Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Swap A Month July Goody Box Swap

Just because it isn’t July yet doesn’t mean that I haven’t already sent and received my July Goody Box Swap!  I joined A Swap A Month on Ravelry when the July swap was still taking sign ups.  My partner is carajv, who seems to be my twin in opposite world.  She has been knitting since childhood and just picked up crochet, whereas I’m the opposite.  She also raises sheep, which is one of my life fantasies.  (I say fantasy because I actually know nothing about raising sheep, so I couldn’t possibly even consider it as a dream at this point in time.)  We messaged back and forth on Ravelry and I was so excited about getting her package together, that I basically ran out and bought everything within a few days and mailed my package in mid-June!  I hope this didn’t create too much pressure for carajv, whose package to me arrived on Thursday night.

(Note to self: Wrap your next swap as well as carajv wrapped this one!)

I started by opening the note.

I love the stationery!

Then it was on to the smaller package.

The first package included a skein of Austermann Step in Colorway 003, 4 dpns, and two patterns.  The first, Laura’s Sockies by Laura Grutzeck is from Rosie Knits, the pattern line of Rosie’s Yarn Cellar.  Rosie’s is one of the shops I visited during my whirlwind LYS tour of Philadelphia.  The next pattern is Wristers by Kathleen Taylor.  I just reviewed her latest book here.  It seems like carajv has been very observant!

The second package was very squishy and I knew from reading the card it would have handspun yarn from carajv’s sheep.

Wow.

This package included two yummy skeins of yarn, each weighing in at over 100 grams.  The color is a beautiful, undyed cream.  The yarn is ultra soft, and I really can’t wait to get it wound into cakes!  As if that wasn’t enough, carajv also included a little bag with some super cute notions – a stitch holder and cupcake stitch markers – as well as a pencil and 5 Hiya Hiya dpns.  There were two great patterns in this package, too!

Perhaps this swap will help me get over my fear? hatred? of double pointed needles.  Or, perhaps not ;).  But either way, I have some amazing yarn, cool notions, and great patterns to play with!

June confessional

After successfully avoiding yarn shopping and extraneous crafty purchases for most of this year, June was filled with hauls of all kinds!  I decided to write up one giant post with all of my purchases during the month.

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Year of Projects preparation

If you’ve been following the chatter in the Come Blog-A-Long group on Ravelry, you know that many of us are gearing up for the second Year of Projects.  This year, instead of working my way through one book, I will unveil a list of projects I’d like to complete and techniques I’d like to learn by June 30, 2013.  (My official list will be posted this Sunday, July 1.)  I happened to see a copy of Alasdair Post-Quinn‘s Extreme Double Knitting in real life, and decided to order it, along with a digital download, from Cooperative Press.

Surely, double knitting is a technique I must experiment with, right?

Knit-A-Way, Take 1

This month, I had the pleasure of taking a wonderful 3-week Bruges lace class at Knit-A-Way with Tatyana Mirer.  (Side note: She is a great teacher, and if you are in the New York City area, you should definitely take a knitting or crochet class with her!)

Knit-A-Way’s storefront.

For the first class session, I bought a skein of Brown Sheep Company’s Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Victorian Pink.

This was actually the first time I used Lamb’s Pride, though I’ve been seeing it in yarn shops for years.

It didn’t end up being a good fit for the class projects, but it did whet my appetite for more shopping…

July Goody Box Swap

This next shopping spree doesn’t really count because none of it was for my stash.  I joined A Swap A Month on Ravelry just in time for the July Goody Box Swap.  For my swap partner, carajv, I bought two skeins each of Classic Elite Classic One Fifty and Frog Tree Alpaca at Knitty City.  I had so much fun in the shop, feeling all the yarns, that it was almost inevitable that I would go shopping again…

Interweave Hurt Book Sale

And then it was time for the Interweave Hurt Book Sale.  Many of the books I’ve been eyeing throughout the year seemed to be calling me seductively.  And, since a few could also fall into the category of “things I want to learn during the second Year of Projects,” I convinced myself to buy four.

From top to bottom: Domino Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro, Start Spinning by Maggie Casey, Power Cables by Lily Chin, and Pop Knitting: Bold Motifs Using Color & Stitch by Britt-Marie Christoffersson.  Yummy.

