Friday, March 28, 2014

Completed: An Earthy Rainbow Cowl

Sorry there are no photos of me wearing this cowl.  I'm not the best with "Selfies" and my husband works long hours during the week so if I don't catch him on the weekend to take photos they just don't happen.  Anyway, I am very very pleased with this finished cowl and have worn it quite a bit.  My neck is always covered at this time of year with either a turtleneck or cowl or both (you can never be too careful you know.) I used the Honey Cowl pattern which is free and has a perfect blend of a "thinking" while you knit row to a "non-thinking" row.  Give it a test knit if you haven't already.  What made this project absolutely fabulous was the fact that I had less than a yard of yarn left upon finishing.  Yup, that photo above is all the yarn that was leftover - my kind of project!

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday and Tami for FO Fridays.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Bunny Tale or Tails That Is.

I've been working on getting my shop's inventory of Waldorf styled knitted toys full to bursting and this week's assignment is bunny tails since Easter is less than a month away.  The cute pom pom tails are made with some of my own angora/merino handspun yarn using a fork, darning needle and a sharp pair of scissors.  I love how they look all jumbled up in a pile.  After the tails I start knitting the squares that make up there bodies using the dimensions in this pattern.  The yarn choices are grey angora/wool, brown mohair, tan angora/wool or dark brown alpaca (not shown in the photo.)  Next, using double pointed needles I knit up the ears, which are of my own design.  Lastly,  it's on the sewing and stuffing.  So, there you have it a bunny tale (of a sort)!

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cute Cozy Coasters

Just a short post today as I might have over done it on my last post about my yarn stash.  My latest knitting project is making these Cozy Coasters from Joelle Hoverson's book More Last Minute Gifts.  I modified the pattern by doubling the alpaca sport weight yarn to make it thicker and upped my needle size to size 9s to make the coaster 4 1/4 inch square as opposed to her scant 3 1/4 inch square dimensions.  Once you get the rhythm of the double knitting down they cruise along, BUT they take way more time then the 4 hours per pair she lists in her book.  I would say it's more like 4 hours per coaster as double knitting is just very time consuming.  That said, you may wonder why I would take so much time to knit such a nondescript item as a coaster.  Well, I just really, really like the results:  they are thick (having the 2 layers instead of one,) they are oh so soft (so my mug does not clank down on them,) I have the yarn already (and no other use for it) and I simply love the look of them.  I am making 2 coasters in each color and then using the leftover yarn to knit 3 trivets which will probably be about 6 inches square or there about.

As for my latest read, I must admit I have yet to start it.  My homeschooling friends and I are having a book club meeting about it in 2 weeks so I need to get reading, reading, reading.  It's called Free to Learn by  Peter Gray and is similar in theme to the other book titled the same by Pam Laricchia that I wrote about in my last Yarn Along post.  It's about the importance of play in a child's life and how they learn best while pursuing their own interests.  I am excited about it, but am so tired at the end of the day (when I usually read) that it hasn't been happening.  Hopefully, I'll have more to share about it next week.

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along. 

Stash Outing and Going Cold Sheep!

Do you have a yarn stash?  Most knitter's do and I am no exception.  The problem with stashes is they tend to get out of hand.  Mine did.  Yes, yes it did.  Perhaps you remember this post where I sold some of my stash off to make amends (so to speak) to my over indulgence?  Those skeins were good ones to sell and I'm glad I did.  They were all impulse purchases bought mostly for colors that I just loved, but don't go with anything I own or look good on me etc. (you get the idea.)  What yarn I saved all have a workable future project in the planning stages. 

So here goes.  My yarn stash in their containers.  It's a lot:  2 full sized Rubbermaid tubs, 1 half sized tub, 2 large baskets and 1 IKEA tub that fits into my IKEA Trofast storage unit.  The amount surprised even me as all these tubs and baskets are spread throughout our house .  I couldn't quite stomach piling all the yarn together so what follows is a series of pictures grouped by projects. 

This is my sock yarn stash.  Enough to make 11 pairs of socks.  I average 2-4 a year so that's at least 3 years worth of sock yarn.  Can you tell I like blues? 

