Maybe I’m Addicted

That little shrug is probably the quickest thing I’ve ever crocheted.  Once I understood the lace chart, it flew by so fast I think I got yarn burn on my wrapping finger.  I’m entirely enchanted by the lace edging, which is exactly why I was drawn to this pattern.  It’s easier than it looks (it also desperately needs a blocking, so hang on to your opinions until the after-blocking photo shoot.)  The only thing hampering my flow was trying to watch a show with my family while I worked on it.  I can knit and look elsewhere with ease – stare out a window while churning out miles of stockinette, or chatting happily away as my fingers deftly creating ribbing.  But crochet – the yarnovers and chains and there are so many holes to put your hook through – eyes on the prize the entire way.



I think this will be a perfect project for the plane to Austin on Thursday, but this time in my size.  This morning I dug through my fingering weight skeins and tried to select the perfect one.  I kept getting drawn to this skein of Aracauna in fuschia and gray.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be so excited for the finished item that I complete it before I even leave for the airport?


That’s ok, though.  Ellette asked for a shrug also, and I have the perfect yarn for hers.

The Knitting Must Continue

Over at the Chittery Chattery Swappee Swappers group on Ravelry, there is a knit-a-long titled “Open That Skein!”  The premise is that people have a tendency to hang on to things “for that special occasion.”  Most often, these things are nice bottles of wine (or in my case, whiskey), and items of that nature.  For knitters, it’s skeins of yarn.  We have a tendency to travel and seek out yarn stores in foreign lands, coming home with “souvenir skeins” that then sit in our stash for years upon years because, that skein from Denmark is really special and who knows when you’ll be going to Denmark again??  (I have a skein of laceweight that I purchased when we visited Denmark that is still sitting there; a) because I don’t usually work with lace and b) it’s from Denmark!)  So, rather than hoarding this “special occasion” yarn, we’re declaring it a special occasion now, and encouraging fellow knitters to cake one of those skeins!

So, my entry for Open That Skein is the sock yarn I dyed at Lorna’s Laces last November.  I’m knitting up Clincher, which is very similar to a design idea I had for holding cowls and scarves in place.  I’m knitting mine in straight garter stitch at a slightly tighter gauge, with the intention of wearing it at Burning Man this year and hopefully keeping out the average amount of dust.  Granted, if winds really pick up out there, this will not be sufficient.  But, for basic gallivanting, it should work.


One of the things I love most about this pattern is that you start at the tiny end and increase to a certain amount of stitches, then do the loops to bind off.  This means, I can knit and knit and knit until I run out of my special yarn, thereby not wasting an inch!


I’m totally in love with the yarn.  It’s soft and springy with a beautiful sheen.  The color I’m not sold on, I feel like the purple needs to pop more.  And the blue should be deeper.  But hey – it was my first time dyeing and because of that alone, the yarn is special to me.

And of course, right on target, the weather decides to spike.

Can You Tell?

This sweater has really been giving me the run around.  Or rather, the yarn itself has been rather uncooperative.  It was a gift from a friend who was stashbusting.  Those kinds of gifts can be amazing (for instance, same friend just sent me a bag of yarn, and it was more lovely than I could have imagined!).  This gift was a wonderful gift; it is that some of the balls had been knit, and therefore were caked without ball bands.  I know what the yarn is, and roughly what color, just not always which dye lot.


So this sweater has been a bit of cobbling together what I think is all the same yarn, realizing I don’t quite have enough and trying to piece together other yarns for it.  This is the back of the sweater, and therefore what the main body will look like.


I bring up the color thing because the shoulders are white.  They are white because I ran out of the blue ball in the very last row.  When I attached the next ball, I realized that it was ever so slightly paler than the previous, and crocheting a whole row would have been awkward.  So, the white was thrown in to distract you from the color difference.

Can you tell?

The last three balls of blue I have are also a tad mismatched.  Two are the slightly lighter shade of blue, and one is the same blue as the front.  Do you think a shade difference between front and back would be noticeable?

Waiting for Spring

I’m back to work on my Eyes Wide Open sweater.  The sleeves are done, and here is my progress on the front.  Afraid that I was going to run out of blue (I’m still unsuccessfully stashbusting), I threw in a few rows of white.  Then, later that same day, I found two more balls of the blue.  I’m leaving the white in, though.  I like the contrast.


The most exciting thing about this picture, if you look closely in the upper right hand corner – GREEN.  There’s no snow on the sidewalks, just sunshine, and things are starting to turn green again.  Don’t be fooled – the wind is still gnarly, but I’m choosing to focus on the happier parts of the weather.  This sweater is going to be a fantastic spring/summer layering piece.

