Mash Up

My husband wants to go see "Sucker Punch", big surprise there. "It's about girl power" he says - I say, "Go ahead and see it without me". I love a night out and I do miss going to the movies, but it has to be worth it these days. I don't think that movie would be worth it. I spotted this online today, and this, this I *would* go see. A mash up of all the Disney princess movies (and I even spy Alice in there!) and Sucker Punch. Enjoy!


Your knitting and crochet time. 2KCBWDAY7

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

With the exception of when I am driving in the car, I think I am constantly crafting or thinking about crafting. Specifically knitting, but occasionally other projects get some brain time. I get quite antsy if I am without my knitting. For me, knitting calms me down, keeps me focused and keeps my attitude in check. I knit while watching the Ravelry radar and hubs plays video games. I knit while watching crap tv. I knit in the car when I'm not driving. I knit while Lorelai is playing, eating, reading.

I do like to have a snack nearby - usually it is candy. I can quickly grab it at the end of a row or repeat and the crumb / grease factor is low.

My notions bag is always nearby, along with my iphone, and pencil / paper. Depending on the project I might have a reference book nearby. Frequently you will find Jackson in my lap as well, though that may have to change as sitting on the couches is becoming less comfortable.

I do love the portability of knitting, and again depending on the project, the pick-it-up-put-it-down-as-needed actions - even if I can only knit a few rows or a few stitches before I have to put it down again, progress can be seen. Speaking of progress, after I post this I have to get back to the swatch in progress. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Something to aspire to. 2KBCWDAY6

Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have.

The first projects that come to mind are serious lace. Especially those by Jared Flood, aka Brooklyn Tweed. I have had my eye on Bridgewater for a while, and I fell in love with Juneberry as well. I bought yarn for that one back in November - a lighter weight version. Maybe now that I feel I have a better handle on charts I may give them a go. The As You Wish shawl is inspired by "The Princess Bride" - I think this is one of those labor of love shawls - I would have to hang this up somewhere in my house as art when it was finished!

I have found myself lately thinking more and more about trying to participate in / complete the Knitting Guild Association's Masters Program. This would be awesome to add to my knitting resume and fun to "prove" myself as a talented / serious knitter to my family. Note, I am not saying that my family doesn't take my knitting seriously at all - they recognize my work, are supportive and appreciative. It figures though that now that I am seriously considering it, my time is going to be crunched with the arrival of baby #2. Still thinking about it though, because why not?

I would really like to knit a skirt. I have spotted several that I love - Lanesplitter, Claudia Evilla, Karisma 115-42, or Chelsea. I hesitate because I worry about piling and getting the fit right.

And these are on top of all the other items I have queued and planned. And I think most would require purchasing new yarn (except for some of the lace) - I am trying to be good about that. So, these ideas will be tucked away, though I am sure one of them will work its way to the forefront and I will be obsessed with it!

And now for something completely different. 2KCBWDAY5

This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create.

When in doubt, hand over the knitting to the kid. I am very interested to see how she creates a paper bag for her next project....

Edited to add, since it came up in the comments - she's not actually knitting, though wouldn't that be cool? She has just watched me knit since she was born. She will frequently take her sunglasses in the car and use the ends (the parts that go over your ears) and "knit" in the car.

Where are they now? 2KCBWDAY4

Whatever happened to your __________?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

There are a lot of different aspects to look at when looking back at a knitting project and it can make for interesting blogging, as much of the time we blog about items recently completed, new and freshly completed. It is not so often that we look back at what has happened to these items after they have been around for a while.

How has one of your past knits lived up to wear. Maybe an item has become lost. Maybe you spent weeks knitting your giant-footed dad a pair of socks in bright pink and green stripes which the then ‘lost’. If you have knit items to donate to a good cause, you could reflect on the was in which you hope that item is still doing good for it’s owner or the cause it was made to support.

I have knit many gifts and I have often thought about them - I hope they are doing well. I hope they are being used. I hope that the recipients like them. I have knit a few items for charity and while I will never know where in the world they end up, I certainly hope that they bring a little bit of comfort and sunshine with them.

We have been moving things around in our house in anticipation of setting up a baby room and getting the Lorax a true big kid bed. I uncovered a blanket that one of my great aunts made for me way way back - I am not sure if this was for when I was a baby or when I was a kid, but it has been around for as long as I can remember. It is acrylic and weighs a ton (heavy duty acrylic no doubt).
What strikes me about this blanket now is the tag.
(quick low-quality iphone photos, apologies)
To me this is like inscribing a book before you give it as a gift - I can never get rid of this blanket now (not that I would want to), but when I do get books from the library or the used book shop and I see an inscription "To Andy, Happy Birthday! Can't wait to read a story with you! Love, Aunt Mae" I feel for the book, as odd as that sounds.

