Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

Last day to squeeze in one more blog post!  I haven't been around here much this December.  That's because I rather overbooked myself with handmade Christmas.  Then we traveled to GA for the Holiday (lots of fun, despite the cold I brought home with me--boo).  And to top it all off, I got a last minute commission from Knit One Crochet Too for a new pattern they want to weekend.  Been a little busy--as you can imagine.  At least it's better than being bored, right?

My current test knit project hasn't been released yet (how cool is that) so I can't show it to you just yet--that and I'm not quite finished with it.  Guess how I'm spending my New Year's Eve.  Not that I would want to be anywhere other than parked on my couch with a knitting project and a glass of wine :)

So, here is a crash course of all the handmade gifts I've neglected to show you over the last couple of weeks.  I promise a more in-depth post once I've finished this next test knit.  I am on a deadline ;)

First the knits:

A couple of ornaments for an online ornament exchange, courtesy of Knit Picks and Karolina Eckerdal,both in Palette:
Some gloves for Dad, from Never Knit Your Man a Sweater* in Swish Worsted:
And a scarf for FIL, Cerus Scarf by Hillary Smith Callis:
I wasn't planning on making anything for him, but was having a really, really, really hard time coming up with something for him for Christmas.  Turns out he's going to be taking some depositions in northern cities and very specifically wanted a *cardinal red* scarf to go with it.   I thought I wouldn't have time to finish it, but I managed to squeak this one in about 2 days before we left!

The time it took to knit it could have something to do with the pattern--it is lovely and very masculine, but it makes for a very thick fabric and one that doesn't knit up very quickly.  I recommend it highly, but not for projects that you need quickly.  

Also, if you get the chance, give Knit Picks Full Circle a try.  It's made from recycled wool and merino fibers and comes in some really beautiful, vibrant colors.  It is a bit splitty, so it wasn't really the best choice for so thick a fabric, but it's airy, warm, and super soft.  I plan on ordering myself more as a belated Christmas gift to myself :)

And now a bunch of non-knits:

I mentioned in my previous post that I am trying to enhance my sewing skills (up from nil).  I decided to give this quilted oven mitt pattern a try.  I think it came out well!
I made one for each of our mothers and they really seemed to like them!

I also tried this etching tutorial (really, it's amazing what you can find on Pinterest!) to make some personalized wine glasses for friends and family--look how pretty!
It was a little tough to cut those shapes out of masking tape, but totally worth it.  I think that etching cream was one of the best investments I made this season!  Definitely making one of these for me in the future.

Did you get any fun crafty gifts this year?

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year.  Hope 2012 treats you even better than 2011!



Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Few Christmas Presents

Oh Boy, there is some hardcore holiday knitting going on in the Matthews residence.  I think I overcommitted myself this year.  I finished so early last year, I got overexcited.  The just couple of weeks will just be full of busy fingers and Christmas movies :)

Here are a couple of projects I've already finished.  Some felted slippers for our sisters:
The pattern is called Duffers by Mindie Tallack.  It was so, so easy.  19 rounds of knitting in bulky yarn, sewing up the bottom, and picking up the button flap.  I got the suggestion for the button flap from PurlDiva's notes
Maybe not a first knitting project, but this could definitely be a second.  After I finished knitting them, I ran them twice through the washing machine on hot, put them out to dry, and sewed on the button.  Maybe an hour and a half of work per slipper.  Cute, easy, and comfortable--my favorite kind of project!

I also dug out the old sewing machine and took it for a proverbial spin:
I made sunglasses cases!  Aren't they cute?
I found this tutorial on Pinterest and thought it would be good practice for the amateur seamstress (me).  Definitely saw improvement in my ability to sew a straight line by the last one.  These were another really quick and easy project.  I ended up making a total of 7--the 5 you see above, plus 2 more not pictured--in just 2 sittings!  These will make great stocking stuffers :)

What's left?  Oh lots: 2 more big knitting projects, 2 more sewing projects, and a few miscellaneous etchings--plus baking.  Busy, busy, busy!  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  You know what they say about idle hands...

...they climb up Christmas trees.  Or maybe that's kitty feet.  Anyway, we've got ours up and the apartment nice and decorated, complete with naughty, climbing critters.  I can tell he's been up there by how flat the middle branches are.  Tsk tsk.

So pretty:
Honestly, how can you blame him?  He's just so darn cute!

What are you making for Christmas presents this year?



Monday, November 28, 2011

Never Knit Your Man a Sweater*

*Especially if he's 6'4"

Naw, I'm just kidding.  I really couldn't be more pleased with this project.  If you know my hubby, you know he's not really a sweater wearing kind of a guy.  He likes jeans and flannel shirts.  I'd offered to make him sweaters in the past and he'd always turned me down.

Unfortunately, his accounting firm tends to pinch pennies on the heating bill and the poor thing is left shivering at his desk.  Since they have a dress code, my darling husband needed a sweater:

It looks a little lumpy in this picture, but that's because he'd been wearing that button-down shirt all day and it didn't want to lie flat.  But look at where the seams hit--just perfect!  The collar lies flat, the sleeves are just long enough, the armholes are big enough.  SO happy.

