Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012

3KCBWDAY7: Balance

The task for this day's KCBW is so right on target for me and one I've been striving to accomplish lately--balancing the two crafts I love the most. This is also a perfect subject for closing up this fun week! 
The fact is, when I'm knitting I love it best and when I'm crocheting I love it best. 
My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was about 10 but I didn't learn to knit until I was 20. However, when I first started designing in 2005, I chose knitting to focus on first, simply because that's what grabbed my attention first. I'm glad I didn't try to do both equally back then or I wouldn't have a pattern to my name!

A couple of years ago I wanted to broaden my pattern customer base and added the Mirth line in addition to my already known Figheadh line. I wanted Mirth to feature both crafts, as Figheadh is knitting only. The next couple of years after that proved a little difficult for me in some ways and I had to scale back my work load. The result of that is that Mirth has stayed this tiny little germ of a pattern line. I vow to change that this year with new patterns, two of which we are testing now. 

It is now a month since I did my month of crochet blogging in March for National Crochet Month. I promised myself in the last post of that event that I would do both crafts equally.

I am glad to report that so far it has gone well!
Here's a knitted FO from a couple of weeks ago...

...and a crocheted FO from the week after that.

Right now I have a knitted sock design, a crochet shawl design, a knitted toddler dress design, a crochet cowl design, a knitted shawlette design, and a crochet hat design in the works. Never mind that all that is entirely too much to be working on simultaneously (normal for me)--it shows that I am practicing balance. At this point I am much weaker in my crochet design skills than knitting ones, but I plan to catch up! 
All it takes is doing, doing, doing (i.e. practice!)

Thank you all for the wonderful posts and for all the fun. 
If you didn't join in this year, think about doing KCBW in 2013. It's a blast!

Happy Knitting and Crocheting to you!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

3KCBWDAY6: Mad Skills

Today's KCBW post assignment is about improving our skillsets. I love this subject, because I am always, always trying to learn something new about knitting and crochet. I honestly believe that I will never learn it all. Of course, there are some skills I don't care to learn, like beading or intarsia. Nothing wrong with them, they just don't appeal to me. That narrows it down, at least!

I looked back at last year's similar post "Skill + 1UP" in which I talked about the invisible BO for 1/1 rib--one of the best skills I have ever learned! I also talked about learning Brioche. I am quite stalled on that one, but only because there isn't enough time to get around to everything fast enough.

This year I am focused on two subjects: learning real Fair Isle knitting and learning to apply couture sewing techniques when finishing my hand knit and crochet pieces. These two books are excellent for picking up tips.

Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting is a wonderful source for learning this technique. Also, I took the two-handed Fair Isle class from Eugene and Ann Bourgeois at Madrona a couple of years ago, so I have that technique pretty much down.  Here's the tam that I made in class, and here is a link to the video that they have so generously posted on their site of the technique.

I have designed and made color work pieces (stripes don't count!), but none of them are Fair Isle. I want to make a real Fair isle sweater with steeks and everything. I should just begin with making one of the Bourgeois designs or one of Starmore's for general practice. No one does it better than these folks. I don't hold out tons of hope of making said sweater this year, but I plan to practice the technique with smaller projects until I can--gotta keep the skills fresh or you lose them!

The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard will come in handy for trying to improve the look of handmade garments at the finishing point. I have always wanted to become accomplished at hand sewing and got as far as learning smocking when my girls were little. I made one hand smocked dress that was passed down from one daughter to the next and that was it. I did pick up a few other techniques from that project, like French seaming, which I love, but there is so much more to learn. I would love to learn how to reinforce seams with binding, how to add different types of hand-sewn closures and hand made buttons, various ways to finish edges, etc. Presently I am working on a toddler dress with a jewel neckline and keyhole opening at the back of the neck. I am going to try adding binding to the inside edge of the neck and attaching a button loop and button to the binding, which will lessen the stress on the knitted fabric and will also give more stability to that area. I also want to sew in matching binding to the hemline for a smooth finish. I'll be showing you how that particular project turns out soon when we release the pattern. I'm really excited about it! 

I look forward to reading other bloggers' posts discussing their own goals for new skills on 
3KCBWDAY6
Google that and you'll find a wealth of other posts about this same topic!

Friday, April 27, 2012

3KCBWDAY5: Something Different

Our task for today's KCBW post is to think outside of our blogging norm, to stretch and do something different. I couldn't get my wacko senses to work this week for some reason, so I pondered what I could do that would be different from my usual posts. 

