Finished Knit: “What The Fade?!?” Shawl

I finally finished this monstrosity, and it taught me I am definitely not cut out for mystery knit-a-longs. I love all of this designer’s Fade pieces, so I took a chance on the MKAL, despite being a pretty picky knitter. I can’t decide if this is clown barf or the perfect Mardi Gras accessory.

Pattern: What The Fade?!? (available for purchase on Ravelry)

Yarn: Simple Sock from The Lemonade Shop in the Wade, Goldfish, Sunday Funday, Doughnut, Jeepers Peepers, and Mommy Juice Colorways.

Needles: US 3

Notes: My shawl ended up fairly larger than most, so I may have blocked it too aggressively. I was just trying to even out the tension between the brioche and garter sections. As much as I swore off brioche knitting in the past, this project gave me a lot of practice so I am more confident about my understanding of the technique. As for the yarn, I’m on the fence about this one. I love the quality of the hand-dying, but this yarn is fuzzing and pilling like crazy just from the handling during knitting.

Finished Knit–21 Color Slouch Hat

So, after seeing the kit for this hat pop up on my Facebook feed like a bagillion times, I finally caved and bought the kit from WEBS. It was my selfish, post-Christmas knit, and while I had some issues with the kit, it turned out fine. Because the skeins are so small, I decided to hand-wind them rather than break out the swift and winder. So, I just started at the beginning and as I progressed, I made the Heathens take turns being a human swift while I wound the colors as I came to them. They learned quick to hide when I hollered one of their names. Lazy on my part? Maybe, but we’ll just call it a character-building exercise for them, shall we? Additionally, my attempts at jogless stripes were an epic fail, but what’evs.

Pattern: 21 Color Slouch Hat (pattern available for purchase individually on Ravelry, but you really want to order the yarn/pattern kit on this deal. Retailers other than WEBS offer it, so you can find it online with a quick search).

Yarn: Blue Sky Fibers Wookstok (I’ll spare you the list of the 21 colorways…ain’t nobody got time for that)

Needles: US 6 and US 7

Notes and Mods: Ran out of Spring Ice so I doubled Spun Gold row. Ran out of Rusted Roof so did three rows Driftwood instead. Not enough Earth Ivy left for the last row of that colorway, so subbed Cranberry Compote.

This kit is a little frustrating because there really isn’t enough yarn for some colors. I was diligent about not doing too-long yarn tails and my gauge is good. Even if these two factors were not perfect, I was short two full rows of Rusted Roof, and an inch or two of a too-long yarn tail still does not cause such a shortage. Substitutions with remaining colorways, however, are easy enough if you don’t mind that fact.
However, I am pleased with the finished hat because I have a very large head and this sits slouchy-perfect on me. I was worried that other projects I snooped seemed more fitted, so I was sure it would not fit me as intended. But it did! (ok, so maybe my gauge ended up a tiny bit looser than anticipated, but yarn shortage is still a thing here so you may need to improvise like I did).
Finally, I confess that, since this is for me, I could not fathom weaving in all those ends. It was a knot-tying extravaganza! No shame!

Overall, this is a comfortable, very wearable hat that fits my large melon well. Now, if I could just convince myself to slog through the never-ending shawl that’s left on my needles, I can focus on the Ravellenics next month and start knitting down my stash before I lose my closet to the yarn.

Finished Holiday Knits

Alrighty, now that the holidays have passed, I can post the few last-minute gifts I whipped up in the days leading up to Christmas. I swore not to do any gift knits this year, but finally decided that it just would not be December if I wasn’t knitting a gift or two. All of these were fast projects (at least as far as “fast” applies in knitting terms), and with stash yarn

Pattern: Polku Messy Bun Hat (available for purchase on Ravelry)

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Country Blue colorway (I held the yarn double for this project/gauge)

Needles: US 10 and 10-1/2

Notes and Mods: Made this for my Mother-In-Law, who requested a hat that allowed for a ponytail. I went up a size to ensure the gauge and yarn would work.

Pattern: Man Hat (available for free on Ravelry)

Yarn: Loops and Threads Charisma in Deep Woods Colorway

Needles: US 8 (wish I had used a 9 or 10)

Notes and Mods: Made this for my sister’s very knit-worthy boyfriend from stash yarn. He has a big head so I think I should have gone up a needle size or two. His son loves it so much, I’ll be knitting him one after I finish up my current WIPs.

Pattern: Man Hat (available for free on Ravelry)

Yarn: I Love This Yarn in Camo colorway

Needles: US 8 (though I used a US 10 just for the cast-on to prevent a too-tight edge).

Notes and Mods: CO 88 stitches to make up for smaller gauge. I have used this crappy yarn before and the color pooling never makes sense. For example, I knit this hat with the yarn in the exact same pattern and stitch count and there was no significant color pooling. The recipient is a big camo guy, so hopefully it’s not too crazy for him.

