31 May 2012

May Giveaway Winner!

Helloooo friends,

We had 90 comments with one duplicate, so we're drawing out of 89...

Congrats to our winner, Xilan! One Teal Deer is coming your way...

Are you excited for tomorrow? Because I am! More yarny goodness and another chance to win!
Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and good luck next time!
- YX

29 May 2012

Queued: Abalone

I'm not a big fan of short-sleeved sweaters.

I guess I don't get it. Like vests, it just seems odd to put merino on your torso and leave your extremities open to the elements. If I'm cold in Houston, it's due to the air conditioning-- which means I need sleeves to combat it.

So of course, I'd queue this:

Color me hypocritical. It's Abalone, by Beata Jezek, and it is my new best friend. I want to hug it and squeeze it and cast on for it immediately.

I love the border on the sleeves, which is substantial enough to balance the body of the sweater. Look how the edge curves away toward the back, with the same motif on the button band:

Super flattering shape and styled so well with the long sleeves. I could see it being cute over a basic tank for warm days, too. Warm but not hot, that is. Since it's already in the 90's here, I think my spring sweater ship has sailed for the year.

A few more shots for giggles:

The pattern's calling for a worsted weight, but I'd absolutely sub in a sock yarn to keep it light. I am absolutely in love with the silk/merino one ply suggested in the pattern. This colorway is out of control gorgeous, too. Neutral but interesting!

Alright, I'm off to work on my Pinctada... I'm about halfway to my desired length at 11 repeats... Just 11 more to go!

- YX

(You know the drill- giveaway entry is almost up!)

24 May 2012


So remember our May sponsor, Sheepy Time Knits? She just (and I do mean just) tweeted this awesome photo of her Avengers-themed yarn!

I'm not much of a comic book person, but this is awesome on many levels:

1) The colors are based on characters: (L to R) Captain America, Loki, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, Black Widow, and Hulk.

2) It's really easy to READ those colorways to determine the character. Look at the Black Widow skein! I love it!

3) The bases are specific to the character. Captain America's, for instance, has a bit of sparkle. Hulk's is a bulky weight yarn.

Awesome, right? Which is your favorite?

If you like what you see, maybe you should consider entering the giveaway for more awesome yarn from Sheepy Time!

- YX

21 May 2012

Retail love: Allsaints Spitalfields

Have you ever found a clothing store that fits your personal style so closely that you could see yourself wearing everything they offer? While in London, I found All Saints, a cute little store with a great window display:

Vintage sewing machines! The store is a chain, and I saw a few different shops during my wanderings... Everything I saw in the store is something I could see myself wearing, which is quite an accomplishment. Soooo how about I share some cool knitwear from the store?

The Jagger Cardigan is gorgeous and drapey without being fussy. Would be super pretty over a lace or satiny tank.

Next is the Summer Court Jumper Dress in a similar color. I love the diversity of patterns here, not just in texture but also in opacity. I'd love to see densities mixed like this on a knit pattern. I bet there would be quite a bit of picking up stitches!

The Paleka Pullover makes use of some awesome drop stitches and cables. This sweater over a neon tank? Love it.

Love them all! Too bad the brand, as cute as it is, is WAY out of my price range for clothing! I'll never understand how people can afford expensive stuff like that! I have yarn to buy!

But you don't! You can get some for free right here!
- YX

19 May 2012

Never a dull moment

After getting home from London, I was immediately faced with the arrival of my mom from Columbus. My parents had been watching my dog while we were overseas, and Mom was returning her to us. The plan was that she'd come in in Saturday and leave the following Saturday.

Well, Tuesday night, everything changed. My dad called, complaining of pain in his chest, sweats, and fatigue. He called 911, was transported to the hospital, and was told he had a minor heart attack. We changed her return flight and I bought a ticket to go with her the following day.

It's funny how knitting can be so many things at once. There are days when it's a frustrating challenge (like in my last post!). There are days of incredible accomplishment, where sometimes you surprise yourself with how well something turned out. There are days when it's tedious, interesting, or used to keep you from boredom. And there are days when it's a distraction.

I distracted myself on the 2 1/2-hour flight. Then again on the cab ride home. In the hospital, too, as we waited on doctors and nurses and time to pass. Time is so weird in hospitals... Five minutes takes an hour to pass, and suddenly you look up, and the day has gone by in seconds. Luckily, Dad's heart attack was minor, the damage is barely noticeable and may heal, and he feels fine. He was discharged from the hospital yesterday, and I flew back to Houston today.

And on the plane home? I distracted myself:

Hopefully next week will be more conducive to fun patterns, and not so much personal stuff. I have some new stuff in my queue that is dying to be shared... In the meantime, do me a favor and get a cholesterol test at your next physical, and of course, try to win some fun yarn before the month's end!