Anyway, this makes me think I should try to "label" the larger knit gifts I work up - I just gave a baby blanket this past weekend - will my new cousin hold on to that blanket for a long time? Will her parents keep it for her until she has kids of her own? I have no idea.

For my own reference and ideas, I have been tucking these ideas away...
Label for a quilt, but I love that it is a bit more personalized that just "Original by Becca".
No-itch version, Fabric labels tutorial, Tips to DIY. Do you have labels for your handknits?

Tidy mind, tidy stitches. 2KCBWDAY3

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organized? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organization exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organized at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organized, blog about an aspect of that organization process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organized stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Organization is my ultimate WIP.
Circular needles are tricky for me. I like this round box to store them in better than any other holder I have seen or tried. The problem comes when you try to untangle the needle you want from the rest.

I am lucky to have a "yarn room" - it is a guest bedroom and I have taken over the closet / dresser / under the bed for the yarn, in a rather loose organization by yarn type.
Sock leftovers in the basket, some cotton in the small box. Yarns I'm thinking about trading and / or want to see frequently to try and figure out what to do with them.

The closet - bins of wool, superwash wool, an acrylic bin, fancier lace yarns and nicer blends. And a box of cotton. And a box of yarn that needs to be sorted.

Under the bed - solid sock yarns, nicer cottons.

Under the bed - variegated sock yarns.

Odd shot of the space between the couch and my computer desk where my knitting bags with assorted projects in process live - there is baby blanket, a turtle project (somewhat failed - won't be as originally intended, but rather reworked), a blanket for lorelai, my current contract knitting...

I would love to make a corkboard display of some of the fancy stitch markers I own instead of having them hang out in the bottom of my notions bag. And I saw a great idea on Ravelry - a knitter took a snippet of each of the yarn she used in a given year and popped it into a clear globe ornament (there are pictures on Rav here). So simple and yet so clever! I also love what Vivere Nel Colore shared here with the "Spring Board". I have a corkboard sitting in the basement - maybe it's time to bring it upstairs and put it to good use.

Skill + 1UP - 2KCBWDAY2

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

In the knitting hours since the end of March, 2010, my needles have been quite busy. I believe I have gotten more efficient in my knitting. I am much better at swatching - thanks in part to several knitting "jobs" (for yarn and for pay). I wish I could show the one I am working on now - it has to be the most intense swatch I have ever done, not for stitch pattern or anything like that, but because it involves each step of the final design construction. I am quite pleased with myself and how my knitting resume has grown in the last year - I knit for CookieA, Lorna's Laces, Schaefer Yarn Co, and Y2Knit, all with great feedback.

I feel a lot more confident when it comes to crochet - I feel I have the basics down there. I am still hoping to work up amigurumis in the future, but having a hook in hand is not as awkward as it once was.
Caution - I'm crafty!

I have come up with a system that really works for me when it comes to chartwork. I have mentioned before how I knit left-handed (my stitches start on the right needle and move to the left) - generally this makes no difference with most patterns, but when there are cables / charts / lace, it throws me for a loop. I do like to work with charts (I can "see" how it works now) - and I don't mind a few extra steps to modify them (printing them as a mirror image, color coding stitches and writing numbers on the chart all help me) to end up with an object that looks as intended, like "Centrino".

I have also figured out how to fix a mis-crossed cable on "Cloud Chaser" by unraveling the cable down to the mistake instead of ripping back rows and rows of knitting.
Cloud Chaser sample

For the next year I hope to continue to set my standards high and push myself when needed. I am never done learning!

A Tale of Two Yarns - 2KCBWDAY1

It's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, Day One, 2011!
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

There are so many yarns and just not enough time in which to even begin knitting them all. In the spirit of fairness, I have taken a good look over yarns I have used, lusted after, stashed and tossed, in order to answer today's prompt.

I would have to start any discussion of yarns I love with Malabrigo.
Silky Malabrigo in progress
An early love affair, I have always been taken in by the softness and color options. When they expanded their yarn line to include sock weight and lace weight I was over the moon. Interestingly though I don't constantly knit with Malabrigo (wish I could!) I have not knit even a whole lot with Malabrigo - a cowl, a scarf, a girl's dress (test knit for the company!), longies, and a shawl... otherwise I have taken to collecting it here and there. Malabrigo was also the reason I met a whole bunch of knitters at Webs - we're all part of the "Malabrigo Junkies" group on Ravelry! Recently my malabrigo mojo was reignited when I test knit Anansi - since then I have also worked up a headband and over the weekend I have finished a shawl, Chandra (it needs a block, but the heart-ish picture is Chandra when I was beginning). Malabrigo has further expanded their yarn options - I am looking forward to trying them all!

