Wednesday, October 31, 2018

spoooooky stashing

Scary how yarn just ends up in your stash, isn't it?? :) (Ok so that's a little bit of a stretch, but it's Halloween!) 

While we were away in Kentucky, I kept my eyes peeled for local yarn stores to visit. I was not disappointed! ReBelle in Lexington was a cute house jam packed with yarn in each of its little rooms. I would have loved to move in there and knit all the things. They also had a great selection of mugs, notions, and other fun items as well as many inspiration pieces knitted up to showcase the yarns. I purchased the yarn below, malabrigo arroyo in 'pleiades', for a hat I will be making to have one of my very own of something I saw knitted up in the store. A great way to get people to buy yarn, no? I'm also going to note here (so I don't forget the yarn) that they had a luxurious selection of Cascade Eco Plus wool that was SO SOFT. I didn't get any, but I sure wanted to. I did get a really squishy skein of lavender Cascade alpaca though. Couldn't put it down. 

The second place we found was in a cute little downtown on Main Street in LaGrange. Friends and Fiber is more of a typical storefront, also jam packed with a great selection of yarn. The thing I liked the best about this place was the gaggle of people in there knitting together. The shopkeeper let us know that there was a big group in there most days - it seemed like a great community. There were yarns I hadn't ever seen before in this shop, and a sale rack with epic markdowns. Those fuchsia skeins there were half off, alpaca, and sparkly - how could I not? And the variegated skein came off a stack of just fantastically vibrant sock yarns that were hand dyed in Turkey. I am going to have an epic pair of socks from that one. Last but not least, the pompom will be destined for the aforementioned hat. Navy poof on navy speckled fabric? Yes please.

I'm really happy to have found a couple of local yarn shops to frequent on our trips back to visit Dave's folks! I prefer to go to get yarn in person to shopping online. Not only does it make it easier to choose yarns since I like to feel textures and see colors in person, but it keeps alive the type of shop, craft, and creative community that I think every town needs. Three Bags Full is where I will go back to when I visit my folks, Uncommon Threads and Fengari are my local haunts here in California, and I always keep my eyes open whenever we travel to get a special fiber memento of the trip when I can. 

So, while it's "scary" that my stash is growing again... I'm supporting local shops and I'm certain I'm up to the challenge!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

hand stitched

Monday Night Football and embroidery? Sure, why not! I went rummaging through the little storage ottoman in our living room and found this gem at the bottom. I had the felt flowers attached and embroidered a little bit of the chain stitch vines, but not much else. It was looking sort of empty, so I got my creative juices flowing and added some more while the game was on.

I'm pretty sure I started this before this blog even started... 2011? 2010? At any rate, a long time ago. The background is just three scraps of fabric I sewed together and the flowers I cut out and embellished freehand. The embroidered curlicues are a fun whimsical finish, and I even managed to stitch a couple of flower buds in them. I just need to trim and fix the fabric in the hoop and then decide if I want a ruffle around it or not. Maybe? Not sure yet, but super happy with the stitching! A fun relaxing evening.

Monday, October 29, 2018


Yep, more leftovers. These are lovely alpaca blend yarns leftover from a scarf gift a couple Christmases ago. I thought a logical follow up to all the mittens I've been knitting lately would be hats. Of course this doesn't match any of the mittens I've made but that isn't the point, is it? This project was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. 

I really wanted to make a hat with a contrast double brim. I'm not sure where I got this idea but it got in my head and wouldn't go anywhere even when it got hard to find a pattern. I blame Pinterest, probably fair. I did eventually find a pattern ("A Very PDX Hat") on Ravelry. Truth be told, working the first rows in the round off of the provisional cast on was a royal pain in the rear but the brim turned out looking so great that I'll just have to suffer through again on another hat. It's just too cool. Maybe it was that my circulars were a little too long, hard to say. Or maybe it really is just a pain in the butt. Either way, the result was worth it. 

I thought I would settle in to make the whole thing in the barley color with the peachy inner brim and that would be it. Then I thought maybe I'd just do the whole thing in stockinette instead of the PDX ribbed pattern to keep it simple, and I'd put a navy pompom on top. But then I've been on a stranded knitting kick lately, haven't I? And there is that very pretty dark orange begging to be used. So here we have the mashup of two patterns, one for the band pattern and the other to tell me how to shape the hat. I was trying to make a fitted beanie for myself so I was conservative on how long to go before the crown decreases. Silly me, I tried it on and it fit just ok instead of great so I ended up ripping back and adding another inch. Then of course, it was a little more slouchy than I wanted. Never happy!


