Friday, April 18, 2014

Teeny tiny baby socks!

Exciting news: my boyfriend's sister had twin boys earlier this month! To welcome the boys to life with a knitting aunt, the first thing I made for them were some socks.

Cozy Little Toes is a nice, free pattern by Judy Kaethler for making socks sized for newborns. I knit them using my leftover Soft Like Kittens sock yarn in Alpine Flora, which I used to make socks for myself last year. While I wouldn't have described this colorway as "babyish," I think it works really well for baby socks, and I love how it managed to make little stripes!

The nephews were born a bit early, so as tiny as these socks seem, it will be a while before they grow into them. Meanwhile, switching back to adult-sized socks after making these was a bit of a shock...

Baby socks

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meet Horatio

Once upon a time, during a discussion of mystery shawl knitting projects, someone's iPad auto-corrected the word "shawl" to "shark," and henceforth all mystery shawls were referred to as mystery sharks at my LYS. I have not joined in any mystery knit-alongs yet, but sharks do interest me, so I made Horatio.

The pattern I used to crochet him is Hector the Hammerhead Shark by Adriana Aguirre. It's a detailed pattern with plenty of photos - helpful in telling all of his fins apart. I did make one modification: the switch between the white and the gray parts happens at the beginning of each round, which makes the color change start to spiral around his body. To counter that, I just varied where I switched colors by a stitch or two every other round or so, so that I got a more-or-less straight line between his gray part and his white part.

Oh, and I also added a mouth, because a hammerhead shark has to have the little frowny mouth.

Horatio is my first crochet project using all new-to-me, fancier tools: an addi Swing hook, Uptown Worsted acrylic yarn, and Fiberloft polyester stuffing. It's been 6+ years since I started crocheting and I know I'm invested in this craft, so it felt like time for an upgrade. SO worth it - the new hook feels great and fits my crochet style perfectly, the Uptown Worsted acrylic is super-soft and feels almost like wool, and the Fiberloft stuffing is much fluffier and less clumpy than the kind I was using before.

Horatio spent several weeks hanging out at the yarn store and making friends, and he even got to model one of the mystery sharks shawls that a coworker made:

Monday, April 14, 2014

A long-delayed post about a long-delayed project

Hello! It seems fitting to end this unplanned blogging hiatus by writing about a project that I finished in November, but had to keep secret until a few weeks ago.

The LYS where I work has a holiday gift exchange tradition: we each put some stash yarn in a bag, then we randomly draw someone else's bag and make them a secret, awesome present with their yarn. So that we don't have to rush to get one more project done before Christmas, the gift exchange is usually scheduled for January. Except for this year, when a combination of travel and health issues pushed it back to March.

So, in October I drew Amy's bag, which contained sock yarn from Creatively Dyed Yarn. After poking through Amy's Ravelry favorites and her blog, I chose to make her a Cassis shawlette, which I finished in November. And then I finally got to give it to her a few weeks ago!

By that point, I felt like I needed to add something extra, since it had been months since I'd even thought about the gift exchange. So I crocheted a couple of Tiny Mousies that Amy can give to her kids - or keep for herself.

I made a number of minor modifications to the shawlette pattern that don't change its overall appearance, but made the knitting look and feel a little cleaner to me. The modifications are detailed on my Ravelry project page, if you're interested. And the mousies are made pretty much following the pattern, except I made their heads longer by one round.

Oh, and if you're interested in what I received in the exchange - I put in two skeins of The Fibre Company's Canopy Fingering, and got back two beautiful cowls made by Anna. Take a look!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Another Henslowe

I promised my sister a pair of socks (she will get them, at some point), but for her birthday this year I wanted to surprise her. Last year I made her the Grey Loop infinity cowl, which she seemed to like well enough, but which was for me a lesson in the downfalls of free patterns and super-growy alpaca. She admired my Henslowe shawl when she saw me wearing it over the holidays, so I made her one of her own, in a similar yarn.

I knit it in Zen Yarn Garden's Serenity Silk Single, a merino/cashmere/silk blend. It has nice drape and a bit of sheen, and I think it will be warm as well.

I almost never make the same pattern twice, so this is a statement on how much I love Henslowe. It's my go-to shawl to wear because it's both functional and beautiful. The garter stitch is warm and hugs the shoulders, the shape makes it easy to wear either traditionally or bandanna-style, and the lace is delicate and pretty without being fussy. And knitting this shawl is enjoyable too. The construction is a little unusual, but it's explained clearly, and the lace sections are really simple to knit but look deceptively detailed. I have the feeling that I'm not going to stop at two Henslowes.

(You might notice that this Henslowe has a bit less lace at the edge than the original pattern - I played yarn chicken, and things didn't look good, so I did two rather than four repeats of the Roman Stripe pattern. I like it a lot this way, and might actually use this modification again if I make another shawl for myself).

Sunday, February 23, 2014

January socks

I'm trying to use my sock yarn in the order it entered my stash, so first up for this year was my Strong Sock from Another Crafty Girl. I chose this colorway specifically for the Herbology Socks from the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits collection.

Everything was progressing at a good pace, so I decided to call these my January socks since I'd probably be done within the month. And then I had a huge project that left me no knitting time at all, and I didn't touch the socks for a few weeks. And then there were other knitting projects with deadlines. And then, finally, the Olympics started and I sat down and finished a sock and a half in a few evenings of tv-watching. All told, these socks took me six weeks - the longest ever!

This is no fault of the pattern, which I love. These are the first socks I've made more for the pattern than the yarn - usually I pick the yarn first, and find something interesting and generally simple to complement it. My January socks will definitely be for special occasions (occasions like wanting to put something pretty on my feet and sit around and gaze at them). Juniper found them so appealing that a sniff and a rub were not enough:

Don't worry, the sock (and my foot) was unharmed.

Friday, February 21, 2014

More winter gear

Despite how cold it's been this winter, since early February I've actually been pretty comfortable. Here is why:

I was craving something thick and smooshy to bundle up in, and Cristina Ghirlanda's Polonaise hat and cowl looked like they would do perfectly. I knit them in Cascade 220 Superwash Aran, a very affordable, wonderfully soft, and surprisingly non-pilly yarn. I've worn the hat and cowl nearly every day since I cast them off (and shoved them into bags and pockets in the mean time) and they have very little noticeable fuzz.

This project was speedy and enjoyable, and perfect for comforting myself in the middle of winter. I had fun with the cables but was glad to get both the hat and cowl finished within a week, because they have been even more satisfying to wear. Now I do not fear the cold!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

First FO of 2014

And here is the first project I finished in the new year. I had them all finished early in January, but then I was so busy that I didn't get a chance to photograph them until the end of the month. Sometimes it's hard to get my free time to match up with sunlight hours, especially in winter.

The pattern for these is called Rye, by Hanna Katajamäki. I followed the pattern pretty closely, except that I narrowed the width of each "ribbon" by two stitches, and made the button loops from a crochet chain instead of casting off stitches.

The yarn is Performa Kiwi Fingering from Zealana, and it's a blend of merino, cotton, and possum, which is why I call these my "possum mitts." It was a little tricky to work with as it was very splitty, but I do like the way it feels. It's very soft and warm, and knit up in stockinette, it almost feels like sweatpants material - in a good way.

It's the buttons that really make this project for me, though. When I saw these at my LYS, I was inspired to find a pattern to use them.