Knit-A-Way, Take 2

When I returned to Knit-A-Way for my second Bruges lace class, I brought my own yarn from home (Galler Yarns Parisian Cotton).  It just worked out better for swatching, but I felt compelled to pick up somethings in the store.  After all, that’s why yarn shops hold classes – because they are hoping to increase sales!

From left to right: A set of INOX 16″ circular needles; a Dritz Loop Turner, which is supposed to be helpful for weaving in difficult or short yarn tails; a Susan Bates Silvalume Handi Tool, which seems a wonderful, all-purpose helper notion; and a Clover Soft Touch crochet hook.

Color obsession at Knitty City

When I learned that the Sparkling Wave Scarf from The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet would be the final project in my Bruges lace class, I knew it would make a great holiday gift for my friend, OB.  I have definitely been trying hard to make all of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge gifts with stash yarn, but, after some investigating, I learned that OB really wanted any gift items made in charcoal yarn.  I strolled over to my LYS, Knitty City, to hunt for a machine washable charcoal yarn in a natural fiber.

After a lot of debate – including wandering out into the street with 4 skeins of yarn to see which one looked more grey in the sunshine – I ended up with a skein of madelinetosh tosh sport in Kale.

I know, I know. Kale doesn’t sound like it would be charcoal.

Even Tatyana agreed that it was a great choice for the scarf.

My progress so far.

Knit-A-Way, Take 3

My final purchase of the month was something totally unexpected.

In the last class session, Tatyana brought her sloper for me to see and we were discussing how to design projects that actually fit.  She heartily recommended Sweater 101: How to Plan Sweaters That Fit… and Organize Your Knitting Life At the Same Timeby Cheryl Brunette.  Although I am not necessarily planning to make a sweater, the book really caught my eye.  Once I got home and read about the book’s origin, I was even happier to own a copy.  According to Tatyana, the schematics for different sizes are absolutely flawless, and after seeing her beautiful designs in person, I’m sure she is right.

Holiday Stashdown Challenge – Week 7

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(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.)

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions for this week’s Holiday Stashdown Challenge topic!

The most stressful part of crocheting or knitting from stash, for most of us, is finding projects for scraps and small skeins.  I know I’m a bit timid about mixing lots of colors and textures into one project, especially when I plan to use the projects for gifts!  My favorite one skein projects, by far, are hats.  I love to crochet and to knit hats.  I’ve mentioned before that my favorite crochet hat book is Get Your Crochet On! Hip Hats & Cool Caps by Afya Ibomu – it has quite a few great one skein hat projects inside.  I don’t have a favorite resource for knitted hats… yet!  I recently started paying attention to Ravelry’s features after being a member since 2007 (yes, it’s true.  I ignored it for years), and I plan to use the advanced pattern search to find some patterns for one skein projects if I run out of inspiration.  (I’m assuming that I will be mojo-less once I get closer to my holiday crafting deadlines).

If you haven’t already guessed, motifs are my favorite scrap projects.  When I first moved in with MC, I made a massive scrap throw for us to cuddle under while watching movies on his projector.  It has endured spills, cat sneezes, and a life of laying over the back of the couch, and it is super cozy!  I only used yarns that were machine washable and dryable, and I actually collected up scraps from friends to add to the variety.  For organizing it, I used a tip I learned when I began quilting – as long as the colors immediately next to each other “go together,” you can experiment quite a bit as long as you have more than 7-10 colors in the project.  At that point, matching each yarn becomes less important.  I planned some squares and for others, I just pulled the yarn at random from my stash bag.  (Note to self: Must take picture of scrap blanket!)

I’m currently working on some scrap yarn hexagons that will eventually transform in to a Christmas stocking.  I’m not yet sure what other motif projects I have up my sleeve for the holidays, but I’m sure that all of the pet projects I hope to make for the holidays will be made from scrap yarn.  Although I have some fantasies about making this, I know that at the last minute (when pet gifts are most likely to be made), I will probably not have the brain power left to try and piece it together.

Instead, I will probably make pet blankets for my cat, my mom’s dog, and my dad’s cat.  For the cats, I plan to make freeform blankets.

My cat loves this blanket, my first journey into freeform.

Since my mom is more sensitive about her decor, I will have to be more conservative about whatever gift I plan for her dog.  I’m thinking of either a motif blanket using the same motif in different color combinations, or different motif patterns in the same size, shape, and color combination.

If you need some inspiration for a Holiday Stashdown Challenge post for next week, here’s the prompt for Tuesday, July 3: What are your favorite last minute handmade gifts to give?  Share your tips for quick gifts with us!

