26 December 2012

Into the stashbin...

Howdy! Hope everyone had a nice holiday...

I took some time to photograph a few things I'd picked up during my recent travels.

First, this gorgeous Anzula Cloud I tweeted about the other day:
Beautifully soft AND machine washable! It's a perfect semisolid dusty rose, which will eventually become a sweater. 4 skeins totals a whopping 2300 yards, so plenty enough for something dramatic. Get in mah belleh!

Next is some tosh sport in "scarlet"... Picked up for a hat project for a soon-to-be older brother. All the babies get attention, so I'm whipping him up a quick project in his favorite color:
It's such a common yarn, so I'll spare you the long description. I WILL say that this is a gorgeous, true, bright red colorway. I had a hard time finding a bright red that wasn't paired with pink or orange... or else had zero depth, whatsoever. Plenty of reds that aren't gorgeous, but this one fit all my needs.

I picked up this Shibui Baby Alpaca DK at Gather Here in Cambridge, and my mouth still waters when I squoosh it:
I love these colors together... Can we say Fair Isle? I also got some Gather Here fabric for Christmas, courtesy of Husband Claus, which is going to become a dress, eventually... But that's a different blog.

Finally, I scored some of the (relatively) new Wollmeise DK a few weeks ago, and it showed up right before the holiday:
For those who are fans of everything -meise, the DK will not disappoint. It has the same feel, strength, and twist of the popular sock yarns, but in a slightly heftier weight. For comparison, I took a shot of the three weights together:
Lace is on the right, followed by fingering and then the DK. The lace looks really thick, but it's only because the skein isn't twisted as tight as the others. You could knock someone out with a skein of WM sock yarn. It's like a little wool Billy club!

Anyhow, 4 skeins of the DK are going to end up in some kind of sweatery end, but exactly what, I'm unsure.

I have a new sweater WIP to show you this week, and I'll need some help picking out a yarn for an upcoming lace shawl project! So please give me your opinions on that when we get to it. Giveaway winners are being picked next week! What happened to December?! We're almost to 2013!

- YX

20 December 2012

Brooklyn Tweed: Wool People 4

How is it Thursday already?!

I've been working on a post about my recent trip to NYC (and a recent, unrelated Wollmeise acquisition), but I need to get into the studio and photograph all of those lovelies! So until then, I thought I might share Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People 4 with you.
Like last time (and, really, every time), the preview book is absolutely stunning and makes me get grabby hands all over everything.

Maybe it's the weather getting to me, but the patterns look beautifully cozy and comfortable.

My favorite is Chicane, a pattern that comes in men's and women's versions. I would absolutely buy this sweater in a store, so it makes absolute sense that I'd want to make it. It's a worsted weight, and for once, I don't think I'd sub in a lighter weight yarn.
I LOVE the detailing on the elbows, the layerable collar, and the texture of the tweed. I think I'd probably go with the requested yarn for this pattern. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!

Kindling is a pretty little shawl that seems to relate to the Guernsey wrap for me. The textures remind me of chiseled stone, or ripples of water in an old etching.
It calls for fingering weight yarn on size 8 needles-- I can see it being pretty popular for a quick knit. I'd up the weight to a worsted or bulky, size the needles way up, knit two of them and then kitchner them together to make a throw blanket. Yum.

My final pick is Vertex, a ribbed vest. I love it because I can see it being worn over one of my light dresses. Lately, I've been pairing leggings and a long tee with a light sundress in the winter. Over top, I wear a long, open cardigan or vest. This one would be perfect:
It would also look great with a fitted jean and tailored Oxford shirt, a rocker tee and skinny jeans, or a long, skinny tank or dress in the spring. Versatile layering pieces are the best.

Those are my picks! Which ones do you like?
- YX

PS- There's still time to win December's stitch marker giveaway! Enter here!

10 December 2012

Trips: Boston and New Orleans

It seems like my husband and I have been taking a ton of trips lately! For Thanksgiving, we headed up to Rhode Island to see my in-laws. While there, we took a day trip into Boston. Whenever we're in a new city with time to kill, I hop on Google to see if we're near any good yarn stores. (See: Hartford)

In Boston, we were able to make it to two stores. The first, Windsor Button, is downtown near Boston Common. Opened in 1936, the store is packed full of fun little notions, and a large yarn section:
There was a lot of Cascade, Malabrigo, and Berroco yarn (as well as some Lion Brand and other larger brand names)- the yarn is super well organized, and shopping there was quite a bit of fun, although I didn't buy anything. I DID spend about ten minutes molesting the madelinetosh yarn at the front of the store, though. If you're in Boston, doing a Freedom Trail tour, definitely get there early and hit Windsor Button.

