28 February 2012

Spring and Summer Knits

I don't usually follow designer trends in knitting or otherwise, but for the last two years I've been obsessed with spring and summer knitting designs.  I throughly enjoy 'oooing' and 'ahhing' over them all.  Somehow I get so excited about these designs, but I rarely end up knitting them.  I'm determined that will change this year.

My Buttercup is one of my favorite summer tops, I get excited every time I put it on:

Today I finally got my copy of Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2012 and I'm really excited about a couple of the projects, so much so that I am already practically buying the yarn for them.  Conveniently, I have to run over to Webs as a favor for Lisa anyway (note how she gave me the perfect excuse to go buy yarn, that's what good friends are for!).

The designs that have certainly caught my eye are:
Lace Top - Image from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2012 issue. 

Lacy Vest - Image from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2012 issue. 

Textured Cardigan - Image from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2012 issue. 

I also want any excuse I can find to knit with one of my absolute favorite yarns: Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, which is the perfect mixture of Cotton, Hemp, and Rayon. 

The one downside to a new season of spring knits?  I don't feel like finishing my sweaters! 

Any pretty spring or summer knits catch your eye?  Please share!

26 February 2012

Spinning Away!

I would love to spend some time writing a long, involved post tonight and I love you all.  However, I'm going to have to leave you with a hastily shot phone picture and an abbreviated post.

I'm having one of those special days where I get a burst of crafting momentum that suddenly comes out of nowhere!  Now I am determined to ply this alpaca handspun I've been working on for a while.

I'm sure many of you know exactly what I mean when I say that when the urge to ply happens, do it!  Plying on a drop spindle is very slow and annoying (this is the reason why I want to have a wheel), so when I feel up to plying I take advantage of it.

Besides, I feel so content and happy after a few hours of happy crafting.  All of the stress over homework, thesis, and life in general sort of drift away for a while.  Then when the burst of craftiness is over, I am so much more productive in the rest of my work because I'm so much more relaxed!

Anyways, you will likely find me spindling away for the rest of the day until this yarn is plied.  Then hopefully I'll have a finished project to share!

Also, I wanted some advice.  Usually when I'm working on some handspun I get so many great project ideas for it once I'm done.  This time around I'm completely blank, any ideas of what this 100% alpaca handspun should be?

24 February 2012

Tea and knitting, the perfect combination.

Today it snowed!  Usually by this time of year I'm tired of snow and am ready for spring, but we haven't really had snow in this part of Massachusetts since the freak ice storm in October.  So, for now I'm thoroughly enjoying being able to glance out the window during class to see snowflakes drifting by.

Knitting is certainly one of the most wonderful activities to enjoy while watching the snow come down.  I love knitting bulky sweaters in particular, because their warm weight on my lap is so comforting.

While I'm knitting (often after a hectic and demanding day) I often enjoy a nice, warm cup of tea.  I am not a coffee person, not at all, all I need is tea.  There is something about tea and knitting, they just go together so naturally for me.

I'm also a huge fan of loose leaf teas because I find the texture and color of different kinds of tea interesting.


So here is my ultimate stress busting tip: the next time you feel stressed and in need of inspiration, try a nice mug of tea (doesn't matter what kind) and pick up your latest knitting/spinning/crochet project.  I'm positive that you will quickly feel more invigorated and at peace.

Beginner Tea Recommendations:
Constant Comment (Bigelow)
Blackberry Sage Black (Republic of Tea)
Organic Chai (Tazo)
Herbal Chamomile Lemon (Numi)
Earl Gray Bravo (Adagio)

22 February 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #1

I'm now going to jump on the WIP wednesday bandwagon started by the fabulous Tami

It's funny how I can be going through a hectic time in my life (anyone who has or is getting ready to graduate from college knows what I'm talking about), but still somehow find time to knit and spin.  If anything I am more productive!

I'm making great progress on my Beatnik, I really love the cabling, it is so much fun.  Also, the yarn Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash is a favorite, it is so smooshy!  

My Tulip socks are growing slowly but surely.  The cabling is challenging enough that I have to pay close attention to what I'm doing.  The Shibui Knits Sock yarn is fun to knit with (although I'm not blown away by it).

My Velvet Morning colorwork sweater is slowly growing, I think that my tension for the floats is fine and I'm surviving the purled wrong-side well enough.  This should be a favorite knit when it's done.

