Thursday, May 24, 2012

The blues

My knitting and crochet projects of late have been very blue. I love blue. It is my husband's favorite color. It is my 2nd-favorite color (my first, of course, is purple!). I finally started the Seraphina's Shawl for my mom. Here is what it looked like when I started out:

seraphina progress

And here's what it looked like the last time I took a picture of it:

seraphina 5-19

It has grown since then. I hope it will get big enough for my mom by the time her birthday rolls around--I have a little less than a week, but it's progressing quickly. I'm very happy with it. The first 10 or so rows were a pain in the butt, but once I got the hang of the pattern again (this is the second time I've made a Seraphina), it became much easier.

The Lion Homespun was a different story. Homespun, I love you, but every once in a while you give me a bad skein...In this case, 2 bad skeins in a row. Not cool! The bad skeins are the ones in which the yarn gets all bunched up when you try to work with it. I've been using them anyway, because I don't really have a choice, since that's what I have and I don't have the receipt (I bought it at least a year ago!). That's made it much harder to work on this shawl than it was on the last one.

On to my knitting...I'm still working on Wingspan. I'm now on the 5th "triangle," but this pic was taken when I'd just started the 4th:

wingspan - 4th triangle started

My cable cast-on for the 5th triangle was not very good. Too loose in places, so it's made my knitting a bit uneven and the shape of the triangle isn't as, well, triangular. But I didn't correct it, I just kept going. This is my first real knitting project and I am in love with it and I will look at it someday and say "Wow, I can knit so much better than that now!"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wingspan progress, secret and not-so-secret crochet

Well, here I am again. Hello! :) Since my last entry, I've started making that Wingspan scarf/shawlette. I've finished 2 "triangles" so far and am starting on the 3rd (they are all knitted as one piece, but look like separate triangles, and for each one you have to cast on some new stitches). It's a really fun project. Here's a pic I took when I was still working on the first triangle (note the handmade stitch markers! I love my coffee bean and butterfly):

wingspan - 1st triangle

Sorry it gets cut off at the edge there. Please click on the picture if you'd like to get the full effect. I tried to do the cable cast-on after the first triangle, when the pattern says to cast on 16 st. I did it wrong, but it still worked! Anyway, yesterday at S&B, another member very kindly taught me the correct way to do it. I am really glad, and I really hope I remember how to do it when it gets to be time to cast on new stitches for the next triangle!

I caved and bought my own set of interchangeable circular needles. I wound up getting the Trends Acrylic Deluxe Set by Knitter's Pride. I actually got it from an ebay seller so I could get free shipping. I got a really good deal. I am not in love with the needles--I find the acrylic to be a bit "sticky"--but they are fine for my first set. I'll get wooden ones when I can, but for now, these will do.

I lined my Spring Bag with the scarf, as planned. Here it is:

Spring Bag with lining

I've been using it as a project bag, and I absolutely love it! The lining is not strong at all, so I have to take care that my needles don't punch through it (I'm using it to hold Wingspan for now).

I have a few secret crochet projects to work on at the moment. I'm itching to blog about them, but won't be able to till...probably June. Shhhh.

The one not-secret crochet project I need to start is a Seraphina's Shawl for my mother, whose birthday is May 30 (!!!). Gotta get going on that. She requested it, hence the not-secretness. ;) I've had the yarn for it for a while (Lion Brand Homespun in Windsor, a pretty blue colorway). I should probably be working on it now, but instead I am blogging. Oy vey.

I bought a lovely sleeveless lavender dress for a friend's rehearsal dinner later this month. I am so excited about it. I really, really want to make a shrug to go with it, but I have neither the time nor the right yarn. I've actually bought 2 black boleros, but one is too big and the other seems a little too informal. I don't know. I'd rather return those and make my own. I wish I had much more time!

I leave you with this photo of gorgeous lilacs blooming in the courtyard of our apartment complex:


Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Bag almost done, new knitting, and love for the S&B Group

I am finally almost done with the Spring Bag. I just have to add a lining. Here it is, with the old scarf I plan to use for lining it:

spring bag and scarf for lining

I got a lot of help from an online friend for this one. I modified it a little by adding a few rows of double crochet and a simple edging, and I only did one drawstring. I tried to do 2 and have them going out the sides like the pattern says, but the bag didn't close right that way. Anyway, I'm pretty satisfied with it. I will have to find tutorials on lining bags, since I have very little idea how to sew into crochet using regular thread, let alone how to line a bag to begin with.