I work at home most of the time, except for the occasional day substitute teaching, so I thought it would be fun to get out and about for a couple of days. I had a side agenda on this little jaunt we're about to recount--I wanted to see if I could catch anyone knitting or crocheting in public...just on a usual day, you know, in the usual places.
On Wednesday I popped over to one of my local Starbucks for a tall green tea latte. No one was knitting...
...except me.
I decided to give it a nudge early on and stop by Fibers, Etc.*, where I just knew I could catch someone knitting. I peeked into the store to find Roberta, the owner, but no sign of her, so I checked her studio.
*no linky--no Web site 
What should I find but two lovely ladies lunching and knitting!
Sweet ladies, too!
Of course, I had to head back into the store to find some lace weight yarn.
I just had to share these two colorways in Malabrigo Lace I spied. Boy, were they hard to resist!
But I simply could not resist these awesome skeins 
of wool and silk lace weight. 
Look at the yardage! Look at the price! Score.
From there it's an easy stroll down Antique Row to Tully's*, where I wanted to try some macha.
Nope, no knitters or crocheters here, though. And silly me, I left my project bag in the car, so I wasn't stitching either.
*props to alley cat, because she does justice to this icon in the post linked
So I just nabbed the sweet front table and enjoyed the fab views while I sipped. Macha tried and enjoyed. Check.
Moving on! Hopped in the car and scooted down to the main library branch.
I usually make a beeline for this section.
This time, though, I wandered around a bit and looked for anyone stitching. Nope.
So I went back to my favorite section and checked out some books. Good finds!

That was all the time I had that day, so I asked my daughter Natalie to join me the second day, yesterday.
We did some thrifting and then tried the mall, which completely zonked us out (and where there were no stitchers to be found). 
Time for some sustenance!
So over to Fircrest we zoomed for some Greener Bean goodness.
A giant peach cobbler muffin to share, assorted caffeine beverages, and wildly assorted seat options always help.
Can you imagine anyone actually lounging on that chaise? I'm curious as to whether it ever gets used. 
I wanted to use it. I wanted to take it home with me.
No knitters or crocheters here, though. I did see a couple of ladies visiting, one with a fiber-related textbook of some kind. I wanted to quiz her, but thought it best to leave her alone. When she saw me eye her book, she suspiciously tucked it away. I must have unsettled her or something. I mostly try to leave folks alone. Mostly.

We tried one more stop over to the fabulous Orange where I was so desperate I asked the owner whether she knit. Well, you never know. There was a chance she did and had a project with her and at this point I was ready to push the issue! Nope. She said she hadn't the patience. Used to cross stitch.

Thanks for joining me on this little mostly fiber-fruitless field trip. The hunt was fun, but I was a little sad that my two-day journey around my part of town yielded no sightings of random KIP or CIP. Thinking about this, I can't remember the last time I saw any. Has the craze died down? Has the kipping and cipping moved over to yarn bombing, tagging, etc.?

When's the last time you saw anyone working on a yarny project out in public?
Do tell! 



Thursday, April 26, 2012

3KCBWWC: Wild Card!

The topic for today was "A Knitter and Crocheter for All Seasons?"
You see, I knit and crochet pretty much all the time...it's my business! So I can't very well say, "I'm not gonna knit with wool in the summer!" or "It's too cold to knit with that silk/bamboo/tencel yarn, buddy!"
If the project calls, I have to show up, and with a good attitude, whatever the season. I will say that I started out about eight years ago only designing and knitting sweaters for cold weather--big, bulky wool cable sweaters. I have added lighter garments over the years, but let's just nip this in the bud--it would continue to be pretty boring for me to attempt this subject for today's post. 