I'm also finally getting somewhere with my alpaca handspun.  It just has a great texture and I love having a chance to work with it a little bit every day.

I love WIP wednesdays because I get to see what everyone is working on.  You all have some amazing projects on the needles right now!  Keep up the wonderful work! 

20 February 2012

Perfect Boyfriend Gloves

You may remember my dismay when I ran out of the yarn I was using for the pair of gloves I've been knitting for Mr. Engineering.  At the time I assumed that I would be able to buy more from Webs upon returning to college.  Unfortunately, by the time I got to Webs that yarn had gone on close out and was all sold!  I thought about ordering some from an online site, but getting the same colorway and dye lot turns out to be fairly difficult.  In the end I decided to be thrifty and use the closest scrap yarn that I had on hand...

I would like to be optimistic and say that it is difficult to tell, but that just isn't true.  Also, they look way better when worn.

A note on the yarn, Ella Rae Classic Solids: I really enjoyed working with this yarn, I actually vastly prefer it to Cascade 220.  It had a great feel and texture to it, it was processed very well.

I'm not entirely happy with how this project turned out, as I mentioned last post, I put a lot of thought into projects for the people I knit for.  But what counts in the end is that they keep his hands warm in the moments when I am not there.  I'll be sending these off to him tomorrow!

18 February 2012

Alpaca Sweater

There is something so different about knitting for someone else.  First of all, I only knit for people who I know will appreciate it.  Naturally, these are also people that I really care about.  This makes knitting for them both more stressful (it must be perfect!), but also much more satisfying and enjoyable than knitting for myself.

Today I finished the alpaca sweater that I've been knitting for my mother.  I'm very happy with how it came out, now I cannot wait to get it in the mail!

The yarn is Cascade Alpaca Lana D'Oro, which some of you may remember I've had disagreements with.  Although I was disappointed with the yarn when I compared it to the "comparable" Berroco version, when I evaluate the yarn alone, I actually do like it.  One thing that I really liked was the stitch definition, the stitches were butter soft (is that even a proper description?).  Even though it is not even in the same league as Ultra Alpaca, it was still a very soft blend.

The pattern was Graduated Ribbed Top by Maurya McBride from the book Knitter's Stash.  The construction of the sweater would be great for beginners, but the pattern was not written very clearly, which always annoys me (especially when printed in a book!).  The resulting sweater is very simple, and attractive.

I'm currently packing this up to send out, I am very nervous because I hope it fits.  I'm leaving my mom the task of blocking it so she can make her own decisions on the fit.  

Now I need a new project to work on!

16 February 2012

Colorwork Sweater Adventure!

Yesterday I was finally able to cast on my colorwork sweater.  Having this kind of project has been a relief to me as I have been surviving an overwhelming mixture of good and bad events this week.  It is also a huge comfort to be reading all of your blogs and sharing in your successes.

As you may know, one of the huge projects on my Fiber Goals for 2012 list is to complete a colorwork sweater.  I chose a recently published Knitty design: Velvet Morning.  I absolutely adore the colorwork patterns that she designed for this sweater; however, I'm really struggling with this design because it is worked flat.

After experimenting with steeking last month, I've become convenced that colorwork should only be done in the round.  I've spent many a night thinking this problem over in my head and then decided that I should stick with the pattern, I'm just not ready to make the leap that is required to alter a pattern yet.  I would rather take it slow for now and hopefully end up with a beautiful sweater!

Here's what I have so far!  I'm thrilled to be using some of my own hand dyed yarn!

Also, thank you to all of you who graciously shared your stories of how you learned to knit.  I truly enjoyed reading each and every one.  You are all so talented!

12 February 2012

Knitting Through Generations

Everyone has their own story of how they came to learn to knit/crochet/spin.  I particularly love hearing those stories, especially because I personally cannot imagine my life without knitting and spinning!

I learned to knit from my mother my junior year of high school as a way to reduce stress and anxiety.  She gave me my first set of bamboo, straight needles and then bought me a skein of Rowan Cashsoft (in a pretty maroon color if I recall).

It was tough going at first and I had to come to her multiple times wondering where my some of stitches mysteriously disappeared to, but before I knew it she was teaching me how to purl.

After that I used knitting as a strategy for relaxing when I got too stressed, my teachers got used to me determinedly working on my misshapen squares during class.  Now I can honestly say that knitting got me through a pretty rough time in my life (and since then it has accompanied me through some wonderfully exciting times as well).

