30 April 2012

April's Winner

Hello from jolly old England! It's 6pm here, so sorry in advance for being so early in the States. No yarn shops yet, but we've just had one full day here, so maybe soon!

Anyway, who won in April?

Congratulations, Knittingdancer! I'll send out your markers as soon as I get back home...

Check in tomorrow for the next giveaway, and thank you to everyone who entered! Especially those of you who have entered each month- I'm starting to recognize some usernames... I'll have to check out your Rav projects!

- YX

27 April 2012

Queued: Stuff

So I was REALLY hoping to show you photos of Andrew's finished Brownstone, but I failed super hard... I have mere inches to go on the neck, so I'll save it for the next non-giveaway post, which will be from LONDON! Woot!

I still have so much to do to get ready, and we're leaving tomorrow. Yikes! So what will I do? I'll show you things I've queued recently instead of doing things I need to do! Hooray!

Remember the Beekeeper quilt? Stephanie from Tiny Owl knits posted these cute Alice in Wonderland-inspired White Rabbit Wrist-ees
This is definitely a case of super effective fiber and color pairing. The stripes are beautifully soft and spaced perfectly. Inspiration photos are included on the pattern page, too, which is nice. I love seeing any part of the process.

The next one is Kirsten Kapur's Unsinkable, which is straight-up color seduction, too:
"What is that beautiful yarn?" you're obviously asking yourself. "It's the most amazingly seafoamiest tealyblue and I want to hug it. Also, is that a nipple on that statue? And buttcrack?! Sicko. Can she even show that on her website? Jeez, at least give us an NSFW warning!" .... And my answer is, I like that yarn, too! It's Wooly Wonka Fibers Avianrhod Sock, which is new to me and now I'd like to go buy some pleaseandthankyou.

Final queued item is Kirsten Johnstone's Kakomu, which is just plain fun to say:
I like how modern this is. And is that a tie-thingy holding it closed? The world needs more tie-thingys. This is so pretty with jeans, and just looks dressy without trying too hard. The exposed seams on the shoulders really work, too. I'll definitely be putting this one toward the top of the queue. A light grey (as shown) would do double duty in the fall and spring. 

As for trip knitting, I plan on casting on my Pinctada-wrap-hybrid thing, which will at least be wearable in the summer. Issues that could arise:

1) What kind of yarn do I have for this? Caussssse merino isn't going to work. 
2) When will I have time to knit? My plane flies overseas at night, so I plan on sleeping most of the time
3) Am I really going to continue to let my other knitting languish? YES I AM. 

Alright, next time we chat I'll be telling you who won the rad stitch markers, so enter quickly! Then I'll show you May's item, which just came today! So excited!

- YX

24 April 2012

So close...

I haven't forgotten about you!

The end of the semester is here in Houston. Finals season is well underway, and I've just finished grading my last projects for the class I teach at my alma mater. With all that out of the way, I can focus on a a few tasks.

I have some exciting news, too: My one-year wedding anniversary is on the 30th, and we've decided to go to London! The trip has been on the books for months now, and we're flying out on Saturday. This is my first time in England, and I'm super excited to see everything. One absolute must on the list is Loop Yarn Shop:

 Excuse me while I resurrect myself from being dead of the cute.

London's high temperatures are in the mid-50's, so beyond planning for my own wardrobe, I'm hurriedly attempting to finish Andrew's Brownstone, which is in the final stages of the second sleeve. After I cast off on the sleeve, I'll just have to pick up the stitches and knit the neck. Can I finish in 3 days? Let's find out! I will have Friday off to work my fingers to the bone, so I'm pretty confident that this can be done.

But alas, I'll be ripping out the cuff of the first sleeve, too. It's just too wide, and the stretchy bind off I did on it makes the whole thing look frilly:

One of these days, I'll write a post about the stupid habits I have, among which is a strong desire to USE THE SAME NEEDLE for the WHOLE SWEATER, regardless of the fact that it's generally suggested that you should size down for rib. Instead, I decreased a few stitches on the first row of the rib, and it seems to be fitting in much nicer with the sleeve.

The bind off I'm using is a K2, *reinsert needle, K2TOG, K1* -style bind off, which has great stretch and a substantial feel. It's my favorite bind off, and can be modified to include purl stitches for ribbing. I just don't know that it'll cut it on these sleeves, which have so little room for excess fabric, so I may be doing a few passed-over stitches to knock down the bulk. Maybe every other, so it retains a pattern around?