Instead, let me pull the wild card topic--imagining my perfect knitting and crocheting day! 

~~~~~~~~~

My perfect yarny day would be one with no interruptions, a day to work for hours on one thing without a time limit, a day when time seems to crawl, giving me plenty of it to actually finish something.
(In my real life, I feel like I always have so many irons in the fire and all of them creep...slowly...to...the...finish.............line. Excuse all the mixed metaphors.
How else to express the frustration?)

This imaginary day would have time for all that and time to knit or crochet with my daughter. It seems like we used to do that. Not lately! In this dream, we would sit for hours knitting and crocheting and watch Gilmore Girls until our ribs ached from laughing so much. Heck, if we're dreaming, let's fly over my other two daughters from Alabama and Georgia and get them in on it, too! How lovely. How perfectly lovely.

Then all four of us would welcome the knitting group I used to be a part of
(back before other things called us all away, leaving no time for such things). 
We would spend the whole afternoon sitting around the table and chomping on yummies and sipping tea and telling funny stories and knitting a little, but mostly showing off one another's recent yarn acquisitions and having everyone completely understand the wonder and love for fiber we all feel. 
(I miss you, crazy yarn ladies! I miss you!)

Then when the group left, somehow the mess we made would have completely disappeared on its own and my daughters would have each returned safely to their own homes and I would go and organize my stash, revisiting all the lovelies I have gathered and imagining the projects they will bring to me. Then I would choose a completely lovely, no-brainer project with beautiful yarn and settle into the couch with my sweet husband, who by the way has brought home pizza and good, red wine. We would feast and drink while relaxing on the couch and discussing our day, with some sweet music playing in the background, 
until sleepiness ended the day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, now to wake up. Sigh. What a nice dream!
All we can do is make the most of each day and cut ourselves huge breaks when life gets in the way of our over-the-top knitting and crocheting goals, right? Because there just never, ever is enough time to do it all!

I am intensely interested in other bloggers' views of seasonal knitting and crocheting, however, so I look forward to reading all your posts today, or as many as I can. 
Tomorrow is the big "something a bit different" and I'm still working on that one. 
Hope I can bring it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3KCBWDAY3: My Heroes

I admire anyone, especially these days, who can envision new ways to use our beloved crafts of knitting and crocheting. I will always admire the work of Elizabeth Zimmermann for its common sense and timeless style. I include here the book most recently published of EZ's "lost" designs using garter stitch, Knit One, Knit All, but also Knit Knit by Sabrina Gschwandtner, because it includes many of my favorite "outside-the-box" thinking designers.




I am constantly amazed by the work of all these ladies.

I can't wait to see what they come up with next, can you?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3KCBWDAY2: Photography

Beach knitting anyone?

My own found shell on a beach of twisted stitches worked in Louet MerLin

Monday, April 23, 2012

3KCBWDAY1: Color

I really enjoyed last year's Knitting & Crochet Blog Week and the most important reason is the challenge it presents! It kicks you out of your comfort zone and inspires you to stretch and expand your viewpoint. Thanks so much to eskimimi for hosting and for spurring us all on to do these fun posts!

The challenge for this first day involves color. 
I decided to dig out my little color wheel and investigate my stash to see if I had any weak points in my own color collection. I tried to use only yarn still in the skein for neatness and to allow for a good group shot. There's no way all the cakes could have fit this tiny roundup!

The first hole I found was in the clear yellow area. I tend to choose more buttery yellows and even those that lean more toward orange. I would have to admit that this is one color I shy away from--mustard yellow, school bus yellow, even daffodil yellow. 
I can't say why. 

I also found an absence of clear green--Kelly green, grass green, spinachy green. Curiously, I prefer those greens with a bit more yellow in them or those with a tilt toward blue. 

Since I write and sell patterns, I feel a responsibility to use all the colors, and I mean all. I guess this means I should try to use more true yellow and true green. That doesn't mean they can't be hand-dyed or variegated, right?

There's so much to learn about color, and there's no way I could even begin to touch on all the ways to use color in one blog post, so I wanted to keep this simple. How I could have gone on and on about the neutrals--greys, beiges, ivories, oh my! And if you've been near my blog recently, you know how much I love trying out color pairings, especially with hand-dyed sock yarns.

So I ask you, to keep it simple...what colors are you neglecting?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pssst....

It starts tomorrow!

Yes it's that time again. Hurrah! 
As you can see from the cutie-cute badge in the sidebar down there 
(made by eskimimi), 
it's almost time for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012!

I'll be back tomorrow to help kick it off. 
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Stuff!

I've been holding out on ya.
But, seriously, it's been more true that I've had no time to tell you about a few new things I bought lately instead of actually purposely keeping you in the dark. I've been wanting to tell!