I think DH likes it, too.  After all, he did pick out the pattern--the most boring pattern he possibly could have.
I showed him sweaters with cables, I showed him sweaters with ribs, but all he wanted was the plainest, simplest sweater that wouldn't stand out in any way.  Accountants, pssh. 

If you clicked my link above, you'll note that the Drops pattern he picked has a seed stitch yoke.  He didn't want that either.  He wanted the whole darn thing to be stockinette.  For a guy with only a few opinions, he sure has some strong ones.

I will say this, though, if he'd picked any of the patterns I'd shown him, I would probably still be working on it and no one else would be getting a knitted Christmas present this year.  And I've got a few doozy requests this year.  I'm going to need to learn to knit in my sleep to get them all done!

For those of you who know us both--or heard the story of the green vest--you would think that I picked the yarn out, too.  Nope.  Hubby decided he has enough green and blue sweaters and really wanted a dark red one.  I showed him picture after picture of yarn colorways and none of them were dark enough until we found KP's Swish DK in Garnet Heather.  He does look dashing in that color, doesn't he?

I think this might be my favorite Christmas gift this year.  One down...lots more to go.

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and good luck with all your Christmas endeavors!



P.S. Bad Cat news: crazy, list-oriented person that I am, I've already got our tree up and most of the house already decorated.  (You're jealous.  Admit it.)  Not 5 minutes later, Arty decided to "help" me put up decorations by climbing as far up the tree as he could.  He always likes to "help" me with whatever I'm doing (sweeping the kitchen, folding laundry, etc), but this one landed him a fat squirt of water in the face.  I've only seen him up there once more since then, but here's hoping our resident naughty kitty doesn't knock it over and destroy all my pretty ornaments!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lowry Pullover

I know it's not Thanksgiving yet, but Christmas knitting is already in full swing.  You have to start early if you want to get any sleep during the holiday season--and if you want to finish something pretty for yourself!

I started this little number back in September, but then we had a crazy busy October, as stated above, I had to get going on my holiday knitting!  I'm already about 65% of the way done with Hubby's sweater, but have lots more to go.  At least I can cross this one off my list:

Very festive!

The pattern is Lowry by Avril Lang and was featured in Knit Scene Fall 2011.  I would highly recommend that issue--there were a ton of great projects I want to knit in the future, projects for every skill set!

Part of what took so long with this sweater was the allover honeycomb cable pattern.  It's a little hard to see in this picture, but there is a gorgeous hourglass pattern throughout the piece.  The cable pattern is also super stretchy and you knit this sweater with about 10-12" of negative ease (pick a size about 10" smaller than your usual size so it stretches).  Don't be nervous, it'll hug your curves beautifully!

Unfortunately, the same principle didn't seem to apply to the sleeves.  They came out SO tight!  You can see the stretching in the first picture.  It's a little bit uncomfortable.  I know the yarn I used will stretch a little (Knit Picks Stroll Sport), but even so, I'm considering taking the sleeves off and knitting them again--once I get a little further into my holiday knitting, of course!

If you plan on trying this sweater, knit the sleeves a size or two bigger than the rest of the sweater.  The sleeve sizes in this pattern run a little small, even if you don't have the forarms of a Disney prince!

For next time, depending on how productive I am, I might have a sweater to show you or I might have a little knit ornament to show you!  (Pray for a sweater.  I'm getting a little tired of the miles and miles of stockinette in the sweater pattern Hubby picked!)

Until next time!



PS: If you're not on Pinterest already, what are you waiting for??  I added a little button to the sidebar that links to my pinboards.  Need an invite?  Let me know!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Home Decor

I promised this post to you ages ago and, finally, here it is.  Cut me some slack--I was busy!  MIL was here for a visit and then, poor baby that I am, I caught a bad cold.  So now that I'm feeling better, I've finally taken the "after" pictures of our apartment that I promised you.

We've been living in this little townhouse for almost 3 years now.  Every year, we considered it temporary: first, we thought we were going to law school and then we were thinking about moving south and most recently, we considered buying a house before coming to the decision that we're not ready and that Walker needs to get his CPA first. 

All sound decisions, but they mean that we won't be leaving our current abode for at least another year and a half--totally fine.  Our loudest neighbors have moved out and after considering the options, we determined that we do, in fact, have the best apartment in the area for the price we pay for it.  So instead of buying a home we can't afford, I've been working to make the apartment we can afford look more like a grownup home.

Our living room was probably in the most dire need of an upgrade.  Just one look at the before and you can tell recent college grads lived here with Mom's hand-me-downs:
This is how it looks today:
Crazy different, right?  Most of the changes I made were not expensive at all (the TV being the only exception)!  I bought the black cabinet in the corner from Target and the gold mirror is from TJ Maxx ($2!).  I've been meaning to slipcover the sofas--blue striped is NMS--but I am no seamstress.  If/when, I finally get around to that, you'll know, haha.