We also happened to head to Cambridge, stopping at the adorable Gather Here. Here's a cute little video from their birthday, which shows the store a bit:
If you're near Harvard, you'll want to stop there. Particularly if, like me, you knit AND sew. Too many adorable fabrics to walk away.
Last weekend, we were in New Orleans for a holiday party, and I ventured into the French Quarter to Quarter Stitch, a needlepoint/ yarn store. The Yarn Harlot wrote about going there in 2007, and I find her brief description of the store to be accurate. A ton of Malabrigo, a big basket of Blue Heron rayon, and bunches of other, smaller brands interspersed throughout the store. They don't like photographs in the store(due to the needlepoint kits), but if you peruse this search for images of the store, you'll see quite a few. I didn't find anything that particularly struck my fancy on that day. 
I would have loved to explore some other stores in New Orleans, but time wasn't on my side! Luckily, we have some more trips planned in the upcoming year: Columbus, Ohio (my hometown), and New York City are on the list, for sure. If we were just going somewhere for yarn? Portland, for me! How about you guys? Any yarny destinations on your list?
- YX
(PS- Don't forget to enter to win some stitch markers! Someone asked for hummingbirds in the comments, and suddenly, hummingbirds appeared in the Snarky Llama etsy store! Now that's service!)

04 December 2012


You guys, I have queued SO MANY THINGS lately. This is primarily because, over on the Ravelry forums, I belong to a group that is currently engaging in a massive Secret Santa. But instead of picking a name out of a hat, people are gifting knitters in the community who have had a special affect on them this year. The recipients get earburned by the organizer, and they respond with patterns or things they want for the holidays! I've gifted a few people- some friends, excellent knitters, people who have helped me work through some knitting issues this year... It's great!

The unintended consequence of all this surprise gifting is that I've been introduced to a ton of great new patterns. Here are a few:

Ochre by Veera Valimaki... Someone gifted this to me on Ravelry, and it's the next thing on the needles for me! Although the pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn, I'm thinking Wollmeise lace, which is a thicker weight lace yarn. (For reference, my Versio is made of the same yarn)

Adam's Ribs Cap Sleeve Wrap by Carol Sunday is gorgeous and would be amazing in a linen or cotton, but also would look SO cute layered over a long sleeve tee!

Kyllene, by Kirsten Jensen, which makes me feel like I don't have the skills to make it. Remember when I showed you millamelli's eclectic electric? Same pattern!

And those are just a few!
- YX

PS:Don't forget to enter December's giveaway!

02 December 2012

December Giveaway!

This month, I have a great giveaway! The lovely folks at Snarky Llama Creations are giving away a $12 store gift card to get anything you'd like in the store!

They do adorable stitch markers and jewelry:

What a great way to beat the post-holiday slump!

To enter this month, check out the Snarky Llama Etsy store and shop around... Come back here and tell me which item you like best, and why! I'll pick a winner at the end of the month! Good luck!

- YX

01 December 2012

November Giveaway winner!

Time to pick some winners!

The random number generator says #9 and #12!

I'll be contacting you to get you the patterns! Congrats and keep trying to win!

Edit: Wendy! Hopefully you see this... Can you email me (or Rav PM me) your username so I can send your pattern over? Thanks!

(December's post is coming up soon!)
- YX

28 November 2012

FO: Plicate

The holidays are awesome for so many reasons... The time off for knitting doesn't hurt!

I finished this hat in a few sessions over the course of 3 days... Not counting my first attempt and subsequent frogging! I started the hat at the wrong gauge, but figured it'd stretch to accomodate. I didn't like the outcome, so I started over, which is so rare for me! Nonetheless, I think it turned out alright:
The fit is excellent, but I think, if I were to do it again, I'd leave out perhaps an inch of slouching.
The hat is bunched up via a few hidden strings in the back. You bunch it up, tie off the bunches, and weave in the ends to create the shape. I just have mine tied in bows and tucked under the hat for now. I'm not sure if I like the amount of bunching- I may do more!
The yarn, Old Maiden Aunt's alpaca/silk blend, is gorgeous and utterly buttery. Utterly. Butterly. I love it. And great stitch definition for something with a bit of a halo:
Super happy with how it turned out! I'd love to do this pattern again in a gray or blue.
- YX

26 November 2012

Craft room update

I hope my American readers enjoyed Thanksgiving!