The real irony is that Dave came home at that point and commented how nice it looked, so I let him try it on. It fit perfectly. Guess who is getting another hat? And there goes the navy pompom idea down the drain. Really it tickles me that he likes it so much, so it's no problem at all. I was tempted to cast on for another, but matching hats might be a little bit much, even for us. Maybe I'll just borrow it once in a while!

Pattern: A Very PDX Hat (shaping and brim) and Magnus' Hat (band pattern) - my Ravelry page
Needles: US 7 and US 8
Yarn: Berocco Ultra Alpaca in 'Grove Mix', 'Persimmon', and 'Barley'

Friday, October 26, 2018


Before we headed out for our week in Kentucky, I did manage to find a project to get started that could come on the trip with me. I have had this pretty variegated yarn in my stash for a while now - pretty sure Dave's mom bought the two skeins for me. I left on day one with this...

...and came back a week later with a mostly finished project. It took just a couple more days to finish the last few rows. It doesn't really need a blocking, but I might do it just to see if that helps the top edge stop curling under. 

When I was looking around for projects to pair with this yarn, another person on Ravelry had made this shawl with this exact yarn. It looked so nice from her photos that I decided it was the thing to make. I'm sure this would have knitted up nicely too, but the yarn suits the crochet stitches so well. I think it must be the silk in the blend as well as the lovely muted colors that makes it look the way it does. The word I keep thinking of is "creamy". 

The original pattern does not call for the shell edging but I liked the way it looked on the inspiration project, so shells we have. They finish off the whole thing really nicely and I think will help the way it drapes by giving more weight to the edge. I originally thought this was just a gray and beige mix, which made me think of the sandy planet Tatooine in Star Wars (it also helped that the original crocheter called hers Clone Wars - word association anyone?), but looking closely the grays also include some blue-ish and purple-ish hues as well. Is it really a muted rainbow and not a sandy planet? Still, Aunt Beru's drink she served at breakfast was kind of a blue-ish/purple-ish color from what I can remember, and the twin moons were certainly that pretty dusty orange, so Tatooine it is. 

Pattern: Wrap Me in Ice Cream Shawl (my Ravelry page)
Hook: US H (5 mm)
Yarn: Knitting Fever Indulgence 6 ply w/ Silk in '10'

Friday, October 12, 2018

fair isle fanatic

Wednesday, I started a thing. 

Yes, those are leftover balls of yarn from past projects, and yes I'm patting myself on the back for yet another scrap buster project in the works. These vibrant colors are going to work themselves into some stranded colorwork mittens. I had so much fun with the little bit of fair isle in the socks I just finished that I wanted more! I've had this pattern in my Ravelry favorites for a while, saving it for the time when I felt like I knew what I was doing enough to try it out. They are deliciously complicated looking, but really not that bad. Or I've improved a lot in my knitting skills. Likely both. 

In just TWO afternoons I had a finished mitt minus thumb. I can feel it in my hands, for sure, but the knitting was just so addictive. The best part so far is the all over heart pattern on the palm, though I suspect I'm going to like the detail that goes up the thumb even more once that's done. I also love the color combination and how the green pops against the plum background.

Going to rest my hands a little bit after the ill-advised marathon on these, but I'm heading out on a plane soon so I still want to take something along. Maybe if I take something that isn't on tiny needles and doesn't require carrying a color in each hand I'll be better off. I don't think the Shetland shawl is a good candidate since it's at a pretty fiddly stage of development, so it's back to the stash to sniff out a new project!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

do the wave

I'm on the home stretch of my Shetland shawl. It will be many rows of knit on border until I'm done, but I've got a decent start. It took me a bit of thinking to understand just how the border gets put on, but since I sat down to "just start" and did it wrong a few times it is now going along pretty smoothly. I tell myself if I can do two repeats a day (on average) then I'll be finished in a month! That's not that long at all.

This last border is really cool. The way the decreases and yarn overs work together, the pattern emerges as the crest of a wave. It even curls over on itself - so neat. Part of my issue making progress is going to be that I have to look at the pattern for this section, I haven't been able to memorize the chart yet. That means it won't be great football knitting, but it might make a good pre-bedtime meditation. I've got seven little wavelets done already, just three and a half more sides left! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

medallion magic

Sometimes it just takes a moment of assessing how far along a project is to motivate finishing up. That's certainly the case with this quilt top.