Pattern: Little Red Riding Slippers

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in Constellation colorway

Needles: US 10

Notes and Mods–Made these for my sister who is not a fan of knits, but loves Ugg boots so I took a chance on Ugg-inspired slippers. I screwed up on attaching the cuffs so the seam isn’t going the way I prefer, but I was not willing to rip it out at that point. If I make these again, I will pick a yard that gives better stitch definition at this gauge. She’s actually worn them, so I’ll count that as a win.

Now it’s back to WIP wrangling…sigh.

Finished Kint–Amy Scarf

I had my very first Yarnbox lingering in my stash, and when this pattern popped up on Ravelry, I knew I finally found the right match it to go with this delectable yarn.

The pattern is super easy, and this yarn is absolutely awesome. It’s a mix of fine merino and baby alpaca, and one that I will definitely be ordering again.

Pattern: Amy Scarf (available for purchase on Ravelry)

Yarn: Big Bad Wool’s Pea Weepaca in the Teal, Tree Frog, Night Owl, Leaf, and Water colorways. (It’s fingering weight, by the way)

Needles: US size 4

Notes and Mods: The original pattern called for more colors, so I added rows to make up for only using 5. I also just kind of played fast and loose with it. I discovered that, after knitting the first five color sections, repeating them all would make the scarf too long (especially since wet blocking would add length). So, I just tacked on an additional section of the first two colors (switching them so the scarf would start and end with the same color. Ultimately, I lost at yarn chicken, so the last section is a few rows shy of what I planned, but it’s not noticeable when wearing the scarf. Since this is for me, I wasn’t that concerned about it.

8 Gift Ideas for Knitters, and What You Should Not Buy Without Actionable Intel

After spending an inordinate amount of time shopping online yesterday, I was ready to hit the ground running today and spend some money locally. Not 15 minutes after dropping the kids off, the school called and Bean is sick again…sigh. We had to take her to the ER a couple of weeks ago, so the fact that she is sick again so soon is frustrating.

Anyway, if I can’t get my Christmas shopping on, I can have a cocktail and give you some gift ideas for the knitter or fiber enthusiast in your life:

  1. A yarn club subscription. I recently posted about my love of Yarnbox, but there are dozens of suppliers to choose from. This makes a great gift because most knitters are yarn-obsessed and who doesn’t like a treat in the mail? These can be on the more expensive side, but they are definitely a thoughtful gift that all but the Grinchiest knitter will love.2. Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers. These things are the bomb, and most knitters would love it set or two. They help save time and create more even edges. I have a set, and I swear by them. Good prices too for a mid-range gift. I think one set will set you back about 25 bucks.3. Cute knitting-themed shirts or mugs. These can be easy stocking stuffers, or a super-affordable gift if you are in a situation where you need to spend under a certain amount, like an office gift exchange. You can find these at places like Knit Picks, Café Press, and Etsy.4. Cute stitch markers. I go through a lot of stitch markers, and I am always in need of more. Etsy is definitely the place to look for a fun selection, and you will be supporting handcrafters as well. These are usually affordable, and can be a great individual gift or an add-on.5. A handmade yarn bowl. Again, Etsy would be the place to look for these. They come in so many styles, which means you can find one to fit even the most eccentric knitter’s personality. 6. Personalized tags for knitters. I love adding a personal touch to my gift knitting (for those who have not been booted off the knit-worthy island), and these are not something that most people will splurge on consistently. As a southern girl, I love all things personalized and would monogram alllllllll the things if my expendable income allowed such.7. Along those lines, these types of knitting tags offer a cute way to alert people of the fiber content and washing instructions. Mighty handy, and again, just not something many knitters have lying around.8. As always, a gift certificate to your local yarn store is never a miss. If you don’t have a local yarn store in your area, look at online options, especially hand-dyers. Just avoid certificates to big-box stores because their selection is rather limited for a real fiber enthusiast.

Now, for the cautionary part. Most knitters always have their eye on new needle sets, knitting bags, spinning wheels, yarn kits, or other high-dollar accessories. Trust me, every knitter out there has a wish list in the back of their minds. However, like most people who are passionate about our hobby, we are also VERY PICKY about our core tools. While these make great gifts if they are on your knitter’s wish list, you need to be sure that you know exactly what they want while shopping. For example, I cannot stand knitting with bamboo needles, so brand new expensive set of bamboo interchangeable needles would totally miss the mark. So, if you can get your hands on intel about what they specifically want, go for it! Otherwise, play it safe. If you do want to invest in a big-ticket wish list item, you want to be sure that it’s right, which makes you awesome-sauce!

