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)!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blue friend for my friend

A friend of mine recently came to stay with us for the weekend, and I was so happy to see her again after more than a year that I had to make her a little guy to commemorate her visit. So, I crocheted up another amigurumi from Karissa Cole's free Skittles pattern that I enjoy so much. Earlier this year, I made myself a yellow friend and a red friend. Blue friend hung out briefly with his cousins before going off to his new home in DC.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Fricklebobb the Frolicking Nugget

A colony of bunny nuggets lives at my LYS. You can get to know some of them in last year's blog post, but since then, a few new ones have joined the crew. If that purple and teal guy in the middle looks familiar, it's because he's a cousin to my socks knit in Frolicking Feet.

Since I'm on the staff now, I wanted to get in on the nugget fun. The bunny nuggets are a free pattern from Rebecca Danger and they knit up in no time using scrap yarn.

This guy's name is Fricklebobb, and he has a sweet tooth: he quickly claimed dominion over the candy dish. Sadly, none of my pictures show off his wonderful pompom tail, but trust me, it's fantastic.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Unlike my Henslowe, neither the yarn nor the pattern for this next shawl project sat around waiting for very long. On my birthday in June, my boyfriend and I wandered into my LYS after dinner, and I said, "Hey, it's my birthday! You could buy me a skein of yarn!" Because he is nice (and a pushover and way too inclined to enable my hobbies), he agreed, and I picked out a skein of Malabrigo Sock in Azules.

I usually buy yarn with a project in mind, unless it's a special occasion - like my birthday, or I'm traveling, or that yarn is on sale, or... But even if I get some yarn just because, I need to think of something to make with it, or it will crawl out of my stash and haunt me and scold me. So, I pretty quickly decided I would knit a shawl with my new Malabrigo. The deep, varied blues reminded me of the ocean, so I wanted a pattern that worked with that idea.

Tabetha Hedrick's Tempest Shawlette was, without doubt, the perfect choice. I added this pattern to my favorites on Ravelry when it came out in March of this year, but it wasn't really a priority until I got the Malabrigo. And then it jumped right into the top of my queue.

This shawl was not difficult to make, although the wave pattern did start to get tedious. But fortunately, once that part was done, I flew through the body in no time. I did make one modification: the pattern says to pick up and knit to start the stockinette section, but I picked up and purled, then reoriented those stitches when I came back to them on the next row. Picking up and knitting was giving me a "chain" between the wave pattern and the stockinette stitch, and while I don't think that looks bad, I wanted them to flow seamlessly together on my shawl.

I'm really happy with this shawl and I've already worn it once, despite it being the middle of summer. And I found the perfect shawl pin at my LYS to go with it!

Monday, August 5, 2013

More cat toys

To really enjoy knitting or crocheting, it helps to have the attitude of "Why would I buy x, when I can make it myself?" I'm sure this is often perplexing to non-crafters, and depending on what x is, it may appear to border on insanity.

For example, it's probably a little crazy to make cat toys. Really, it's also a little crazy to buy cat toys, since most cats I've known have been delighted by a crumple of paper, a bug, a reflection on the wall, or an imaginary (or maybe just invisible) beastie on the ceiling. This doesn't stop me, of course, from buying or making toys for the cats in my life.

My boyfriend's sister and her husband recently adopted a kitten, so to welcome the new cat-niece to the family, I sent them a few crocheted toys: two of the balls that Juniper loves, and a little fishy. And of course, to be fair, I had to make the same things for Juniper. Given how frequently her toys disappear under the couch, it doesn't hurt to have a large supply of them.

The balls are made with the same Ideal Crochet Sphere pattern that I used before, and the fish are Ana Rosa's Little Fish pattern. The yarn is random acrylic from my stash, and a few of the toys are stuffed with catnip tied inside a piece of muslin. They've been well received by both kitties, from what I hear!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


In the midst of all the WIPs, presents, shop samples, and small projects I've been doing this spring and summer, I feel like my Henslowe shawl has been overlooked. Which is too bad, because I love it and I can't wait for shawl-wearing weather to show it off.

This pattern, by Beth Kling, had been in my queue for a long time. I wanted to make it someday, but when it first caught my eye, I only had a few simple knitting projects to my name. Then this year, when I was looking on Ravelry for patterns to use the skein of Ball and Skein Glissade that I bought at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, I realized Henslowe would work perfectly.

And I think it turned out beautifully. The pattern and yarn complement each other well, and both were easy to work with. I really like knitted-on lace edging construction, and the semi-crescent shape of the shawl. I haven't gotten a chance to really wear it yet, but I imagine that this shape will be a little easier to wear as a scarf than a true triangular shawl is.