Tag Archive | crafts

FO: Tea with Jam and Bread Sweater

I finished my sweater yesterday! I’d set it aside while we were the throes of a heatwave, as many of you are too, but since it’s relatively tolerable right now and I’m in Finish Everything Mode, I picked it up yesterday. Only one sleeve was left, why let it linger in the WIPs for one little sleeve?  In between laundry and taking the girl shopping for dorm supplies, I knit around and around and around. After dinner we watched Troy, and I knit around and around and then somehow I was binding off even before the battle between Hector and Achilles. It needs washing and blocking but it’s done!

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I ended up liking the color combination a lot, even if the tonal stripes seem a little unusual. And I like how the navy stands out. Really, I think they all play well together. And best of all?? It has pockets!

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The two main colors are Berroco Ultra Alpaca and it’s not my favorite. It does play nicely on needles, not slippery at all, and has great stitch definition. It’s a more earthy yarn, with a rougher texture, so not only does it grab and hold onto dog hair, but it’s also scratchy against my skin. I tried it on to make sure it fit, and it does, but I definitely won’t be able to wear it without something long-sleeved underneath.

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It’s not a perfect fit. There’s not as much positive ease in the body as I’d wanted; the result of swatching flat instead of in the round. The sleeves are long, maybe even a tad longer than I like, and I’m not convinced they match each other, but I’m also not convinced you can tell by looking at it. The bottom edge has a terrible urge to fold up, and I really hope blocking takes care of that. But even with all of that, I look at it and I love it. I made this pretty little sweater! And now I feel confident enough to make a sweater with better yarn, maybe Malabrigo, that won’t be itchy against my skin!

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Pattern: Tea with Jam and Bread by Heidi Kirmaier

Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca and Ultra Alpaca Tonal, Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Worsted

I Don’t Like Short Rows

Seriously, I’ve never liked short rows. At first, when I was a new knitter, I was scared of them. Turn your knitting in the middle of a row? What madness is that? Like knitting socks, I thought they were complicated and hard and a sure way to mess up your knitting if you didn’t do them right. But they’re also hard to avoid completely.

I think my first project with short rows was Martina Behm’s Fractal Danger. Like a lot of patterns, I bought it because it was pretty without looking too closely, and it wasn’t until I was partway in and invested that I found the short rows. Fine. I’d do them just this once. And it was fine, they weren’t hard, but a bit fiddly, and I’ll be darned if that shawl didn’t come out as one of the most wearable pieces I’ve made.

Then I knit my first sock, and realized the magic of turning heels is due to short rows. But those are super easy, and it’s just a few stitches, and it’s like they don’t even count as short rows.

Oh, but then came Wonder Woman. How many of you have knit the Wonder Woman wrap? It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? I had to make it, regardless of what it took. Well, as you can guess, it took short rows. And not the simple short rows I’d done in the past, but wrap and turn short rows. These short rows actually lived up to my expectations: they were tricky, and it was hard to find the wrapped stitch you were supposed to knit into. But for Wonder Woman, I pushed through it, and it’s one of my favorite shawls to wear. Now, I don’t think I’d want to make another one, but I learned I can do short rows if I have to.

Guess what else? Lots of sweater patterns use short rows for neck shaping, to make the back of the sweater a little bit bigger than the front. Both sweaters I’ve made did that; I guess I was getting used to short rows because they weren’t a big deal.

And now, here I am again, knitting short rows. I picked Martina Behm’s Easy shawl because of course, it has Easy in the name and when you want mindless knitting, easy is good. I floated through Part I, doing so much garter stitch in a haze of happiness. But then came Part II. The second triangle was made from…short rows? Dang it. I don’t like short rows. Except…maybe I do? Because look at this:

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They’re not hard at all, and there’s that beautiful little seam going in between the two triangles, and they’re coming together so neatly and magically and I kind of love it.

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So there you have it. I actually do like short rows after all.

Except wrap and turn short rows. Those still suck a little.

Uninspired Knitting

I’ve been knitting, of course. You’ve seen my Hitchhiker and that was a super fun project. But I’m not doing any exciting knitting. I’m kind of stuck in this rut of finishing WIPs, which is great, except it’s not that interesting. Now that I think about it, though, I think my knitting is acting as my therapy, my comfort, my peace. I think I need that balance to the rest of life right now.

