Saturday, December 31, 2011

Knitting into the New Year

Claire here, bidding adieu to the year 2011. It's been an excellent year for me, and hopefully for my fellow bloggers and all of you as well! I've had a wonderful time knitting through WLK2 and being able to discuss problems and design elements with Kendra, Jess and Lindsey has made it even better. We like knitting along together so much that we've got more projects planned for the future. And of course we're eagerly awaiting the arrival of Whimsical Little Knits 3 as well!

Back to the knitting at hand, I have a finished project, and one that is so close I can feel it. While I was home in Michigan just before Christmas I finished the knitting on my Peaks Island Hood. It was especially fun because my mom was also working on the hood!

Mine is the orange Mirasol Miski on the right, mom's is the red-purple yarn she can't remember the name of on the left.

She was having some trouble with the shell shaping on the hood, so I was able to give her some pointers, and it helped having mine there to look at for reference. Even though I finished mine while I was home, I haven't gotten around to weaving the ends in, blocking and sewing the buttons on yet, so my mom technically beat me!! Hopefully that will be my task tomorrow - finish my 100th project on Ravelry in the first day of 2012. I got some lovely maplewood buttons for Christmas that will look great, so keep your eye out for an update post soon!

The other project I can finally share with you is the Emily capelet. This was one that looked cute in the book, but wasn't something I would normally wear. I called up my sister Emily and asked if she would be interested in it. We talked over the yarn requirements and her color requests, and decided on a light worsted-weight wool, or wool blend, in a chocolate brown. And then the quest began. It seemed like every yarn I looked at wasn't a rich enough brown, or it was too semi-solid, or the color was right and the weight was wrong. Finally I hit paydirt (with the help of Jess!) at Rhinebeck in October. I got two skeins of Shadyside Farm Colored by Hand in Chocolate - perfection! I skipped ahead to this project since I wanted to have it to give on Christmas, so I'll have to find a replacement project when the rest of the girls knit it.

This was a fun pattern to knit, with the short row shaping and the fairly easy, but very pretty, lace edging. My only concern while knitting was the yarn - it was so saturated with dye that it came off on my hands, leaving a lovely brown-purple stripe over my index finger where I tension my yarn. I was worried that it would all wash out during blocking and the finished product would be much lighter, but I think it turned out okay. Have to give Emily a warning not to wear it in the rain or with a white shirt though!

I love the drapiness of the yarn too - going through the project gallery on Rav, some capelets looked very short, but I'm pleased with the length of mine. I think it will provide some warmth as well as being super cute.

It hangs a little funny on the mannequin, but I swear it's even in front!

I had to tighten the button holes a little to fit my buttons, and I also added a stabilizing button to the back. A knitter needs a button stash as well as a yarn stash - these were bought years ago at an antique mall, and I never thought I'd have a use for just 3 buttons. Just goes to prove the need for variety in your stash!

I hope you all have a Happy New Year and continued knitting success! I'm off to go put on some sparkly nail polish (it's a party, after all!) and decide which project to bring with me into 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Utah

Lindsey here, reporting from beautiful southern Utah. I finally have a minute (on Christmas mind you) to update you all on life and knitting, but mostly life because there isn't much to say about my knitting. I did finally ball a skein of Tosh DK in Copper Penny (purchased from The Loopy Ewe) today for my friend Chelsea's Snapdragon Mitt Replicas. Since I last updated (a long, long time ago) I've basically cast on a sweater (the Silky Alpaca Lace Open Front Cardi to be exact) and knit 1/4 of the body. That's it. In all the months of radio silence, the needles have been pretty quiet as well. At least you didn't miss much there. While I haven't been knitting much, I have been wearing my knits. I swear that right up until I took this picture on my hike this morning I was wearing my Damson AND Ripley, but alas by the end of the hike I was too warm and took them off.

