Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Socks for dads

My dad's Christmas list this year included hand-knit "cozy socks." Of course I would never turn down a sock request, especially when the requested socks would be best knit in worsted weight. These are the first non-fingering weight socks that I've made, and it felt amazingly fast to be knitting rounds of only 48 stitches! 

The pattern I used for these is Thuja, available from Knitty, and the yarn is Malabrigo Rios. I really enjoyed working with the Rios, and I'm already planning to get some more to make cozy socks for myself once my LYS gets a restock in. (There wasn't much Rios left on the shelf when I bought this, which is why I had to get 2 skeins that came from different dye lots. The difference between the socks is obvious to me, but I hope my dad won't mind.)

My boyfriend's dad also got some cozy socks this year. These are also in worsted weight, Cascade 220 Superwash this time, and the pattern is one I made up myself. I cast on 52 stitches and did 2x2 ribbing all the way around, except for one column of faux cables, created by doing a left twist (or a right twist, for the other sock) every 4th row.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas gifts

Remember that cowl I made for myself, using the leftovers from a secret project that I couldn't talk about yet? Here is the secret project, a Christmas present for my boyfriend's sister!

This is the Greyhaven Cowl and Greyhaven Hat by Robin Ulrich, knit out of Malabrigo Worsted in Polar Morn. As with her Amethiste, this is a well-designed and well-formatted pattern. The only modification I made was on the hat, which turned out a little too long and slouchy. I think that was due more to the way the Malabrigo Worsted was working up for me than the pattern, but I've seen other people make similar comments, so maybe keep that in mind if you make this in a heavy worsted. To reduce the slouch, I just did one pattern repeat before the decrease section, instead of two repeats as in the pattern.

And for my honorary brother-in-law (my boyfriend's brother-in-law), I also made a hat:

It's Turn A Square, a very popular pattern by Jared Flood, another designer whose patterns are not only well designed but so beautifully formatted! The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash - I already had the lighter one (Feather Gray), and the other color is called Jet, which is one of my favorite colors Cascade makes in the 220 line. It's a deep, slightly heathered gray that I have been wanting to use for a while. I changed the stripe pattern in the original pattern to something a little more minimalist, and I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas feet!

From the moment I first touched a mini-skein of Fancy Gnome sock yarn, I decided that this year my feet would be getting a Christmas present, and that present would be socks in that wonderfully soft merino-cashmere-nylon blend from GnomeAcres.

I knitted these over Thanksgiving this year, and although my plan is to wear them only on Christmas and then put them away until next year, I've found lots of opportunities to try them on. Just to make sure the cashmere still feels amazing.

The pattern I used is called Ribbelmuster, available for free on Ravelry. It required a little more thinking than I expected, but was not difficult. Unfortunately - through my own fault, not the pattern's - I made the heel flaps a little too short. I don't know what I was thinking, but the upside is that the relationship between the length of the heel flap and the overall length and fit of the foot is now explicitly clear to me. It probably should have been obvious to me all along, but hey, at least now I know. And for indulgence socks that I'm only going to wear once a year, it's fine. And Juniper approves:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Handspun mittens

No, I have not yet become a spinner. But I am fortunate to have a few generous friends who do spin, and who occasionally find themselves with purple yarn that they don't especially want, because they prefer other colors. When I was offered this brown and purple handspun, I immediately started thinking of something warm and cozy to match my winter coat:

Perfect! I used Kris Percival's Warmest Mittens pattern as a guide (and I would like to note, also, that I competently and confidently used DPNs for this whole project). Although I haven't had mittens since I was very small, I've been wearing these every time I put on that coat, and they make me so happy (and warm). I like thinking of them as a joint effort between my friend who spun the yarn, and me who knitted them.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dyade set

For my mom's birthday this year, I made her a matching cowl and mitts from Vanessa Smith's Dyade set. I had a full skein of tosh sock in Tart that I bought for my Amethiste shawl but didn't end up using, plus a bit extra. Tart is a glorious color, but not one that I wear often, so I wanted to use my extra skein to make a special project I could give to somebody else. I thought something warm and pretty that my mom can wear either inside or outside would be just right.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Quick projects to keep me warm

We moved to Pittsburgh last year, which finally motivated me to collect some serious cold-winter gear. Last year I got a warm and wonderful down jacket, and this year I have brand-new snow boots. And of course, I can never have enough knitted things.