This is my favorite part:
It's not painted, just a vinyl wall decal that I bought from am Etsy seller.  I just had to (carefully) stick it to the wall.  Arty even helped me do it!  Totally easy, gentle on your budget and makes a big impact on the room as a whole.  You could even make one yourself if you're lucky enough to own one of those die-cutting machines.

I love this, too.  Another TJ Maxx purchase ($10), complete with a few more birds leftover from the design on the opposite wall.
The lower bird is actually covering a hole Walker made when he dropped the rowing machine, oops! So then I just added a couple more around the room for "thematic unity." Or something.

Dining room before:
Dining room after:
As I mentioned before, Walker's mother came to visit last weekend.  I was suitably embarassed to be entertaining my mother-in-law at a table where there are only two seats.  Walker had been doing a lot of traveling for audits this summer, which meant I didn't get to see him as much, but also meant that his firm was paying him handsomely for the overtime.  Seemed like the perfect time to upgrade to a grown-up table!
We bought this one at Bob's Discount Furniture (the Brunswick model, if you're interested).  I was surprised by how nice their stuff is.  I will probably be going back there in the future.  We loved this one because it's tall (surprise), it's got storage underneath it, and the leaf expansion folds right into the tabletop--perfect for our small space! 

What do you think of my little red lantern and dried grass accents?  They're both from the Home Good Store :)

This is a little vignette I added to the upstairs hall:
The floating shelves and silver frame are from Target, but the rest of the items were wedding gifts.  Easy way to jazz up a small empty space.

Okay, remember that sad, empty guest room?
I can't take the credit for most of this.  My parents redid their upstairs and had no further use of these beds.  So, these are totally Mom hand-me-downs, but at least they're cute!

Now here's something I actually made myself:
I got the idea from several Pinterest pins.  My longer necklaces were getting tangled in my little jewelry cupboard and my earrings were all piled in a little bowl--it was hard to find anything!  I just bought a couple of cheap frames from Walmart, some screw-in hooks (for the necklaces) and some stiff cross-stitch fabric (for the earrings) and voila!  My jewelry is now art!

Even though I still have a few projects and improvements to tackle (the couches for one!), but the place already feels more like a sophisticated home than it did when we moved in.  I think I could stay in this place for another year or so.  :)

What do you think of my changes?  What would you have done differently?

I might actually have some knitting for you next time, stay tuned!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gretel, Take III

Alright, I'll admit it.  I love this Beret.  Its interwoven cable speaks of sophistication, but the slouch is all casual.  The fact that this is the third time I've knit this pattern is a testament to what a great knit it is!  I really don't like to repeat patterns, but this one is fun, it's well-written, and the results just speak for themselves.  Not free, but absolutely worth every penny.  Ysolda Teague sure does know how to write a knitting pattern.  I can definitely see a 4th and maybe a 5th in my future at some point.

This time, I had the brilliant idea to try it in City Tweed, something soft and rustic looking.  Why not combine one of my favorite yarns with one of my favorite patterns?  I now own the perfect fall hat:


Sorry, no action shot.  Walker and I have been extremely busy lately.  Maybe some other time--I am looking forward to the cool weather that requires such an elegant topper!

We have had an unusually busy fall this year.  This past weekend we went to Quebec City to celebrate our anniversary (two years can you believe it)!  The weather was absolutely amazing--70 and sunny the whole time.  Great food, beautiful city, lovely husband: this girl had it all.  If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can see the pictures I posted when we got back.  If not, maybe if you're nice to me, I'll post some when I get home tonight--if I have time that is.

Which brings me to our next event: Walker's mother is coming to visit this weekend.  Dun dun DUN!  Just kidding.  I really do have a lovely mother-in-law, but we didn't get back from Quebec until Monday evening and now we're scrambling to get the house in order before she comes Friday afternoon. 

It wouldn't be as bad if we hadn't also just gotten our new dining chairs (some assembly required) last night.  This "some assembly" took this spatially challenged girl about 3 hours to put the first chair together AND I used the wrong screws in one spot, which means the holes are now too big for the little screws that were supposed to go there and silly Allie has to go buy some more big screws after work tonight.  Oops.  So I still have to put two of them together, clean up the resulting mess, clean the rest of the house, put laundry away, prepare something tasty and pumpkin-y, and maybe get a workout in to maintain sanity all by bedtime tomorrow night. 

MIL keeps emailing me, telling not to worry, that she's low-maintenance, etc, but c'mon, this is me.  I don't DO half-measures.  The house is going to be clean and perfect because I say it will be.  Damn it.  Don't worry.  I'm sure I'll get it all done.  I just worry and think too much when I can't be there getting it done NOW.  And really, if worrying were an Olympic sport, I would win--or something.

Anyway, TL;DR: I've been crazy busy the last couple of weeks and that's why I haven't gotten much knitting done.