Work is fine, but you know, work can just be a little stressful at times, especially when you’re learning tricky new things. The house, well, it’s up in the air right now. We don’t know if we’re staying or selling or when so I’m just muddling along there. The girl leaves for college in three weeks and there’s much still to do before then and I’m starting to feel that little knot in my chest when I think about it but it’s fine, it’ll be fine. Just fine. The husband is stressed out like crazy. Thankfully, the boy is the easy one right now, rather stubborn (I can’t complain too much; he got it from me) but overall easy to please. And the dogs. They’re such good dogs, really. They make me happy.

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Sitting with them with some garter stitch or a vanilla sock in my hands is the happiest, most relaxing thing right now. So that’s what I do. I know I’ll get back to sweaters and lace and all kinds of fun knitting things, but it’ll have to wait a while, apparently. Hills and valleys, right?

I finished the last of these socks last night. The yarn is Indigo Boulevards 2-ply sock in the color Lost Diadem, purchased from the Yarn Charm when the girl and I were on the college visit in Lincoln, Nebraska. I decided we each needed a pair of souvenir socks, and I had plenty of yarn with a bit left over!

With that done, I felt the urge for more garter stitch, so I pulled out my hibernating Easy shawl for some movie knitting last night. I’m almost to the end of the first skein, which means I’m almost halfway through. The yarn is Madtosh DK in the color Gosla and it’s so so so gorgeous and I definitely want this to wear as soon as it cools down around here. (So, like, maybe November, at this rate.)

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One more sign that my knitting is uninspired right now: I’m not buying yarn right now. I haven’t bought yarn since late April. Three months, guys! And we drove near a yarn store over the weekend and I wasn’t even tempted to stop! Now that’s crazy. But I’m happy with all my beautiful yarn in my stash…and okay, I confess, I know I’ll be going to the Loopy Ewe next month, so maybe I’m just biding my time.

Visiting the Frog Pond

For you non-knitters out there, frogging is ripping back your knitting. It’s called frogging because you “rip it, rip it”. It’s pretty common during the knitting process to frog when you’ve completely messed up several rows or a big section. But to frog a completed project? That’s less common, and always seemed crazy to me, until recently.

When I started my most recent Hitchhiker, it made me think about the Hitchhikers I’ve made in the past. Two were for other people and two were for me, and I rarely wear mine. One gave me hives the last time I wore it, so yeah, haven’t worn that again. But the other is a gorgeous rainbow shawl in Done Roving Frolicking Feet yarn, which is amazing yarn.

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This isn’t even a good photo and still, you can see how pretty the colors are! The problem is that it was my first Hitchhiker and I thought I could get away with using just one skein of DK weight instead of fingering and not making any other modifications. I ended up with a shawl so short it was hard to wear. Thus, I never wore it. Thus, I frogged it. And now I have a beautiful cake of rainbow yarn that I get to knit all over again!

That made me so happy that honestly, I’m thinking of frogging this big cowl I made last winter.

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I still love the yarn so much, but when I wear this, it rolls a lot and I’m not crazy about it. I think I want to try knitting a tube scarf. I could leave the ends plain and let them roll a little bit, but on a longer scarf, that wouldn’t be a problem. I just need to figure out if I have enough yarn to make a scarf that’s long enough to make me happy, and I’m not convinced yet. But I know I want to wear the yarn, and I didn’t wear it like this, so it needs to become something else and that’s that.

Have you ever frogged a completed project?

 

FO: NGY Hitchhiker

Thanks to two weekends of great Wimbledon tennis, I finished my Hitchhiker this morning! I cast on the Hitchhiker Beyond last Saturday and most of the knitting was done over the two weekends, with a few teeth here and there during the week. This was for a Nerd Girl Yarns KAL, and I chose a NGY in her Mutiny base, which is 80/20 merino/silk. Yep, the drape is as amazing as you’d imagine. Perfect with garter stitch on my size 3 needles. I love this one so much!

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The first section says to use a third of your yarn, or about 20/21 teeth. The first time I made it, I used 30 grams and had 21 teeth, and ran out of yarn too soon, so this time I was conservative and used around 25 grams I think, and only 20 teeth. I had 8 grams leftover and a gorgeous scarf in a very wearable length. I do think I’ll block it out a bit longer, but not so much that I lose the yummy squish of garter stitch.

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The color is called The Wise Build Bridges, inspired by Black Panther, and these are totally my colors so I’ll be wearing this a lot once the weather cools off.

The KAL is still going on through August 5th, so check out the Nerd Girl Yarns group on Ravelry if you want to join. I’m tempted to do another!

