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.