On to life, I'm finally feeling a bit more settled in LA now that I have a job. A job I really, really love. A job doing pretty much what I want to be doing (marketing movies/tv). So what that it's currently freelance (and all that that entails). I look forward to settling in to LA in 2012 (and hopefully being joined in California by a few friends). I love and miss my WLKA-ers! Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Distracted Knitter

Hello, Kendra here checking in from California! It's finally starting to feel like winter (Bay Area style at least) with the temperature dropping to the 30's at night and Christmas lights all around the neighborhood. I can't believe how close Christmas is! In my family we pretty much have a no-gift policy but I'm still thinking of making a few small things - actually teeny-tiny things - in the shape of small knitted magnets. Using the patterns in Anna Hrachovec's Teeny Tiny Mochimochi, I knit the little critters and then put a magnet inside when I'm stuffing them. It took some searching to find the right magnets, but the super-strong metal ones are working well. They are proving to be great gift knitting because they only take an hour or two each and it's encouraging to keep knitting them because of how cute they turn out!

These monkeys were made for a friend of mine for his birthday. He's a zookeeper and works with primates, so monkey magnets seemed like the obvious choice. The funniest part to me is that the tan one turned out looking slightly evil, something about his eyes...

Unfortunately, my Llama Hood is being a bit neglected as I work on these tinies and some other projects, but I have made some progress, finally finishing the 28" of seed stitch!

It's time to move onto the hood increases, but I've been distracted by other projects instead. One distraction continuing progress on my much-neglected Estelle Cardigan, made in my beautiful Tart MadTosh DK. I decided to knit the sleeves 2-at-a-time and before I knit the rest of the body for two reasons:
  1. It's much easier to knit top-down sleeves before the body is completed so you don't have a finished sweater in your lap while you try to knit sleeves.
  2. I hate knitting sleeves! They take forever and they are soooo boring! I'm actually excited to knit the body and collar so that served as motivation - if I finish the sleeves I can knit the body as a reward. Then the finished sweater is that much closer to being done!
I finished the sleeves (finally!) and now I'm back to the body. This really is going to be a lovely sweater.

    Additionally, I've suddenly become an obsessed sock knitter! I found some very cool MCN sock yarn at Michael's of all places and it inspired me to finally knit some new socks. I'm making them pretty simple - worked a rounded toe using these instructions, then working a 2x1 rib across the top of the foot. I'm doing an after-thought heel so I can just keep happily knitting along without gusset shaping. I'm already past the heel on one sock and making my way up the foot of the second (I work back and forth between the first and second sock as I go - that way I remember what I did so they match, and I avoid the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome!) I'm pretty happy with how they are looking so far!
    Alright, time to say goodbye - all this talk about knitting has my fingers itching to keep at it! Just have to decide which is going to get my attention for now...

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Hood on the Road

    Claire here, welcoming you to the month of December!

    I hope your holiday knitting is going well, if you've taken the plunge this year. I hope you've chosen your recipients wisely as well! Gifting a knitted item is never as simple as handing the package over with a "Hope you like it!" You have to make sure your giftee knows the care requirements for the item and will fully appreciate the hours of work that went into it. Not just the knitting of the thing, but all the time spent picking the right pattern and yarn and (how agonizing!) picking a color. And after a bit of time has passed, you check in with the recipient, see how they like it, is the fit okay, have they worn it out. It's that last bit that is important - if they haven't worn the item, without prodding, in at least a month from the time of gifting, you may want to reconsider giving them another knitted gift the next time a holiday comes around. At least that's how I feel about it! You have to make sure that the giftee will really, truly, fully appreciate the time you put into this, the care and love put into each row. Especially compared to the ease of online shopping, where you can purchase something, have it gift wrapped and sent directly within the space of a few minutes, putting hours - or weeks - into a project represents a big investment. So, really, the best people to give knitted gifts to are knitters!

    That's who I'm doing the bulk of my knitterly gifting for this year. Apart from a giant amigurumi Mr. Krabs (his body took a full bag of stuffing!) for my boyfriend, I am knitting for my fellow knitters - my mom, my sister, and maybe some co-authors of a certain blog. I know they will cherish the items they receive, keep them clean and safe from moths, and wear them without pestering from me.