NGY Hitchhiker KAL

Don’t Panic! Nerd Girl Yarns is hosting a Hitchhiker KAL/CAL this month, hoping to inspire those who have lost some crafting mojo, or need some inspiration to branch out of their comfort zone. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I fit into either of those categories, but it is at least making me knit something other than socks, so that counts, right? I love Hitchhikers for the soothing garter stitch and the fun teeth, so I knew I’d be knitting another Hitchhiker Beyond. And you get bonus points for using Nerd Girl Yarns yarn, which narrowed it down to these two choices:

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At first I was convinced I’d be using the bottom, called Queen of the Amazons, but the more I looked at them, the more I knew I’d wear the purple color more. (Shocker, I know.) The color is called The Wise Build Bridges, inspired by Black Panther. I wound it this morning, the first official day of the KAL, while I was watching Breakfast at Wimbledon.

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See that sneaky pup? That’s Grace!

I couldn’t start it while Rafa was playing, because that match needed close attention and I have to count rows when I make Hitchhikers, but as soon as Rafa won, I cast on, and that was my project for the next few hours of tennis.

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I’m loving it so much. This yarn is perfect for this pattern, or maybe this pattern is just perfect, I don’t know.  Do you want to play along? Check out the Nerd Girls Yarns group on Ravelry for more details!

Giveaway: Appalachian Baby Organic Cotton

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review some U.S. Organic Cotton from Appalachian Baby. I love that it’s grown organically in the U.S. and processed by small family companies, plus it’s pretty cool that they use earth-friendly dye processes. You can learn more here, if you like. Mostly, I love pretty yarn! I got to choose from 3 color combinations, and I selected Indigo, Natural, and Doe. When it arrived, it was a delightful surprise to see the beautiful organza gift bag holding the yarn. I also liked the brown paper labels; they fit the brand perfectly.

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Each ball was 194 yards of sport weight yarn, giving me a total of 582 yards. Sport weight isn’t one I use often, and it took me forever to decide what to make with my kit. I don’t have any little babies in my life, and selfishly, I wanted to make something I could use. Finally, I decided on the Diamonds in the Rough cowl, a pattern that’s been in my Ravelry queue for ages. Since it was designed for two colors and I had three, I chose to do the main seed stitch section in stripes. At first I was going to switch to stockinette, but then I remembered the dreaded stockinette curl and decided to stick with seed stitch after all. After refreshing my memory of the provisional cast on, I got started, choosing 4-row stripes so I could easily carry the yarn up the side and avoid weaving in fifty million ends. This project took a month, giving me a finished cotton cowl in plenty of time for early fall.

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I really enjoyed this yarn. The colors were rich and earthy, and the yarn was soft in my hand, with the subtle crispness that you get with cotton. It made for a lovely squishy fabric in the seed stitch, airy and breathable but still with some substance. Given that it’s cotton, it was a little splitty, but I think I (unintentionally) made it worse by choosing the pointiest metal needles I’ve got. Still, I knit easily and quickly, a good thing since I had 30″ of seed stitch to knit! I have to say, I did get tired of it for a bit after about 20″ of neutral-colored seed stitch, but that’s no fault of the yarn, just my own wandering brain. Still, the indigo was my favorite. It’s a deep dark blue, but not hard to knit with like black is.

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My only hiccup in this project was pairing this pattern with this yarn. If you’ve ever tried to p2tbl (purl 2 together through the back loop) with cotton, you know what I mean. Cotton tends to give less than wool, so I struggled a bit with manipulating multiple stitches. I tried to remember to knit as loosely as possible, and that helped. Anyway, cotton and complicated lace are just a trickier mix than I personally like, but I have to admit the end result is attractive. The yarn blocked wonderfully, opening up the lace pattern just enough.

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And the cowl even came out long enough to wear doubled!

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I enjoyed both the yarn and the pattern. This yarn, especially since it’s machine washable and dryable, would be fantastic for baby garments and blankets. I also think it would crochet wonderfully!  It comes in seven beautiful colors, or you can buy the 3-color set in one of 3 versions: Indigo like mine, Blush, and Woodland. They’re available for purchase here.

But one lucky person can get one for free! Appalachian Baby generously provided a set for me to give away, in the same colors I used. Would you like it to be yours?

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below telling me what you’d like to make with the 3-color set of Organic Cotton!

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 6 pm CST on Friday, July 13th. All entries must be submitted on this blog. Winner will be announced by 10 am CST on Saturday, July 14th. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. (You don’t have to put the address in the comment field for everyone to see, just make sure it’s in the email address field.) I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone. If winner does not respond within 7 days, I will draw a new winner. Shipping via USPS first class. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. US residents and APO/FPO only please.

A special thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and the folks at Appalachian Baby Design, who sent me one 3 Pack U.S. Organic Cotton Yarn Set (retail $35) for free, as well as one to give away. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.