Sunday, July 8, 2012

Catching Up

Lindsey here with lots to catch up on. The entire month of June went by without a single post! I'd like to blame it on the heat, but I think it'd be a lie. Apologies for the radio-silence on my end... I have no good excuse (except a huge work-related-thing that is now done. mostly). Since my last update - in April - I've done a decent amount of knitting! In anticipation of my first Madelinetosh Sweater Club yarn shipment (which arrived Memorial Day weekend), I did my best to finish some UFOs and knit from my stash. Two weeks of hellish jury duty in April along with diligent knitting until the end of May helped me achieve finishing the following projects: Girasole (for my parents' for their anniversary), Featherweight (which only needed a sleeve and a collar), Codex Cowl (for me), Snapdragon Mitts (pt. II for my NY friend), and a Scroll-Lace (which I did not love and gave to my mother for Mother's Day). Apparently you can get quite a bit of knitting done when you're not busy blogging (although a better knit-blogger would've made time for both).

Above is my second pair of Snapdragon Flip-tops (this pair for someone who actually needs the flip-top part) knit in Tosh DK in Copper Penny. But the real Tosh DK project I want to talk about is Girasole:

I knit Girasole in Tosh DK Briar which sat in my stash for over a year due to some inconsistencies in the color. I had tried knitting sweaters out of it multiple times to no avail. Finally I decided to put it to good use and knit a blanket for my parents' anniversary. I could not be more pleased with this project - everything from the pattern to the product. Sure, the final blanket has some color variations I would've been happy without, but since it forms concentric circles in tandem with the lace, it doesn't look have bad. Not only was the yarn amazing to work with, but the pattern was possibly one of the most enjoyable I've ever knit. Several different lace charts kept things interesting, but you also always go to know each chart well enough that you didn't have to refer back to it. It was always interesting and yet never overly challenging. I can't stress enough how much I recommend this pattern!

Anyway, the weekend of my brother's wedding I finally received my Tosh DK Twist in Dustbowl and immediately cast on Water and Stone. You can see a (terribly lit - sorry) picture of the yarn and collar above. The yarn is much darker and more gray than I expected, but now that I'm through with half the body and a sleeve I'm okay with it. I can't wait to finish this sweater and get started on the next when shipment two comes at the end of the month.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Move, FO's and the Beginning of the End

So Kendra here, finally checking in again with lots to update you on! First off, I moved! It took what felt like ages to actually pack up four years of living in NYC, but we made it out after shipping 49 boxes and selling all of our furniture. 10 bags at the airport later...
...and we made it to California!!! It's good to be home, I gotta say. I miss my Brooklyn knitters dearly but it really is great to be back. We even found an apartment in San Francisco already, a gorgeous home up on a secluded hill. Here is the view from it, although the photo does not do it justice and the trees are about to be trimmed so it'll get even better!
And although I haven't been knitting a great deal recently I have finished two things since I last spoke up. My Scroll Lace Scarf, aka Whimsical Little Mushroom Scarf, was knit up ages ago (only took a couple of evenings in fact!) but I've barely stopped wearing it long enough to photograph/I forget to ask someone else to take a photo when I wear it. So here it is finally, in all its golden glory!
I knit it out of the beautiful Metamorphosis by A Verb For Keeping Warm in an awesome colorway that is naturally dyed with "locally foraged mushrooms". As an Oakland based company, this seems like the perfect welcome back to the Bay Area project! I love the color because it goes with everything so it's been my in-purse-in-case-of-chill-emergency scarf since I cast it off over a month ago.

The next big FO is a Color Affection shawl, the beloved pattern by Veera Valimaki. I love it!!! I picked out three colors of Miss Babs Yet Lace (in Pewter, Moss, and Oyster) while at Stitches West 2012 (with fellow WLKAer Lindsey's help!) and got knitting! And look how pretty!
This was one of those fortunate times when "blocking will fix that" actually worked out! The garter edge was just wee-bit-too-tight, but I foraged ahead because that's how I roll. By the time it was finished the effect was quite obvious and causing the points to spiral. I had pretty much decided to call this a Design Element and move on, but a goofy blocking on the bed with towels (this thing is HUGE!!!) where I tugged at the straight edge and smooshed the garter body and poof! Perfect shawl!