In other news, I'm kind of excited (and embarrassed of my excitement) because one of my projects is just one heart short of 100! It's this one:

I know it's dumb, but to think that 100 different people found and liked a project that I made is just awesome to me. I'm so grateful to have a community that understands the work and love that goes into making garments, and I try to reciprocate as frequently as possible.

Dang, I had a few patterns to show you, too, but I'll save them for the next entry! You still have time to fang up, too!

- YX

17 April 2012

Downton FAB-bey

I don't normally talk about pop culture here, but I definitely have a few favorite knit-friendly shows. It seems, like everyone else, I've somehow accumulated an addition Downtown Abbey.

For those of you who don't know, Downton Abbey is a PBS show about an Earl and Countess in England, their family, and staff at their beautiful house in Yorkshire:

The house is real, but the story is best classified as historical fiction. It covers some important events (the suffrage movement stuff is some of my favorite), but in my opinion, the good stuff is in the daily relationships of the family and staff.

It's hard to knit to this show, because I feel like I'll miss all the gorgeous details. The wardrobe department for the show is outstanding, and like other knitters, I've picked up on some gorgeous knitwear in the show:

The first one is now available on Ravelry, in a pattern Ivete Tecedor. The second is un-patterned as of yet, but it's a simple ribbed cardigan with a charmeuse or satin edging. Simple things with beautiful details.

Two other patterns have been all over my Ravelry feed lately, which seem to have the same sensibility to them. The first is Caramel, by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud. It features a velvet ribbon edging and lots of little buttons:
This is just insanely gorgeous with jeans. I love the ruffled blouse that the model's wearing, too, which just accentuates the femininity of the soft fabric (who knew Rowan Felted Tweed could look SO SO mushy?). It'd also look great with a simple lace-edged camisole.
Aaaaaaaah LOVE IT.

The other is Marnie MacLean's Regent, which was done for Twist Collective:

WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. Marnie MacLean, we need to have a talk. If you continue to design freaking ridiculously beautiful sweaters, my queue is going to explode and no one will hear from me again. I'll have locked myself in my house, with hundreds of WIPs around me, crying for "just one more row!"
I love a sweater that looks as good going away as it does coming toward you. Too many gorgeous sweaters have what I call the "default" back. Great detailing on the front, and nothing but stockinette on the back. The belt MAKES this sweater, too. You have to do the belt. A ribbon belt would be sexy on this, too. I'd pick some raw silk or charmeuse for it, in a lavender or matched to the yarn, if possible.

I can't end this post without mentioning that Maggie Smith, who plays my absolute favorite character on the show, has asked to be written out of the series to work on other projects. This is obviously completely devastating to me, since her special brand of sassy creates some of the best comic relief on the show. Oh Mags, can't we work it out?
- YX

PS: I may not have mentioned this at all this month, but you should enter the giveaway!

12 April 2012


My mother-in-law is in town for a visit, and she came bearing gifts!

Among several circular knitting needles and crochet hooks were these puppies:

Boye size 50 (and 35) straight needles. Hoooo boy, looks like my plans for a cotton rope bathmat are going to be realized, after all! I need to get some giant yarn for these. They're so big, they're packaged individually:

My friend and fellow Raveler Michael sent me a lovely pair of Signature Needle Arts straight needles, too, which are a new product for me. I love my Addi Lace Clicks, and use them on just about everything, so I'll have to make an exception and put the new ones to use:

Signatures are sooooo pretty. I also got some books, courtesy of my mother-in-law:

I'm super excited about the first one, because it seems to have a ton of historical info in it. A bit of reading to go with all the patterns. I love the patterns in the book, so I'll definitely do a review of it after I've devoured it. 


PS- Still plenty of time to enter for the stitch markers!

09 April 2012

It's a hard block life

So I'm working on my Alpaca Squares blanket again. As I finish 3 or 4 squares, I try to block them out and continue piecing the FO together. Here's a little tutorial on hard (wet) blocking these squares, which may be a bit boring for advanced knitters, but may be helpful for anyone who is trying to get their squares nice and even. 

