31 August 2012

What's in my library

I don't buy a whole lot of crafting related books, I usually reference the internet for techniques that I want to learn and I vastly prefer patterns from Ravelry to those in dedicated pattern books.  However, there are a few books that I do own and reference frequently.


Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont:  If you are new to spinning or if you are fairly experienced, I would wager that you can learn something new from this book.  The photos are wonderfully descriptive and she perfectly describes (at least for my learning style) a variety of techniques.

The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius:  If you love fiber, this is such a fun book to just pick up and flip through.  There are so many amazing fiber options out there and this book describes many of them in detail.  I especially love how they provide great photos of the raw fiber, spun fiber, and knitted yarn to give you an idea of the texture.


Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece by Gail Callahan: Much of what I learned about dyeing is from this book.  It provides detailed instructions on so many different techniques and the chapters are so well written, this woman knows what she is talking about.


The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt: This is a new addition to my knitting library.  This is probably the most comprehensive knitting resource I have ever seen, as soon as I opened this book I wanted to read half of the chapters.  The only problem I have with this book is the lack of photos in sections describing complex techniques.

Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy Johnson: This is the only pattern book that I have ever found where I love every single design in it.  I learned to do toe-up socks two-at-a-time from this book, her instructions made so much sense to me and the photography is gorgeous.

What are some books that you just had to buy or continue to keep coming back to?

27 August 2012

A sweater just for me.

In the past, I've had some projects not turn out the way I have envisioned simply because I haven't had the background knowledge or the guts needed to modify the pattern.

Part of this problem stems from a reluctance to put a large amount of time into swatching and actually calculating my gauge (both in stitches and rows).

Obviously this method of knitting has served me fairly well, as I have successfully finished more projects than failed.  However, I think that we all reach a point in our art where we aren't satisfied with our present skill level and want to learn even more.

I decided that the best way of reaching the next level would be to knit a simple sweater using my specific measurements, and basically doing everything technical that I shied away from in the past.

This is the start of a seamless, bottom-up sweater with colorwork details (please note that the second photo is a better image of the colors).

The green yarn is a personal, long-time favorite, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, so this sweater will be soft, warm, and long wearing.

I've learned so much about the process of knitwear construction and so far it appears to be going well!

25 August 2012

The unloved yarn

Do you have an outcast in your stash?
The yarn that you just can't seem to find that perfect project for?
The yarn that you can never get the right gauge with?
The yarn that you must have been crazy to purchase?
The yarn that has been frogged so many times it has that funny halo?

Oh, surely I'm not the only one!

This is Regia Hand-dye Effect, my outcast yarn.  It is fingering weight 70% wool (scratchy wool...), 25% nylon, and 5% acrylic, so I was already destined not to like it because I strongly dislike most yarn with that much nylon and acrylic content.

It also has this odd thread plyed into it (to balance? to make it hold together? to make it fancy?), which drives me crazy.  At the time I probably bought it for the colors, perhaps I was mildly intoxicated as well, who knows?

It has almost been three separate pairs of socks and a shawl, and each time frogged violently.  I've been gradually trying to force myself  to do something else with it.  Seeing Lisa magically turn her skein of this stuff into the most gorgeous Wingspan certainly gave me courage. 

So now every last yard will become a shawl (Azzu's Shawl), which will not be immediately frogged, if it's the last thing I do!

Now come on, I can't be the only one with problematic yarn
                                           do tell. 

23 August 2012

Upcycling continues!

Many of you know that I have been really into upcycling commercially-made, thrift store sweaters into yarn.  My first try earlier in the year was a huge failure.  But the second try in June was a huge success, providing me with a large amount of cashmere yarn!

Well, now I have even more upcycled yarn to show you!  I sadly forgot to take a photo of the sweater before it was unraveled, but it was a XL men's sweater and according to the tag the fiber content was 100% lambs wool.  I payed a little over $3.00 for it. 

I have my mother to thank for the unraveling this time as well (thank you!), she just does such a great job of it and she likes to work on these kinds of projects during trips.  

I decided not to ply the yarn because I liked how it looked as a 2 ply yarn.  I'm not sure how much I have here because I don't have a scale and I'm too lazy to measure the yardage, but I would guess that I have at least 800 yards of DK weight yarn.

My mother would like for me to knit her a sweater from this yarn, but before I do that, I plan on dyeing it a more pleasant brown.  So yet again, another successful upcycling project (and believe me, I have more where this came from!).

21 August 2012


I decided to make posting today a priority after a night of dreaming about flow cytometry outputs.  I really need to stop forgetting about my super secret weapon when I get too focused, knitting!

I have finished my Gemini, although not in time for the end of the Ravellenic Games.  But it is now complete and I am certainly happy with how it came out.