How are you getting ready for Spring?

Hate Is Such A Strong Word

I *dislike* the yarn I used for this scarf.  When I was knitting, it felt processed and oily, but I thought that would wash out when I soaked it for blocking.  The yarn is Newton Yarn Company’s Pencil Roving.


While I was knitting, the yarn dye rubbed off on my hands.  I have worked with yarn that wasn’t stellar, but the magic happened in the blocking.  So, I maintained faith that it would work out in the end.

I soaked it for a week, changing out the water every couple of hours, letting it soak over night, adding a mild soap to break down the oils and remove the weird smell (like walking into a basement – not musty or moldy, just moth ball-esque).  Finally, worried that I was going to felt the scarf if I putzed with it too much longer, I pinned it in place.


The smell hasn’t left, and the coarseness of the yarn only feels worse, like it’s a wet acrylic instead of a natural wool.  Maybe it will be better once it is completely dry, or after it has been worn a bit.  Right now, the thought of wrapping this thing around my neck makes my neck itch uncontrollably.

The only saving grace is that that the butterfly image pops beautifully and the lace is clear.

Have you ever worked with a yarn that you ended up disliking?  Did you finish the project?  Do you have any suggestions for getting rid of the smell or coarseness of the yarn?

The Yarn Conundrum

If you are a knitter, and perhaps maybe an obsessive passionate one, you have probably heard through the grapevine that Ysolda Teague has designed probably the most interesting shawl pattern/mystery knit along in existence.  She calls it Follow Your Arrow. (That link won’t show you anything, sorry.  It will just give more information in case you also want to join the frenzy).

Why is it so intriguing?

Ysolda’s MKAL consists of 5 clues, given out every Monday over 5 weeks.  Each clue contains 2 options, which flow seamlessly from which option you chose before, no matter which combination of options you are doing.  This means that one pattern can yield 32 completely different results! And actually, she gives a further option – make it solid color, or change colors, which means that really – there are 64 possible ways to knit this pattern.  Read it again. 64. SIXTY-FOUR, from one pattern.  Talk about getting your money’s worth.

My conundrum?

I cast one using the Unplanned Peacock Studio Kinky Socks in Wildflower, after much hemming and hawing over what yarn to use – do I want it two colored or just solid – how heavy, how drapey, blah blah  blah.  I started knitting, all the way through the first clue.  Then I made the mistake of checking the Ravelry forum to see what other people are doing.  Yeah….other people are casting on 2 or 3 or 5 shawls to see how the pattern unfolds.  I thought I could hold out, I really did.  I looked around at all of the projects I’ve got on the needles and I thought to myself – I don’t need to add another.

Then, I finished the Bosc scarf (YAY!) and set it to soak (and soak, and soak, and soak – the processing residue still lingers), and….well…. I have been trying really hard to stash bust, and I have  a lot of fingering weight…


So, I started pairing up the fiber to see if anything could yield a good two-tone shawl.


This color combination above is what got me started.  The blue is a skein that I just received from a swap, and the multicolor blue/purple/pink and sparkly skein next to it was a birthday present from a friend.  She spun it herself.  And colorway is called the “Cottingly Fairies”.


Then I put the handspun next to this lavender yarn I received, also from a swap, and loved the soft purple tons and this makes the blue really pop (this picture is more true to the color of the handspun than the previous one) and the blue of the other picture kind of masks the blue in the handspun.


But I like rainbows, a lot. And I saw the skein of limited edition Lorna’s Laces in the Bertha Palmer colorway and sandwiched between the bright yellow Madelinetosh and the ohana blue, I was stunned.  It’s so bright and cheery and perfect for these cold and dreary winter days.  But I don’t think I can handle THAT much yellow in a shawl.  I like yellow, it just doesn’t like being close to my face.


Then I thought about all the mini skeins I have from Miss Babs (and some one of a kinds from Lorna’s Laces) and I thought about ways to pair them up so I can have a wildly colored shawl.  But none of them seemed to call to me.


But I tried a series of grays – mini skeins and half used skeins, with a constant variable of the halo-ed alpaca I got in Seattle in May.


And the gray led me to this pair.  I like the way the multi-color center skein (one of a kind mill end, Lorna’s Laces) kind of mutes the bright yellow.  I don’t think I care much for the gray in that mix.


For a very girly combination, I put the Unplanned Peacock Studio next to the lavender.  It matches, but I’m not sure it’s really me.


I kept coming back to the handspun.  I like it with the blue.  I also like it with the purple pictured above.  I tried to blend the skeins to see if they worked as well as I imagined.  I’m not quite sold.