To block the squares, I first pin one corner to the mat:
Then, I take my awesome clear ruler and measure downward to get my desired dimension:
The important thing to remember is that you'll want to pin the squares at the point of the miter, so they're nice and even. The tension pulling on those mitered corners will keep the whole square from deforming. 

After I get all 4 corners pinned, I smooth out the square and pin along the sides evenly:

As I say in my video below, I use two mats to protect my table tops. This helps the pins keep a good grip on the square without creating large holes in the mats. It also protects my hands if I have to move the mats around while they're still blocked:

Here's the aforementioned video/ review. Hope it helps!
- YX

PS- You didn't think I'd forget the giveaway mention, did you? 

06 April 2012

Trend: Easter toys!

I've seen so many toys queued lately, that I figured we could so some Easter-themed toys for this post. Love them all!

Fuzzy Mitten Lamb by Barbara Prime:

TEENY BABY BUNNIES by Anna Hrachovec. Adore.

Hilarious Chick 'n Eggs by Elske de Haas:

These Easter chicks can hide your candy. By Chloe Blunn:

Do you have major plans for the holiday? I'm just enjoying our beautiful weather and stocking up on my favorite Easter candy. I've also been checking out all of the interesting egg tutorials on Pinterest.

One thing I suggest (of course!) - get in on the fang stitch marker giveaway!
- YX

02 April 2012

Queued: Fuse

I'm having serious issues with sweaters lately. I see so many I want to knit, and my desire for smaller (easier! faster!) items like socks, shawls, and hats has totally waned. It's kind of disappointing, actually, because I want to be a versatile knitter, and I'd like to get more gratification than sweater knitting affords. In this fast-paced world of now! now! now!, can't a girl just want a fingering weight sweater to fly off the needles in a week? I'm not that good.

So shame on me for queuing (and loving) yet ANOTHER sweater.
Well, hello there, little Fuse cardigan. This pattern was designed by Veronik Avery for Jared Flood/ Brooklyn Tweed. Damn, you, Flood! I'm not even done with your Brownstone, and you're already weaseling your way back into my project bag!

This cardigan is so gorgeous, knit in a worsted weight, which makes it a cute little spring jacket or a nice winter layering piece. What's particularly compelling is the front, which is achieved by pulling corner of the front  upward, creating the drapey cowl and sexy diagonal line across the front:
I really dislike the length, though. For someone as tall as I am, these cuts never hit in the cute crop region. They always expose too much torso, and look odd with the longer tanks I keep in my wardrobe. I'd definitely lengthen this slightly to cover the fly on my jeans.
It's cute open, too, but feels a little short to me, still. Maybe this is a product of knowing that I can alter any knitting pattern to fit me as desired, which makes me pickier about fit and length on my specific body type. Obviously, I have to be careful in lengthening the pattern: the "cowl" will get looser and more open as the cardigan lengthens, so I have to watch for that.

I love the way it all comes together at the neck, though. Gorgeous:
The pattern calls for Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter worsted, which I haven't had the pleasure of trying out yet, so I might have to give it a shot... I can see this being a fall project. As if I didn't have enough in my queue already!

Okay, have a great day! Don't forget to check out the stitch markers in my newest giveaway!
- YX

01 April 2012

April Giveaway!

Welcome to April!  Hopefully you haven't been fooled too many times today! I normally love April Fool's day, especially for cute, harmless little pranks and goofy fun.

It somehow seems fitting on so many levels that our giveaway this month would be something cute and fun, and Blue! for those April showers:

But what is this?

Vampire yarn ball stitch markers from Decor Noir? Why, yes, fang you very much!

Decor Noir is an awesome little shop with all sorts of delightfully dark knit-related supplies. I love the concept on so many levels: first, her stuff is witty and cute. Secondly, it defies stereotypes about knitting and knitters. Also, the shop's stuff is just INCREDIBLY well-made. I've seen quite a few polymer clay markers, but these are done with a level of skill and execution that is beyond others.

For this giveaway, you get the pictured blue fang markers, courtesy of Decor Noir. To enter, "Like" Decor Noir on Facebook! If you don't have Facebook, you're more than welcome to fave an item in her Etsy shop. The come on back here and let me know what you did!

While I'm talking about it, check out some of her other super cute stuff:

I'll choose my winner on the last day of the month!
- YX