Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lots of FO's!!!









Hello All!  Well, I have been busy actually finishing projects this week.  It has been amazing.  I am so motivated by participating in The Knit Girllls Stash Dash that I've completed no less than 6 projects this week!  My goal is to knit/spin 5K of yarn by the end of Stash Dash on August 14th.  With finishing the above projects I have only 1075.33 meters to go, which should be no problem with over a month and a half left.  Now on to the projects...

First up is a pair of socks you've seen from an earlier post.  They are Wendy D. Johnson's Gusset Heel Basic Socks with an added 3 x 1 rib and using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.  The yarn is some Stroll from Knit Picks in a discontinued colorway that I don't have the name for anymore.  They have been on the needles since last year and I am so happy that they are finished that I am giving them to my mom today instead of being prudent and saving them for her birthday or Christmas.  I have such a hard time waiting to give gifts once they are finished.

Next, is another pair of socks this time using Wendy D. Johnson's Short Row Toe and Heel Basic Socks pattern with no added ribbing and using the same cast off as the previous pair.  What makes these particularly fun is that they are knit using up lots of sock yarn scraps from other projects in 5 different colorways.  I tried to make them match up as best I could and am quite pleased with the results.  The only downside to them is weaving in all the ends.  Next time I make scrappy Frankenstein socks I will make a sock yarn magic ball instead I think.  Really the same amount of work, but it's on the front end of things which I prefer.

Now these next two projects were really fun.  They are trivets made out of knitted I-cords from this pattern in the latest Summer issue of Interweave KNITS.  I used this little I-cord knitting "machine" which made the actually knitting go pretty fast.  Then you braid the cords together pinning the end bits.  Next, you then sew up the braid as you wind the braid around (braid itself hides the stitching under the I-cords.)  Lastly, you unwind the cords until they are all the same length, tie them together and weave in the ends.  I used the thick plant dyed Lamb's Pride yarn I use to knit my toys instead of the sock yarn recommended in the pattern.  The resulting trivets are thick and stiff and should sufficiently keep hot pots from burning a table.  My guess is I'm going to give these out as Christmas gifts this year so I'll be making a lot more.

The last two are spinning projects that I've been working on and off on for about a month.  I was only planning on making one skein, but being still pretty new to spinning I didn't spin the plies the same thickness and had a lot, 42 grams, of the white leftover.  So, I wound what was left on the bobbin into a center pull ball and plied it to itself plying from both ends of the yarn.  Thus 2 skeins:  one a rainbow gradient from plant dyed wool and angora/romeldale wool and the second all white angora/romedale wool.  The rainbow came out to weigh 181 grams with 410 yards in length and the white 42 grams and 100 yards long.  I'm going to knit this cowl from them.  I am short about a 100 yards according to the pattern so it will be a bit shorter, but still lovely I think. 

I always skip the part of Yarn Along where you tell what it is you are reading as I haven't been reading.  It just cuts into knitting/spinning time which is my first love.  Then it finally dawned on me that I could listen to audio books while I knit or spin.  Yeah, took me a while didn't it?  I've heard lots of buzz about Outlander by Diana Gabaldon from all the knitting patterns, project bags and yarn colorway inspirations that I've started listening to it this week.  I'm mainly of Scots heritage so it's particularly interesting to me being set in Scotland in the mid 1700's.  Some of my ancestor names have come up like Dougal and Duncan (in fact most of my male ancestor names start with the letter "D" or some Gaelic version of John.)  Anyway, it's good so far, a little more on the sexy/romance side than I like being more inclined to historical fiction and mysteries, but it has a lot of those elements too which are keeping me interested.

Well that's what's been keeping me busy this week.  What have you been up to?

Joining in with 

Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On
Ginny for Yarn Along

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Knit Hair Accessories





Hello!  It's officially Summer now here in Minnesota after the Summer Solstice this past Sunday and I find myself wanting to knit small quick items.  Silly really as we have air conditioning so it's a very comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit and I could pretty much knit anything I wanted in comfort.  But, still I find myself wanting to knit on smaller items that don't sit in my lap as I knit them.  Thus, in comes in the above projects in a category I've never knit from before - hair accessories.  My summer copy of Interweave's KNITS magazine arrived last week and contained a whole section on headbands, kerchiefs and head scarves of which I loved every single one!  

My favorite by far was the Jubilee Kerchief by Shaina Bilow which you can see in the first two photos.  The original calls for a cotton blend DK weight yarn of which I do not possess, and not buying yarn I wasn't going to go purchase it.  So, into the yarn stash I dove and came up with a very pretty brown sock yarn by Malabrigo, which if I doubled the fingering weight strand turned into about a DK weight - just what I needed.  I did have to buy the navy iris metallic beads from Artbeads, but since I'm not on a bead buying freeze this was fine with me.  It was a very simple knit with the only tedious part being you have to string all 253 beads before you get to begin knitting but in all honesty this really didn't take too long.  This was my first project knitting with beads and I was delighted to find it really easy to do.  In fact I see a beaded shawl in my future...