    As such, gift knitting has taken up most of my time in the last couple weeks, so I don't have a lot of pictures to show you! I did get to take the Peaks Island Hood with my on my Thanksgiving trip to visit my sister Emily in North Carolina, but was plagued with camera-forgetfullness. After a loooong bus trip down, we had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with her friends in the next town over, necessitating a trip through some very windy mountain roads! We got to spend some time grooming her horse, playing with the dogs and chasing down her cats to cuddle with. Of course I had to make a stop at Earth Guild, a very cool yarn/crafting store. They have so much to look at, you could easily spend hours wandering about. In the evenings we sat in the kitchen by the wood stove, knitting and eating some more tasty pumpkin pie. I thought I would be bored by the 28" of seed stitch, but it made for good mindless knitting, and the Miski yarn is so soft and smooshy that it seemed to fly by.

    This picture is a couple days old - I have completed the hood increases and am now working on the 9" between that and the hood decreases. Sadly it has to compete with something else from the trip - scores of books picked up at the Goodwill outlet! I was very excited to find three of Gladys Taber's books in the .59 cent per pound bin. I have fond memories of reading and re-reading her book Especially Dogs from the elementary school library, even though we have never owned a dog. I'm keeping the book confined to my bag to read on the train, so hopefully I can have all my gifts done on time, and a hood to wear now that it's getting properly cold out!

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Knitting Disappointments

    Nobody knits to create stress. Unfortunately, things outside of our control can quickly take knitting from relaxing to infuriating.

    First, I had the worst time ever choosing yarn for Levenwick. I'm usually pretty decisive about these things, so not being able to select a yarn, let alone a color, was mind-boggling. After purchasing a few sweater quantities (which will all be put to good use), I finally settled on the recommended yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Homemade Jam.

    This brings me to my second piece of stress. As much as I love the tweedy shades and wooly hand of this yarn, I just can't get over the sheer quantity of vegetable matter (or VM, as we say in the biz)! For those not in the know, VM is the general term for hay, wood, and other goodies that may make it into your yarn from the fleece. While I can tolerate a little bit of VM (sheep aren't the cleanest animals, after all), I cannot justify spending a pretty penny on yarn that is absolutely ravaged by it. Here's how much I pulled out of less than half a skein:

    vegetable matter

    When I contacted Brooklyn Tweed about this, they were sincerely apologetic and offered to replace my yarn in the same dye lot. Hooray! Except when I received the yarn, it had just as much VM as my old skeins. Sigh. So now I'm knitting a sweater in yarn that is making me very angry, but I can't let myself admit defeat. I worked too hard to select this yarn, dammit.

    And finally, here's my last disappointment. I ordered 3 skeins of yarn for my Peaks Island Hood, but only 2 were available. That means I'll have to wait until at least Monday, maybe Tuesday, to get the yarn and start the project. I guess that gives me more time to begrudgingly trudge through Levenwick, right?

    Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I can focus on enjoying my knitting (no matter how much VM I must pluck from it). Maybe I'll cast on a beautiful shawl for myself to make up for my recent string of annoyances. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Twin Mitts

    One of the best (and worst) things a knitter can hear is, "Can you make that for me?" Often, people don't understand the time and the energy involved in knitting something (let alone the time and cost of the beautiful yarn). But when my twin sister requested a pair of Snapdragon mitts, I knew I had to say yes. She hasn't always been appreciative of my knitted gifts; she considers them "cheating" because they're not store-bought. Yet when she spotted my Snapdragons, she sheepishly asked, "Can I commission a pair from you?"

    Snapdragon Mitts

    Now, I've accumulated at least 4 sweater quantities of yarn in the last month or so (whoops), so I've been looking to destash. Luckily, I had some beautiful Candlewick Madelinetosh DK leftover from my Acorns sweater. I also had some spare owl buttons, so away I went.

    Snapdragon Mitts finished

    I definitely learned a lot from knitting these mitts the first time, so I made some beneficial changes. The most significant change was to knit the first 25 rounds or so on size 5 needles. This tightened up the wrists to prevent gaping.


    I went down even further -- to a size 3 -- for the i-cord. This was to make sure that my button tabs are super durable. I also shortened them by several stitches to accommodate my smaller buttons. (Bonus: Check out the friendship bracelet Claire made me! We traded bracelets 5 or 6 months ago, and they're still going strong. Hooray!)