(Side note: Turns out adding a yarn over after the 2nd stitch then dropping it on the way back is good idea to help this tight-edge problem - little late for me, but thought I'd help a fellow knitter out.)

I love the pattern and loved knitting it, but making the lace weight version meant by the end I had probably 600+ stitches (although to tell you the truth I didn't actually want to know the number at the time) so the last 20 rows were a bit painful. Now that it's bound-off and blocked the painful memory is gone and now it's just the warm and fuzzy feeling of new love. Even Adam is a fan...
Now it's on to the next and last project of Whimsical Little Knits 2 with the Cotton Reel Mittens. I'm making mine in the fingerless mitt version out of Miss Babs Yummy Toes in grey and greenie-yellow. The pattern starts with an I-cord that becomes the bottom of the cuff which is super cool in this knitter's opinion, which is as far as I've gotten so far.
Luckily I'm casting on in time to take them with me on the flight back to NYC for graduation. Back already, I know, but it means I get to see some knitter friends so it's all good :) Stay tuned to see how the final project of this knit-along goes and what we'll be knitting up next!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Red Scroll at Night

- Claire
Now that Mother's Day has safely passed and my package has arrived in rural Michigan (hi Mom!), I can finally tell you about my Scroll Lace Scarf. 

In my last update I had resigned myself to ripping out all of the body and starting the short rows again. I waited until I had good company for the ripping - Kendra! We had our last Monday coffee date before her big move a couple weeks ago, and she even wore her finished Scroll Lace so I had a handy reference. I reworked the short rows, "eating" up larger chunks for the whole body. I was able to do the picot bind off, but had to add more plain bind off stitches in between the points. But finally - it was done!!! 

A little bath and some stretching later, here is the fully finished result:

The slight semi-solid nature of the Tart colorway was perfect for the scarf. Mom just received the box today and called to say that she loved it. She made a good point that knitters don't often receive knitted gifts, which is sad, because we make the perfect recipients for handcrafted lovelies.  A knitter knows how much time and care went into that project!

Although if you train them well enough, non-knitters can come to appreciate your good work as well. Also in the box was my Dad's belated birthday present - a squishy knitted Alien face hugger! Hopefully he and the cat will have lots of adventures with it. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Alternative Knits

Jess here with an admission: I'm a little bit picky with my knitting projects (okay, super picky). This is probably because I'm primarily a selfish knitter. So while I did like the looks of the Scroll Lace Scarf, I decided it wasn't quite my style. Instead of knitting along with the other ladies, I decided to go back to the beginning and re-knit Damson. As I previously mentioned, I left mine on a G train, and as any New Yorker will tell you, it's just not worth going after. Thus, I wound my yarn -- Tosh Merino Light in the beautiful, versatile Dust Bowl -- and began my knitting. As with my previous version, I knit the body in stockinette so that I wouldn't run out of yarn. The result is absolutely perfect. I haven't gotten the chance to snap a great photo of it, but here's a less than flattering shot to tide you over!

Damson the Second

I'm so happy with how this version came out. I'm loving Dust Bowl even more than Smokestack; the slightly darker gray shade goes with my skin tone a little better, and it matches more of my wardrobe. I'm also pleased to report that I'm the proud owner of blocking wires, so I was able to make all of the loops stand out with ease. It's amazing how good blocking can elevate a project from good to great!

I had about 20 yards leftover, so what did I do? Okay, I saved half for hexipuffs, but the other half I used to create a fun little pal! Meet Joel the Jackalope.

Joel the Jackalope

Joel was based on the patterns Tiny Easter Bunny and Tiny Reindeer from Teeny Tiny Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec. He's a little sweet and a little scary, which I find hilarious. I'm about to attend a wedding in Mexico, and I think that Joel will be the perfect date.

Beyond that, I've somehow managed to become a prolific knitter in the past month or so. I've finished my Rocky Coast Cardi, knit a Bunny Nugget, made a Tiny Armadillo named Queso (also coming with me to Mexico), and have started a pair of Elm Socks. Not too shabby. Now, time to keep knitting my socks! It's cold and rainy today, so I need some bright pink/red socks to make me smile!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Scrolling Along

Claire here with a quite update for you on a Monday evening. I'm closing in on the last hours of my 3-day weekend, and wanted to share a couple projects with you!