This is Present, a free cowl pattern by Mademoiselle C. It was very quick to knit, and was a nice way to use up the leftovers from a project that I can't talk about yet. The yarn is Malabrigo Worsted in the Polar Morn colorway. As I was knitting the other secret project, I was already planning to buy more of this yarn for myself, because it's so soft and squishy and the color is beautiful. The other project took a little less yardage than I expected, so I used up every last bit making myself this cowl. Small cowls like this are nice to wear inside, when you could use a little warmth on your neck but don't need to wrap up in a shawl or scarf.

I wear a beret now. Berets are cool.

Although my neck is never cold these days, my head is not as fortunate. I don't really consider myself much of a wearer or maker of hats, but that is changing as I'm starting to look for more things to knit, and more things to keep me warm. This pattern is Alana Dakos's Autumn Vines Beret, knit in Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sport that I picked up at fibre space earlier this year. I am a bit bemused by this hat. Up until I finished it and put it on my head, I couldn't really picture myself either making or wearing a beret. I like the yarn pretty well, but it's surprisingly variegated, a little too much so for this pattern. The size of the hat is okay, I guess, except that the cast-on edge grew a lot when I blocked it - maybe I'm just an inexperienced beret wearer, but it feels looser than it should. But hey, it doesn't fall off or look stupid, and it's a pretty color, and it's warm. I think I like it?

Friday, December 13, 2013

La dame de fer

Named after the Eiffel Tower, not Margaret Thatcher.

This is Jessie Dodington's Dinner in the Eiffel Tower shawl, knit in madelinetosh tosh DK. The colorway is Whiskey Barrel, and I used it in this pattern because the dark brown-blue color reminds me of the way the Eiffel Tower looks early in the morning. (I am a Foreign Service brat who spent a few years looking at the pre-sunrise Eiffel Tower on my bus rides to school.) It's a nice pattern - nothing too difficult or too tedious, but a good blend of simple stitches and slightly complicated lace.

The LYS where I work recently stopped carrying madelinetosh, so this yarn came from the hoard I amassed after we made that decision. Part of the reason we discontinued our tosh selection was quality issues, and I have to say that this yarn was not as nice as the older tosh DK that I used in my Calligraphy shawl. It felt rougher as I was knitting (after washing, it's not as bad), and there were a number of pretty large slubs that I would have cut out, if I had been making this project to give away. I still love tosh's colors, but I'm not too sad that we'll be bringing in something new instead.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Little bellydancer

This project holds the record for longest span of time from the date I started it to the date I finally finished it: started in March 2009, and finished on November 11 of this year, four and a half years later!

This is the Amazon amigurumi pattern from Creepy Cute Crochet by Cristen Haden, aka NeedleNoodles. You may recall that I started a couple other amigurumi at the same time, and very gradually got around to finishing first the ninja, and then the monkey in 2011. This poor girl, though, continued to languish. I think the main issue was that while she was hibernating, I decided I didn't really want an Amazon any more, but I wasn't sure what else to do. Then, finally, inspiration! And a while later, motivation! And now she is living happily on my amigurumi shelf as a tiny bellydancer!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Because my cat really needed another blanket

She did, though. I left my granny square afghan on the floor in a moment of laziness, and Juniper claimed it and proceeded to spend most of her time lying on it or under it. While I continue to be flattered that she likes my crocheting so much, I didn't really want my blanket to stay permanently on the floor, so I made her a floor-blanket of her own.

Trying out her new blanket immediately after I finished it

I was in the mood to get rid of some stash, so I triple-stranded some Knit Picks Brava in black and white and that purple acrylic that continues to haunt me. The blanket is just rows of double crochet, alternating the colors until I was nearly out of yarn, then I did two rows of double crochet around the border. To give the blanket a rolled edge, I then did a thing that came to me out of the blue and is very hard to explain, but basically, I folded and "seamed" the edge to itself by slip-stitching it through the base of the first row of double crochet.

