Tag Archive | handmade

Black Friday Fun

I spent too many years working retail to ever want to go to a big-box store or mall on Black Friday. Instead, we continue a tradition started by my husband and mother-in-law when I had to be at work, and we go to a small town with a charming downtown of little independent shops. We eat at the same cafe every year, where we’re waited on by the same sarcastic, funny waitress every year. We get a photo with Father Christmas and buy fudge at the corner ice cream parlor/sweet shop. And we walk around and admire neat things, and usually buy a few things.

I found a lot of fun sheep/yarn related things…actually, the husband pointed out a couple of them! The only one I actually bought was the sheep teabag holder, because how could I resist that?

Lucky me, I also found a store that sold crafts supplies like buttons, ribbon, wool, and yarn! There were some big brands, indie dyers, and an in-house yarn. This is what jumped into my arms, Malabrigo Rios in Aniversario (all that PINK!) and Hedgehog Fibres Sock yarn.

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They’ll both probably have to wait until I’m done with my Christmas knitting. I’m not sure I’m going to finish all the socks I wanted to make, but I’m not giving up yet. I made good progress on my Strutting Peacock this weekend. I’m past the gusset and just zooming along on the foot right now.

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I did make a small modification, and I’m just doing stockinette on the foot instead of the zigzag pattern. It’ll be smoother in the shoe, nobody else sees that part, plus it’s a lot faster, so I know I’ll be able to get this pair done well before Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, I did spend part of the holiday weekend putting up some decorations. No tree yet, because I don’t have the energy and I have a crazy dog that I’m afraid will eat the tree. But I’ll get there. Until then, I have my favorite part: my Santa collection!

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Now, I just need to make sure I can keep Duncan away from it…

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To all my U.S. friends, I hope you’ve had a lovely long Thanksgiving weekend!

Sock Fixation

It’s so weird how my knitting changes. Like, what I want to knit changes based on what’s happening in my life. Right now, things feel hectic and overwhelming and stressful, and all I’ve been knitting is socks. I have two socks on my needles, and they’re making me so happy. I even have fancy yarn picked out for fancy shawls, and it’s beautiful yarn and I can’t wait to knit with it…but I’m not ready yet. I just need socks right now. My current obsession is this Basket Weave Rib Sock.

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The yarn is Schaefer Yarn Nichole, which is labeled fingering, but it feels like a heavy fingering. So when I knit it up with my size 1 needles, it’s all thick and squishy and I can tell these socks are going to be heaven to wear. I love the look of the pattern too; it’s a great design for a variegated yarn, letting both the stitches and the colors play nicely together. This is also the first time I’ve made socks for someone else, so I’m really hoping I estimate well on the foot length.

My other sock is another pair of Petty Harbor socks. These are for me, in Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer in “foxglove and kestrel”, AKA purple and gray.

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Obviously it’s been taking a backseat to the blue sock. This is like my backup sock. But that’s okay, it’s perfectly happy waiting patiently for its turn.

It’s a gray, rainy Sunday here, and my errands are few and short, so I see plenty of knitting in the forecast. Hope your Sunday is equally pleasant!

Rainbow Warrior

I have another finished shawl! This week I bound off my Rainbow Warrior shawl, all 440+ stitches in a beautiful picot edge. As tedious as a picot bind-off is, I do so love the look, and it was the perfect finish for this shawl.

I’d wanted to make this shawl for months, but I wanted to do it just like the original, which meant waiting until I could justify buying the Miss Babs yarn. And a couple of times I tried, but the Perfectly Wreckless color was sold out, and I had to wait for that yarn. I just couldn’t make it with another color, I loved the pink variegated with the gray so much. Finally, I had two skeins of Yummy 2-ply in my hands: Perfectly Wreckless and Thunderstorm.