Shortly after my mother gave me this truly wonderful gift of a new skill, she also started on a sweater for me.  I actually don't remember the specifics of the pattern (Vogue Knitting?) or the yarn, but even after a few years I still love this sweater to death:

When she gave me this sweater I think that was the first time that I realized what I could do with knitting (other than knit squares, unravel them, and repeat), which really inspired me to challenge myself and learn to actually work from a pattern.

I still wear this sweater almost every week because it comforts me and reminds me of the mother who spent a huge amount of time knitting me a cabled sweater because she loves me so much.  It's starting to look a little raggedy now, but I don't care, I'll cherish it forever.

This was also some of my reasoning behind working on her alpaca sweater.  She gave me a sweater that I will love forever, and I would like to attempt the same kind of project for her.

As you can see, I've finally attached the sleeves to the body of the sweater and am getting pretty close to finishing!  Hopefully I'll be able to send it off to her for her birthday next month.

I would love to hear your stories about how you came to knit, crochet, spin, or whatever!

08 February 2012

Drowning in Scraps!

As a second semester senior, I've finally realized that I am not only about to graduate, but I'm also about to move somewhere new.  At this point in my graduate school interviews, it could be right down the road or even halfway across the country.  I also realized that I have a lot of stuff, more specifically, I have a lot of fiber-related stuff.

Overall I would say that my actual stash isn't too impressive, especially not when compared to those who have posted in the Flash Your Stash 2012 Ravelry board.  But during my undergraduate years I have accumulated a large amount of scraps and would ideally like to use as much of that yarn as possible before the end of the year.

About a month ago I decided that I wanted to construct a blanket of some kind with those scraps, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to construct it.  Then I looked at this old family quilt (one of three that my great grandmother made) and was inspired to make a kind of patchwork blanket!

I haven't gotten too far yet, I'm frequently sidetracked in my other knitting projects, but whenever I want some mindless knitting this is my go-to activity.

Each square is around 5'' on each side, using seed stitch to give the blanket some texture. Already I'm starting to make a dent in my scrap collection!  This is also a lot of fun because I get to revisit yarns that I haven't worked with for a while.

04 February 2012

What am I up to today?

This is just a short update as I am currently working through a rather intimidating to-do list.  North Carolina was lovely, hopefully I'll be crafting there in the very near future!

If I may direct your attention to the right-hand sidebar, I've decided to try something a little new. "What am I up to today?" is another way for me to document my projects in progress.  My plan is to upload a new fiber craft-related photo to my handy new Flickr stream almost every day.

This idea came about because of my love for seeing what other people are doing.  I follow a few blogs where the authors have committed to daily updates, such as Sara from A Year at the Wheel and KT at Creating Me.  As a result, I find myself more invested and excited about their projects because I get to check in with them every day (not to mention, they are fabulous and fascinating human beings!).

Anyways, if you are ever curious about what I'm up to, please take a look!

02 February 2012

Lagoon Merino Handspun

This pretty handspun has actually been completed for about a week, but I've only just gotten around to setting it.  As many of you probably know, I'm a college student, so I'm pretty busy as it is.  However, recently has been particularly hectic as I am finishing a honors thesis in the sciences and traveling twice a week for graduate school interviews.  In about an hour I'll be on my way to (warm, sunny) North Carolina!  So, I apologize if this post seems rushed.

Here is one of the more photogenic skeins of my thick/thin single ply handspun:

Spun: January 2012 
Roving: 100% merino wool (frabjous fibers) 
Colors: green, brown, blue 
Spindle: Schacht 3” Hi-Lo drop spindle (2.2 oz.) 
1 ply, ~? yards, 8.0 Ounces, 11 WPI (DK)

I haven't really had the chance to estimate how many yards of this I have, but it is likely quite a bit because I had eight ounces of the stuff.  You might remember that I recently bought this fiber at the cute little Winter Woolfest in Wamego, Kansas.  I have really enjoyed working with it even though I usually do not enjoy working with pure merino.  But this fiber was not very grabby at all and was wonderful and springy! 

Now I'm able to cross off yet another one of my Fiber Goals for 2012Learn to spin attractive relaxed singles

Also, I wanted to thank everyone who left such kind comments on my last post about my year of spinning.  I don't fancy myself a good spinner, but I hope to one day reach that level and your encouragement really helps!