The blanket is nice and thick, as Juniper likes it. It makes a good place to sleep in front of the radiator, although her preferred use is to burrow under it. In fact, if she's in the right mood, I can stick her under the blanket and she'll just stay there for hours. Seeing her snuggle on or under her blanket is as much of a "thank you" I'll ever get from a cat, but it's enough.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Un-vanilla socks

I've been knitting socks for over a year now, so it's time to expand my horizons. Since I don't see myself giving up my sock habit any time soon, I want to develop a more intuitive sense of what I like in terms of construction and methods. There are so many options that I'm sure I have yet to discover my Perfect Sock.

Until now, I've used magic loop, and almost always worked cuff-down, so for my first adventure, I decided to try DPNs and a toe-up sock. That turned out to be a bit too much adventure when I discovered that the way I purl clashed painfully with my inept way of holding my needles, so I scaled back to a toe-up sock on magic loop.

I used Carle' Dehning's recipe for vanilla toe-up socks with an afterthought heel - another technique I hadn't tried yet. For the toe, I used Lynne Ashton's rounded toe recipe, since I think the "normal" toe-up toe looks a little too chunky.

I knit these in Loops & Threads Luxury Sock, with the toes, heels, and cuffs in Knit Picks Stroll. Both of these were leftovers from my iPod cozy and my iPad cozy, and although I was just trying to use stuff up, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like the finished socks. I've heard that people sometimes have trouble with Loops & Threads' color consistency, but since I squeezed two socks out of a 50-gram ball, they match fine. The fit of the sock is good, too, including the heel. Rather than working in a gusset, the recipe just adds a few stitches to the heel area, which seems to work fine for my foot.

Now that I have a toe and a heel that I'm happy with, I think I'm ready for my next pair of self-striping toe-up socks!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to be an excellent recipient of handknit socks, in four steps

1. When you stay with your friend for the weekend, admire her collection of handknit socks, and mention several times how nice it must be to wear them.
2. Enthusiastically visit the LYS where your friend works, even though you yourself have tried knitting and given it up as a bad idea.
3. Accept your friend's offer of a pair of socks, and when you pick out some yarn for them, choose one of her secret favorite colorways.
4. Receive the completed socks a couple months later with many expressions of thanks, and a very sweet post on Facebook.

These are the socks I made for my friend, who executed the above steps perfectly. Like many knitters, I'm happy to make gifts, but socks are reserved for a special few - immediate family, significant others, and very worthy friends.

The pattern I used is Katniss Socks by Rose Hiver, which is free on Ravelry. I know that the braided cable barely shows up in my photo because of the colorway (Citrus Mix, on Cascade Heritage), but I couldn't resist. In person, I think it gives a nice tactile quality to otherwise simple socks, and makes them a little more special. Also, although my friend is not, to my knowledge, a Hunger Games fan, I enjoyed using a fiery-looking yarn in a pattern named after Katniss. So of course, I named them Socks On Fire.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Alpine Flora socks

I finished these socks more than a month ago, and I haven't posted anything about them yet. I feel a little guilty about that, because there's nothing wrong with them. They're perfectly good socks - no major trauma or triumphs were involved in making them, which might be why I haven't felt inspired to write about them.

But I should, because this is a nice pattern and nice yarn, and they work so well together. The pattern is Level Up, by Heather Kinne, and my only objection is that twisted-stitch cables in fingering weight are very fiddly, but I knew that going in. The yarn is from Soft Like Kittens - it's the Alpine Flora colorway, on her Noodle Sock base. I love Annette's sense of color, which this yarn shows off nicely. The colors blend so subtly together that I can't really tell where one stops and the next begins, but taken as a whole I can definitely see them all. I like the nearly-striped effect I got on these socks, and how well the stitch pattern shows up on this yarn. I'm looking forward to working with more from Soft Like Kittens.

I'll also put in a plug for Annette's podcast, Gentle Ribbing, which is how I found out about her hand-dyed yarn. She is always working on something interesting, and usually has some smart ways to modify and personalize the patterns she knits and crochets. Plus, she crocheted this tea cozy. Enough said.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, from Tiny Ghost and Tiny Bat!

