(Side note: My dad’s family love the “Jankees,” but I excuse that because they arrived as baseball fans from Cuba after the Dodgers left Brooklyn but before the Mets were created.)
Flash forward to my high school years, which were spent as a scholarship student in an artsy private school. Talking about baseball was not going to make me any friends there, and soon enough I developed other interests anyway. As an adult, I never really got back into professional sports fandom, but I still have a cozy corner in my heart for the Mets, who I followed religiously throughout the 1986 championship season.
Last year, I wasn’t able to attend the game since it was on a weeknight and I had to work late. So I was really excited when I found out that this year’s game will be on Sunday. Apparently, it will even be nationally televised!
Yesterday, I picked up tickets for me and my two craft buddies from the Lion Brand Yarn Studio. Since we reserved the tickets early, we also got awesome freebies – Lion Brand tape measures on keychains. (Does this mean I can no longer avoid making a sweater by saying I can’t take accurate measurements??) I also found out that John Franco will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame before the game. Add that to the yarn marketplace, and it sounds like a great night will be had by all. Now all I need to do is figure out what project to bring with me!
(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting. You can read more details here.)
I’ve already made a list of people I plan to make gifts for, and inventoried my stash looking for gift-worthy yarn. So this week I thought about projects.
It’s no secret that I love making hats. So far, I’ve already made twohats for this holiday season. I will surely end up making more gift hats, especially since most of the yarn I have available is in single skeins. I sometimes use a pattern for hats, and sometimes design my own. I am definitely intrigued by the Coffee and Cream Beanie (knit) by Josie Mercier, especially since it involves dyeing your yarn with coffee and I have a fair amount of undyed wool yarn bits hiding in my stash.
There are several ladies on my list who are definitely deserving of a shawl, a funky infinity cowl, or some other accessory that I will design for them. I generally reach for my stitch guides for inspiration.
Seasonal, Toys, and Fun Stuff
I recently purchased the Amigurumi Nativity (crochet) by Carolyn Christmas, which I think will make a really cool gift. I’ll have to figure out how to make it without buying new colors of yarn!
I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas stockings for some of my family, and there are twocrocheted hexagon patterns that I am considering. I think these will make good quickie gifts and I can use up some remnants by making each stocking in different colors.
I plan to make a toy for my pre-school aged cousin, so it seemed like the perfect time to pull out Crocheted Softies (reviewed here). Lala the Panda is (hopefully) gender neutral enough, since I think his parents are concerned about that sort of thing.
(If I make enough progress on the rest of my gifts, I should have time to make MC that Mr. Crabby I’ve been talking about, too.)
Another option for my cousin is something from the Wild Things set (crochet) by Allison Hoffman.
And, I’ll definitely be working up a few of my own, crocheted Chubby Sheep ornaments for various adult family members.
Spending the weekend searching through my books and Ravelry has given me some great gift ideas. What were you able to come up with?
If you need some inspiration for a Holiday Stashdown Challenge post for next week, here’s the prompt for Tuesday, June 5: You’ve made your list, you’ve thought about yarn, and you’ve scoped out some pattern ideas. Can you try to match up your projects to people? What about setting some completion deadlines? Now’s the time to think about how you are going to make this all happen early this year, rather than at the last minute. Do you have any organizing or motivating tips to share? Are there any pitfalls you are worried about? Tell us how you plan to get your holiday crafting done earlier this year.
Once again, I’m trying to share a linky (this time via Simply Linked). If it doesn’t work, just go ahead and link up in the comments :).
This week, I haven’t had time to work on a new project based on one of the techniques highlighted in Crochet Master Class, so I decided to dig through some older photographs to find my first two experiments with double-ended crochet.
DarlaFanton is the featured crochet master, and she is actually the one I learned the technique from – indirectly, of course, through a pattern booklet. I made these two scarves using the double-ended basic stitch.