I've started a new knitting project. Nothing amazing, just a very simple garter stitch scarf using Caron Spa yarn. I'm using it to practice my knitting. I found that I couldn't practice seed stitch or stockinette or ribbing or anything like that while watching TV or being otherwise distracted, so I needed a simple project.

garter stitch scarf

We had a wonderful Stitch & Bitch session today. We went to see an art exhibit at a local town hall that 2 of our members had artwork in, which was really fun. Then we invaded the town hall cafeteria.

I had forgotten to bring lunch, but others had generously brought some food that I could eat! Gluten-free multigrain tortilla chips and spinach hummus, and an iced green tea. I am so spoiled by these ladies. I love them so much.

A friend is lending me her size 4 circular needles so I can make a Wingspan (that's a Ravelry link) scarf/wrap. I am so excited. I'll be using some Yarntopia Treasures Bamboo Cotton yarn in this colorway (Poseidon) that my husband got me a while back. Wish me luck! ;)

And another of my knitter friends is such an enabler: she gave me yarn. PURPLE yarn. How could I possibly resist?! *drool*

purple yarn

I am so lucky to have this wonderful S&B group in my life. I also have way too much yarn...although I'm not convinced that there is such a thing. There are so many things I want to make!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gifties for my 6-year-old niece

My niece's 6th birthday was last Saturday, and her party, which was supposed to be that day, got cancelled because her sister got sick. Poor kiddo. The up-side of this, though, is that I get a little more time to work on her presents. This is the hat I wound up making for her:

hat for kristy's 6th

It's the Shell Brimmed Cloche by Cathy Phillips (free pattern), made with Lily Sugar 'N Cream cotton yarn in Robin's Egg. I did the crown through Rnd 6, then the straight rows (Rnds 9-14), then through Rnd 19 (2nd row of 7 dc shells), skipping Rnds 20 and 21. I didn’t want the hat getting too long for her. I also did the sc edging with the G hook (Rnd 22). It looks great. I hope it fits well.

By the time her actual birthday rolled around, it looked like she was going to be getting this hat and a few other things we picked up for her. However, when the party got cancelled, I decided the hat needed a flower. I made it a barrette, so it can clip onto the hat or she can put it in her hair.


shell-brimmed cloche with flower

I'm still working on the Spring Bag I wrote about in this post. It's caused me a lot of frustration, but I think I've finally got it. I was going to give it to my niece, but it's taken too long, and I want to send her gifts out right away. Also, if I give her a bag and a hat, I will have to do both (or the equivalent) for my other nieces' birthdays, and I'm not sure I'll have time what with all the other projects I plan to make.

I've decided to keep it for myself as a project bag, and line it with an old scarf. (I've never lined anything in my entire life, so this will be a new experience.) :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Granny square baby hat!

Here's another FO from a few weeks ago. A good friend from college who lives pretty far away just had a baby girl, and I had some great colors of Caron Simply Soft yarn, so I decided to make a hat using the Granny Square Crochet Hat pattern by Kristin Spurkland. It's in the book Blankets, Hats, and Booties: to Knit and Crochet. First thing I've made from that book, and I'm happy with it--and the new mom loves it!

Here's the top view:

granny square baby hat - top view

It's being modeled by Abbey, our very round stuffed piggy, who is the closest thing we have to a baby head around here! And here is the side view:

granny square baby hat

Simple hat to make, but lots of color changes (obviously) and ends to crochet over/weave in. I'm very, very satisfied with the finished project. I hope it proves to be durable.

My friend posted pictures of the baby in her hat to Facebook! I downloaded them and put one on my Ravelry project page, so if you're on Rav, you can see her here, in the first photo. Such a cutie pie!

I'm on a roll with the granny squares lately, but I've been making other things, too! More blog entries to come soon.

Red Granny Square Throw

A dear friend of ours had her bridal shower on March 25. As a gift, I made a Giant Granny Square Afghan in her favorite color, red. Yet another pattern using Lion Homespun! 2 strands held together. Pattern calls for a Q hook, but I used a P to get gauge, and because I didn't want it to be too holey. Here are some pictures.

red granny square throw folded

red granny square throw

I am so happy with the way it turned out. It's warm and cuddly and pretty. The bride-to-be and her fiance really like it. Hooray!!!