I crocheted them using the Distinctly Batty pattern by Karissa Cole (she of the Skittles amigurumi pattern), and added some modifications of my own. The pattern calls for felt wings and ears for the bat, but my attempts at cutting and attaching symmetrical pieces of felt usually end in sorrow, so I improvised them in crochet. The ghost uses the same head and body as the bat, but I gave him to have a slightly flared base (because he is wearing his ghostly robe, of course), and used the bat's feet pattern to give the ghost his little hands. If you're interested, I explained my modifications in slightly more detail on my Ravelry project page.

I say this frequently, but they are quite possibly the cutest things I've ever made.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Little pilgrim booties

Once upon a time, a coworker who was moving apartments kindly donated some of her yarn stash. She gave me a ball of super-soft Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, and suggested that I could crochet a little critter out of it, but to me it was too nice to become just another amigurumi. So it sat and waited, and I fussed occasionally about what to do with it.

Several years later, another coworker from the same job announced that she was pregnant. I don't work there anymore, but it's a baby that belongs to a friend so of course, I wanted to knit for it! And finally, that Baby Cashmerino found its destiny.

This baby's mother is a scholar who studies pilgrimage, and who went on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route the summer that she was pregnant. She was pretty pleased to have such a well-traveled pilgrim baby before she was even born, so I wanted to make her a fitting welcome-to-the-world gift. Footwear seems like the appropriate thing for a tiny globe-trotter, and the symbol of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage is the scallop shell.

I combined Petits chaussons gris, a free pattern for baby booties (available in English), with these free instructions for knitting tiny scallop appliques. The booties are knit in the Baby Cashmerino with accents in Cascade 220 Superwash Sport, and the smaller of the scallop applique patterns turned out to be the perfect size. These booties are wonderfully soft and cute, and I hope that Pilgrim Baby (and Pilgrim Mama) like them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Calligraphy shawl

My boyfriend's mom is a talented pottery artist. We're lucky to have quite a few of her pieces for everyday use and for special occasions, and some just for decoration. I thought it was time that I make something pretty for her, so I knitted this shawl as a birthday present.

The pattern is French Cancan by Mademoiselle C, available to purchase through Ravelry. I knit it in madelinetosh Tosh DK (wonderful wonderful yarn), in the Calligraphy colorway. Although the pattern recommends a silk/merino blend for added drape, I think the superwash merino makes a great fabric and has excellent stitch definition.

This pattern was so much fun to knit. It combines some of my favorite design elements - lacey mesh and braided cables - in a unique but balanced and beautiful way. I think it's eye-catching but not over-stated, especially in a nice neutral. I won't say that it lives up to its recipient's handiwork, but I'm very pleased with it!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tiny cat! Tiny cat!

One Sunday at work (in between my other responsibilities, of course!) I got out Anna Hrachovec's Tiny Cat kit and, ta-da, then there was a tiny orange cat! He stayed at the yarn store for a few days to meet my coworkers, and then he came home with me.

Where he met Juniper. And realized what a very, very tiny cat he is.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WIP Wednesday: My first sweater :O

I'm finally working on my first me-sized sweater! After all my angst and worries, it has so far been... very uneventful (not that I've gotten that far, as you can see). I made and washed my gauge swatch, so I'm reasonably sure that I'm producing something that will more-or-less fit me, which is about the highest I'm aiming for my first attempt.

The pattern is Laura Aylor's Serra. Although the construction is a little unusual, her instructions are very clear, and everything seems to be working out so far. I'm knitting it in Berroco Vintage - a nice yarn to work with, but inexpensive, so that I'm not sinking a major investment into my first sweater.

All of this is an exercise in serenely accepting the truth that my first attempt at anything new will never be my best attempt, as much as that fact annoys me.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Because why not

Mmm, I made sushi!

Wait what

It's a fish!!

This is the Fish to Sushi crochet pattern by Irene Kiss, with a few modifications by me. Mainly I altered the construction of the fins so that I could crochet them directly onto the body, rather than making them in separate pieces and sewing them on. If you're interested in the details, they're on my Ravelry project page.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Crochet stash-busting

Recently I've been in that mood where I dump out my stash boxes and touch all the skeins and stare and plot and then tuck everything away and worry about having too much yarn. When I'm in that mood, crochet is wonderfully soothing and satisfying, because it eats up so much yarn and goes so quickly.