And then I did the same thing with the rainbow (Bertha Palmer, Lorna’s Laces) and the blue.  This is much more true to the bright color of the blue than the other pictures.  This combo made my eyes pop, and I think I may have found a winner.  But I’m still not positive.  I’m to the point where a lot of my fingering weight is limited edition, or handspun, or one-of-a-kind dye lots, or souvenir yarn.  And it’s really hard to justify using it for something I might not love.

What are your thoughts/suggestions?

And don’t say JUST KNIT THEM ALL! THERE ARE 32 OPTIONS TO PLAY WITH! Because that thought is going through my head about ten times a minute.

Are you doing this MKAL?  How is your project coming along?  Do you face the same dilemma?

Flash the Stash

I came home after physical therapy the other night a bit invigorated and wanting to do something about the mess.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t really been able to knit, or maybe it’s because the new knitter at my house was talking about yarn, but I decided to flash the stash.  Ellette and the other were very enthusiastic about what this might entail.

Basically, we emptied every receptacle that was storing yarn onto my bed and began trying to make sense of it.  But, not before some ridiculous photos were captured.


Yeah….I have a problem.  I managed to give away one bag of yarn to this new knitter, and Ellette and she put together bags of yarn they want in their swants.

Swants? I hear you question.  Stephen West began a trend of reconstructing thrift store sweaters into pants.  Check out this tutorial if you want to make your own pair.  I love the idea of swants, and I’ve noticed they hit “high fashion” recently as well.  I still think handmade is better (and always will), and I like knitting more than sewing.  And my yarn supply, as you can see, is out of hand.

A few weeks ago, I tossed my stash a bit looking for odds and ends to include in my own on-the-fly swants project.  I call them Swoomers, since they hit just below the knee and kind of balloon out like bloomers.


I reached the waistband last night, and after that it’s just weaving in ends and a light blocking.  They are so cozy!  I can’t wait to put them on and lounge in knitterly style.


Since Ellette and other both want a pair of swants, or swoomers, I will have a chance to work out the pattern and offer it up for grabs.  This has been an awesome stash bust.  I’m still looking for more stashbusting methods.  My 2013 clean-the-stash resolution has still not been met, although I’m a lot closer (about two 10 gallon bins).

My Yarn Ornament

This is the first time Ellette and I will be celebrating Christmas at home.  I’m not big on Christmas for reasons that do not need to be discussed here.  Ellette, however, loves the idea of it – spending time with family, being secretive, surprising her friends and family, and making, giving, and receiving gifts.  She has never had a visit from Santa, nor has she ever had a stocking or even tree.  Family members we have spent the holiday with in previous years had both, but not us.

My gift to Ellette this year is decorating our apartment for the holidays.  She made her own stocking.  We have a tree and hung lights, but we have no ornaments.  That didn’t seem to matter to her, though, because as soon as we plugged in the lights and the Christmas tree lit up, so did her face and she squealed over how proud Santa will be.

Rather than spending money I don’t really have on ornaments we don’t really care about for a holiday I’m not too keen on, I suggested to Ellette that we use our creativity and the supplies we have on hand to make our own ornaments.  Then, each year we can make a couple more.  This way, everything will be meaningful and well-suited to us.  I see trees in the apartments of acquaintances that are idyllic – garlands, lights, and standard glass ornaments, and they look lovely.  But to me, they lack the warmth and spirit of the holiday.  It is how these individuals think a tree is supposed to look, and while that may be perfect for them, it is not for me.

Enter: Pinterest.  I’ve been scouring the online world for ideas on a handmade Christmas.  Some of these ideas I have been sending to Ellette’s nanny to work on afterschool, and some I have been saving for myself or for us to do together.  Last night was the start of our ornament-making adventure, which leads me to the subject of this post – I now have a yarny ornament on my tree.

You will need: A Styrofoam ball, a ball of yarn, two bamboo skewers, scissors, hot glue, and two beads that fit over the skewers.


Step 1: Stick the skewers through the Styrofoam ball at whatever angle suits you best.

Step 2: Cut the skewers to the length you desire.  I cut them short so the ornament would fit nicely on our tree.


This is what it looks like when you are ready.


Step 3: Glue your beads to the flat ends of the skewers.  (One end is pointy, one end isn’t).  Ellette chose purple heart-shaped pony beads.

Step 4: Glue down the end of your yarn of choice to the ball, and start wrapping!


Keep wrapping until you can’t see the Styrofoam underneath.  This took a lot more yarn that I had anticipated.


Step 5: Glue the end of your yarn in an inconspicuous location.