**Remember, these ideas are mine and mine alone. No one pays me or gives me crap, because I’m just not that cool. There’s no links or affiliate business going on up in here. Also, if you do see an ad on my blog, that’s from WordPress, not me and I have no control over that deal**

 

Yarnbox Versus Knitcrate–Which One I Like and Why

******UPDATE MARCH 2018*******

Hey Y’all. I am going to leave the below post as is, but I wanted to update and let you know that, unfortunately, I have become unhappy with the direction Yarnbox has taken over the past few months and am cancelling my subscription. There’s been a lot of changes in the company (under newer management), their practices, customer interactions, and Ravelry community culture. They also have consistent logistical problems with the site and shipping. I’m not going to go into particulars, but there is extensive discussions about these issues in a few Ravelry groups. My decision to cancel comes from the recent trend of populating new boxes with their overstock from previous months or their other subscriptions. I wanted to update you, because if you are researching a yarn club treat for yourself, I can no longer recommend Yarnbox at this time. I hope they get past the hiccups they are experiencing. In the meantime, I may reconsider giving Knitcrate another try, but if you have a yarn subscription you’d recommend, I’d love to hear about it. Remember, my opinions are my own, no one pays me or gives me free stuff, and I got no skin in the yarn business game. I just want to update you that, for now, me and Yarnbox are breaking up.

So, earlier this year, the husband and the Heathens gifted me a 3-month subscription to Yarnbox, which is a monthly box subscription for knitters/crocheters. I love yarn, and I love getting packages, so this was the absolute perfect gift. After my three months was up, I wanted to branch out and see if other subscriptions were just as satisfying, so I gave Knitcrate a try for a couple of months. Ultimately, I cancelled that one and went back to Yarnbox.

(Note, I subscribe to Yarnbox classic, and since cancelling my Knitcrate, they have changed their plans so my old subscription would now be considered the Artisan crate, which looks like it has come down in price since then.)

So, what’s the appeal of a yarn subscription? I get to try new yarns that are not typically at my LYS, and discover something new every month. However, before I go into why I favor the Yarnbox, here’s the points of comparison I started with because all of us fiber geeks are as diverse in preference as it gets:

The Yarn–I want to see quality and quantity for the price, and I think Yarnbox wins out (see below). I like variety as well. Yarnbox lets you set some preferences about colors, yarn weights, etc., so you can better tailor what you will get to your taste. For example, you can say “never send me brown yarn,” if you have a hate on for brown. To my knowledge, Knitcrate does not let you set any preferences, but this could have changed since I cancelled. I believe both boxes sell any leftovers so you can snag an extra hank if you love something and want a bigger project’s worth of yarn.

Patterns–Both boxes come with a couple of patterns. For some, this is part of the value, but not for me. I am super picky about patterns, and I don’t waste time knitting a pattern I’m lukewarm about. Ravelry is my playground when it comes to pattern hunting. If you place a big emphasis on the patterns that come in these boxes, you should check out their respective groups on Ravelry to get a feel for them.

Extras–Knitcrate Artisan came with a small extra or two each month. Yarnbox typically does not, though they did include a Soak sample (wool wash) in last month’s box.

Cost/Value–They are about the same (now, not when I had Knitcrate), though Yarnbox offers discounts for pre-purchased subscriptions, rather than month-to-month, but this is immaterial to me since I do month-to-month.

So, let’s take a look at some of my Yarnboxes:

These are just a few, but each month, I feel like I’m getting introduced to new yarns, new companies, and the quality and yardage for the cost is great. I’ve only been disappointed one month out of about seven, but that was more about my personal taste. Also, I get lots of colors but never anything I hate.

My first month of Knitcrate came with a cute keychain charm, a wooden llama needle gauge, and here was the yarn:

Don’t let the picture fool you, these are pretty small hanks, though they are of good quality, (for comparison, this Knitcrate provided 340 yards of sport weight yarn, while the above Yarnbox with the purple Sugar Bush Bliss was 525 yards of sport weight ). Also, they come from a very well-known company with wide distribution. The next month seemed more promising with two bigger hanks and…scissors. But dear lort, the color:

Trust me, it’s a lot brighter than the picture looks, and just not me. However, I was happy with the quality and discovering a new yarn brand that wasn’t such a big player, so it definitely was more of what I expected than the first month.

So, after a couple of months, I realized I was underwhelmed by my Knitcrates. I think the notions idea is cute, but in reality, it’s stuff I don’t need. I have 25 pairs of scissors and about 10 needle gauges (especially since all my interchangeable needles have one included). I’d rather put those dollars toward more yarn than on the chance of really redundant accessories.

Remember, patterns are not on my priority list, so both boxes are equal in that aspect. What sealed the deal was the chance that I would be paying for yarn that was just too far outside of my preferences. Also, at the time, my Knitcrate Artisan was about 10 bucks more a month than my Yarnbox, but I think they have since lowered the price, so take that for what it’s worth.