I can't get enough of that super-cute T-rex pattern that I posted about earlier, so when my grandmother requested a new critter (I've showered her with amigurumi in the past), she got a dino, of course. It was a good opportunity to pull something interesting out of my acrylic stash, and I am very pleased to report that one of my Red Heart skeins from my early crocheting days is now 100% used up.

I actually ran a little short on yarn, so I modified the dino pattern slightly by skipping several rounds at the bottom of its body that were not used to increase or decrease stitches. Its tummy is a little less rotund, but it's still nice and chubby. Although this yarn was a bit brutal on my fingers, I do really like the colors, and I'm glad its final incarnation was this cute little dino. (It also became a dragon and a little crab and a little fish.)

Earlier this year I bought a skein of Michaels' house brand yarn, Loops & Threads, in a leaf-green color, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. This is actually a very decent acrylic, but I had no idea what I could do with it, especially since I probably have more worsted acrylic in green than any other color. So then I decided to make something for my cat. Of course.

Yes, I underestimated my yarn usage again. But I'm learning to embrace asymmetry sometimes.

I had an idea to crochet a popcorn-stitch rug to put under Juniper's litter box, to help collect the litter that she tracks around. Tamara Kelly's Blackberry Salad Striped Baby Blanket is a free pattern, and while I felt a little weird modifying a baby blanket pattern to make a bathroom accessory, it worked really well. I burned through the entire ball of Loops & Threads, plus a few other odds and ends that looked nice together. And the rug serves its purpose (when Juniper decides to exit her litter box from the front, which she does not always do, because she is a cat). I guess it's strange to get excited by the sight of lots of cat litter trapped in something I crocheted, but hey, it's doing its job.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Many Seasons Mini Skein scarf

Earlier this year, I joined my first yarn club: GnomeAcres' Many Seasons Mini Skein Club. I am a fan of GnomeAcres yarn and of tiny things, so I have really enjoyed getting a bundle of cute little skeins every few months.

My stash anxiety won't let me just hide new yarn in a bin to marinate - I ponder what to make with it until I have a project planned out, even if I'm not going to start for months. Almost as soon as I signed up for the mini skein club, I decided I would make a Mini Mania Scarf. My first club shipment came and I happily got started and then... I wasn't as happy any more.

After long-tail casting-on a billion stitches (using both ends of the skein to avoid real misery, but still not very fun), I got a few rows in and decided that the needle I was using was too big, and the linen stitch wasn't suiting the yarn as well as I wanted. Disappointed, I ripped it all out and hid my spring mini skeins away, and when my summer shipment came I wasn't sure what to do with it (for me, this is unsettling).

As it's started to feel more like fall, I decided to give the mini skein scarf another try. This time I used a crochet cast-on and a smaller needle, added a black border to the edge of the scarf, and I'm doing four rows of each colorway so that each one stands out a little more. And now I like it!

It looks a little crazy, but it's really fun to have a project where I have very little control over the colors and don't know yet how it will look when it's finished.

And just in time for the cooler weather and the arrival of pumpkin-flavored everything, the fall mini skein shipment arrived:

I'm looking forward to adding them to my scarf!

Monday, September 23, 2013


(I wanted the title of this post to be something along the lines of turning frog[ged project]s into princes, but it wasn't happening. Instead I titled it after my Trillian shawl, which is named Regeneration because my tv accompaniment for this project was Doctor Who.)

My "frogging spree" of last month was less painful because I already had alternatives in mind that I thought would better suit the yarns I was knitting with. I had been using some Miss Babs Yummy sock yarn for a Zilver shawl, but things were not looking good. As I mentioned in my last post, I ripped out that shawl and started a Trillian shawl instead, and we lived happily ever after.

Long rows of garter stitch are kind to hand-dyed yarn. The different colors blur and blend together, and this yarn now looks much more like it did in the skein, when I thought it was so pretty.

I love that this pattern allowed me to knit until I ran out of yarn. It's just the right size - generous without being ridiculous - and I don't have a ball of yarn left over that's not enough to make anything but too much to ignore.