Here are my two work in progress or WIP socks.  I hate knitting with that blue yarn as it gets so twisty and tangled.  And even though I am so close to finishing I started on the rainbow pair instead.  But, alas second sock syndrome set in and I still have just one sock.   

Dan's younger brother Bill requested warm wool socks for a Christmas present this year and I did knit him a pair using the above yarn.  The pattern took 1 and a half skeins so I purchased another skein to make a pair for Dan who also get very cold in the winter (it's their Philipino blood I think.)  Hopefully I will have no left over yarn this time around.

Here is some lovely Madelinetosh DK yarn whose future will be as thick socks for my mother.  I already knit her a hat and cowl in the wine and a cowl in the pink.  There will be enough of the pink left over to knit this hat which I will give to my friend Amy for her charity.  Her charity "Team Yarn" donate hats and shawls for chemotherapy patients at various facilities in and around the Twin Cities Metro Area.  If you would like to donate a hat or yarn to Amy you can find her information here.

I am making the same hat as I mention above and it with the rest of this yarn is earmarked for Amy's charity.  It's a lovely soft merino wool from Artyarns.  

Beautiful blues no?  These skeins of Cascade Paints were supposed to be a Wallaby Sweater for my son Sam, but then he made the declaration that he wanted no more hand knits from me.  Children can cut you to the quick sometimes.  Instead of fighting it and spending all the time knitting him something he doesn't want I decided to knit shawls from this, again for Amy's Charity.  I choose this pattern.  The first shawl blocked out beautifully so I am excited to make a second one and use up this yarn!

These many skeins of superwash merino wool are also destined for hats for chemo patients.  It's just so soft, warm and easy care so a no brainer on what to do with them.


Next up is a Shetland wool scrappy vest I am knitting for my husband Dan.  Most of the yarn is left over from a vest I made for him this past Christmas (of which I have no photos as of yet.)  The pattern called for steeking the armholes and v neck which will be new to me.  Maybe that's why I've stalled out on this project?

A cabled vest WIP for Dan.  You can find the pattern here.  The merino yarn is limited in amount (I purchased it a long time ago before I knew to save labels) and should be enough to finish, but I am nervous about it so I have yet to find out.  Besides, the cables take me forever.

This lot of Jamieson's Shetland yarn is for a lovely Argyle patterned vest, again for Dan.  Here is the pattern.

I have no pattern in mind as of yet for this heathered gray yarn, but there is enough for a man's vest.  Guess who for?  Can you tell he doesn't like sleeves on his sweaters?  

So, with two in progress vests and two planned vests I have enough yarn to cover Dans' birthday and Christmas gifts for the next 2 years.

Now, on to sweaters for me.  This is also Jamieson's Shetland yarn but this time in a DK weight.  I barely started into Elizabeth Zimmerman's Fair Isle Yoked Sweater which I believe I will make into a cardigan.  We'll see when it comes time for steeking how I feel.

This orange yarn is gorgeous!  It's Ella Rae Extra Fine Heathers which was being discontinued at WEBS.   I purchased it on a tip from the Yarn Harlot and I'm glad I did.  I'm knitting Cassis by Baby Cocktails which I have knit before, but this time I'm knitting it with long sleeves.  Short sleeves are cute, but don't keep me warm enough in the winter here in Minnesota.

Yet another WIP for me.  Can you tell I like to start projects a lot!  This will be the famous Color Affection Shawl knit with fingering weight yarn.  I think it's going to be stunning, but it takes some thinking to remember where I am in the pattern.  I don't always have enough uninterrupted thinking time so here it sits unfinished.

Sorry for this fuzzy photo.  The light was getting pretty dim when I took it late in the late afternoon.  It's Rowan's Felted Tweed and I planned on making this tunic pattern, but I'm unsure now do to the lack of sleeves. 


Here is a redo where the Gap Cowl  turns into this scarf.  It's knit on chunky needles so it should be quick, but it's boring to knit. Hence, it sits waiting for a good movie to knit through.