    Overall, I think these mitts are a rousing success! I had a great time working the pattern again (and using up some of my stash!), so now I can move on to the Peaks Island Hood.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Knitting Nightmares and A Hood Reborn

    Kendra here, finally! I can't believe a month has gone by of silence from me. Except I kind of can considering I "pulled a Lindsey" and moved across the country back to California last week, so I present that as my excuse. Luckily I've been needing stress relief so I've at least managed to get a good amount of knitting done even if I haven't been here to talk about it!
     Estelle Cardigan in Progress
     Tiny Dino!
     Teeny Tiny Froggie!
     Tiny Penguin Buddies, with the help of my friend Dana
    Orchid Thief Shawlette

    I had a nightmare the other night related to knitting. I was back in New York and traveling home from the airport on the subway (with you, Jess, for some reason...) but somehow I got off the train and forgot my suitcase. My only concern about my departing suitcase was, "All of my hand knit lace shawls are in there!" Hilarious, right? I can't even put into words how great my sense of loss and panic was. Generally when I fly I make a point of not only putting my jewelry in my carryon bag, but also my knit shawls. Apparently those are the two things I am most worried about if the airline loses my luggage.

    The sad part of all this is that I have actually lost my knitwear on the subway in a way very similar to this dream, except it was my Peaks Island Hood that was the tragic loss. Before this Whimsical Little Knit-Along started I had already knit this lovely hood. I wore it constantly to weather the NYC winter last year, until it was left behind on a subway car (on my birthday, no less!) and realized as the doors closed and the train pulled away. To add insult to injury, the yarn was an awesome llama yarn (Mirasol Miski) that my boyfriend had given me as a birthday present when we first started dating. I also referred to it as the magic yarn because he gave me 3 skeins, but I needed 2 more to finish the project. He had gotten the yarn at a store in California in 2008, but I was able to find the extra skeins in the same dyelot at a store in New York in early 2010. Sweet! Then it turned out I needed yet one more skein which was proving difficult to find, but I finally caught a break at Stitches East 2010 where again - same dyelot! Magical yarn I tell you! Until the finished hood ran away from me.

    But now the Peaks Island Hood will rise from the ashes - and the magic of this yarn continues. Since all the yarn and hood-losing drama, the color (Coral) I had used was discontinued so replacing my hood exactly wasn't going to happen. I searched for it online and in every yarn store I came across since losing it last winter to no avail. Then this summer I was in Cape Cod with my boyfriend, driving through a small town when I spotted a yarn store! Knowing what that means, he parked so I could check it out - and to my amazement they not only carried Mirasol Miski, but had the Coral color and IT WAS ON SALE! Closing out the discontinued color :) My heart sang as I walked out with my six skeins in hand - the Llama Hood will be once more!

    Since we got this knit-along going I've been anxious to knit the Peaks Island Hood again, especially after my travels this summer actually took me past Peaks Island in Maine.
    I've convinced my fellow knitters to skip ahead so this past Friday was finally the day - time to cast on for the Peaks Island Hood! Although I'm not quite looking forward to returning to NYC in January in full-on winter mode, armed with this hood I'll be ready to take it on!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Snap to it!

    Claire here, checking in with a progress update! I've finished my Snapdragon Mitts, so now the weather is free to get properly cold. NYC cannot make up its mind to be rainy and chilly, or to be sunny and warm - it makes deciding what to wear very frustrating. Luckily with the flip top on the mitts, I have built in AC for my hands!

    The one thing that does bug me about this - okay, there are two things. The first is that with the tops buttoned up, you can't see the pretty design on the back of the hand! I know Kendra had made noises about putting the chart on the bottom of the mitt as well, since she will likely wear hers flipped most of the time. If that's still the plan, I look forward to her notes! The other thing that is slightly annoying is the positioning of the mitt top. It comes quite far over above the thumb and doesn't extend far enough over on the outside edge. I don't think it will impact the wearability of the mitts, but if I make these again, I think I will move the top over about 2 stitches.

    Sadly that is the only picture I have for this post! I had attempted to start the Metro cardigan with some yarn from my stash, but my gauge was doing crazy things. Then I realized it's nearly Thanksgiving here, which means it's almost December and I should really get to work on some Christmas presents! Since my mom and sister read the blog (Hi RuthAnn and Emily!!) I can't very well post about their projects, except to say that I have started them. I am also working on a Mr. Krabs amigurumi for my boyfriend Jean, who is a big SpongeBob fan. It's going well, but there is so much single crochet!!!