Here it is all packaged up for the shower, in its huge gift bag:

gift bag 2

It was fun to have such a big gift to give! It was saved for last, and everyone "oohed" and "ahhed" and passed it around, and of course I felt really good. :)

This was not a complicated project. I mean, come on, it's a giant granny square. Once you know how to make a basic granny square, you're all set. It took quite a while to make, but it was easy and fun. I really enjoyed seeing it grow! I plan to make another as a wedding gift for another friend, and eventually make one for us as well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trip to the Lion Brand Outlet with the S&B group

LB Yarn Outlet
Today, many of us from the Stitch & Bitch group took a trip to Carlstadt, NJ to go to the Lion Brand Yarn Outlet. We had such a great time! As you can tell from this picture (or maybe you can't--it's not great quality, but it's the best my cell phone could do!), it's quite stunning. Lots of amazing knit and crochet "sculptures," pillows, and yarn-bombed items. Examples below:


yarn-bombed bike

Friendly penguins and a yarn-bombed bike!

I would have taken more pictures, but I was too busy gawking at the yarn and talking with my S&B girlfriends. I went there with a mission: to procure as much Lion Brand Homespun yarn as I possibly could, in as many pretty colors as possible, within the budget I'd set for myself. (And also enough in certain colors to make certain things, which will eventually be revealed. But I won't spoil it for you...yet.)  Here's my haul:

yarn haul 1

Another blurry pic, I know, but you can still make out the colors (though this picture really doesn't do them justice at all). After buying all that, including the 2 pattern books you can barely make out in this photo and a few knitting accessories, I came out $10 under the budget I'd set for myself! WIN! So I went back for more, and here it is:

yarn haul 2

All in all, I made out like a Lion-Brand-Homespun-obsessed bandit. ;) Afterward, the group of us--12 (I think?) in total, in 3 different cars--headed out in search of lunch. As was inevitable, we all eventually wound up taking different routes and getting totally confused about where to meet up. Next time, we'll be careful to make sure that we have everyone's cell phone numbers! 2 of the 3 cars (including the one I was in) eventually caught up with each other, and we decided to head to a restaurant back in White Plains for lunch. Lunch was great (even though we missed the folks from the other car). We ate well, and celebrated a group member's birthday. There was much talking and laughter involved.

What a great day!

I need to catch up on my blog posting. I have quite a few projects to share.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sort of secret stuff

I'm working on some secret projects right now. I have one gift in the making that just needs an edging, and then it will be done (and I will post pics after it's been given to the recipient). I have a baby gift that I recently finished and sent out to a friend, which I don't want to post photos of until I know it's been received.

Mon urban hat, pic taken from the pattern website
Less secret: I will soon be making gifts for my niece, whose birthday is coming up too quickly! She'll be 6 on the 31st. I plan to make Mon urban hat and a Spring Bag for her, both from Lily Sugar 'N' Cream yarn in robin's egg blue (blue is her favorite color, or at least it was the last time I checked!). Hope to get started tonight if possible. If crises occur before her big day, we'll buy her a toy instead; but I really want to make her something.
Spring Bag, pic taken from the pattern website

Also, I will soon be making a hat for a friend of some friends who has a terminal illness. I don't know him--we've never even met--but any friend of theirs is a friend of mine, and I am glad to be able to give something to help out. I'm going to use Caron Simply Soft in Dark Sage (which is really more of a forest green).

I've re-started my little knitting swatch. I got sick of looking at the holes, and when I tried to fix them, things got even more screwed up...So I decided to start over from scratch and try my hand(s) at casting on. :) I did it! I am so proud of myself. My friend who is teaching me at S&B (which I unfortunately did not get to attend this week) uses the Continental Method. I've never used the English Method, so I don't know which is "better" (and my knitting friends tell me it's just a matter of personal preference). I think I like Continental, though. It seems like it might be slightly less complicated (?), and some say it's quicker. As an impatient person, I think the quickest method should suit me best!

I've gotten some books out of the library, including Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook, which is what I used to figure out how to cast on. It seems pretty comprehensive; I think I may need to own it as soon as I have some money. For now, hooray for libraries!!!