Next up is a headband called the Wrap and Tie Headband by Jenise Hope.  It calls for Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn, which I happened to have in my stash - yay!  This pattern is written out line by line or you could knit from the included chart.  A very simple pattern in an increasing then decreasing 2 x 2 rib with a wide center section.  It's just long enough, about 27inches blocked, to tie twice with short little ends that my hair hides.  The headband is very lightweight so as to hardly notice it's presence.

While these projects only added about 180 meters to my Stash Dash totals, they were immensely satisfying with the instant gratification of only taking just over a day each to knit.  After I finish these socks, which are oh so close to being completed, I'm going to see what other hair accessories I can knit with my stash yarn.

Joining in with:

Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On
Ginny for Yarn Along

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Podcasts, Stash Dash and Gifts



Well, I almost didn't get a post done this week as I have been distracted by the discovery of knitting podcasts.  Do you listen to any?  What are your favorites?  So far, I really like The Knit Girllls, Knitmore Girls, Little Bobbins Knits, Snappy Stitches and In a Sknit and have been listening to them in my alone time during the morning before my son wakes up.  It's like sitting a chatting to a knitting friend which really appeals to me as I am looking for more knitting community.

While listening to one of the Knitmore Girls podcasts I learned about a fun "event" called Stash Dash.  It's run by Leslie and Laura of The Knit Girllls through their Ravelry group.  It's a race (with yourself) to finish your WIPs and knit or spin from your stash (no purchasing new yarn or fiber) in racing lengths of 3K, 5K and 10K.  Basically you are counting the meters of yarn you knit or spin from May 22nd to August 14th.  Since I'm trying not to buy any new yarn or fiber until next year this event is right up my alley.  I've committed to the 5K and because you can count the whole yardage of knit items upon finishing or fixing and refinishing them I am already about 1/2 way with Hubbie's 2 vests, a set of coasters and a mobius cowl.  I'm hoping to finish another cowl, a pair of socks that have been sitting around for some time, my Brown Russian sweater, some rainbow yarn, some alpaca yarn and then lastly knit a cowl (or something) for the rainbow yarn I spin.  It's rather a lot but most of these items are about 1/2 way done.


A few of my Stash Dash items are gifts.  I knit the coasters, which should be familiar from here and here (the yarn seems to keep providing and not running out,) and are a gift for our long time neighbor (13 years) Joe.  He got married last year and they wanted a house that they chose together so they moved a whole 5 blocks down in our same neighborhood.  Our neighborhood simply rocks!  It's like a small town with full walkable amenities (and I mean the basics like library, grocery, bank, hardware store etc. not just cute shops) even though we are considered a suburb of Minneapolis.  The next item is also for a neighbor who was a baby when Hubbie and I  moved into our house and now her and her twin (hence the second forthcoming cowl) have graduated high school.  The pattern I used for the one pictured is this one and the second will be knit from this one.  I've got to get moving as the party is this weekend.  The last photo is a pair of socks that have been living in my purse for I think over a year so it's time to get those puppies done.  They use this simple pattern by toe-up-sock guru Wendy D. Johnson and my only mod was to add a one / three rib so that they'll hug the foot.  They will be a gift for my mom's birthday I think. 

And that's it!  Whew!  What are you working on lately?

Joining in late with:

Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On
Ginny for Yarn Along

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sweater Weather?


The weather has turned to summer here in Minnesota so of course I'm knitting a thick turtleneck sweater.  What?  Well, I finished my husband's cabled vest and for some reason instead of going back finishing my 2nd fair isle mitten I turned to this WIP I started in December.  It's a Baby Cocktails pattern called White Russian, although mine is decidedly brown ;) , by Thea Colman and the most exciting part is I'm using my own handspun yarn.  I think what swayed me was working on Hubbie's Shetland Vest which also was knit with handspun.  Thus, it will be a balmy 91 degrees Fahrenheit  (that's 33 degrees Celsius for you all outside the US) today and I will be knitting a winter sweater.  Weird?  Yes.  But, I have better luck finishing projects if I go where my mood takes me instead of trying to adhere to my "To Knit" list.

The handspun is a lovely mix of Blue Faced Leicester and my favorite Shetland all grown and processed right here in Mora, Minnesota.  It turned out so bouncy squishy soft I wish you could feel it through your computers monitors (hmm...maybe in the future.)  Anyways, the wool spun to a DK weight making a total of 1327 yards (1213 meters.)  This did limit me a bit for finding a sweater in my size being a bit on the busty side.  What I really wanted to knit with it was this cardigan sweater but I didn't have enough yardage.  The White Russian pattern has been in my Ravelry queue for a long time because I love, love, love turtlenecks and after perusing through it I was surprised to find that I had enough (plus a bit extra) yarn for my size.  So, I cast on in December right after spinning the yarn and knit the turtle neck section, it's a top down knit, and promptly put it all away into a project bag for another day.  Maybe I'm going to sweep through my WIP's this year.  Wouldn't that be cool?  Now, I'm simply thankful for air conditioning making this whole winter sweater knitting possible on this decidedly summer day. 