Last up for me is a hat and mitten set which is almost done.  the only problem is I don't like the hat (too loose of weave) and I wish that the mittens were lined.  I'm guessing I will start from scratch on this project.  
Any suggestions?

Two small and four large knitting projects just for me.  I knit about 1 - 2 sweaters for myself a year (although some get frogged as I'm picky) so I have at least 2 years of knitting here too.

Next up is my mother Jean.  I knit her a sweater for the first time last summer as all of her sweaters decided to up and die at the same time. I knit it out of Jamieson's Shetland as I wanted it to last forever and I'm Scots and have a yarn bias (there I've said it and now you know.)  I am going to try and knit her another Shetland sweater this year using this Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern.

Here is the leftover yarn from the Blathin Sweater I knit her last year and some 100% angora yarn I spun myself.  The idea is to make angora lined mittens as angora is super warm and the Shetland wool is super durable.  I'm going to try and copy the flower pattern from the sweater too so she'll be matchy matchy which she likes a lot (hmm we must be related.)

I knit Dan a buttoned down tweedy professor like vest out of this Knit Picks yarn and here is what was left over.  I plan to knit mom this beret styled hat from it.

All in all one big project and four little projects (don't forget about the Madelinetosh socks) for mom.  I'm guessing this will get me a little bit over a year as she has 3 holidays where I give her gifts (add in Monther's Day to the usual two.) and I just like making little somethings for my mom 
(she gushes and who doesn't love that?)

For the house I just have a couple of projects.  This 10 Stitch Afghan by Frankie Brown has been sitting for a while and gets knit on when I'm cold because I can cover my lap with it as I knit.  It's pretty close to the finish line though with only 2 new skeins to go.

I think this project is super cute.  I bought the alpaca sport weight yarn a year and a half ago intending to knit these coasters for a friend, but I had trouble with the yarn.  I knit hers from some thick cotton yarn I had on hand instead and completed them easily.  Now that I found this yarn again I don't know what my problem with it even was.  They do take forever being double knit, but are so pleasing when finished!   
I will make 6 coasters and 3 small trivets from this pile.

Now, we get into the un-dyed yarn.  Yes, you heard me right un-dyed yarn.  As if I needed more steps in the knitting process.  My plan was to plant dye the yarn myself to sell in my Etsy shop Simply Playing.  I hoped to take over dyeing the yarn I use for my knitted toys instead of purchasing it from the fabulous Judy of Mamajude.  Well, let's just say there is quite a learning curve to plant dyeing so that probably won't happen.  I might just sell this bunch, but I'm still on the fence.

Here is a large lot of indigo dyed yarn.  I did it myself.  It was fun, intense and sadly still not over as it all the yarn needs to be rinsed more to get the residual indigo out.  I am knitting a felted yoga bag out of the bulky yarn and hope that the felting process will wash out the loose indigo dye so it doesn't mark up my yoga mat like it does to my hands while knitting.  If I can get the yarn to stop turning my hands blue I will probably give some skeins to friends and knit some into chemo hats.  None of the yarn is good enough to sell.  
Learning curve.

 This batch of yarn was dyed with Black Walnuts  (dyeing with them is a breeze) and one skein was dyed with Annatto seeds (which was ok, but I wasn't wild about the results.)  My guess is the worsted browns will become teddy bears for my shop and the sock yarn I might just knit into socks for my mom and me.

Well, that's the end of my stash and WIPs and if you made it this far into this post congratulations to you!  You must like me or be strangely pulled in to see how much fit into those tubs.  What I'm hoping to do next is check in with all you lovely people about once a month to see what if any progress is being made into emptying those bins and baskets.  I will also update you on how many days I have gone going "Cold Sheep".  If you have not heard the expression fear not I didn't know it either until I read it on another blog of a lovely lady who lives across the pond in England.  It's similar to going off drugs/alcohol or whatever your addiction is "Cold Turkey", but this is about not buying yarn, which comes from sheep, which is why we say "Cold Sheep".  My current day total of going Cold Sheep is a mere 36 days, but I'm hoping to stretch it to at least 1 year if not 2 or 3. 

Next up will be my fiber stash because sadly there is more obsession with wool than you can shake a stick at in my life.