Any other book suggestions for a very new knitter?

I picked up The Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits at the bookstore the other day at a really low price. The projects in it are mainly made with chunky yarns and big needles, and I don't have big needles yet, but I'm sure I will at some point. For now, I just have the size 8 needles that my friend is letting me use.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Knitting? And more FO's...

1st knitting project

I can knit! Sort of. Last week at Stitch & Bitch, one of my amazing friends there taught me to knit. Of course, she cast on for me, and all I know how to do so far is the knit stitch. Also, this piece has progressed a little, and now has holes in it where I messed up. Holes! But I will learn how to do this, slowly but surely. I say "slowly" only because I have so many crochet projects to work on right now that the knitting's got to go on the back burner. One project is a top-secret gift, which is almost done. The others are less secret gifts that haven't even been started yet, and one has to be done by the end of the month! Eeps!

Now for the FO's.

I made this Snuggly Scarf for my mother-in-law for her birthday, which was toward the end of last month:

MIL's birthday scarf

She loves it! I am so happy. It's Lion Brand Homespun in Nouveau, which has a brown base combined with shades of blue, purple, and teal. Very pretty. I picked up another skein so I can eventually make myself one in that colorway!

Also, our Stitch & Bitch group made hats and scarves for veterans for Valentine's Day. I made 2 hats to contribute. Here they are:

hat for a veteran 1a

hat for a veteran 2a

And finally, something that's not an FO, but something to laugh at. I started making a baby hat from Lion Brand Velvetspun that I'd had sitting around for a few years. I don't know if the problem was the yarn itself, or the age of the yarn; but wow, this thing was a mess. The pattern didn't really help, either. It's a cute hat with a knot on top, but first you have to make the "cord" to tie into the knot. Hence, this thing:

ugh baby hat

Some poor purple elephant lost its trunk! ;) This yarn was shedding all over the place, and when I tried to weave in the end so I could tie the "trunk" in a knot, ALL of the fluffiness of the yarn came off and the ends became just thread. Impossible to work with. I gave up, but I had to document it first!

And that's it for now. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Foot Hats, part II

Let me explain how my crocheted socks got the very silly nickname of "Foot Hats." I think it all started when the socks were at this stage, or maybe before:

foot hats

They looked like little hats, and my husband and I were putting them on our stuffed animals and such. Finally, I put them on my feet and decided they were "Foot Hats," and couldn't stop laughing about it. Yes, we are that silly. (Or possibly even sillier than that silly.) The socks look a lot less like hats now and a lot more like socks, but the name has stuck!

Finished "Foot Hats" on my feet:

foot hats on my feet

I had a heck of a time with this pattern. The beginning part was very hard, and I wound up frogging quite a few times, but I finally figured out what the pattern meant. (Or at least, I think I did. There's no way to really know, since the photos in the book aren't very clear.) Also, luckily for me, I figured out almost right away that they were coming out too big. I had to start over with a D hook instead of the recommended E.

The body of the sock is a very easy shell pattern, and lots of fun, especially with colorful yarn like the Deborah Norville Serenity Garden yarn that I used. By the time I got to the heel, I was feeling pretty confident. Then I tried making the heel...and felt significantly less confident. I blame this partially on the fact that there are no diagrams or pictures in the booklet of what the heel should look like. Even when I eventually got it right, I was very confused. It comes to a point on either side of the heel, which, to someone like me who's used to manufactured socks, is really weird-looking! Thankfully, the socks fit well. If they were even a little too big, I think the heel would be very awkward.

If you want to try this pattern, make sure you take note of the instructions under heel rows 2-13 where it says "Place stitch marker in ends of rows 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3 and in base of row 1 on each side of Heel." I missed this the first time around. The next time, and many times after it, I was completely befuddled by where the markers were supposed to go.

After I figured that out, the heels still proved difficult. You're supposed to single crochet in each of the marked stitches, but as there's no diagram, I didn't really know how to do that and had to sort of wing it. I'm not used to crocheting in stitches that aren't "normal" crochet stitches. I've rarely even crocheted around borders or anything like that. I did get some helpful information from Janet Rehfeldt's Crocheted Socks book, without which I probably wouldn't have felt like I had even the slightest clue of what I was doing.