After getting the basics down, I tried a second version as a “skinny scarf.” For this one, I used three strands of each color and I believe it was about 85 inches long.
I sold both scarves during the winter of 2010 when I had a table at several craft fairs. My younger sister was modeling in these pictures (I planned to list the scarves on Etsy if they didn’t sell at the fairs). Apparently, I didn’t save the pictures before editing them, which is why her face isn’t shown. Oh well.
One of the yarn shops I planned to visit during my trip to Pennsylvania was out of business, so I decided to add another shop to my list. Since I was staying just one train stop away from Swarthmore, I planned a visit to Finely a Knitting Party on my way back to New York.
The shop is conveniently located about a block and a half from the Swarthmore train stop. Finely a Knitting Party feels quite different from the three yarn shops I visited in Philadelphia. You can tell it is the only yarn shop in town, because it doesn’t seem concerned with establishing a particular niche.
The yarn is sparsely arranged on cubby shelves and there is plenty of space to walk around. The selection is dominated by a few brands like Brown Sheep, Classic Elite, Crystal Palace, and Plymouth Yarn. There was a good range of fiber types, but most of the yarn seemed basic and no frills – the kind of yarn that most people would want access to if there was only one yarn shop in town. Anything that was slightly unusual was also pricey. The one skein of yarn I was really drawn to was Mushishi but it was outside of my strict travel budget.
I didn’t see any crochet hooks or other signs that the shop might be crochet-friendly. There was a selection of knitting needles in a few brands behind the counter. The shop has a large table in the center of the store’s main room for classes. The schedule online shows that there are daily classes, and there are pictures posted throughout the store of cheerful students holding up completed projects. This looks like the type of LYS where you can meet new knitting buddies and hang out.
I love handmade soap, so I decided to buy some Sioux City Soap instead of yarn.
but I can’t understand why the brand is called Sioux City, since it is made locally in Pennsylvania?
Since I was on a skin care kick, I also bought this lotion.
As I mentioned, this shop carries a solid selection of basic yarns and looks like it has a lot of fun classes. I’m not sure it is worth a special trip to visit, but if I’m in the area again, I might stop by.
A few weeks ago, I shared a picture of a pineapple shawl I decided to design and make for my Mom seven days before Mother’s Day. (Cue up the “What were you thinking??” comments from the peanut gallery.)
I wasn’t sure if I would finish it on time, and I didn’t even know if my mom would like the bright color. The Saturday before Mother’s Day, I went out to my mom’s and had a secret late night consult with my sister, who assured me it would look great on my mom. (I had previously been informed by a co-worker who is my mom’s age and has met my mom a few times that it would be loved because “chartreuse is the new black.”)
So, I powered through and was able to finish the shawl a few minutes after midnight, just in time for Mother’s Day.
Here’s the stitch detail.
I’m happy to say that my mom loved the shawl! Even though it was pretty hot out that day, she found a way to wear it with style.
I’m glad I went with my gut on this one, and thanks to everyone who encouraged me to keep going with the color. This is definitely way better than whatever weird last minute gift I would have had to buy.
This project was my first time I’ve used a madelinetosh yarn (tosh merino light). The color is really lovely and my mom didn’t believe it was wool because it was so soft. On the other hand, there were a few spots with little felted bits of yarn that I had to cut out. Also, there was a lot of twist that made it not always fun to work with, but that may be due to the way it was wound in the shop. There are more pictures and notes on my Ravelry project page.
Last week, I took my dream vacation and spent a few days at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, PA. The main purpose of the vacation was to relax, enjoy the silence, (wait, what is this? some kind of retro pop music playlist??), spend some time outdoors, and live an unscheduled life, and what’s more relaxing than a trip to the yarn shop?
I’ve been on a pretty severe yarn diet since December, so I planned to splurge during my trip. On Tuesday, I decided to spend the day in Philadelphia visiting yarn shops. I gave myself a budget of $25 per shop. Since I wanted to spend time outside, I actually walked from shop to shop and back to the train station (about 5 miles, according to Google Maps, plus the mile to and from the train station in Wallingford). It was one of those days when it alternates between pouring rain and sweltering heat, so I thank all of the shops I visited for allowing my presumably stinky self inside!