Step 6: Use yarn or ribbon to create a loop for hanging the ornament.  (Can you tell this was an afterthought for me?)


Step 7: Hang it on your tree!

I want to get tiny Styrofoam balls and toothpicks and make a dozen more.  Maybe make a garland of tiny yarn balls.  That sounds like heaven.

Do you have any special ornaments on your tree?

NaKniSweMo Day 30 (or) I Win

Coming in at a total of 67,886 stitches, I’ve completed my Aran with little time to spare.  Luckily, I had someone on hand to model the finished garment (and think about waffles in the process).  I’m overall pleased with the finished item, I’m only concerned about the sleeves being long enough.


This is the Aran for Frederick – something that has been in my queue for a couple of years.  It was delightful to knit, even with the miscrossed cable disasters.  I’ll give more of a background to this sweater after it is in the hands of the recipient, but know that it is a huge relief to me for it to have been completed.

The yarn is Berrocco Vintage in color 5175 (so original).  I adore this yarn.  It’s wonderful for projects that are going to see a lot of use, since it’s wool and acrylic, washable, but soft and warm.

And, now that November is over, I don’t want to pick up a set of needles for a few days.  I don’t really want to touch yarn for a while.  This was a lot more intense than I anticipated.

Explore Chicago: Hanging Out With Lorna’s Laces

I didn’t realize this could be an Explore Chicago post until I came face to face with that word at the top my screen that demands “Title.”  I thought about it – how do I sum about my awesome weekend in a few short words that makes you want to continue reading?  What did I really do and what do I want to share with you?  This weekend was actually a large exploration of Chicago, from it’s quaint and quirky neighborhoods to the suburbs and a vast exploration of the public transit system into the Loop, it was strange and colorful and chilly and wonderfully inspiring.  Honestly – a little terrifyingly inspiring, as strange as the concept may seem.  To sum up what I mean – I have been face to face with some amazing, beautiful, creative, and ambitious people doing fantastic things.  And I’m faced with the ability to be a part of it – and it blows my mind.  I feel like I’m standing on the edge of everything I have want to do and all that is required is to take that one last leap of faith, and to be perfectly clear – it scares the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of me.

But, I digress.

Saturday saw a most wonderful opportunity realized.  I teamed up with the gals from Windy Knitty and we went to the dye studio of Lorna’s Laces – a most lovely, colorful, wacky little yarn dyer that is based in Ravenswood, a neighborhood here in Chicago.  Take a look at that website – go on, I can wait.  Pretty stunning, yes?  The color combinations, the quality, and if only you could feel the amazing cloud-like substance the yarn actually is – you would be head over heels and “accidentally” swiping your credit card (I may or may not speak from experience).

The coolest part, besides seeing the hole in the wall where the magic happens and standing inside hallways of beautiful, colorful, tempting skeins of super soft merino…I got to dye my own yarn.



We started with a base.  I had a skein of superwash merino fingering weight, as did a majority of the others there.  This was her famous Solemate – ideal for sock yarn because of the 15% nylon and 30% Outlast.  It is deliciously soft and has a lovely sheen to it.


We then picked out colors and watched Beth mix the pigments.


She took a skein of the same base yarn and showed us what each of the colors was going to look like.  Once the 8 colors were ready, she let us have our fun.  There were 3 of us working on the tables at once, laughing our butts off as we spilled dyed across the table, played around with colors, and explored the studio.



Seriously….color explosion everywhere.  I couldn’t help myself.


And then we found this – a table of mill ends and one-of-a-kind skeins.  All of the samples they work with while they are trying to come up with new colorways – sitting right here on the table at ridiculously cheap prices.  I couldn’t resist.  I really couldn’t.  I keep wandering to the table, digging through the pile and finding all of these amazing little treasures.  I came away with a bag full of colorful pretties, and I have plans.


In contract to the hanging skeins pictured above, our trial skeins hung in a row drying, but were no where near as stunning.  Granted, we all adored each others handiwork because it was a lovely surprise when they were finished.  We weren’t quite sure how everything was going to turn out, and each skein was beautiful.


This is my Solemate.  It seems to reflect the icy chill of winter that is settling over us, with that lovely splash of color and beauty that you happen upon on those cold days.


And then I couldn’t help myself, so I bought another base – this time a Superwash Worsted, and had another go; this time inspired by the autumn colors on the table.


I can’t believe how lovely they turned out, and now I am racking my brain to think of suitable projects, because at this rate, my stash has an awful lot of souvenir, one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime finds that I really, simply, should not keep stuffed in plastic baggies inside of drawers.  They are meant to be admired.

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