The pattern is Gemini by Jane Richmond, published in Knitty Spring + Summer 2012.  I've struggled with Knitty patterns in the past, but this one was very clearly written and a simple knit (I might even suggest it to advanced beginners).  I knitted this one in size Small, and like the relaxed fit of that size combined with the drape of the yarn.  I did have to play with the gauge a bit to get it to work though (go me for doing a test swatch!).

The yarn used was one of my all time favorites: Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy (41% Cotton, 34% Hemp, 25% Rayon. DK weight), it just seemed like such a natural yarn choice for this project.  I definitely think it was a good match of yarn to pattern.  The one thing about Hempathy is that it often feels a little rough after knit up and needs a couple of washes to soften up, it takes a little extra love, but the resulting fabric wears really well, especially for a top (I know this from my experience with my Buttercup).

I think that I will be wearing this one to the farmer's market this weekend to celebrate the end of Summer and start of Fall!

15 August 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #13

Yet again, Wednesday has rolled around and I have little progress to show.  Graduate school has been super busy and wonderful in every way I imagined.  I was one of those people who silently suffered through my undergraduate education in order to finally get to this level, and let me say that it was worth it!

In knitting news, I've been slowly working away on my Gemini.  This colorway of Hempathy is one of those yarns that makes me want to sit in the sun while knitting to better enjoy the depth of the color.  I have high hopes for this project, it should be just was wonderful as my Buttercup is.

I actually started a new project based off of my scrap blanket.  After completion of that massive project, I realized that I had a whole bunch of leftover sock yarn bits too and have decided to make a pillow to match the blanket!

I haven't been spinning at all, the main reason being that I don't have chairs in my apartment yet (I know...).  But my amazing brother is driving over a huge UHaul full of stuff this weekend, so soon I'll be able to get back on track!

I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday and I hope that you also join in for WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.

10 August 2012

Ravellenic Games - Fingerless Mitts

I'm cutting it pretty close with my Ravellenic Games projects and have pretty much recognized that they are not all going to be finished by the deadline because of all the craziness in my life right now.

However, during the long orientation meetings this week I have been knitting away and have managed to finish my second Ravellenic Games project, a pair of fingerless mitts!

The yarn used was about half a skein of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend I received as a wonderful graduation present.  It was my very first experience with Manos del Uruguay yarn and I must say it was a joy to work with.  This particular yarn base was single ply, which I've always been fond of because it gives a soft edge to the fabric.  I also love the colorway, it reminds me of Fall, so I finished them just in time.

The pattern was Easy Fingerless Mitts by Maggie Smith, selected because I needed something simple to follow and I didn't feel like trying to work through designing them myself.  I'm definitely happy with how they came out.

I hope that you are all having a wonderful Friday!  Happy crafting!

08 August 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #12

I wanted to deeply thank each of you for your well wishes on my move.  Pretty much everything went absolutely perfectly, even the things that usually go horribly wrong.  I'm moved into my very first apartment (although I don't have furniture yet) and loving it!  Yesterday was my first day of graduate school, and although it was exhausting I am sure that my decision to join the program was an excellent one.

Here is my crafty corner as of now (thankfully I have a table coming in a couple of weeks):

As you may have guessed, I have not really been doing a lot of knitting or spinning through this whole process, but that is not the only reason I'm woefully behind on my Ravellenic Games projects.  The main reason is that the most wonderful guy has come into my life and I've been gladly spending most of my free time with him.

Although I'm embarrassed to show you the slow progress I have made, here goes:

My Ravellenic Games Gemini:

My Ravellenic Games fingerless mitts:

My current spinning:

I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday and I hope that you also join in for WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.

01 August 2012

Goodbye Kansas Socks

Tomorrow is the day when I have to say "Goodbye, Kansas!" because I'm finally moving to North Carolina for graduate school!  I always pictured myself tripping through life without a care in the world at this moment; however, in reality I'm currently rushing around packing and worrying that everything might not fit into my little compact car (for those of you wondering, the drive is 20 hours).

Like many of you have expressed in the past, knitting is the key to maintaining cool during stressful times, so I quickly finished my Sunny Day Socks for the Ravellenic Games 2012!

These are just regular vanilla socks that I whipped up as an excuse to knit this pretty yarn I dyed using egg dyes last month.

Please ignore the laddering (my knitting demon) and instead admire the pretty striping!  I also attempted a picot edge for the first time, it is really fun and produces a super cute ruffly edge

I'm very excited to have finished my first project for the Ravellenic Games, which has been entered in the sock category and the one skein category.

For those of you who are taking part in the games, keep up the amazing work!  Happy crafting everyone!