A "go-to" yarn is for my second choice for a yarn I love. I really adore the Encore line from Plymouth, especially the Colorspun. It is a wool-acrylic blend with an impressive amount of color choices and really reasonably priced. Makes great washable baby / kid things that I have made for my own kids and as gifts. It is soft and not squeaky. I do have those projects up on Ravelry - check out Lorelai's Blanket (in progress), Babysquared blanket, Willie sweater, and Presto Change-o.

I have been fed up with plenty of yarns in certain projects (too splitty, to fuzzy). I have adored many yarns when they just clicked with the project into which they were being knit (Cascade 220, Cascade 220 Superwash, Tahki Cotton Classic come to mind right away). And then there are yarns I am so curious about - Wollemeise, Bugga, Shelter, Madelinetosh, Quince & Co.... And then there are yarns you loved when you bought them, but they have only sat in the stash since then and you still don't know what to do with them. I do know this though, life is too short to knit with yarn you don't like!


Tiny Talk Tuesday

Tiny Talk Tuesday

While in the car on our way to pick up some take-out for dinner, we spotted a police car on the side of the road with lights flashing. Two cars were stopped in front of the cruiser.
Me: Look L, there's a police car!
L: Ooooh, somebody's in trouble!
Me: Maybe. Maybe not - maybe there was an accident and the policeman will help them out.
L: Yeah, maybe somebody peed on the road!

I totally bit my tongue to avoid saying that the next time she had an accident on the floor that maybe I should call the police.

Spring Fever

I am still a knitter out of season, working with wool, working on blankets and sweaters for the fall, before it gets too hot. (I know that is still a long way off, but it is coming!) Friday brought a much needed dose / boost of warm weather. I had several windows open and just wanted to be outside. As. Fast. As. Possible.
Spring Fever


For Japan with Love

There are not enough words that could even begin to make a difference. Maybe a fw dollars could?

North Shore Yarn Crawl

Last weekend, I took a break and scooted on up to Boston's North Shore to participate in a yarn crawl and hang out / catch up with old friends. I think there were 12 shops participating in the Yarn Crawl and we got to 5 of them. And each shop was so different from the others!

Our first stop was at Creative Yarns, in Beverly, which is brand-spanking new - like 2 days old kind new. You could tell this yarn has great potential - they had nice brands at a variety of price points. They also carry the Knitpicks Needles - I had heard about this ahead of time, but didn't think to check my needle stash before I left. I ended up with a set of Harmony dpns.

From there we traveled to Yarns in the Farms which is so whimsical. It's hard to describe really. I love that they had this sign outside:
Hungry for Handmade
I did have a list for the yarn crawl, it was a sort of "I'd like to try these yarns if I see them / I'd like yarn for these projects" type of list. At Yarns in the Farms I found one of those: Dream in Color Starry.
This colorway is "November Muse" - it's a really nice brown and the Lorax was born in November so it seemed perfect. No plans for what this yarn will end up as, yet...

Cranberry Fiber Arts was the next stop. The selection at this store was incredible - and so well organized. They also had a huge room with a large table that had such great natural light. I decided on a skein of Manos Silk Blend in a gorgeous jewel-toned magenta.
No project plans set for this yarn either.
As I was checking out, I won a prize, just because! Sweet! I won a kit to make a scarf -
The yarn is a dark-dusty-green and the button is really cute.

Coveted Yarn was a surprise - it looks like a beach shack from the outside, but inside it is spacious and COVERED in yarn. (Locals, think "Yarn Barn", but a bit more organized). I did find a few items on my list that I was hoping I would find, Malabrigo!
A skein of Worsted in Whales Road,
And a skein of Rios in Solis,
Plans for each of these are a bit fluid right now, but I do expect I will work them up sooner rather than later.

Our last stop was at Seed Stitch. This shop has some more of the higher end yarns, which I lusted over, but in the end decided to instead be a "grown up knitter" and actually get a bottle of Soak. I have liked using the sample packets I have picked up here and there, and it just makes sense to get a bottle. I was also excited to see a trunk show going on at Seed Stich - Baby Cocktails! The Cassis pattern is in my queue (to be made with my newly obtained Lorna's Laces yarn in the Kerfluffle color!) for a fall sweater / coat / post-baby & while wearing-the-baby item. I tried on the sweater and while I did like how it fit, I know I'm going to make mine one size up. All of her work was even more striking in person - she has a lot of great designs.