Joining in with Tami for WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crowns, Crowns and More Crowns

The other day I decided to drag out my Rubbermaid tub of all my knitted toys for my Etsy shop Simply Playing and take an inventory.  Well, I am low on just about everything I normally carry and completely out on a handful of toys too.  So, I yesterday day was deemed knitted crown day as our homeschool class out at Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista was canceled due to icy roads.  Sam and I stayed in our jammies all day with me knitting while Sam bounced on his trampoline (and all the beds), played Minecraft, learned about Pixelmon (a Pokemon mod for Minecraft) and chatted incessantly about what Pokemon character he wanted to use in the new game when dad got it up and running.  It was a fun day.  I finished six crowns with just the finishing left on the purple one you see above.  I still have five to make today for a complete inventory, but we'll have to see what today brings.

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Simple Things

Dishcloths are one of the simplest things you can knit (especially with this pattern) and yet as satisfying as all get out.  Lagging behind on a big project like a sweater or blanket?  Take the day off and knit some dishcloths.  They finish fast and you can put them to immediate use or give to a friend who might be having a less than wonderful day.  I mean everyone uses dishcloths - everyone.  So, that's what I'm up to today knitting cheery bright orange dishcloths from some Blue Sky Alpacas cotton yarn while reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's new book The Amazing Thing About the Way it Goes on my nook app on my ipad.  Laughter and dishcloths simple things are good things.

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

From Beginning to End - A Hat and Mitten Story

I thought I'd show you a picture story of taking fiber to yarn to finished knitted project today.  The beginning starts with some luscious fiber I purchased from Jakira Farms on Etsy.  The vibrant orange/red roving is a blend of Alpaca, Merino Wool and Silk and the soft tan roving is Alpaca mixed with Romney Wool.  I spun singles of each on my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel and plied them together; which is my way of stretching the more expensive dyed fiber to more yardage.  I can't find my note where I wrote down my yardage, but I made enough DK weighted yarn to knit a Rikke Hat by Sarah Young, a pair of Classic DK Mittens in Six Sizes by Joan Janes with enough left over for a small project I'll show you in another post.

The exciting accident the occurred was that this yarn matched a scarf I purchased in Italy about 10 years ago.  I never wear the scarf as had no hat or mittens to match, and I am that kind of matchy matchy person that needs a coordinated set to feel comfortable, but I loved the scarf too much to give it away.  So now it has been pulled from the closet in the bedroom where it languished for a decade to the front closet cubbies where we keep our hats, scarves, mittens and gloves.  I couldn't be happier with the results of this hat and mitten set and getting to finally use a much loved scarf

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fresh Off the Wheel - Earthy Rainbow Yarn

Rainbows are my favorite colorway to spin into yarn (maybe you've noticed?), so when I saw this roving in Friends in Fiber's shop I just had to purchase it.  It's a lovely BFL wool blended with a small amount of silk.  Blue Face Leicester is an easy wool to spin as it drafts so effortlessly; good for us beginners.  It spun up into a DK weighted yarn with about 215 yards total.  When I purchased the roving it was definitely an impulse buy (have I mentioned how deary this winter has been?) so I had no plans for what pattern to knit.  I use cowls more than any other knitted item I make so I decided to go with my favorite cowl pattern by Antonia Shankland "Honey Cowl."  This will be my 4th one to date( I did at least give one to my mother.)

Since, I'm joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along (late again, sigh) I thought I would show you my current book: Pam Lariccha's Free to Learn: five ideas for a joyful unschooling life.  We've been on quite a roller coaster ride this first year of homeschooling my son Sam jumping from curriculum to curriculum.  With each switch we'd start out strong then run into a wall were cooperation wasn't happening.  Then I started hearing words I dreaded like "I hate math" and "I don't want to read".  Ack!  Slam on the brakes!  We weren't sure where to go to next until we ran into Sandra Dodd's Unschooling website.  She talks a lot about how learning really happens everywhere and going with your child's interest will teach them what they need to know for their life.  So, we've backed off and are "deschooling" right now while Dan and I read, read, and read about this new to us philosophy.