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This was so much fun to knit. I loved balancing the garter stitch with the slipped stitch sections, how there was repetition that soothed me but also some variation to keep me interested. I loved seeing the colors pop out through the gray slipped stitches. My skein of Perfectly Wreckless had more black than I would have chosen, but overall I’m still delighted with it. I loved watching it grow each time I got to an increase row, until near the end when it was all squished together on the needles. I knew it was going to be quite large, but I couldn’t quite get a sense of how large, because I couldn’t spread it out enough.

img_4660Another thing I love about this pattern: it looks awesome on both sides. The “right” side shows off the slipped stitches and is more subtle with the colors, but the “wrong” side is just as delightful, with the colors on full display.


 The pattern calls for eight slipped-stitch sections, but as I got near the end of the seventh, I realized my contrasting color was getting alarmingly low. I really didn’t want to play yarn chicken and have to frog back, and I could tell the shawl was already big enough to be wearable, so I ended with the seventh section. Since I still had plenty of gray left, I did the first two rows of the MC in section eight before starting the bind-off, to give a bigger, more defined final edge. I love this shawl. It’s exactly what I wanted it to be. 

This is a pattern I’d love to make again, as soon as I decide on another color combination. The possibilities are endless! Have you made one yet?

Furls Purple Odyssey

I feel like I have progressed to a new level of crafter: I purchased a Furls crochet hook! I’ve coveted their hooks for ages, those gorgeous colored Candy Shop hooks and the striking black and silver Odyssey hooks, but never gave in to temptation. Partly because of cost, but mostly because once I learned to knit, I wasn’t much of a crocheter anymore. If I didn’t crochet often, why buy a $30 hook when that money could go toward yarn?

Well. That all changed when I saw the ad for the pre-order of the new purple Odyssey hooks. I ordered one immediately and started counting down the days until it would ship. Lucky me, it shipped sooner than I expected, and I finally got to open it last night. It’s so pretty! It’s a darker purple than it looks here, but just as shimmery and beautiful. I pulled out some scraps to make flowers to test it, and found that it’s heavier than I expected, but not unpleasantly so. The shape was definitely comfortable in my hand. The only thing I didn’t love was that there’s no thumb rest, so when I picked up the hook I had to make sure I was holding it right to get the hook positioned, and sometimes as I worked, it would turn ever so slightly in my hand, putting the hook in a less-efficient position. I’m eager to try it on a bigger project and give myself time to get used to it. 

Anyone else use Furls hooks?

Vintage Crochet

Last night we had dinner with my mother, and she gave me a few potholders made by her mother back when my mother was young. I knew my grandmother could crochet: I have a fluffy loop dog as well as an afghan from her. But I’d never seen these little treasures before!

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These three potholders are all two layers crocheted together, and I’m sure it was thread with steel hooks. The intricacy is amazing. I can’t imagine how long it took her to make each one. And these were definitely used; you can see the one in the top right is soiled. My mom remembers her dad cooking with one of these hanging out of his back pocket.

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But these beauties don’t look like they were used at all! Each one is a real dress (I guess so you could slide it over the pot handle?) and they’re all done with perfect precision. I’m in awe. While I know I have the skills to make these, I definitely don’t have the patience! If any of you are inclined, there are some neat patterns here.

I would love to get these cleaned before maybe framing them to hang in my craft room. Anyone have any tips or recommendations? Keep in mind they’re over 50 years old!

Wood Sorrel Cowl

My latest FO happens to be a project I test-knit for a new pattern designer, Laura Cameron. I don’t volunteer for a lot of test-knitting because I just don’t have a ton of time, but I was really glad I made the time for this one. I ended up with a gorgeous new cowl!

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Laura’s pattern is called Wood Sorrel and is available on Ravelry now. It calls for 450-500 yards of DK or light worsted weight. She used a beautiful hand-dyed merino in a shade of green that perfectly complements the leafy lace pattern. Since I’m trying to curtail my yarn-buying, I shopped from my stash and came up with two skeins of Berroco Fiora in Tybee (aka gray).