Let's start with a non-WLK2 project, but one that has been in the works for a while - I finished my Levenwick cardigan! I could have had it done much sooner, but of course it took me a while to do the front bands, and then to block it, and then to find the right buttons, and then to sew them on  - you know the drill! However, it is now complete, just in time for the warm spring weather. 

Sorry for the photo quality - I have to find time (and a willing photographer) for a pretty session outside, before it gets too warm to wear! 

I like it, but I'm not 100% in love with it yet. Hopefully that will come with wear. I think I over blocked it a but, so it's drapier than I'd intended. I do like it with just the top 4 buttons done, or with all of them done, but I think I will wear it the most with just the top button left undone. The buttons are cute little carved sunflowers, in a sepia colored resin. 

Continuing with the vaguely disappointed theme, I have an update on my Scroll Lace Scarf

I've made it much farther since this picture was taken - I was nearly done this afternoon, in fact! I decided to do the body in garter stitch to get rid of the curling factor. I knew it was going to take more yarn than the stockinette version, but I neglected to realize HOW much extra yarn I would need. 

I ran out. 

I'm still committed to the garter stitch body, but I'm going to have to figure out how to re-work the short rows, and I think I'll have to omit the picot edging as well. Until I feel like ripping out the scarf will be thinking about its mistakes in the knitting basket, and I'm going to get back to work on my Rocky Coast cardigan. Must finish wooly projects so I can start some spring things!

I Did a Bad, Bad Thing...

... and it's all Jess' fault. After years of avoiding pulling the trigger and joining the Magnolia Society, I finally joined. I'm in for three sweaters' worth of beautiful yarn. After a very long, confusing color selection process, I decided (with Jess' help) on these stunning color + yarn combos:

DK Twist in Dustbowl

80/10/10 Sport in Venetian

Dream Alpaca DK in Malachite

I haven't received any yarn yet, but used the pics above (from Ravelers jettshin, shkitty, and pnason respectively) to help judge what each color would like on that particular base. I know dye lots differ and such, but you could definitely see a trend with each base.

Next steps: 1. Finish Girasole (I'll post more about that later). 2. Twiddle thumbs (or finish other projects) while I wait for my first shipment.

Missing brunch, my enablers, and all things NY,

P.S. I don't know why I'm signing off like it's a letter - but I was told once I need to include my name in my posts. So there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It Happened! Squirrel! Made a Friend!!!

A squirrel came to check out Squirrel!!!! As you can see, this was quite an exciting moment in my day. There may have been loud exclamations involved, but luckily there's no proof of that part.

It's a terrible picture, but it happened! I couldn't get to my phone fast enough, but this interaction started with Outside Squirrel sitting up and facing Squirrel! in the exact same pose. I promise it happened.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Hopeful Squirrel Looking for Friends

Hello! Kendra here, finally checking back in! In my apartment, my living room window A/C is a common spot for little squirrels to visit. A few months ago I was fortunate enough to capture this adorable little guy peaking in on me one day...

Now that I too have finished my Nathaniel pillow (currently just named Squirrel! said in a very excited tone), Squirrel! is anxiously awaiting a visit from one of his outdoor buddies. He's new in town and a bit shy, but he's trying his best to put himself out there and meet new friends.

Sadly no one has come to visit yet, but day after day he waits, hopeful he makes some new friends soon! Will you come visit him?

Pattern notes: Knit in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Walnut. It's a little fiddly to fit on needles in a comfortable way, but a quick and engaging knit. Stuffed with left-over yarn and man is he dense! (Don't tell him I said that...)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Squirrel Lives in Brooklyn

I want you all to meet someone new to town. He's a little shy and doesn't talk too much, but give him a few handfuls of cashews and he'll be your new best bud! Say hello to Lawrence:

He's hanging out with his little gnome buddy. Who knows what trouble they get up to while I'm at work! Mostly though, I think he likes to hang out on the couch, watch Animal Planet, or keeping watch through the window:

I had fun making him, apart from when I forgot to stuff his tail until I was about 3 rows from the end - oops! Like Jess I was worried about him being too small, but he definitely grew with stuffing! And as long as no one sits on him, I think Lawrence will keep his squirrelish figure just fine. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Knit an Oven Mit!