The other ripped-and-redone project of last month was my socks using Manos del Uruguay's Alegria sock yarn. My first attempt offered visual proof that pretty yarn + pretty pattern ≠ pretty project in every instance. So, I went back to Ravelry to browse my collection of favorited sock patterns, and picked something much more suitable to a highly-variegated hand-dyed yarn: Anne Campbell's Show-off Stranded Socks. Look!

Much better. This stitch pattern gives texture without fighting the swirly colors for attention, and it was very easy to do. I will definitely keep this one in my repertoire for future socks.

And don't worry, I've already bought new yarn to make the Herbology Socks that I thought I could knit with the Alegria.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rainbow Joris

It seems it's time for my monthly blogging spree again. First up, a finished object from August: Joris! The pattern is by Annita Wilschut and is available to purchase through Ravelry.

He took me two months from start to finish, although that's not indicative of my interest in the pattern. I've wanted to make Joris for a long time, but he became the project that I kept pushing aside to work on other things. The pattern is a little complicated, though not difficult, so I could only really work on him when I had time to sit down and concentrate... and you know how that goes.

But! Now he's done, and I'm very pleased with him. He may or may not be called Lorenzo - that was the name given to him by my manager, but I still just think of him as my rainbow friend. He sits on the dresser in my bedroom, and makes my inner child very happy when I look at him as I'm falling asleep.

He did exhaust me a little, though. Knitting has its uses but when it comes to toys, I think I prefer crochet.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cutest dinos EVER

I think that this may be the cutest amigurumi pattern I've crocheted, in almost seven years of crocheting amigurumi. At the very least, it's the cutest crocheted dinosaur ever.

This pattern is Timothy the T-Rex by Bluephone Studios. She also makes and sells her own dinos, and I'm very grateful that she made the pattern available for purchase because I had so much fun making these guys. The construction tips are especially great - a lot of amigurumi patterns just say "and then sew on the arms," but this one gives tips on using straight pins for placement and specifies where exactly to put all the bits.

These two dinos are presents for two toddlers I know who turned two and three this month. I wanted to make the dinos nice and big, so I used Berroco Vintage (a worsted weight yarn) held double, which made them about ten inches tall. They are so squishy and huggable that I was a little sad to box them up and send them to their recipients, but I hope they will be well loved. And in the meantime, I'll make another dino for me to keep.

And yes, they passed Cat Inspection.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Little sweaters

I have yet to knit myself a sweater. This embarrasses me a little, especially since it seems like many knitters jump right into sweaters after they master the basics. Supposedly, I prefer smaller projects like socks and shawls and toys, and I don't wear sweaters that often anyway, and I'm trying to keep my yarn budget under control (ha). These are all somewhat true, but really, I'm scared of gauge. The whole concept. I understand how it works, but as a tight knitter most of the time, the thought of making something sizeable that actually needs to hit precise measurements is a little scary.

So I'm starting slow, with some baby cardigans. I've tried to get gauge on these, but it doesn't matter as much since baby garments are more forgiving, and two of these are shop samples for my LYS (ie, not even for a real kid). Since I'm not angsting about the fit, I've been concentrating on understanding the construction of sweaters, and learning things like I need to go up a needle size for sleeves because try as I might, I can't stop knitting more tightly in the round than back-and-forth.

Baby Sophisticate, a free pattern on Ravelry, was my very first sweater, and also my first shop sample, knit a few weeks after I started working at my LYS (so, no pressure!). It's knit in Berroco Vintage Chunky and I think it's cute, especially with those bunny buttons, but I could see things I wanted to improve.

After that, I made the In Threes baby cardigan for my cousin's little girl who was due in July. Since they live in Texas, I wanted a simple, sleeveless pattern that wouldn't be too warm. I knit this in Universal Yarn's Cotton Supreme, which is soft and squishy. I love this cardigan and I think it turned out adorable, and once again, it owes a lot of that to my LYS's stock of cute buttons.

My second shop sample is the Girl's Best Cardigan pattern by Georgie Hallam. I made a size 5y, so it was a bit more work than a baby sweater, but I enjoyed it. A lot of that is because I felt more confident. But it's also because the pattern and yarn were not ones I picked myself, and probably not something I would have chosen - which means I got the chance to try something very different from my usual approach. It's fun! (Although a million picots are not my idea of fun.)