Oh, and to update from this post I made the plunge and went to my first Knit Night with a lovely group of ladies who I found on Ravelry.  It was wonderful.  They didn't look at me blankly when I discussed different bind offs for sock cuffs as my husband frequently does, they talked about stashes and yarn buying freezes and so much wooly fun.  It was good.

Joining in with:

Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On
Ginny for Yarn Along

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Sale!




Business has been slow in my Etsy shop Simply Playing so I decided to spice things up with a Summer Sale.  Everything in the shop is on sale for 20% off from now through Friday June 12th.  Just use the coupon code "TOYS20" upon checkout to receive your savings.  Thank you all for your support and happy shopping!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Finished Project Pics!


Not sure why I look crabby, must be my reaction to something my Hubbie said.  Ha!


See the change in the color variegation?  I didn't blend the 2 skeins of Malabrigo Lace as I should have.


Here's my Hubbie Dan.  Isn't he handsome in his Shetland Vest.


Just a quick post today to show you some of my finished projects.  Up first is my Gemini Summer Top pattern by Jane Richmond.  It fits really well, but the shoulders do slip a bit.  I knit a few rounds of garter on the neck edge ( not done in the original pattern) to help prevent this, but I think it needed to be a tighter gauge altogether (for the lace part that is.)  So, if I were to knit this one again I would go down a needle size for the lace and keep the same size needle for the body.  The Hemp yarn I used has a lovely weight to it and feels really good next to my skin.  Now, if it would only warm up enough to wear it.

Next up is my Hubbie Dan's Shetland Vest.  I was only lengthening this sweater about 2 inches in the stockinette body portion and re-knitting 2 inches in the ribbing.  I talked about how I did that here.  It fits him very well now and he can reach upwards and not expose his stomach.  I am very pleased I did not have to re-knit this whole sweater.  Shetland is a grabby yarn and doesn't like being frogged much.

Dan's cabled vest is almost done too!  My oldest WIP by far - 3 years if you can believe it.  I have the ribbing around one armhole to do today then block it.  I didn't run out of yarn either and in fact have leftovers.  All that worrying for naught.  What's coming off your needles?

Joining in with Andrea for Fibre Arts Friday
 Linda for Creative Friday
Jenna for Freshly Finished Friday 
Beth for Flash Your Finishes Friday

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Meet My New Spinning Wheel


I finally found a used Lendrum spinning wheel on Craigslist after searching for two years!  My first spinning wheel was an Ashford Traditional which I added a double treadle to as I had horrible rhythm with the single treadle.  It was a nice wheel and while I enjoyed spinning on it just wasn't a good fit to our tiny house and boy was it hard to carry to classes.  I tried a Lendrum at my first spinning class at The MN Textile Center in St. Paul and loved it utterly and completely, but the price put it out of my reach. Then a few weeks ago I found one on CL for a price I could afford and it is a perfect match.  She fits sweetly in a corner, spins beautifully and it's a breeze to fold her up and take her with me.  I turned around and sold my Ashford wheel with all her accessories which amazingly covered the cost of the new wheel - yay! 

 To try her out I finished spinning the second ply of some BFL fiber I purchased from the lovely ladies at Friends in Fiber.  The colorway is Antique Tapestry and is a rich array of copper, brown and teal.  I then plied the two singles together using the Bulky head flyer (which is a breeze to switch out) to a DK/light worsted weight yarn.  I cast on right away for the Spiral Cowl which you see above.  It was a fun knit as I learned something new - how to do a picot edge cast on and bind off, and the spiral lace pattern that makes up the middle section was a breeze to knit and very relaxing.  I even got to use one of the handmade buttons from Wooly Moss Roots that I salvaged from a failed project .  It's made of walnut which matched the cowl's colors beautifully.

Currently, I'm spinning the fiber I got from Shepard's Harvest from Three Sisters Farm and Fiber which I talked about here.  It is practically spinning itself into a very fine ply.  I purchased 8 oz. of fiber which gives me enough to make a 3 ply yarn with a good amount of yardage I think.  I really love 3 ply handspun yarn as it's so round and pleasant to knit with.  I'm only sneaking in time at the wheel when I take a break from knitting my Hubbie's cabled vest so progress is slow and I'm only on the very beginning of the second ply.  This yarn's fate will be a cowl I think as it is so, so very soft and well, I love simply love cowls - so cozy!

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.