I did make decent progress on Lowry--I'm now up to the armpit on the body section--and I started Walker's Christmas sweater--6" into it--but I have a long way to go on both.  If my social calendar doesn't slow down soon, Christmas is going to be a harried mess!  I don't see this happening, either, a dear friend is getting married in early November and is graciously including me in some of the preliminary events.  Knitting can wait.

For next time, the final piece in my decorating overhaul is coming next weekend, so I'll take you for a tour of our now grown-up apartment with some tutorial links where appropriate.

Until next time, I hope you're enjoying the beautiful fall weather!



Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Love Fall

This is how I feel when all the new fall patterns come out:
Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of time and would probably knit my fingers clean off, but come on, just look at all the new Knitty has to offer:




                                                                     So pretty...
Unfortunately, it's not feasible to knit ALL the things.  I'm still plugging away at Lowry...and Inlay...and you know, other productive things, so back to being productive I go.  Sigh.

Oh, and that decor post I promised you this week?  We've got a couple of exciting new developments on the way, so it's going to get pushed back.  This week, I'll have a pretty new beret to show you.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.


PS: For those of you don't get ALL the things, or just want a good chuckle: Hyperbole and a Half

Monday, September 26, 2011

First Test Knit

I did it.  I finished my first assignment, the Vertical Waves Tank by Knit One Crochet Too:
Once I got the pattern figured out, the whole thing only took me about a week.  Of course, that could have something to do with how ridiculous I've allowed my queue to become and how eager I was to move on to the next project.  But now it's done and I've sent it back to Knit One Crochet Too along with my swatch and the leftovers.  I got an email from them the other day--they were very pleased with my work and asked if I want to do more in the future!  How cool is that??  I've already been paid for this piece, but I don't know what/when the next project will be.  I'll keep you posted.

This one was a pretty fun knit, which could have something to do with how fast it was!  The yarn was not my first choice, I mean, microfiber orange?  I will grant that it is soft and I'm sure that color looks good one someone, but that someone is not me. 

However, I do like the wave pattern--no cables, just increases and decreases:

(Color is truer in the first photo)  What a cool motif!

If I were to knit this pattern again, I would have to make some changes, like waist shaping, bring the neckline down, and finish the armhole edges.  It's a good basic pattern and would be good for someone who wants to learn a simple cable without worrying about shaping the sweater.

I can't wait to see what they have next!

For next time: as you recall, Hubby and I decided to put off house hunting in favor of paying for his tuition while he studies to get his CPA, which means we've renewed our lease in our current apartment for another year.  Next time I'll take you for a tour around the place and show you some before and after decor shots.  Get excited--I'm really proud of some of my improvements!



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New York Cardigan

As promised, here is my latest selfish knit, the New York Cardigan:
What a nice, drapy cardigan for fall!  The weather in Maine is finally starting to cool off and I get to pull out all my beautiful creations again, hurray!  I had originally intended to make this sweater 3/4 sleeved, but lacked the foresight to order enough yarn.  Oops.  Guess I have to wear it with long-sleeved tees underneath.  Oh well.

The yarn is delicious, too.  Gloss (merino/silk) with the softness, and the drape, and the sheen...drool... Good color for fall, too!

(Doesn't my hair look nice in that photo?  All shiny...)

Anyway!  In terms of difficulty, I would rate this one a "tangy" on the Knitty scale.  (Speaking of, have you noticed that Deep Fall is up?  I actually see some things I like in there.  To bad they have to wait until I get through some of my monstrous queue!). 

The body was super easy--just a basic raglan with yarnover increases and then transitioning into the lace.  However, the lace "scarf" part was really, really tedious.  I got so tired of the pattern after maybe the 3rd repeat.  I guess this is why I don't knit scarves very often!  It makes for good tv knitting, but be warned about the tedious factor! 

The only reason I got it done as quickly as I did was because I wanted to move on to my first test knit and finish that sucker under deadline...and then I just wanted to be done with that as quickly as possible.  Someone needs to work on their attention span, don't you think?

The good news is that I finished the test knit tank top this weekend and Joyce at Knit One Crochet Too tells me that they received (and liked!) it today.  She asked me if I wanted to do more projects in the future--so of course I said yes!  I'm just hoping that next time they'll send me something that isn't neon orange.  I've asked if they're okay with my posting pictures of my test knits online so perhaps next time I'll have some test knit pictures to show you--or maybe we can just do a collective drool over some of the patterns in Knitty?  What do you think?



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthday Yarn

I know, my birthday was ages ago, you don't have to tell me.  But it was a weird time of transition between jobs, so cut me a little slack--I have a little yarn porn for you!