    Luckily for you, we're almost ready to start the next WLK2 project! We're switching things up a bit and jumping to the Peaks Island Hood, so we can all have them to wear in the dreary days of January. I've got a loooovely yarn planned for that - if only I can remember to take some pictures! If all goes according to plan, we will start this Friday and hopefully get several more posts in before the end of the year.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Flipping Out

    What's a girl to do when an epic, historic snowstorm ruins Halloween weekend? Why, knit the Snapdragon Flip-Tops, of course!


    To match my Snapdragon Tam, I whipped these up in Madelinetosh Tosh DK in French Grey. And to make myself feel better about the gloom and doom, I added some very special buttons.


    These sparkling beauties were already in my (ever-growing) button stash, and I'm thrilled to use them on this project. A note about button stability: it can be difficult making buttons secure on knitted fabric. This goes double for shank buttons. I always sew a plain shirt button on the wrong side of my project. That way, the real button is resting flat against something hard and stable (the shirt button) as opposed to something pliable (the knitted fabric). Super easy, right?

    And now that I've gotten the pretty pictures out of the way, I want to offer some advice on the construction of these mitts. Both Claire and I find the wrists to be a bit loose. That's because the pattern starts with ribbing, but the stitch count quickly increases when you create the buds. To combat this, I'd recommend dropping down a needle size for the wrists. I used the recommended size 6 for the entire project, and that's my only regret. While the wrists aren't too loose to wear, I'd be happier if the winter chill couldn't get in quite so easily.

    My final piece of advice deals with picking up stitches for the flip-top. Ysolda recommends using a double-pointed needle to pull your stitches through the knitted fabric. I knit really tightly, so I decided to use a crochet hook instead. This made the process super fast and easy! All you have to do is use a crochet hook to catch your yarn on the wrong side.

    Crochet hook

    Then pull the stitch through to the right side. Here's what it looks like when all of the stitches are picked up:

    Picked up stitches

    So simple! Then all you have to do is slide the stitches onto your knitting needle, and you're ready to knit the flip-top. Apologies for the low quality phone photos, but I think they illustrate my point.

    Now that the gloves are done, I'm going to wait on Claire (and hopefully Kendra!) to finish theirs up, too. Come on, ladies!

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Snow Dragon

    Claire here with a brief weekend update. It may be almost November, but NYC has skipped right on ahead to December. It started snowing early this morning, and hasn't stopped yet! This is the street outside my apartment in Brooklyn:

    Cars driving by in the slush is definitely a winter sound to me, so what better time to get some serious work done on my Snapdragon mitts? I have the body of the right mitt done, save for the thumb and weaving the ends in.

    I'm going to do the body of the left mitt next, then come back and do the thumb and flip tops later. Doing it this way keeps my interest in the project, instead of thinking "Yay, I'm done!" and then realizing I have to do it all over again! Strangely, I still make socks one at a time. Maybe I'll challenge myself to try the 2-at-a-time method for my next pair. How many pairs of socks do you have to knit to become a "sock knitter"? I never thought I would be one, but I have a pair in progress, and yarn for two more!

    ETA: I put my mind to it and have the body of the left mitt done as well, with enough time left over to whip up a pair of Tiny Ghost earrings for Halloween!

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Seeing Red

    Red is a notoriously difficult color. Its light pigments are larger than others, causing it to glow in photography and video. It is difficult to dye to proper shade and often bleeds when washed (oh, the irony). And I can't stop knitting red yarn.