I've been lucky to have some time to work on my craft area in the new house. If you recall, I had some cute little metal cubes I scored as floor samples from The Container Store. They were split up into a few  different units around the house, and experienced a reunion in the name of yarn:
My Namaste needle binder is on the top, holding a bunch of my straight needles. They're woefully underutilized, unfortunately, due to my lovely Addi Lace Click interchangeable needles, which tend to work perfectly for all of my large projects.

On the top left, I've compiled my knit magazines in file boxes. My parents give me a Vogue Knitting subscription every year, so I have quite a few! On the right, there's a black bag for my lightbox, which has currently been replaced with a few skeins of yarn that need to be filed. Below are my foam blocking mats, all in a little pile.

Below, I have a jewelry box that holds my notions and DPNs, as well as some pushpins. The rest are knitting books - mostly pattern books, but a few Yarn Harlot volumes, as well. In the very bottom, behind the doors, I have some more photography equipment, which really needs to find a home elsewhere. I need to add my Cricket loom, ball winder, and swift to the cabinet, too.

I'm really happy with how it turned out! I'd love to have even more of these cubes, although they're sorely undersized for some things, they work out quite well for knitting!

I also began to set up my photography area:
A plain, white backdrop to take FO photos, and my light box on my cutting table. The lights go off to the side, and the table folds out to create an excellent cutting surface for sewing. I love the lightbox setup now, as it's always ready for a quick snap. I was able to create those desktop backgrounds right before the holiday, and it was so much easier!
I can't wait to share my studio with my knit group! It's always a pain to try to get decent photos of your own stuff!

- YX

(PS: Still a few days left to win a Ravelry pattern!)

21 November 2012

I Could Make That!

I've pretty much decided I have a problem.

You see, I love shopping. Not that I buy much, but I enjoy it. I like going into stores, especially, to look at knitwear. Sometimes, I'll see something really neat and wonder if that stitch pattern or construction concept could be adapted for my own use.

But more often than not, I see something I totally love for the simplicity of the concept. Like this sweater, from AllSaints:

At $120, I wouldn't buy it for myself, but I love the color, drape, and the keyhole at the back. Not entirely practical for hard winters, but would be really pretty over a nice dress. Were I to see the sweater on the rack, I'd ooh and aah over it appreciatively, but inevitably, my response is always the same:

"It's great, but I could make that."

I'll pass up great sales and useful items on the promise of going home and casting on a similar item. "Who needs to spend cash when I can make it on my own," I think to myself. "How clever I am to come up with such an industrious and inexpensive way to obtain luxurious goods!"

But the thing is- and let's be 100% real here, I never make these things. Ever. It's a total waste of thought. The everpopular Gap Cowl is back on sale this season:

It's $27.50. The required two or three skeins of pretty, fancy aran or bulky yarn would top that, before I even spent any of my (arguably) valuable time making it. This is before I even break this down to the absolute reality that I'd rather work fifty seven Black Fridays in a Gap across the street from a bomb testing facility than cast on and knit a giant tube of -shudder- moss stitch. This is not a good use of my skills. I am not clever! I'm tricking myself into future disappointment.

This year, I vow to take back my time and sanity, knitting things I love at the pace I want, and banishing the I-Could-Make-Its to the bottom of my stash pile. A long, dolman sleeved, drapey pullover in cobweb weight yarn on 000 needles? Give me a break. It's on the clearance rack, self. Go for it.


PS- Free patterns! And free desktop wallpaper!

17 November 2012

Freebies and a small change!

The holidays are here! I have some presents for you to kick off the week. 

First, there are new buttons at the top of the page to quickly access different areas of the site.

Did you notice the downloads button? I created some knittastic desktop wallpapers that you can use to sass up your computers! I'm enjoying this one right now:
It's a collection of Wollmeise... The colors remind me of candy! 