Due to a very generous gift card from my MIL and a moderate lack of restraint on my part, happy birthday to me:
Just look at all that beautiful Knit Picks yarn!  There's some Wool of the Andes, some Gloss DK (merino/silk), some Swish DK (superwash merino), some Stroll Sport(superwash merino), andm one of my favorites, some City Tweed! (alpaca/wool/donegal) 

This order alone more than tripled the size of my dwindling stash.  I probably have enough yarn here to keep me occupied well through the winter and into spring (especially if I'm doing test knitting on the side and with Christmas knitting coming up--yipe!).  Projects I have in mind are Lowry Pullover (red Stroll), Barcelona Jacket (forest heather WoTA), Kiyomi (WoTA pink and red), and Twinings (blue swish).  Lots of beautiful fall/winter sweaters on the docket!!

I haven't quite decided what to do with the City Tweed yet, but it'll probably end up as a cabled beret for me.  You can see my in-progress New York Cardigan in Gloss, doe colored, in the back.  Don't want to give anything away too soon!  It's finished now, but I'm waiting to debut it until Knit Night tomorrow.  You'll have to come back next time to see that one in all it's glory.

Some pretty cardigan pictures for next time!



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Goodbye Etsy

And now for another transition: I'm closing my Etsy shop.  I still have a bunch of merchandise sitting around, though, so for the month of September, everything is 50% off for Facebook fans and friends.  Blog readers are clearly worthy individuals, as well, so the coupon code is GOODBYE2011.  Anything left over at the end of the month will either be donated or given away, so stock up for baby showers, fall weather, and early Christmas shopping while you can!

Now don't worry, if you still really want a knit item, I am completely open to commissions.  The reason for the closure is that I'm now going to be a test knitter for Knit One, Crochet Too, a yarn company based in Windham, Maine!  They just emailed me out of the blue on Friday and asked if I wanted to test knit their patterns.  Apparently they like to work with local people and admired the work I'd been posting on Ravelry.  How crazy is it that I found a side job off Ravelry?? 

The instructions explicitly say that I can post pictures of my test knits on Ravelry, so I don't see any reason why I won't be able to share them here.  The pattern they sent is pretty cute, too--a basic shell with a lovely cabled pattern on the front, one I would even knit for myself in the future.  I am so, SO excited to be working with them.  I can't wait to see what other patterns/yarns they send me in the future!

Now, here is something I've already finished, Summer Plum Cardigan:

This particular pattern is by Veera Valimaki and really was a pleasure to knit.  It looks sharp and sophisticated, but it's really just a basic raglan with big garter borders and no seams. If you can work basic increases and decreases, you can knit this pattern.  Honest.  Unlike some of the other patterns I frequently blog about, this one would make an excellent first sweater (or second, since it's in sock yarn).

What made it such a joy to knit, however, was the yarn.  I used Quince & Co. Tern, a gorgeous wool/silk blend.  Quince & Co. is another Maine based company with very limited distribution, but absolutely gorgeous colorways.  The quality of this yarn is superb.  It was such a pleasure to feel it slide through my fingers and it wears beautifully!  As you might imagine from a small, but quality operation, the yarn wasn't exactly cheap (better than some other national chains, let me tell you), but totally worth it.  I am going to treasure this cardigan! 

Quince & Co also publishes a number of lovely patterns that are available for purchase on Ravelry.  This isn't one of theirs, but they do have some really pretty ones.

Currently, I'm working on the New York Cardigan with yarn by our old friend, Knit Picks.  In the event that I don't finish it by my next post, I'm going to take some pictures of my last yarn purchase tonight.  Yarn porn is way better than nothing at all, right?

And now, a kitty photo from hubby's birthday on Sunday:

"Yarrr!  Happy frickin' birthday."



Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Wow, so it's been a pretty long time since my last post.  It's just been a weird summer, guys, what with all the job hunting, quitting, settling into a new job.  I am doing pretty well in my new position.  There are a lot of quirks to get used to and, since I'm still "in training," I don't quite have enough responsibility yet.  I'm really not liking the change from knowing everything about how a place works to nothing about it, but I'm going to hang in there and will eventually reach that level in this company. 

At least my new bosses are much easier than my last one.  Less procrastinating, less yelling, more independent, more tech-savvy. and, best of all, no comments about what I do and do not eat!!  Although, I have lost about 5lbs just from the lack of stress and having to walk more around the building and the city--I have to take walks to the bank and the courthouse sometimes, just awful in the warm sunshine with the breeze coming off the water, horrible I tell you.  Of course I miss (some of) the people I used to work with, but I think I'm going to like it here.

Switching up my off-duty routine hasn't been easy, either.  We all know how well I handle change!  I had to find a new yoga studio (sorry Vicki).  There's a lovely one across the bridge, but they only offer one style, which means I will still trek up to Brunswick for some Bikram practice (yay!)

I have yet to find a good LYS down here, though.  I know, I know, it should have been easy in the larger city, but maybe I'm poorly situated?  Any Mainers have good suggestions for Portland LYSes? 

And that is why I haven't been posting--I had two cardigans that were waiting for buttons before I could wear/post them, but nowhere convenient to buy them.  I know, my life is just so darn hard.  I finally bit the bullet and drove out to a Joann this weekend, so I finally have some FOs to show you!