Next up: a cardigan for me!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tiny sheep

There are many reasons I'm fortunate to work at my local yarn shop, not least of which is the awesome people I get to work with. And I feel especially lucky that as a retail employee, I can say "Why yes, I have a wonderful manager!" (My previous experience has led me to believe that this is pretty rare.)

As a little way to thank her for all the work she does, and all the tasty snacks she brings in, I made my manager a tiny sheep. The shop hosted a yarn tasting of Mountain Meadow yarn a few weeks ago, so I used some of my samples from that to make the sheep's body. I alternated using Laramie for the plain rows and Aladdin for the bobble rows, and some of my leftover Cascade 220 to make the sheep's head, feet, and tail. I had to make the body a little smaller than the pattern called for so that I wouldn't run out of yarn, but I think he turned out pretty cute.

The pattern is Katie Christy's Little Sheepy Who, which I've used once before - I made a sheepy traveling companion for a coworker who was moving away, back in January 2012. The designer has lots of other cute patterns that I want to try, including this little crabby and this baby chameleon.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Naruto socks for him

I love how the colors swirl around the cuffs!

After nearly two months, I finished the socks I was making for my boyfriend! It wasn't the size that made it take so much time (although these socks felt endlessly long in the foot compared to the ones I've made for myself), but that I was experimenting as I went, specifically with the heel. I wanted to try a short-row heel, but I knew that that might make the fit a bit tight. So I decided to do the heel over two-thirds of the total stitches rather than half - this is a 72-stitch sock, so I did the heel over 48 stitches rather than 36. I also wasn't happy with the look of my short rows, so after some experimenting and Googling, I settled on the shadow wrap method, as explained here by Alice Yu.

Many attempts and many ripped stitches later, I got the first heel done to my satisfaction, and then it was smooth sailing. I'm satisfied with how they turned out, and have learned a few things that I'll keep in mind the next time I make socks for my boyfriend. And he seemed pleased to have some handknit socks for himself.

The cat approves.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, the cuffs, heels, and toes are done in GnomeAcres sock yarn in the Naruto colorway, and the black is Cascade Heritage. The Naruto yarn was leftover from my very first socks that I made last fall, so it seemed fitting that I use it again in my first socks for my boyfriend (it's also fitting because we're both Naruto fans). Now we have cute matchy socks!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rip rip rip!

I have been on a frogging spree! By which I mean I've frogged two active projects in the past week - so maybe not quite a spree, but much more than normal for me. First to meet its demise was my Zilver shawl in Miss Babs sock yarn.

Back in July, I said that I wasn't quite sure how I felt about this colorway. Although I love the individual colors, the way it was pooling in Zilver left patches of sad blue-grey and moldy brown-green that looked nothing like what I had hoped for when I bought it and had it wound up. I kept going for a while to see if my opinion would improve, but then I realized I was more excited about the idea of frogging the shawl than I was about finishing it. So, rip rip rip.

(I was also not happy with the way the top of the shawl wants to curl in, as you can see in the picture. I don't think blocking would fully eliminate that, so while I would like to try this pattern again with a more tonal yarn, I might see if I can alter the construction a bit.)

Now I'm trying the same yarn again with Martina Behm's Trillian pattern, and so far I'm liking it much better. The garter stitch helps to blend the colors together and break up some of the blobbier pools, so it looks more harmonious and pretty. I don't have as much yarn as the pattern calls for, but I'll just go until I run out.

Manos del Uruguay Alegria in Pindo

The next frogging victim was a sock I was knitting at work. We recently started carrying Alegria, a wool/nylon sock yarn from Manos del Uruguay, and I was really excited to start some socks with it. I was also really excited to try one of the patterns in the new Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine, so I started the Herbology Socks. Yes, I was trying a lacey, cabley pattern with an intensely variegated and colorful yarn. Yes, I know better. I got about halfway down the first leg before I admitted that neither the yarn nor the pattern were doing each other justice. So goodbye for now, Herbology Socks.

Instead, I'm thinking of trying Anne Campbell's Show-off Stranded Socks, or a similar pattern meant to complement a variegated yarn rather than fighting with it. Lesson learned (again)!