Have a fun holiday week!
- YX

15 November 2012

WIP: Dragonfly Wings

I bought a few things at Rhinebeck, one being Cephalopod Yarns Nautilace in Koi Fairy Wrasse. It's the lower skein in the photo here:
I was surprised to find NO finished projects in this colorway, which made it hard to pick a pattern. I decided that winding a ball would help me understand the color repeats a bit more...

The repeats are ridiculously quick. I'm talking a few inches, maximum. This is great, because the yarn has less of a chance of pooling and will look more uniform at various project widths, but it also makes it hard to find a pattern that won't fight with the uniqueness of the colorway.

I searched ALL of the lace patterns in the Ravelry database and didn't find a single one that I really, really liked. I finally settled on a fingering weight shawl called Dragonfly Wings:

The pattern is mostly stockinette with a few purl rows added in random increments, which is really gorgeous. The edging is a simple lace that looks nice (as you can tell in the photo) in variegated yarn. I started working on the shawl and stopped to take a photo the other night:

I'm not super thrilled with what I'm seeing so far, but I know better than to judge it this early on. The yarn IS quite lovely, though... Not just in color, either-- it's gloriously soft and buttery- definitely a great yarn for next-to-skin wear. I'll keep you updated as I progress!

- YX

Don't forget to enter to win a pattern of your choice!

13 November 2012

FO: The green socks

So excited to show you my latest FO... Remember that skein of green and gray sock yarn I got from Sunrise Fiber Co? And the resulting sock project?

Well, I finally finished them:
The toes are a figure 8 cast on, which I can never seem to make nice and tight:
I always have to go back in and reinforce the toes with more yarn on the insides. Probably not a terrible thing, though.

Although I don't knit socks often, I'm a big fan of the toe-up method. For one thing, I'm forever fickle about what length my socks should be. These are a bit higher than mid-calf, but I kept knitting until I decided enough was enough. Toe-ups also allow me to try on my socks frequently, without stretching the knitting across my heel as often. That keeps the stitches from popping off the needles.

I also love short row toes... I know this is a point of contention among sock knitters, but I love the traditional look of the short row over the flap. Especially with a self-striping or variegated yarn like this one, the heels end up amplifying the pattern:

I'm super happy to have them off the needles and on my feet! Next time, I'll show you what I'm working on now. :)

- YX
(Have you entered November's giveaway? Two winners will be chosen!)

05 November 2012

Moving and craft rooms

So I've been in the process of renovating a house, which I haven't talked about much... We're going to build a house, and we're renovating one to live in while we build... I like to think of this as an architectural version of doing a pair of fingerless gloves in the midst of a never-ending sweater.

Anyway, there is a huge bonus to renovating and eventually moving into this house: There's an extra room.

Right now, we live in a teeny house. It's smaller than the last apartment I rented. Anyway, it has three bedrooms: one for us, one for guests (and yarn storage), and one for the office. Now, there is this whole extra room, and it's all MINE! Mine mine mine.

Okay, that's not quite accurate. It's going to be my craft room. And I am so excited. It has a weird ceiling and is super long, but it's going to be home to my sewing cabinet, machines, a cutting table, small desk, and storage for all of my lovely craft adventures! So exciting!

The room is ready to move in- that floor? We installed it. Oh yeah! And um... The curtains will be hemmed, once my sewing machine comes back from magical Repairland.

I've always wanted a craft room, and although the furniture is a hodgepodge of miscellaneous pieces (including a desk of mine from childhood that is serving as sewing storage), I'm excited for the ability to work in a non-temporary way.

There was a floor model sale at The Container Store over the summer, and I got to grab some of these:
I have two doored cubes, two with shelves, and two with these diagonal wine storage dividers in them. I've stacked them in a 2w x 3h cube in an unused space. I'm thinking I can keep some books, notions, blocking supplies and spare needles in these. My yarn, as I've shown you before, resides in airtight containers to combat wool-eating insects, so no artful displays for me. In a perfect world, I'd love something like this for assorted notions and reference books:

I don't actually have a ton of knitting supplies to store- the glory of the craft, really, because you can have a ton of room for yarn, instead. I'll probably keep those large bins out, but find a nice way of making them presentable. My biggest issue now is the giant stack of Vogue Knitting magazines that are piling up - I'd like to keep them visible and accessible, without requiring an entirely different piece of furniture. Maybe more steel cubes are in my future...