One was this little trio of lace weight hand-dyed yarn from my friend Keya of Zibeline Knits.
When I saw its loveliness, I knew I had to have it. The blue and peach are 100% alpaca and will be grouped with some light teal and some white of the same fiber for a crochet project. The green is 100% merino and will be knitted up into a little shawlette.
I also had to grab some of this Skinny Bugga from new company Cephalopod Yarns, one in Oleander Nymph (the buttery yellow), one in Montauk Monster (dark grey) and then recently they had to come out with this too-tempting colorway called Fig Eater. Well, you know I had to have that!
I plan to pair the yellow and grey for a colorwork project. We'll see what the Fig Eater becomes. 
I want to just look at it for a while first.
And then way back in February, my copy of the new edition of The Principles of Knitting finally came!
Fred had ordered it for me for Christmas, but when the pub date was pushed back Amazon just cancelled the order! He waited and waited and it just wasn't coming, so he went online to investigate and found it cancelled, ordered another one, and now it is mine, all mine!
I love it.

I hope you have enjoyed the yarn loveliness and are having a good day yourself.
I'm getting back to mailing off birthday presents, grabbing more Lost vids from the library and settling in for some X-Files and knitting. You have fun, too!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Doorbells and Sleighbells

Bagpipe music!

Our new gate latch (secretly installed by daughter's boyfriend)

My purple stripey crocuses

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weekender Ribbed Tank

Guess what? I've got things in Creative Knitting--the May issue!
This issue has my Weekender Ribbed Tank and my article about ribbing, 
"In the Know: Resourceful Ribs Beyond Edgings and Cuffs." 
So exciting!
When CK put out the call for submissions for this issue, I latched onto the part about ribbing. For one reason, I had already been contemplating ribbing and how to use it in different ways. It wasn't a big leap for me to think about writing a short article about it and designing a little sleeveless top featuring a bit of it
(which, of course, I wanted to make out of sock yarn). 
I was so glad when CK said yes!

Headless (and here armless) Hilda agreed to model the tank for me. Isn't she nice?
The 1/1 ribbing sections in this little tank are there for shaping purposes. 
One just at each underbust...
...and one at center back.
The rib sections keep the tank fitting nicely at the rib cage, and from there on you work shaping at the side "seams" to increase for the hips.
It has provisional CO at the shoulders so you can work it from the top down.
Then the front and back are joined at the lower armhole and it's worked in the round from there down.
That's so you can make it as long as you need.
Last step is to finish it off with this sweet little edging.

The pretty eyelet pattern on the bodice is easy to learn, but that part is written out in the pattern. I'm so glad CK devoted so much page space for me to be able to do that. 

This tank is just complicated enough to keep you interested, but simple enough to give the variegated yarn lots of real estate to show itself off.

And what is this lovely yarn, you might be asking?
(Kollage also generously gave me a bunch of their gorgeous yarns to do the swatches 
for the ribbing article--boy was that fun!)

I loved the Sock-A-Licious so much that I kept a skein to design another little thing, which I've already begun writing and with which I'm happily working the sample. 
This yarn is a joy to knit and washes and blocks out so soft and perfect.

I hope you'll try one of these little tanks for yourself.
Thanks to Creative Knitting, one of the few publications that actually returns the fruits of your knitting labors, I have one to wear myself!


Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday Food Fun: Cherry Almond Treats

Ever since we incorporated Chocolate Covered Katie's Fudge Babies into our regular snack routine, I've been dreaming up variations. I love cherries and I love almonds, so I had to experiment.
Cherry Almond Treats
1 cup raw almonds
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients in your food processor. Roll into balls with some plastic wrap. 
Makes 24 balls

53 calories, 2 g fat, 7 mg sodium, 93 g potassium, 10 g carbs, 1 g protein, 1.25 fiber per ball 

I made these with these big bags and such from Costco, so more affordable. I must admit that the dried cherries in this mango and cherry mix are very sweet and I will probably try my next batch with dried cherries from the Food Co-op bin next time. I love that these Sun Date dates are from California.

I highly recommend these little treats. So yummy, all raw, vegan and loaded with potassium. 
Successful experiment!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

WIP Wednesday #8: Scarves and Shawls

Been adding slowly to this broomstick lace scarfling from NaCroMo Day 24--it's my guilty little project. I keep catching myself playing with it when I'm supposed to be doing something else. I've been alternating the broomstick with some single crochet rows willy nilly. We'll see how she turns out.

I've also been adding to the swath of lace flowers from NaCroMo Day 15...

...which keeps adding to my jar of ends and bits from joining all those motifs last month. 
Yes, this jar is just from last month.

And happily working down the home stretch on this darker color Lace Scarf for Ravenwood Cashmere.

What are you stitching today?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Cream-Colored Ponies

And now back to Mondays and Favorite Things
Snow Lake, WA

Champagne breakfasts (and Chimes) 

This picture of my mom with her brother and parents, circa 1951 
She's a cutie!
(Uncle Sonny, Granny, Mom, Grandaddy)