Phew. What a yarnie weekend. I think I'm still on fiber fumes. Because it doesn't end there either! Betsy gave me a new knitting bag:

AND, of course I knit whenever I had the chance. I whippped up a new headband - Blue Leaf Headband in some Malabrigo Chunky that I scored in the stash room at the Knitters Review Retreat. Color is "Whales Road" and the skein I had was less than full - I think it was 78 yards. I was able to make this one for me and a second smaller one - the smaller one needs seaming and then I will see if fits the Lorax.
Malabrigo Headband

Not a bad way to spend a weekend at all!


Thankful for Knitting

It's bee a wild ride these last few weeks. A whirlwind of good and not so good and really really really frustrating. Through it all, there is knitting. Thank goodness. And while I consider myself to be a fairly equal opportunity knitter, I am even more thankful when I get to do some selfish knitting in one of my favorite yarns, Malabrigo. On one of the swap threads on Ravelry I spotted this gorgeous item by another knitter and playfully asked if she needed it test knit. She said yes so I jumped at the chance to work up Anansi by Caryl. I must itching for spring because her version in yellow Malabrigo made me powerless to look away. So sunny (and her photos are awesome!)! I dug into my stash and pulled out my skein + cake (this is important) of Malabrigo Worsted in the Marine colorway.
This was such a great knit - the rows, though ever increasing in stitch count, never dragged on and I was able to work on it at SnB and still participate in the conversations.
Malabrigo makes great pompoms! I used my largest pompom maker and these are just fabulous. I want to wear this all the time!
So, I said earlier that it was important that I had one skein plus one cake? Yeah, I have learned my lesson the hard way about using caked yarns from my stash. WEIGH THEM FIRST. I think I had used some of the yarn for a swatch or something and didn't keep it, because, I ran out of yarn! Ugh. Knitter's nightmare. I undid my gauge swatch, I spit spliced as many lengths as I could, and I only did 11 repeats. I ran out halfway through the bind off. This is totally my own fault for making an assumption, no fault of the pattern! I found some Berroco yarn that came close enough in color to use that to finish the bind off, and I'm living with it.

This project has rejuvenated my Malabrigo mojo - and what timing as it is Malabrigo March! I am planning on another project by Caryl - Chandra in Malabrigo Silky Merino, "Cloudy Sky" (and all 3 skeins are waiting to be cakes.)


Must Knit In Color - Complete!

Binding off a project is quite satisfying. Especially for a project that requires not much else post-bind-off except for weaving in a few ends, maybe a bit of steam to block it flat. I finished my "Must.Knit.In.Color." scarf this week - after a rather frustrating day and then frustrating knitting session. Each row is quite long, and I could see the end of the yarn! I had just enough to do the bind off row and then decided to double check the pattern. Why then? I have no idea. I went a row to far, so if a fit of wanting it done right, I undid that extra row. For the record, undoing a 400+ stitch row of linen stitch takes a lot longer than knitting linen stitch. Anyway, it is done now and done correctly. It still could use a quick pass under an iron, but I may skip that part for now, because I am looking forward to wearing this scarf.
(Jackson can model for now. He owes me.)
As I have mentioned before linen stitch or woven stitch is great for these wild-colored yarns. Both sides look good, and as you knit the yarn up it is a mystery as to how the color will play with the color and stitches nearby. I had thought about alternating with some grey wool, just to make it bigger, but I am glad that I let this yarn do its own thing. If you need further inspiration check out the project gallery on Ravelry for the Scrappy Lengthwise Scarf - this is a great pattern for scraps too! I would love to work one in sock yarn leftovers, or even a Hope-and-Donald-2.0.


Follow Up

I promise, I'll be getting back to the yarn and knitting in the next post - I've got some neat WIPs, new projects and a new FO! After yesterday's rant / vent / brain dump, I thought I should share this photo. Forgive the really poor quality - iphone + low light does not make for a good shot, but she ran away when I tried any other shots. While DH was making dinner, the lorax asked for help with blocks. Seriously, her idea - and then we used the lincoln logs to make a cabin for "Laura, Mary, Baby Carrie, Ma, Pa and their good 'ol bull-dachshund Jackson!"
princess & log cabin
Yes, that's the Cinderella outfit. Our log cabin turned out quite well!
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