    My previously mentioned Rhinebeck skirt was Lanesplitter. Claire and I both decided to use Lion Brand Amazing as an economical (and softer) alternative to Noro. While she opted for the neutral browny Cobblestone, I went straight for Roses, a bright tonal variation of reds, burgundies, and pinks. I mostly followed the pattern as written, although I have lazily avoided inserting the elastic so far. I've worn it twice with no wardrobe malfunctions, though, so I'm pretty happy! If I had to do it over again, I would use a provisional cast on. To do this, simple cast on the number of stitches for the diagonal width you wish to achieve. Since you're working on the bias, you would work increases on one side and decreases on the other (as for the main body section). When the skirt fits around you, simply graft it to your provisional cast on. Bam, you've got a seamless skirt! Added bonus: your color changes won't be as obvious at the cast on/bind off edges. I definitely see myself making another of these in the near future (perhaps in my other color obsession, green). At any rate, here's my finished skirt (photographed at Webs):


    For my next red projects, I decided to use up some stashed Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the gorgeous Scarlet colorway. I needed a small project to knit while standing in lines at Rhinebeck, so I pulled out an Ysolda classic, Ishbel. I'm not much of a triangle shawl person, so I knit the small lace and stockinette sections. Overall, I'm pretty happy that the shawl went smoothly (just 9 days start to finish!), but I think it deserves a more aggressive block.


    Pro tip: block lacy shawls like this with the right side down. This helps prevent curling in the stockinette and lace. Yes, I learned that after I blocked this. I'll definitely be doing this from now on! In the meantime, let's get a closeup of that gorgeous lace.

    Ishbel closeup

    Now that I'm finished with these projects, I'm starting my Snapdragon fliptops. After all, it's starting to get cold here!

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Rhinebeck Hangover

    Rhinebeck 2011 has come and gone, and I have to say it was an overwhelming experience. I laughed, I almost cried (more on that later), and I spent way more than I should have.

    On the way up to our hotel in Saugerties, we couldn't help stopping at Webs, the largest yarn store in America. What's an hour or two out of the way (and out of the state) when it comes to yarn, right?


    Needless to say, we were all very excited. The plan was for us to buy sweater quantities here to avoid temptation at Rhinebeck. I went in with a very specific idea of what I wanted: worsted weight gray yarn with a nice tweed to it. That should narrow it down, right? So very wrong. Webs has an incredible selection, and with great selection comes great confusion. I kept placing more and more yarn in my basket, and it became a blur of gray tweed fiber. It got to the point where I couldn't differentiate between yarns anymore, and I began to truly panic. I made a rash decision to abandon the tweed and go with a cheap heather, which Kendra and Claire assured me was a solid decision. Of course, after 2.5 hours in Webs, they probably could have convinced me of anything. I purchased my sweater quantity, a bit of sock yarn (for my Beekeeper's Quilt), and a pair of circular needles. My brain was absolute mush (but in a good way).

    The next day we were off Rhinebeck! We all had an incredible time playing Rhinebeck Bingo, making new friends, chatting with designers, and eating too much food. I received so many generous comments on my Acorns sweater, including from Ravelry's own Mary-Heather. At the Ravelry meetup, we had the wonderful opportunity to say hello to Ysolda herself! It was so wonderful to thank her in person for permitting our knit-along blog.

    With Ysolda

    Of course, it would have been better if she had seen us the second day -- we were all wearing our Damsons and Snapdragon Tams!


    As for the festival itself, it's difficult to put into words. It's so great to be surrounded by people who are passionate about the same things you are, and Rhinebeck is the epitome of that. I walked a llama, pet lots of animals, ate some ghost pepper sauce (I'm addicted to spice), attended a hard cider tasting, sampled lots of food, ate pickles, drank too little coffee, walked until my feet hurt, and snuggled lots of yarn.

    Rhinebeck goodies

    While I did go over my intended budget, I certainly got a lot of bang for my buck! Here's a catalog of my bounty:

    • 1 skein Sanguine Gryphon Little Traveler in Rojas (probably for a shawl)
    • 2 skeins Sanguine Gryphon Mithril in a point mutation, not sure on the intended colorway -- maybe either Little Caesar or the Shepherd at the Fold by Midnight (for a sweater)
    • 1 skein Sanguine Gryphon Mithril in Starry Night over the Rhone (for a shawl)
    • 1 skein Jellyfish Knits Intergalactic in Emerald City (for some sparkly hexipuffs!)
    • 1 skein Jellyfish Knits Ephyna in Iron (more hexipuffs)
    • 2 skeins Sliver Moon DK Superwash in Antique Brass (for Levenwick sweater)
    • Owl buttons from Jennie the Potter (for Levenwick sweater)
    • 5 skeins Valley Yarns Northampton in Dark Grey (sweater)
    • 1 skein Valley Yarns Huntington in Deep Pine (for even more hexipuff action)
    • A block of spicy cheese
    • A packet of spicy pepper jack dip mix

    And that, dear friends, is my incredibly brief wrap-up of Rhinebeck. I'm still exhausted and way too obsessed with cuddling the yarn that I bought, but I think I'll recover in a few more days.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    HedgeBlobs Everywhere!