This is the cardigan I referred to in my last post, Madrigal:

"Why is there no action shot?" you might be asking.  That's because it came out too big.  :(  I even tried washing it in the hopes that it would shrink.  It did not.  Now I'm stuck with a beautiful purple cardigan one full size too big.  Sad.  Some (slightly larger) person is going to be very lucky this Christmas, I think.  Oh, well.

The yarn I used for this one is KP's CotLin, a tanguis cotton/linen blend.  It feels a little scratchy at first, but it softens amazingly with washing and the colors, my goodness the colors!  The linen just soaks up the dye like silk does, so you have beautiful vibrant colorways like that purple up there! 

My other rave for this cardigan is the source: Twist Collective.  I mentioned it in a previous post and it's still true--TC is now my go-to knitting pattern source.  This pattern in particular was very well-written and completely in the round, yay no seams!  Man, I love TC so much that I waited a whole week after receiving a birthday gift certificate to KP before ordering because I wanted to see the Fall 2011 issue.  So many things to love this season!!!  I ordered yarn for two of the patterns and have several more in my queue. 

Dang, that yarn's arrival would have made a good blog post, wouldn't it?  Maybe I'll take some pictures later so you all can enjoy some yarn porn and we can ooh and ahh over all the new TC patterns?

At any rate, I have another finished cardigan to share with you in a future post, which won't be a month from now, I promise!!  Now that I'm back into a more regular schedule, I should get back to (mostly) weekly posting.

Glad to be back!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Oslo Walk Shawl

I did it.  I'm done!  My last day with LOMAF was on Friday and I start my new position in Portland on Wednesday.  Hurray for progress!

I went in for some training last Tuesday and I can already tell how much of an improvement it's going to be!  I am SO excited!

Knitting: This is what remained of that huge cone of lace I bought for my wedding shawl.  That gigantic amount of yarn was enough to make both my wedding shawl and Mel's wedding shawl with enough leftover to make the following, the Oslo Walk Shawl by Susanna IC.  Now my stash entirely consists of yarn bought after May 2011.  Yay for stash-busting!
Pretty, right?  This was probably the fastest shawl I've ever knit.  Not only was it knit on size 7 needles, but crescent shawls are amazingly fast.  Susanna IC has recently published a number of crescent shaped shawls--in Interweave Knits, Twist Collective, and Knitty.  I've also knit her Hawthorne pattern from TC Fall 2010.She has a great variety of difficulties, too.

This particular pattern was pretty easy.  You should be able to read charts and read your own knitting--so you can recognize your place in long, long rows, but it would be a good second lace project for someone.  A great pattern for a quick gift knit.
They are my new favorite shape.  You start at the bottom of the lace edging and then knit the rest of the shawl in short rows.  You knit fewer individual rows, so the pattern is always interesting, and the crescent shape is a lot easier to wear than a triangular shawl.  I will absolutely be knitting more of these in the future. 

Since I already have a pretty scarf in this exact yarn, I'm not sure what exactly I'll do with this shawl.  Probably give it to some lucky lady for Christmas...we'll see.

For next time, I'll have a new cardigan to show you.  It just needs some buttons :)



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lizette and a BIG Announcement

Okay, maybe not so big anymore.  A lot of you are friends with me on Facebook, so you know bits and pieces, but I quit my job last week!!!  Yay!!!  I got an offer for a paralegal job with a bigger firm with a better reputation and for more money.  How awesome is that???  I get to leave Brunswick and the boss that I've loathed for 2.5 years.  My last day here will be July 29th and I start work in Portland on August 3rd.  I am SO excited!!!  I actually danced around my living room the day I got the offer.

Last week I was genuine afraid to break the news to my boss.  Everyone else knew that I was leaving, but I knew I was going to shock the hell out of him.  To my surprise, he was more sad than angry and has been super polite to me ever since.  I'm so glad my last days in this office will be tolerable, if not exactly pleasant. 

I only regret leaving coworkers behind.  I'll miss practicing at Hart Yoga all the time, hanging out with Mel on a daily basis, and I am very sorry to leave poor Tamsin in the lurch.  Well, onward and  upward.  This girl is off to bigger and better things!

Now, knitting:

So, summer here.  Have you noticed yet?  I mean, we live in Maine and it's been up in the 90s the last several days.  Perfect time to show off my cute new tee!
Cute, right?  The pattern is Lizette by Anne Ginger and was in the Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2011.  I've got to say that I've been a little disappointed in that last several Interweave Knits pattern selections--has anyone else noticed that?  Twist Collective is filling that gap for me.  They're a little more expensive, but the patterns are SO worth it--pretty and engaging! 