Do any of you have a craft room? Show me photos in the comments!
- YX

02 November 2012

November Giveaway!

Woah! Yesterday flew by, and today almost got away from me, too!

So this month, (in honor of a little event we have in the United States called Election Day), I'm giving you all A CHOICE!

I'll be gifting TWO of my readers their favorite patterns at the end of the month! The patterns can be sweaters, socks, shawls, anything- as long as it's $10 or less, it's yours!

To enter the giveaway, leave a link to your favorite pattern's Ravelry page, and tell me why you love it. Don't forget to let me know how to contact you!

Giveaways like this are possible thanks to ad revenue I get from Google ads I put on my blog. If you happen to see an interesting ad, please take the time to go check it out! You'll find cool stuff, and I'll be able to continue brining you lovely giveaways!

Good luck!
- YX

31 October 2012

October Winner!

TONS of entries this month! Heck yes! I wish I could send you all some of this gorgeous yarn...

BUT THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE. And that one happens to be:
ekatearcher! You guys actually might recognize her as the designer of this lovely sweater:
So congrats to her, and thank you all so much for entering to win! I'll be back tomorrow with another giveaway for you!
- YX

Rhinebeck: Other things to do

I gave you all a quick recap of my time at Rhinebeck, but the entire trip was really awesome. For those of you considering the trip, here are a few other things worth noting:

We flew into Hartford, CT. It was the same distance from our hotel in Fishkill as Albany's airport was (and Newark, NJ for that matter). Hartford was surprisingly the cheapest option. It also boasts and incredibly scenic drive into New York State. The weather was beautiful and in the upper 60's- fall foliage was in full swing.

On the way up to the fairgrounds, we passed the childhood home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Part of the National Park Service, the home looks lovely and is settled on some beautiful land. Here's an awesome vintage postcard:
Right after the entrance to the FDR home is the entrance to the Vanderbilt mansion. There are a ton of Vanderbilt mansions, for what it's worth. The gargantuan Biltmore Estate in Asheville and the famous Breakers mansion in Newport, RI. They're totally worth seeing, too. This home in New York is actually the very smallest of the Vanderbilt homes. At 54 rooms, it's practically microscopic.
Right. Teeny. The tour was excellent, showing us the ground and second floors, as well as the basement. Any fans of Downton Abbey/ Upstairs Downstairs will love to see the difference between the service and living spaces. Luckily, these particular Vanderbilts were super nice to their staff. And for those single ladies traveling to the Rhinebeck area, the tours ARE given by park rangers. In uniforms. Yes.

The grounds, which are also part of the park service, are beautiful. After the tour, which is an hour, we were allowed to wander around until sunset. The lawns and trees are spectacular, and the views of the Hudson are breathtaking.
Okay, not my best photo, but it was gorgeous. We were able to stop here on our way back to Fishkill after the fair on Saturday.

Something else noteworthy- there's a giant pedestrian bridge over the Hudson River- The Walkway Over the Hudson. It's beautiful, but if you're scared of heights, it's not the place for you. I think I peed myself a little when I realized there were PEOPLE UP THERE.

Sunday, we had to leave the area to head back to the airport. I wanted to stop by FDR's home, but we had my dog with us, so it was out of the question. Instead, we headed back toward Hartford a little early. We stopped at Creative Fibers, a super cute yarn store not far from the airport. If you're ever in the area, it's worth a stop. I didn't take any photos inside- to be respectful of the owner and staff- but the store is arranged by weights, with a ton of great choices beyond the standard Debbie Bliss/Rowan/Berroco trifecta you see pretty much everywhere.

With another 2 hours before we needed to report to the airport, we decided to take Roxy over to a nearby dog park for some pre-flight exercise. The park (Northwest Park in Hartford) was beautiful. The dog park was pretty standard, but we ended up just going for a walk around the rest of the park, instead. There were barns with animals, including a horse that Roxy decided was her friend:
And a ton of pretty barns and walking trails.

We took a short one that led us around a small loop and back to our car in perfect time to leave! My suitcase was filled with yarn, and I felt like the trip was an absolute success.

If any of you went to Rhinebeck, I'd love to hear about your time there, or what else you did in the area! And for the rest of you waiting on a winner for the October yarn giveaway, I'll be back later today to pick a winner!
- YX