Ultimately, I think Yarnbox appeals to me because I feel like I get great new yarns, learn about new companies/indie operations, and I get to have some preferences while maintaining the surprise. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt, and I’m going to get back to my knitting.

***The usual disclaimer: Neither of these companies know me, because I’m just not that cool. My opinions here are all my own, and nobody gave me free stuff, or solicited my blog, or promised me a cameo in the next Kanye video. I just like talking about yarn…and food…and my abject hate for warm weather in November.***

 

Finished Knit–Straboy Sweater

My knitting opus is complete! I fell in love with this pattern a while back and  it took me nearly a year of on-and-off knitting, but I finished it for the husband (just in time for summer, right?). I probably will need a long break from cables and trinity stitch, but I could not be happier with how this turned out.

Pattern: Straboy from the book Contemporary Irish Knits

Yarn: Knit Picks City Tweed in Orca Colorway

Needles: Size 7 and 8 circular needles and DPNs for parts of the sleeves

Size: 44-inch chest circumference

Notes and Mods: The only adjustments I made were to lengthen the sleeves by a couple of inches. The husband has abnormally long arms, so much so that I have to order his shirts online because stores typically don’t stock his sleeve length. I did have some issues with the instructions, but the pattern author is very active on Ravelry and answered my questions very quickly. This took way more yarn than I anticipated, and I had to reorder twice! Luckily, the yarn did not vary too much between dye lots, so it’s not noticeable. The husband loves it, and hopefully, we will have some semblance of a winter this year so he can wear it.

Also, this project was my first using the Knit Companion software for the iPad, and I am so glad I bought it and watched the tutorial. This software was invaluable in managing the charts, because me and paper charts do not get along so well.

 

Finished Knit–Azel Pullover

azelI have been working on a sweater for my husband for months now. It’s this lovely, intricate, cabled pattern that I now refer to as “The Sweater of Doom.” Why? When I started the project, I forgot that he’s a tall man with extra-long, monkey-like arms. And no, I’m not being facetious. I have to special order his dress shirts and he can’t wear off-the-rack long-sleeved shirts because the sleeves end at his mid-forearm.  This sweater has become the opus I may never finish.

Anyway, as I trudge along, I occasionally have to take a break and knit something, ANYTHING else. This is a popular pattern that has been making the rounds, so I whipped one up for Bean, who, of course, never wants to wear it. She’s about to go on the banned knitting list if she doesn’t get with the program.

azel-2Pattern: Azel Pullover (available for purchase on Ravelry)

Yarn: Bernat Softee Chunky is Wine colorway

Needles: Size US 13

Notes: I made the 8/10 size and am glad I did. Bean is 4 years old and wears a size 6 in clothes. As you can see, it fits as intended, so if you are making this for a small human, I’d go up a size. Also, I typically stick to bargain, machine-washable yarns when I make anything for the kids. I save the good stuff for me.

gmanI’m baaaacck. When I ended my summer, I never had any idea how far my fall would go off the rails. I could give you the gory play by play, but let’s cut to the chase: the Hubs woke up one day in pain, this carried on for weeks, he lost the use of an arm, had a spinal surgery, then had another surgery when that first one failed epically. So, in sum, the Hubs was out of commission for a long, long time, he scared me to death, and I am still waiting on my free pass to throw a toddler-like tantrum as a result. Not really……..but maybe. Good news is that this last scalpel party seems to be successful. He’s recovering by bits and pieces, and I managed not to lose my s—t along the way.

In the meantime, I’ve been knitting, cooking, crafting, and cooking some more. But more than that, I’ve been embracing those small moments with the people I love most. The past few years seem to have been fits and starts of both feelings and voices. Grief is really hard to process when what you hear it in your head is a scream, but everyone around you hears  it as a whisper.

 

Yeah, long story.

 

 

A Fish and a Finished Knit.

DSC_0011We ran down to south Louisiana this weekend for a little fishing and catching up with friends. Despite the fact that it was eleventy-million degrees, we still had fun.

image image DSC_0004 DSC_0020 image

Despite the fact that I am working on my husband’s epic sweater, I needed an easy project for travelling so I whipped up a hat for charity. My cousins participate in a big Christmas project for the Seamen’s Church Institute  and I promised to send some hats their way. Overall, we caught many fish and had a blast. We’ll definitely go back when the weather cools off a bit.

hat

Pattern: Oliver’s Cap

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Forest Green

Needles: Size 8 circulars and DPNs

Notes: As many other knitters noted, this pattern runs small so I added about 3/4 of an inch before starting the decreases. Next time, I may add another inch or so of ribbing as well.