The only thing I didn't really like about this pattern was that it was written for flat knitting, meaning the back, front, and sleeves were all knit separately and then sewn together.  In this particular case, the front was knit in two pieces and then joined by knitting the icord tie across the front.  Normally I prefer pieces that are knit in the round, rather than those that require a lot of finishing, but this design was so interesting and the constant shaping and detailing kept me entertained.  Plus, the gauge was big enough and the sleeves were short enough so that sewing it together wasn't as tedious a task as it could have been.  Excellent pattern, I say.  And it suits me:

I wouldn't recommend this one for a first-time sweater knitter.  There are a few advanced techniques you should master (or be ready to try) first, like invisible cast-on, cabling, icord, and chart-reading.  However, none of the cabling was especially difficult.  Maybe a good 3rd or 4th sweater. 

The yarn I used was an old standby--Knit Picks Comfy.  Acrylic content aside, it's a really nice yarn.  It doesn't get sticky like acrylic can, has lovely stitch definition, and, oddly enough, is very comfortable to wear.  Just the right weight for hot days.  I'm even wearing it while I type this!  It's holding up well.  I think I'll be wearing it quite a few more times this summer!

For next time, I have another lacy scarf to show you: the last remnants of yarn I bought for a shawl for my own wedding...oh, and my last week in this Brunswick law office!



Monday, July 11, 2011

Aeolian Wedding Shawl

As some of you know, my dear friend (and now former coworker) Mel is getting married this fall.  I wanted to knit her something pretty for the occasion and as she picked a strapless dress for her November wedding and I had a great big cone o' ivory colored lace, a shawl seemed like the best option.

Hence the Aeolian Wedding Shawl:
The pattern is by Elizabeth Freeman and can be found (for free!) on Knitty.  Unlike Laminaria and other shawls with Estonian motifs, this one wasn't especially difficult, just labor intensive...and contained nupps.  If you can read a chart and can work a nupp, you can make this shawl. For those who have never tried nupps before, give them a whirl!  The key is to make them very, VERY loose, so you can purl them all together on the next row.  Don't worry if they look a little bit sloppy at first, blocking will straighten that out.  You won't regret it!

This pattern also comes in smaller versions for the not-so-adventurous.

Here's a close-up of the edging:
Pretty, right?

At the request of the bride, I did not incorporate beads into this shawl.  I was a little relieved, to tell you the truth.  I'll tell you a little secret: I've never knit anything with beads and it makes me a little nervous!  At some point, I will have to knit a little something and learn to incorporate beads, but this was not the project on which to learn beading.

My shawl also came out a bit smaller than the larger version was intended to.  It's about my wingspan wide (67") and maybe 35" tall. I think this is because I didn't check my gauge before and on a size 2 needle, the whole thing came out smaller than it was supposed to.  Oh well!  It covers her shoulders and should keep her bare shoulders warm--I hope!

I love the yarn, too!  It's Valley Yarn's 2/14 Alpaca Silk, basically 1750 yards of lace on a giant cone.  I had enough for a shawl for my wedding, this wedding shawl, and still have about 250  yards leftover.  Crazy, right?  I think I will make those leftovers into a pretty cowl.  What do you think? 

In any event, I have already passed this shawl on to the lucky bride and she was very pleased with the result.  I can't wait to see it with her lovely dress!  Congratulations Mel on your upcoming wedding!  I hope all your planning goes smoothly!!

For next time, I've finished the Lizette pullover and plan to take some pictures tonight.  Check Ravelry later!



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crafty Pay it Forward: Part II

Okay, so I still haven't passed these along to their intended recipients, but everyone's been super busy, so I haven't had a chance to see them since about March.  I will finally put the things in the mail this week, though.  I promise.

For Terry, The Nemesis Socks:
 The pattern is by Susan Dittrich and was featured in Knitty Deep Fall 2010.  You can also download it for free on Ravelry.  I really enjoyed this pattern!  I started out rather ambitious and tried Eunny Jang's Bayerische Socks, but they're out of my league.  Size 0 needles and ~a million tiny cables.  I probably *could* have knit them, but they were extremely difficult and required more effort than I wanted to put into this project.  Sorry, Terry, but I wasn't looking to create masterpiece socks here.

Nemesis, however, was quite fun.  If you can read charts and you can knit and purl, you can knit these socks.  The hardest part was paying close attention to the chart and remembering my place.  A row counter definitely came in handy here.  It's a long chart, too, so I never got bored knitting it.  I might knit another pair of these for myself later!

The yarn, however, I did not enjoy as much.  It's Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fina, which I have used in the past to great effect, but found frustrating this time.  It was splitty, prone to tangling, and I had to use both wet and steam blocking--on socks!  The tangling was the worst part.  I had it wound all prettily into a yarn cake, but while I was pulling from the center, it collapsed into a knotted disaster that took an entire afternoon to untangle.  I will be steering clear in the future.

At least the color's pretty.  Hopefully Terry will like them.

For Jennifer, The Little Gems Mitts:
At first, I had no idea what to knit for her, but this came right after I finished that monster of a sweater, Venezia and I had a dozen leftover bits of Palette yarn--perfect for little mosaic mitts! (Yes, all the colors are Palette). The pattern is by Donna Kay and was featured in Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007.  