    Kendra here, I know it's been ages! But I have been knitting, I promise. The main obsession around here has been HedgeBlobs. After the original, a smaller HedgeBlob was discovered! While vacationing in Maine, we made a trip to Acadia National Park and look what was hiding under a mushroom!
    She is now referred to as Mama Blob, the loving partner of HedgeBlob. Things have been a bit lovey-dovey around here, because there is already a teeny-tiny Baby Hedge...

    It's a truly happy family :)

    Rhinebeck is around the corner so sweater knitting has been very important as well. I didn't quite have the chance to knit a brand new sweater, but I did recently finish a lovely new sweater - Metro Cardigan knit in a beautiful grey color of Valley Yarns Valley Superwash. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out! I've never been more proud of my finishing work. I'll be sporting it on Sunday at Rhinebeck, for those of you trying to find us at Rhinebeck Bingo :)

    I'm also about half-way through my Snapdragon Tam to catch up with the other girls! We have a drive up to Webs in Massachusetts and then on to Rhinebeck for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival tomorrow, so lots of knitting time to get it done in time to wear it!

    As an aside, Adam has also contributed to the knitting world. Everyone, meet Squishy! He's my adorable little buddy...I came home to find him on my pillow after a trip away. Just had to share :)

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Hexipuffing Along

    Jess here again. There's less than a week until Rhinebeck, so things are getting a bit hectic at WLKA headquarters. Claire and Kendra are working hard to finish their Snapdragon Tams and some sweaters before the big day. I'm an obsessive planner, so I'm already finished. As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm trying to avoid a new project before our trip. Thus, I have continued my hexipuff adventures! hexipuffs! So far, I'm really happy with my color palette. I guess I just have a well-curated stash of sock yarn! These are the yarns that I've used thus far:
    • Green gradient: Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball in Summer Meadow
    • Dark gray: Dream in Color Smooshy in Gray Tabby
    • Light gray: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Smokestack
    • Black and white stripes: Crystal Palace Panda Silk in Granite Tones (a gift from Claire!)
    • Navy: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Ink
    • Gray/lime/purple stripes: Studio Avenue Six Self-Striping in Purple/Gray/Green
    • Teal: Shibui Sock in Peacock
    • Burgundy sparkles: Dream in Color Starry in Gothic Rose
    • Pink: Noro Kureyon Sock in 188
    • Black/purple/teal: Alchemy Juniper in Underwater Moonlight

    I made the chart for the key, but I found the fox and raven (as well as tons of other great charts) in this Ravelry thread. I'm going for a woodland/Alice in Wonderland/whimsical theme for my charted puffs, so we'll see how many different designs I can incorporate. I plan on doing a heart, bowtie, glasses, watch, hat, mice, get the idea.

    While I'd love to just hexipuff (it's a verb, too!) forever, my Lanesplitter skirt is starring at me from the corner. All I need to do to finish it is whip up the waistband, a task that should be quickly completed. For some reason, I just can't bring myself to do it. I'll probably force myself to pick it up tomorrow and power through so that I can wear it to Rhinebeck as originally intended. Sometimes I like to press deadlines to increase my motivation, and that's exactly what I'm doing here.

    Now, it's important for every knitter to have a plan for the next project. I like to have one large and one small project going at the same time. My next sweater will certainly be Levenwick by the brilliant Gundrun Johnston. I want to go with a soft tweed yarn, which I will purchase at Webs on the way to Rhinebeck. I rarely buy sweater quantities of yarn in person (shocking!), so I'm incredibly excited for this adventure. At Rhinebeck itself there will be ample opportunity to sit and knit, preferably with a portable project. I need to decide if I want to make my matching Snapdragon Flip Tops or if I want to begin the ever-popular Ishbel (in the Scarlet shade of Tosh Merino Light). The weather might dictate which yarn weight I go with, but I'd love to hear your opinions!