How did I develop my list? First, I stopped by the Crochet Liberation Front Headquarters group on Ravelry and looked at their list of Crochet-Friendly LYSs. Though I now knit also, I want to spend my money where crocheters are respected and appreciated! Then I got directions from Google Maps and wrote them down on a piece of paper. (Then, I got lost and ended up using the Hop Stop app on my phone, which actually seemed to provide more concise routes.)
Rosie’s Yarn Cellar is a small, quiet shop that’s down a short flight of steps. The staff are very friendly and helpful, but in a quiet way. There is a store dog (a pug, if memory serves), who makes some very cute little sounds while trying to kill his toy duck.
The store has a great selection for a shop of its size and a broad range of prices. I saw yarns for $5 as well as yarns for $30. The prices seemed the least expensive of all the shops I visited, and were certainly lower than NYC prices.
It took me a while to figure out how this store got its crochet-friendly reputation, but it does have an entire shelf of crochet books, and crochet hooks behind the counter. I was super amazed that knitting needles are out on display for you to browse and right next to the door. (You can tell you’re not in New York City!)
My favorite feature of this shop is the little signs by each yarn that tell you the details you would find on the label (e.g., fiber content, suggested gauge and needle size, brand name) as well as the price. This made for much easier browsing. For people who like to buy patterns in the shop, there had tons of binders listed by project type.
I still haven’t decided if I think it is more black or more blue. I hope it will one day work itself into a project for me – perhaps a pair of socks? (Sock people, tell me now if this is a good choice or if I should move on to another project idea!) I’m still dreaming about that Mountain Meadow Wool Mill yarn, but I didn’t want to go over budget by getting two skeins.
I was somewhat bewildered by this sign in the window.
I decided that my next stop should be furthest from the station and that I would work my way back. I guess I should have done more research, because after a very long walk, I discovered this shop was closed. I was surprised because usually Yelp seems to be updated when a shop shuts down, but it was still listed.
After briefly mumbling to myself, I continued on my journey and went to Nangellini Gallery.
This shop is in an artsy looking area and has a very funky vibe to it. When you enter, the first room is more of a gallery space with freeform, funky, artsy wearable projects on display. I’m embarrassed to say that I had a great picture of this room, but I accidentally saved over it. (D’oh!) You can find hooks and needles on a display rack on this floor as well as some notions like shawl pins and stitch markers.
On the upstairs level, you can find yarn as well as some spinning supplies like drop spindles and batts. The yarn selection completely fits the vibe of the store, and there is a lot of novelty and highly textured yarn, as well as chunky, multicolor yarn. There is a very small collection of crochet books, but it includes some freeform books that really fit into the store’s theme. There’s also a section of crochet cotton.
I don’t use novelty yarn or very bulky yarns too often, so for a while I was debating whether I should buy anything. And then I saw this.
I ended up with a skein of Nancy’s Hair by No Two Snowflakes. I confess I picked it because it was superwash merino and had the most yardage of anything in the local section.
I think this will probably end up as a gift for my best friend from high school, CG. She is an artist and wears a lot of bold colors. Also, she would actually find the story of how I got the yarn entertaining. (And, she’s already on my Holiday Stashdown Challenge list.)
The staff at this shop are very friendly in a more conversational way. While I was in the shop, an older customer came in with a wedding dress her mom had made her in acrylic yarn (insert large number of years) in the past. Everyone oohed and aahed and I could tell you can get as much attention as you want in this shop. There are also some comfy chairs in the gallery area.
By the time I arrived at Loop, I was tired and a bit nervous about catching the train back in time for dinner, so I didn’t browse for as long.