These were a little bit harder than the Nemesis socks, but after Venezia, they were a piece of cake.  They look like intarsia, but there's never more than two colors per row, so you can strand away.  And if you don't like the look/feel/process of knitting all the fingers separately, you could also make them true fingerless mitts and knit that all as one piece.

I probably would not knit these again.  They're pretty cute and good for using up some ends of yarn, but there were a lot of ends to weave in for such a little project and it didn't use up hardly any of my leftover colors, just the gray.  I suppose you could fix that by only using one or two accent colors, but then what's the point?  There are way cuter fair isle patterns out there for mitts.  Good to try new things and use some of the patterns that are already in my library, though.  I should do that more, considering I've got roughly 500 patterns at my immediate disposal...

I do like the effect of all those blues in the gray background, however.  I hope Jennifer likes them as well!  Too bad it's about 80 degrees right now and she won't need them until November.  Oh well!  That's just one of the pitfalls of knitting year-round.

Good news: I finished knitting the Aeolian Shawl!  I plan to block it out tonight and maybe, if you're really really nice to me, I'll post some pictures of it blocking...



Friday, June 24, 2011

Green Cleaning

Have you heard of the website Pinterest? No?  You are missing out.  It is my #1 favorite new time-wasting website.  I spend more time there than Facebook now.  Shoot me an email or comment below and I'll send you an invite!

If you've never been there, it's like crafty girl porn: visual bookmarking.  Basically, you see something you like on the internet, pin the photo, link it to a "pinboard" on Pinterest and share it with everyone else on Pinterest.  You can "follow" other people/certain pinboards and have all their new pins show up in your newsfeed, like on Facebook.

I have gotten so many great home decor ideas, DIY tutorials, and delicious recipes from this website.  One recurring idea I've seen is various ways to make your home cleaning routine more sustainable and "green."  I decided to embrace this notion and throughout the month of June, I've been looking for ways to reduce the amount of waste and harmful chemicals in our house.

Pinterest came to my aid for the reduction of chemicals with these two tutorials:

Homemade Laundry Detergent: It really works!

This recipe only has 3 (really cheap and all-natural) ingredients and I still have a ton left over of two of them.  If you have a cheese grater, you can make laundry detergent.  I only use about a tablespoonful of detergent at a time and my laundry comes out smelling fresh and clean, naturally!

Household Cleaners:

Here are recipes for 4 different household cleaners: all purpose, antibacterial, grease cutter, and sink/tile cleaner made from all natural ingredients.  They use everyday cleaners like vinegar and baking soda with a couple of essential oils and Castille soap.  I haven't used the sink/tile cleaner yet, but the the other three, especially the all-purpose cleaner are working great!  No more yucky residues in my house!

Now for the knitting portion of this week's post:

I did not find Pinterest as helpful with the reduction of waste because, well, if it's not on Ravelry, it doesn't exist.  We're going to try to use fewer paper towels and clean with reusable, washable materials, like cotton dishcloths!

The following were all knit with Knit Picks new cotton line, Dishie: thick, absorbent cotton that is perfect for cleaning.  And for those who dread knitting with cotton, fear not!  While it's not quite as easy to knit as wool, it's spun super-tight for absorbancy and ease with knitting.  Plus the colors are bright and pretty.

Kitchen Towels by Patricia Lily:

Seed Stitch Dishcloth by Devin Joesting

I have been having great success with all of them.  It makes me feel so much better to toss dirty dishcloths in the washing machine, rather than the trash!  This led me to look for other disposables in our cleaning arsenal:

and Loop Stitch Reusable Duster by Sarah Burton

All of the above patterns are free, easy, and available through Ravelry for those so inclined.  However, this Swiffer Duster patten was the only one that gave me any trouble.  I'd never done loop stitch before (because where else would I use it?) and Ms. Burton's description of it was a little confusing to me.  It seemed like I was supposed to wrap the yarn back up and around my right thumb, which made no sense and nearly caused me to throw my knitting across the room.

It didn't help that she called it "Twised Loop Stitch" because when you Google Youtube tutorials for it, you get a different stitch entirely, one that looks more like this: 

rather than this:

If you search for tutorials on just Loop Stitch, you'll come up with something like this video, which helped me avoid a minor meltdown and figure out this pattern.  Ms. Burton's stitch is only twisted in that she knits into the back of the stitch, rather than twisting the loop around her finger, as in the first picture.

I have tried that duster out on our TV stand, which attracts dust like nothing I've ever seen, and it did a pretty good job.  I might just make another one some day :)

For next time, I'm working very hard on Mel's wedding shawl, but I'm getting up into 500+ stitch count, so I don't foresee finishing that too soon--unless I have a lot of downtime at my cousin's wedding this weekend!  Who knows, I may finally post those crafty pay-it-forward projects that are still sitting in my car (not my fault, I swear!).  

Hope you all are enjoying your first official week of summer!

Also, you should join Pinterest.  Seriously.