    ETA: Immediately after publishing this post, I picked up my Lanesplitter. It only took two hours to finish! Expect a post on it in the near future.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Cold Snap(dragon)

    Jess here again, and I have to say that the Snapdragon Tam whipped up in a flash! I really wanted my cables to pop, so I decided to do a full wet block. Instead of stretching it over a dinner plate or bowl, I simply laid it flat to dry on a blocking board to prevent sagging. This definitely opened up the cables well. However, it's been so humid here that it took my hat a full 4 days to dry. That's longer than it's ever taken one of my sweaters to dry!


    I'm really happy with how the tam turned out, and I think my sizing ended up perfect. A word on yardage: I know that some people using the recommended yarn (Madelinetosh Tosh DK) have run out of yarn or have come awfully close. I finished the medium (minus 4 or 5 rounds) with a little over 50 yards remaining, so I wasn't even close to this problem. I hope that puts some people at ease!

    Now I'm at a bit of a crossroads. I don't have a sweater quantity of yarn, and I refuse to buy any before Rhinebeck. I could try to whip up the matching Snapdragon Mitts for Rhinebeck (which sounds wonderful considering how cold it is here). I should knit the band on my Lanesplitter skirt so that I can call it finished (and, you know, wear it to Rhinebeck). But all I've been doing is knitting hexipuffs! So far I've finished about 12 of them, and I can't get enough. Each is the perfect little size to complete during your lunch break, while watching television, or while riding the train. For a sweater knitter like me, it's nice to have such fast-finish sections of an overall larger project. I'm also happy to finally be using up my sock leftovers! My goal is to only use stash on this quilt. We'll see how it turns out in about a year.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Here There be Dragons (and a Gnome)

    Hello all, Claire checking in! I, too, want to apologize for our lack of posting lately. My excuses revolve around my Rhinebeck sweater and vacation - namely that for a week-long cruise to the Bahamas I had no phone or Internet! (I know, how ever did I survive?) I did not get nearly as much knitting done on vacation as I had hoped. There were too many things to do, and even on the lower decks, being on a ship is very windy, and the spray from the boat made my knitting a bit damp! I did get a lot of pictures of Napoleon, my Tiny Gnome, roaming all around the ship and our various ports of call. He had quite a grand time, though I suspect my fellow passengers found me a bit odd, posing a tiny stuffed gnome all about the ship.

    Below: photo evidence that I did give knitting a go! That was about the only work I got done in the week though. Sun and sand can be exhausting!

    Oh, but I did finish my Lanesplitter skirt before leaving! I have since blocked it a bit more to get rid of the slight bias, and to give it more of an A-line shape, but you can get a general idea from the pic below. Although it is just pinned to the mannequin there - her shoulders weren't flexible enough to wiggle it on! Now I just have to figure out what else to wear it with at Rhinebeck.

    Since my return we had a long weekend off work, so that really helped me get back to work on Rivel. That, and reading the Yarn Harlot mention that (at that point) there were only 17 days to Rhinebeck!!! I may have yelped a little ... but now I have both fronts finished, and about 1/2 of both sleeves done. I'm knitting both sleeves at once, for speed and to make sure they are exactly the same. It's my first time doing anything 2-at-a-time, but apart from untangling the yarn once in a while I like it! Maybe I'll try a pair of socks next?? Until then, I have the fronts and back blocking, so when they're dry I can seam the shoulders and pick up along the fronts and neck for the ribbed collar.

    I've also started my Snapdragon tam, and am maybe halfway done with that. It's nice to take a break from the fairly boring stockinette sleeves on Rivel and do something that requires a bit more thought. Not a lot, you understand, just a bit of chart reading! I did the band on size 4 needles and am doing the body on a size 6, and feeling ok about the sizing so far. Usually with berets I don't do a full wet block, just stretch it over a dinner plate and get the edges and the ribbing a bit damp, then leave it to dry. Hopefully that will also help combat the sagging issues a lot of other knitters encountered.

    That's the all the news for now - must get back to knitting!