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It’s a long cast-on but once I got that done and joined, it was smooth sailing. The lace pattern was complex enough to keep it interesting through four repeats, but not so complicated that I got confused or frustrated. As long as I mostly paid attention, I was fine. I did watch TV through a lot of it, and that worked out well enough — just don’t pick something you have to actually watch most of the time!

The pattern was attractively laid-out, well-written and clear, very easy to follow. I love that she included the written instructions as well as the chart, since I’m not a huge fan of charts.

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I followed the pattern exactly as written and used 430 yards, and my cowl is a big, wonderfully wearable double-loop scarf. I think it’ll be great for cooler spring and fall days, since the Fiora has a good amount of cotton. But I wish I’d done like Laura and chosen a pretty squishy merino in green or brown. And wool seems to have better stitch definition than this cotton blend, although I do think it turned out lovely. Don’t be surprised if you see this pattern show up again in an earthy-colored wool!

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You can see Laura’s other patterns on her Ravelry page, check out her blog here, or see what handspun yarn she’s got for sale in her Etsy shop here.

Socks and Scarves

Time to show off the FOs from our road trip last weekend! The first I actually finished on the way to Colorado, which was perfect because then I could wear it! Apparently Colorado weather is just as unpredictable as Missouri weather, and as we drove into Denver we saw signs warning us of an impending bout of heavy snow. Swell! Thankfully we avoided all the snow, but we did have strong, cold winds to contend with and we all forgot our coats. I couldn’t believe it: here I was with the perfect opportunity to put all my handknits to good use, and I’d left them all at home! But at least I  had my new little Copper Boom, lightweight and airy though it was, and that provided a bit of comfort.

fullsizeoutput_aa5fullsizeoutput_aa7fullsizeoutput_aa6The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in colorway Night Hawk, and it’s the best Madtosh yarn I’ve used. I find their yarns splitty, but didn’t have that issue with this yarn. I love all the colors; they’re all colors I wear frequently so I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it. The pattern is Copper Boom and it comes in two versions, the eyelet one that I made, and a solid pattern. It’s very simple but not boring, and my only minor caveat is that one edge comes out a bit tight so the ends curl even after blocking. Still, I love it!

My other FO is my first pair of sock yarn socks! Yes, I finished my Hermione’s Everyday Socks and they are perfect!

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Okay, not really perfect because they’re a tad too big, but they’re wearable and now I know to make the foot portion shorter. I love the feel of the fabric, the density of the tiny stitches, and the magic of turning the heel. So, FINE, yes, I agree: making socks is fun. In fact, I’ve already got a new pair on my needles.

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This time I’m using Kate Atherley’s Basic Ribbed Socks because I love ribbing and I love snug socks. And ribbed socks out of rainbow yarn are extra perfect. I just wish the yarn had kept up with the striping instead of starting to pool.

The socks are my lunch break knitting at work; my new at-home knitting is a scarf in yarn from my stash. (Gasp! I’m using stash yarn, not new? Crazy, I know!) I wanted a versatile ivory scarf and this more than fits the bill. It’s Manos del Uruguay Fino, which is a merino/silk blend that is just delicious to knit with. It feels good in my hands while I knit with it, and it feels good in the scarf. Every day, I look forward to going home so I can knit with this yarn. I’m going to want more Fino for sure.

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The pattern is Frisson and I love how it’s knitting up. But I’m not crazy about the way it’s written. My main peeve is that each section has several lines like “knit to 8 stitches before YO in previous RS row”. I mean, I understand the directions, but it’s just kind of a pain to have to watch for that YO two rows below each time. A stitch marker would probably help, and this far into it, I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting it quickly, but it’s still a bit annoying. Maybe I’ve gotten spoiled by patterns that tell me when to place/slip a marker, or how many stitches to knit before doing something different, so that now when I pay $4 for a pattern, I expect that kind of work to already be done for me. What can I say, I’m a lazy knitter, I guess! Anyway, like I said, it’s turning out beautifully and I imagine I’ll wear the heck out of it.

That’s my week of knitting; hope you all got plenty of knitting time too!