Since writing about it on Sunday, I got to thinking just how close to a finished top I was. Then, when I wanted to sit down and knit all afternoon today I got myself into the mood to press seams and sew the final quarter block of this top together instead. Once that was done, well, it was just three seams to glory. 

I have to say, I am really happy with it. I knew I liked the fabrics together as a group, and I knew I'd thought about the placement of the colors as best I could in my head, but seeing it all put together really tickles me pink. Or purple, rather. I like the pops of green, and I love the way the navy squares anchor everything. As this was coming together in individual blocks I was worried about the blocks where I substituted white for the background, but it doesn't distract me nearly as much as I was afraid it would. Stepping back from hanging this up and seeing the whole picture was pretty cool. First milestone down! Now on to basting, backing, and binding.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

oh my! a quilt!

I'm working on a quilt, I swear, I'm working on a quilt. It's been so long since I have that it's a little hard to believe. My nieces even got in on the fun when they visited in August! Together we finished one quarter of it. The going is much slower now without helpers :) 

I started this back in June by sewing together strips of fabric and cutting out stacks and stacks and stacks of HSTs. Once the HSTs were done I had a pressing day (or two) where the triangles transformed into fully formed HST blocks which I then sorted into their respective piles. It felt like most of the work was really done at that point. What remains is "just" sewing squares into rows and rows into four large quarters of the quilt. 

While my nieces were here we devised a system where we stacked everything together ahead of sewing. Each row was labeled with the correct number and the squares were arranged in the order and orientation in which they were to be sewn. As you might imagine, this went very quickly with enthusiastic helpers!

I've got this stack of rows sitting on my desk waiting to be pressed and sewn together now. 

Current status: three quarters of the quilt are finished, and the rows for the last quarter are sewn up. So close to getting to sew these pieces together into a huge quilt top! It should be about 84" square, and all of these random looking stripes are going to come together into an amazing looking mosaic. Time will tell!

Monday, October 1, 2018

fair isle flamingo

I'm very proud of myself after this finish because I feel like I learned so much along the way. I've knitted socks with heel flaps before, but I don't think it made much sense to me in terms of "sections" of the sock until this project where I made each section with a different color. Working the contrasting heel flap and figuring out where to pick up the stitches to continue in the pink led to an aha moment for me, which is nice. Also working with three colors and a pattern that looks complicated (but isn't really, shhh!) and turns out looking like this is really rewarding!

The first sock looks very well planned out and super cute with this little toe cap of purple. I wasn't thinking of doing the contrasting heel flap originally, but it turned out really good that I did because the pink didn't go as far as I thought it would on the second sock! But because I did that, I didn't think I'd have enough gray to do both toes completely so I randomly picked a place on the toe to switch colors. 

I kind of wish I had planned my yarn use better so I would have a matching pair - I like the first sock so very much. But I tried and missed, that's ok. The goal was really to use up the leftovers, and that I did. I ran out of pink on the second sock much sooner than I would have guessed, so I just filled in with the purple. Then on the toe I kept knitting with the gray until I ran out, so the toes are also mismatched. But if they are in shoes, who can tell ;) 

Interesting thing about the fair isle band at the top - I knitted a little bit tighter on the second sock since the first was a little loose, and behold I started to see a 'dominant color' effect in the pattern that I didn't have with the looser knit first one. Arne and Carlos insist that there is no such thing as a dominant color, just tension problems, and now I understand what they're saying. Whether there is legitimately dominant color in fair isle knitting or not doesn't matter to me, who am I to say after all, but it was certainly interesting to see the difference I got just from a change in tension. 

They are not as snug as I would prefer them to be, so next time I know to cast on fewer stitches. I was worried I was going to cut off my circulation with the fair isle section if I did anything smaller, but I guess I was wrong! They still work though and will be able to go on over riding breeches which is a plus. I think the socks that have the heel flap and heel gusset like this rather than the afterthought heel I've been doing will also be bigger around the ankle on the natural, so I'll file that lesson away for later use. It makes sense when you think about it, but I just didn't. 

Pretty pleased with the way they turned out even with the mismatched feet. I'm also happy to have used up two of my leftover balls of yarn. Onward to the next stash buster! 

Pattern: Border Socks by Mary Jane Mucklestone (my Ravelry page)
Needle: US 2 and 2.5 (2.75 mm and 3 mm)
Yarn: Baah! La Jolla in 'flamingo pink' and 'grey onyx' and Serendipidye Kings Mountain Sock in 'claret'