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Year one finale in Bruges lace

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This post is part of my Year of ProjectsCrochet Master Class series. You can read the other posts in this series here.

I am having great fun with Bruges lace, which I’m learning from the master herself, Tatyana Mirer, in a three-week class at Knit-A-Way.  I’m the only person in the class at the moment, and it is a fabulous experience to spend the time with such an amazing teacher and designer.  Last week, I mentioned that I had bought a skein of Lamb’s Pride Worsted at the shop for the class, and it was more or less a disaster.  The yarn is actually quite nice, but it is really just not a good fit with Bruges lace swatches!

My Bruges lace square in Victorian Pink (which looked lavender to me when I bought it).

After the first class, I decided to use some Galler Yarns Parisian Cotton that I have on hand from some designs I have done for them.  I don’t use crochet cotton thread that often, but it is absolutely perfect for Bruges lace.  It was also just about the only yarn I cared to touch during the two days last week which were well over 95 degrees and extremely humid!

I should mention that I haven’t blocked any of these swatches.

A Bruges lace circle.

 

A Bruges lace curve.

A Bruges lace oval. I had a lot of fun with this one.

The first part of a Bruges lace wave.

A Bruges lace square in progress. I lost my trusty 00 crochet hook on the subway shortly thereafter :(.

My favorite technique was adding an insert to the Bruges lace square.  I see a lot of interesting possibilities for granny squares.

Bruges lace motifs are join-as-you-go, so I could avoid at least some of the yarn ends…

On Thursday, I’ll have the last class.  Tatyana will be showing me some tubular techniques, and I’ll also be starting the Sparkling Wave Scarf from The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet.  I plan to make it as a holiday gift for my friend, OB, as part of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge.

I’m surprised that it has been almost a year since I joined in on the Year of Projects through the Come Blog-A-long group on Ravelry.  Even though I had been planning to work my way through Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters anyway, I had a wonderful time joining in with other crafty bloggers along the way!  Next Sunday, I’ll share my plans for year 2 of the Year of Projects (which I’m still formulating in my head).  You might want to join in, too!

This year, I had a chance to try out many techniques from Crochet Master Class that I had never used before, like hairpin lacesingle crochet entrelacpainted crochetfreeform, and Bruges lace.  I experimented a lot more with techniques I had used before, like woven crochetTunisian crochetfilet crochetdouble-ended crochetIrish crochet, and the bullion stitch.  I so wanted to be like Minding My Own Stitches, a YOP blogger who faithfully completed every project in one book.  Alas, I found that I wasn’t inspired to work with some of the techniques from the book.  And there are other techniques that I didn’t cover that I definitely want to return to, like overlay crochet and tapestry crochet.

I’m very grateful to harleagh from When Did I Become a Knitter for hatching up the idea of blogging through a book, and, of course, to Rita Weiss and the late Jean Leinhauser for compiling a collection that really inspired me to push myself creatively and to further develop my crochet techniques.  I look forward to more exploration in the next year!

Swatching

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I’m still working on my homework for the Bruges crochet class I’m taking with Tatyana Mirer at Knit-A-Way.  I’m using Galler Yarns Parisian Cotton and a 00 (3.5 mm) crochet hook.  So far, I’ve finished the oval and am mostly finished with the square.  I still need to complete the curve and start two swatches for use in class by Thursday.

My Bruges lace square in progress.

I started swatching for a cable knit hat I plan to make my Dad’s partner in time for the winter holidays.  I’m using the Nude Ewe Ron yarn I received in the Blog Hub Swap.  This is all part of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge.

The yarn is a lot softer than I thought it would be, and I love the natural color.

I used three different stitch patterns on the swatch.  The first stitch at the bottom, from 400 Knitting Stitches, is a definite no – it doesn’t work for this project in this yarn. The middle stitch is one of my favorites from The Very Easy Guide to Cable Knitting. For this project, it is a maybe. So is the top stitch, which is from Cables Untangled. I like the look, but it is a bit more involved that I’d like for a hat worked on circs.  I’m going to sleep on it before casting on.  Do you have a favorite?  (As for all of those yarn strands… I’m trying a new trick I picked up online.)

In book news, I’m about 17% through Halfway Human.  It’s starting to draw me in a little bit more, and I suspect I haven’t reached the heart of the story yet.

For more Works in Progress, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.