Loop reminded me the most of a New York City yarn shop. It has a large table in the center (presumably for classes and hanging out) and I was familiar with more brands of yarn being sold in the shop, like Berroco, Brooklyn Tweed, Malabrigo, and Spud & Chloe. It was a bit pricier than the other shops as well.
When I saw the display of Addi Swing hooks near the counter, I immediately understood why this shop was labelled crochet-friendly. And, I gave myself permission to go $13 over budget since I only visited three (instead of four) shops.
It’s always hard to pick a hook size when you are buying just one new hook. In the end, I decided to go with an I, which is probably what I use most often.
As for the yarn, since a lot of the brands are available at my LYS, Knitty City, I decided to get two skeins of Sheep 2 from the Sheep Shop Yarn Company (now defunct) which were on sale.
This should match my winter coat, so I see some winter accessories in my future!
Loop also has a rewards program and $5.95 flat rate shipping for web orders.
I took a break from the Pineapple Doily Shawl since I didn’t take it on vacation with me and then promptly forgot to bring it to class with me on Saturday to work on along with my students.
My cabled hat has seemingly travelled backwards in time, going from this last Wednesday afternoon…
… to this yesterday.
If you are/were a fan of the show Seinfeld, you may remember this scene from “The Muffin Tops” episode.
That pretty well sums up what happened to my hat. I noticed an irregularity a few rows down and started ripping back. And then, one thing led to another, and I was casting on again. I’m not too stressed about it, though, because this is part of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge to make my winter holiday gifts slowly throughout the year rather than frantically in December.
(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting. You can read more details here.)
I’ve reached the point in life where I’m feeling overwhelmed by stuff. This might be due to the fact that we’re living in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, or it might be because I’ve been trying to live more minimally. Although I’ve reduced my stash by one full 60 quart plastic tub so far this year, I still have quite a few yarns with no intended purpose that I’m putting into the maybe list for gifts.
Several small balls of 100% wool yarns that I’ve dyed using Kool Aid or cake dyes.
I also found a pair of Slipper Soles in my sister’s size. Since I have fewer skeins that I’d like to use for holiday gifts than people on my gift list, I’m sure I will end up buying yarn at some point. But for now, this will give me a great start.
I read a great post by FreshStitches yesterday about using the stash feature on Ravelry, so my plan for the next week is to try and link up some of these yarns with patterns and project ideas.
I will mention here that I had a super awesome post written, but I lost everything. This is the best re-write I could muster after midnight.
Tell us all about the yarns you plan to use or buy for the Holiday Stashdown Challenge in the comments, and share links to your posts with us!
If you need some inspiration for a Holiday Stashdown Challenge post for next week, here’s the prompt for Tuesday, 5/29:
Now that you’ve sized up the yarn in your stash and the people on your gift list, what types of projects do you plan to make? Are you making the same type of (or the same exact) project for multiple people, or does everyone get something unique? Do you have lofty project goals for everyone on your list, or do you make small gifts with love? Tell us more about your project ideas!
This is a paperback version of the previously publishedVogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume One: Knit & Purl. (I assume the content is the same, but since I don’t own the hardcover version, I haven’t verified that assumption.) After a foreword explaining the original motivation for publishing what were to be three volumes of the Stitchionary, the book opens with the How to Use This Book section. This section explains that stitches in each chapter are arranged in order of difficulty and that selvage stitches and rows were added to each swatch to keep them relatively flat with minimal blocking. The yarn used in this book is Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000, and all the swatches were knit with Lantern Moon size 6 (4 mm) needles.
The stitches are organized into four chapters: Knit & Purl, Lace, Traveling, and Unusual. Like other books in this series, it ends with Abbreviations, a key to the pattern abbreviation terms which includes a US/UK conversion chart for the crochet terminology; Yarn Overs, an illustrated guide to forming different types of yarn overs; and Glossary, which explains pattern essentials like “rep from *, end…” and “stockinette stitch.” The book is beautifully presented with great colors and photography.