No, I did not knit an oven mit, but that's exactly what my beloved boyfriend thought when he saw me crafting a gray amorphous blob. While I admit that Nathaniel is not the squirreliest squirrel, he is still decidedly animal-like, thank you very much. I actually breezed through the pattern in just 3 sittings, but I hadn't gotten around to photographing him because I moved. He's safe and sound in his new home, enjoying his very own wingback chair.


While he didn't seem like he'd be all that big when I was knitting, Nathaniel did come out the perfect size for cuddling (especially when you're glaring at your boyfriend for not understanding your beautiful, whimsical pillow).

Nathaniel cuddle

I knit the pattern almost as is. The one exception was the long strings of lifted increases. I found that these were pulling my knitting way too much, so I peppering in a few make ones whenever I didn't like the tension. I'm really happy with the way that turned out, so I recommend that tip to anyone who's having trouble with the lifted increases.

Now that the squirrel is all finished, I'm at a loss as to where to go with my knitting. I need to knit another Damson (I lost mine on the train!), and I definitely need to finish my hibernating sweater. I am proud to say that I've been steadily hexipuffing for lack of other projects, so I should have a Beekeeper's Quilt sometime this decade.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Squirreling Away

After much procrastination, a Jessly squirrel is finally taking shape! I won't make excuses -- although moving and knitting a sweater are great ones, if I were to be in the business of excuse-making. Anyway, I finally cast on Nathaniel yesterday, and this little pillow is just flying by! I'm already about halfway done, and I'm seriously enjoying the chart. Although it doesn't look totally squirrely yet, I can see how it's coming together. For now, my Frankenberry doll is currently using it as a sleeping bag.

A word about yarn selection: the original pattern is knit in a beautiful 100% wool. Since this is a pillow, it will inevitably live on my couch, where it will be subjected to the less than graceful presence of my boyfriend (okay, and me) around food and beverages. That's why I'm using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky: it's easy-care, so I can clean my pillow whenever need be without fearing felting. Since I grew up in West Virginia, I had to make my squirrel gray (the most common type of squirrel in the area). The charcoal shade has a nice heathered quality to it, too, which I really enjoy. Like Claire's, my squirrel seems to be knitting up a bit smaller than I expected, but that'll probably change with stuffing. I almost wish this project were taking longer since it's so fun, but I'd really rather finish it before I move. Eek!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hi-ho, Squirrelio!

Hello all! Claire here, joining the "We're still here!" posting line up. And yes, we have been busy in our silence. I started my Levenwick shortly after the new year and am making good headway on that. Then Jess and I both got the beautiful book Coastal Knits and were ooh-ing and aaah-ing over that for quite a while. Finally she pressured me enough (like it was hard!) to get the yarn to start the Rocky Coast cardigan. I ordered myself some nice light grey Shepherd's Wool from Stonehedge Fibers. I admit, it was a front-runner because it's from a mill in Michigan - yay mitten! I think this is the first time I've had 2 sweaters going at once, so it's been a challenge to keep pace on both of them. I also finished a sock, started (trying) to learn Continental knitting, and made an exuberantly pom-pomed hat. It keeps me cheery in this snow-less NYC winter. 

And FINALLY I have put buttons on my Peaks Island Hood. Finishing a piece can be the trickiest part, and  honestly I wasn't sure if I was going to put buttons on this, since I think I blocked it a little too much and the scarf parts were quite long. But I fiddled with the placement some, broke out the embroidery floss and needle, and in 10 minutes I had a truly finished hood! 

Chewie here was kind enough to model for me. Doesn't he look cosy? I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the buttons are some I got for Christmas, from a company called Buttons by Nature. Made of spalted maple, they're the perfect size and give the hood a nice little rustic flair. 