And now, I'll complain some more about the pattern. ;) For the leg part of the pattern, the first round simply says to "evenly space" a certain number of the aforementioned shell stitches around the foot and heel. To me, this is a cop-out. It says, "Go ahead, you do the math because we didn't want to." Um, there's a good reason I've never written a crochet pattern or done anything in crochet without a pattern written by someone else: I am not a math genius. Sure, I'm pretty good at math, but figuring out how to evenly space those stitches was a challenge. Crocheting these socks was difficult enough without having to do that. I wish the authors had done the calculations for us and maybe even put in some diagrams. The sizes are a straightforward S, M, and L. I'm sure it would've have taken all that much effort for an experienced crochet designer to do that--or at least, nowhere near as much effort as it takes someone like me.

All that said, however, I LOVE my Foot Hats and would consider using this pattern again sometime because the finished product is so beautiful. I just want my fellow crocheters to be warned about the problems I had, so maybe they can get it right in a few less tries than I did.

Friday, March 9, 2012

FO: Textured Socks (aka "Foot Hats")

Last month, I finished my first pair of crocheted socks. (They're not the first pair I've ever tried to make, but they're the first I've finished!) I've been meaning to post about them for a while, so here goes. :) First, a picture of the finished socks:

 finished foot hats

The pattern is called "Textured Socks," and it's from an Annie's Attic publication called Crochet Stocking Feet by crocheted sock experts Janet Rehfeldt and Mary Jane Wood. The publication has 2 pictures of the finished socks, one of which is on the cover in color and too small to really make out the pattern, and the other in black and white and also not very big or easy to determine what the socks should look like. There are no diagrams, only written instructions. Also, no one on Ravelry had made them yet, so I didn't have any pictures to go on. I don't know what on earth made me decide to make these, but I'm glad I did, since I am so happy with the finished socks!

I need to head out to Stitch & Bitch now, but I have much more to say about these socks, so please stay tuned. An explanation of why I've nicknamed these "Foot Hats" will follow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Basic Fingerless Mittens in Noro Taiyo

I posted here about the fabulous Noro Taiyo yarn I had purchased while visiting a friend in Providence, RI. That was back in 2010. In December of 2011, I finally used it! I made Basic Fingerless Mittens by Julia Vaconsin. Excellent pattern - easy to follow, and the result was beautiful. Only problem I had was not knowing how to join the yarn at the thumb gusset, but I figured it out (and then I did some research and found out how I was actually supposed to do it!). ;) I used about half the skein of Taiyo for these.

Here they are in progress:

basic fingerless mittens in noro taiyo - in progress

Here's the completed first mitten on me:

basic fingerless mittens in noro taiyo

basic fingerless mittens in noro taiyo (1)

And here's the finished set.

basic fingerless mittens in noro taiyo - finished

I had started these as a selfish crochet project, but when I tried to wear them, my hands got itchy from the wool. (I'd been hoping that I wouldn't have a reaction to the Taiyo, since it's got a relatively low percentage of wool, but no such luck.)

Luckily, a friend of mine had a birthday (funny how people do that!), and these were perfect for her. (In my opinion, anyway. I hope she likes them and isn't made itchy by the wool!) She wore them for a while when I gave them to her, and they looked so good with her outfit! I am so happy they went to a good home.

Playing catch-up

Wow, it's been almost a year since I last posted! Oops. Sorry, dear readers. Also, happy Valentine's Day!

I have been doing much with the yarn (and not much with the beads) since my last post. I stopped doing anything with either hobby for a while, actually, until a close friend of mine had a baby last October and I decided to make a sun hat for the baby. That got the creative juices flowing again.

doggie in a hat

Hat made with Lily Sugar N Cream yarn. Free pattern can be found here.

After that, I made a Bellflower Infinity Scarf. I was loving the way it was turning out as I worked on it, but I am less satisfied with the finished result. I used Red Heart Soft yarn for it, which is acrylic, and I am way too scared to block acrylic (or anything, for that matter, but especially acrylic), so of course I didn't block it. As a result, it is sort of sloppy and bunchy. Also, the part at the end of the pattern where you slip-stitch the ends of the scarf together resulted in an ugly seam. I don't know if that's because I somehow did it wrong, or if it's just supposed to have an ugly seam! Either way, when I wear it, I keep the seam in the back.

bellflower scarf in progress

bellflower scarf on me

More to come very soon.