What I like about this book
Each stitch includes a large swatch which is clearly photographed. Each chapter uses one color of yarn for all of the swatches, so there is a uniform appearance which makes comparison between similar stitches easier. The book’s color palette is in the green family and feels very springlike.
The book is well organized (by stitch type, and then by difficulty level through each chapter), so it would be easy to find a stitch you like later.
The book is beautiful to look at, and is one of those stitch guides that makes you want to pull out your needles and start experimenting.
Although the book is paperback, the binding allows it to lay somewhat flat. That combined with generous white space around each pattern allows you to knit and read at the same time. And, just in case, each cover also has a flap that you can use to hold your place.
I’ve brought quite a few stitch guides to my knitting classes, and this is the only one a student has ever asked to borrow. I think that says it all.
What I don’t like (or what’s missing)
I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I prefer when a stitch guide includes basic information for a newbie (e.g., illustrations of how to form basic stitches). The book is written with the presumption that you already know how to knit.
The patterns are written very concisely (perhaps to keep the generous white space around each picture). It can sometimes be unclear what is happening at the end of a row as a result. For example, a pattern might say: K5, *p3, k3; rep from *, end k1. I would prefer a more detailed description (such as K5, *p3, k3.* Repeat from * to * to last 4 sts, p3, k1). I have been bringing the book to my knitting classes and this has been a point of confusion for some students, too.
There are no stitch charts used in this book. This isn’t a concern for me, but I know that some knitters prefer charted patterns to written patterns.
This book is a great addition to the library of any knitter who has already mastered the mechanics of forming the knit and purl and has familiarity with written patterns. A more experienced knitter might think the book is geared towards beginners, but there is actually a range of stitch types which include slip stitches, increasing, and decreasing to create interesting textures and designs, though the patterns are limited to one color. If you love symbol charts, you will wish they were included. If you are a relative newbie, you may want to hold off on buying this until you feel more comfortable with pattern reading (or be prepared to jump onto Ravelry with questions). I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
I tossed a partially used ball of Lily Sugar’n Cream in Faded Denim into my suitcase, intending to make yet another trivet. And then… all of these things sat in my bag for my entire trip. On Wednesday night, when I was packing to come home, I realized that I had to try the hairpin lace, if only because I had carried the supplies to Pennsylvania.
It might be because I was exhausted and it was late at night, but I found both Learn to Do Hairpin Lace and Marly Bird‘s tutorial in the May/June 2012 issue of Crochet Today! incomprehensible. If you were outside of my room that night, you would have heard a lot of “Turn it how?” “What the…??” “Flip it which way?” coming through the door. I decided to give Ferosa Harold’s tutorial a try. And suddenly, it all made sense.
I didn’t notice this on the package until the next day.
Here’s my hairpin lace “strip” joined into a circle.
At this point, the coaster was looking super ruffled. I assume this is because I used yarn (intending to make a trivet) instead of thread (for a coaster). Since it was now after midnight and I still had to pack, I decided to restart with half the number of loops after check out the next morning.
This one seemed a more appropriate length. But then, disaster struck.
(Project page here.) At this point, it just seemed ridiculous to start again – I mean, it’s a trivet, not a fitted sweater. The point of this exercise was to learn to do hairpin lace, which was definitely accomplished. So I followed the pattern through to the end.
I would definitely recommend Ferosa Harold’s tutorial if you’d like to learn hairpin lace. There are step-by-step photos (for right- and left-handers), it’s free, and you can make a small project in a very short time.
As for me, I’m not sure how I feel about hairpin lace. I prefer the look in circular objects like this trivet, but I’m still not sure it is worth the effort. It’s true that it is quite simple to do (once you figure out what the heck you’re doing!), but it is fairly monotonous and the loom is a bit cumbersome. The idea of making a hairpin lace blanket like Yarn Berry is doing kind of makes me want to run screaming for the hills. And yet, I’m sure I can find a good use for this skill now that I have it.
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