And now on to further projects in the Whimsical Little Knitalong! We've made our way to Nathaniel, the cutest little squirrel pillow you ever did see! So far he is a very fast knit, and has some interesting construction details as well. You start with a garter strip, slipping stitches on the side to be picked up later for the squirrely body. It's a little awkward at first, but with a chunky yarn it goes very quickly! Clever decreases shape the feet and tail parts. I think my gauge is a little small, but I think Lawrence (of Brooklyn) will be just the right size to cuddle with on the couch and watch Shaun the Sheep with me. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Returning to Life as Usual

Obviously the past year has been full of changes for me, so it feels great to finally be settling back in (to knitting and life in California). It's been a bit of a knitting dry spell for me lately. There were lots or reasons why I wasn't knitting, but one really great reason I got back into the swing: a new knitting group. Not to belittle the importance of my fellow WLKA-ers, because without them I don't know where I'd be (knitting or other-wise), but having a group of people to knit with is such a wonderful thing! Looking back on my knitting career, I remember that it was always being around people who knit (and often knitting-along, thanks Jess) that ended past dry-spells.

When a few girls at work (P.S. I'm officially full-time employed!) decided they wanted to learn to knit, I jumped at the opportunity! It took a little planning, but last Wednesday we all got together to buy some yarn, drink some wine, eat some pizza, and KNIT! I brought my yarn with me, but of course managed to spend too much money at the yarn store anyway. To be fair, I've been telling myself I can buy yarn required for WLKA projects. So I got enough Mirasol Miski for the Peaks Island Hood. I also had to buy needles to cast on a cowl. Who goes to knitting night without needles?

Anyway, I taught the girls to knit and started casting on a seed stitch cowl (inspired by Gap-tastic). The "party" went till almost 11 (on a school-night!) and I didn't even finish casting on - but the social knitting was just what I needed to reboot. I'm now done with my cowl, plus I organized my stash and added it to Rav (photo-less, but still an accomplishment)! Now that I'm back on track (with both my knitting and adjusting to California), I rewarded myself with... A KNITTING CORNER! That's right, I went from living on a couch to having a knitting corner!

~The Perpetually Prodigal Knitter, Lindsey

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I've Not Only Been Quiet, But Quietly Knitting & Crocheting

Kendra here with another apology for the lack of recent posts but it hasn't been for a lack of yarn crafting! Here's the laundry list:

Finally finished the Estelle Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre! Not exactly in time to wear to Rhinebeck, but it's done none-the-less. I'm not crazy in love with it yet, but we're warming up to each other. I am still obsessed with this gorgeous MadTosh Tart ToshDK for sure though and have leftovers - I see a gorgeous red Ysolda hat (Snapdragon? Rose Red?) in my near future!

I also rocked out 2 (two!) crochet sweaters in January - both only took a matter of days although one was technically started a year ago. The first is the Persimmon Pullover by Doris Chan, in Sky LB Collection Superwash Merino. I made the sweater longer than written to make it more of a tunic and it's super easy to make, great to wear.

The second is the Textured Jacket, also by Doris Chan, in Eggplant LB Collection Organic Wool. Here I am sporting it for the first time at VK Live in NYC (photo credits to Jess!)

With those distractions out of the way, I finally finished my Peak Island Hood, which I'm calling my Llama Hood 2.0. I'm calling it done although *technically* it's in my room, drying on the blocking boards. 
Then it's buttons on and hood wearing time, because it's SNOWING outside as I'm writing this! Finally winter is trying to arrive out here and although I'm not thrilled about cold, I want snow!

And as a teaser, here's another little guy that's been keeping me busy and I'm expecting to have a completed pattern available soon!
We'll be back on track with this knit-along very soon and next up: Nathaniel! Lindsey made her's ages ago, so it's time for the rest of us catch up.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lots of Distraction!

After rushing to finish holiday knitting, knitters often have a difficult time getting back into the swing of things in the new year. I think all of us at WLKA-headquarters have been off of our game recently, so we'd like to apologize to our stashes for all of the neglect.

Personally, I've had a major lack of inspiration. I received the amazing book Coastal Knits for Christmas, and so many of the patterns have made my needles itch. However, I realized that my stash contains large quantities of fingering weight yarn -- perfect for the Rustling Leaves Beret, but not so perfect for the sweaters and other beautiful items I want to knit. That means I've had to do some stash acquiring. I'm sure you pity me, right?

Of course, the brand new Whimsical Little Knits 3 has now debuted, and I'm more inspired than ever! I'm often really picky about my patterns, but I want to knit the whole book (except for Roisin and maybe Oxidize). But like I said before, I have very little stash on-hand that isn't fingering weight, so it looks like I'm going to be cruising the yarn stores for even more yarn. What a terrible problem to have!