. My SIL was with me, and we’d both browsed the other booths. There were two other crochet booths. One was full of headbands and earwarmers, and the other focused on character hats for kids. Both were using the cheaper acrylics, and I hate to say it: I’m a yarn snob now. I have used, still use, acrylic. It’s affordable, it’s washable, it has its place in the yarn world. But once I started using natural fibers, feeling them against my skin, I’m so much more picky about what I use. Even now, when I use acrylic, I make sure to find soft acrylic for anything that will touch the skin. I couldn’t help but think that the alpaca and merino blends in our pieces would be more appealing, even if it meant our prices were higher.

A few people had come up and admired two of my best pieces, but then they’d look at the price and walk away. Most of my prices were very reasonable, but those two were made from expensive fibers and had taken a lot of time and I wasn’t willing to mark them lower. Instead, I moved things around and shifted the focus to middle-of-the-road pieces. Thankfully, by 12:30 the rush began, and over the next hour and a half I sold around ten items.

I sold the blue/green newsboy caps, a set for girl and doll. I sold my purple faux fur cowl (kinda sad about that one). I sold a $30 Brio cowl to a woman for her 5yo daughter (yikes. I cringed thinking about what would happen to my gorgeous cowl). I sold a gray slouchy hat and the gray crochet newsboy. At the very last minute I sold my purl ridge cowl, the one made with vintage Malabrigo in gorgeous shades of purple and blue. That one was hard. I kind of wish I’d kept it. But it went to my MIL, so at least I’ll get to see it sometimes.

I also passed out a lot of business cards and connected with some awesome people, and I hope those lead to good things. I had a good time, really. It made me want to do more shows. We have another one scheduled for mid-November, but I might look for some more. I’ve only done three shows but they’ve all been at least mildly profitable. And each one I do, I learn what to do next time (and what not to do).

I could have sold more slouchy hats in different colors. I could have sold owl hats if I’d had girl/doll sets in more colors. My most expensive pieces won’t go at the front. I know I’ll bring a mirror so people can see themselves when they try things on. I’d like to get purple tablecloths instead of red. I’m not sure what else I could/should do. What are your tips for craft show success?

Over the Rainbow to the Craft Fair

Everything is ready…I think. Craft fair in two days and all my inventory is priced and bagged and packed up. I’ve got my hat stands, mannequin and cash box. I have tablecloths and business cards. I have a haircut appointment tomorrow and I’ll stop for cash for the change box afterward. Yesterday I finished up the last two pieces and it felt good. It was a relief to be done. I love doing these shows, love selling things, but the pressure I put on myself to MAKE ALL THE THINGS is exhausting. So I’m done. Until the next show, of course. Anyway, here’s what I finished yesterday.

IMG_3078 IMG_3080This is the Handspun Headband. It was kind of a special request, and I used some of my last skein of multicolored Berroco Borealis for it. (It was hard. I love that yarn. But I also love how it looks knitted up.) I modified the pattern a bit, made it wider. The button is lime-green, a fun splash of color that will mostly be hidden in the back. The flower is done in the same yarn, also be request, so it’ll be more versatile. The flower does pop more in person than you can see in the photo.

I also finished the hat I started with my rainbow Mochi the other day. I used the Regular Guy Beanie pattern but didn’t want to make a hat for an adult male. So instead of 84, I cast on 80. It came out a lot smaller than I expected, especially since I was using Aran-weight yarn (like the pattern) and size 6 needles (like the pattern). I was afraid I was going to run out of yarn, so I skipped some of the all-knit rounds between decrease rounds, and I’m glad I did. I think the hat is plenty tall enough as it is. Plus I had enough yarn left over for a pompom, and what toddler hat is complete without a pompom?

IMG_5141 IMG_3076Love this hat. Want one for myself now. Must sell enough at craft fair to buy more rainbow Mochi yarn!

So that’s all the craft fair crafting! From now on, all my yarny adventures will be for Christmas presents and special orders. I have four presents completed and…a lot more to make. How many are left on your holiday-knitting list?