- YX

14 May 2012

WIP: Pink-tada

I'm back in the States, and it feels good! Except it's boiling hot in Houston already. At least I got to wear my handknits in London!

In other news, my binge at Loop did give me the material to start my Pinctada. I haven't done any decent photographs, but here's a camera phone shot:

This is my second attempt-- the first one was a hot mess. The pattern calls for 4/1 Left cables and 4/1 Right cables. I figured they were knit the same... By slipping 4 stitches either to the front or back. I was super wrong. I couldn't figure out why I had these awful stretched out stitches on the fronts of my cables:

I was so frustrated... A whole 22-row repeat was frogged, and I re-did my cast on, this time really reading the directions. My current version looks much better, except now I'm into repeat 3 and just noticed I made the same stupid mistake on the first cable on the first repeat! Auuuugh! I'm not ripping it out. I'll chalk it up to imperfection and be happy with it.

Exceptttt I have another mistake. The bubbles along the sides are off by half a repeat, so I'm "closing" one circle as I'm "opening" the other! It's not noticeable on the FO, just frustrating.

I'm mostly frustrated because I haven't had to seriously frog a project in quite awhile, and although I was definitely due for a good curse-and-rip, it makes me question my skills and instincts. I definitely got way too comfortable with the pattern and paid for it.

To top off the already irritating experience with the pattern, I started getting some soreness in my left thumb as I was knitting. A combo of the Tosh and metal needles took its toll on my hands, and 4 hours of airplane knitting have made me hesitant to pick up the project again. So what did I do?

I changed scales and worked on something amusing to get my humor back:

I still have almost a full ball of Wollmeise 100% Superwash in "Neptun" from my Sultan Cardigan, and it's nice to be able to use some of it on fun little stuff like this, which will get way more use than my cardigan, unfortunately.

Alright... maybe I'll go give that Pinctada another chance. Don't forget to win some teal yarn of your own!
- YX

09 May 2012

Shop: Loop London

Our trip in London is winding down... We leave on Friday, and it seems like time has absolutely flown by. On Sunday, our big plan was to go to Loop in Islington. Loop, for the uninitiated, is a beautiful little shop in London that has a pretty decent following in the yarn community. It's the only place that retails Wollmeise (except for Claudia's shop in Munich, natch), and they have an excellent offering of yarn.

The shop is two stories and carries a variety of yarn brands. Thus far, in my yarny travels, Loop is the closest thing to an ideal yarn store I've found. Everything they carried was something I could see myself buying and using. Like, I think I peed myself a little bit when I walked in. One of the most annoying experiences I have in yarn shopping is when you walk into a new store and they have two giant displays full of one company's yarn. I remember walking into a new store that sold a ton of Blue Sky products, every Rowan product ever sold, and a teeny little shelf with a handful of other things. Talk about disappointing! 

ANYWAY, at Loop, I ended up with a few purchases:

For my Pinctada vest, I picked up some Madelinetosh Tosh DK in "Molly Ringwald". I'll have some WIP photos (and a WIP regaling you with my personal frustrations and failures) later. Here's my awesome hotel stash photo:

Next, I was seduced by this skein of Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca/Silk Sport/DK in "Toast". I have no plans for this skein as yet, but it's got some pinkiness to it and that beautiful brown ribbon. It's so pretty I think I would just be happy looking at it from time to time without actually making anything from it:

I was drawn to some cute little 50g Malabrigo lace skeins, in Green Apple and Pearl Ten. There'll be some kind of cowl project with the two of these. Perhaps an Encadre?:

The real gem of the trip was learning about Artisan Yarns. I got two skeins of this Baby Camel/Silk fingering weight yarn that just feels and looks incredible. It has an amazing sheen and just ugh, I want to rub it on my face and sleep with it under my pillow so no one can steal it. I need to learn more about these folks:

One skein is this pale pink, "Pale Madder", and the other is a golden color: 

I'm thinking of something with teeny stripes, like the White Rabbit Mitts we looked at last week. 

So, I'm thinking I'll have to sneak back there before I leave... I didn't get anything blue! Speaking of which, you can get something blue right here!

- YX

02 May 2012

FO: Brownstone

I'm super excited to show you guys my latest FO: Andrew's Brownstone:
I don't have any fancy professional photos yet, but I do have some from our walk around London today. 
I'm super happy with Sublime's Organic Merino for this sweater... The weather today in London was in the mid-50's, and Andrew was only chilly when the wind picked up. 

I haven't had a chance to block it yet, so the collar isn't behaving as well as I'd like, but here's a tamed detail shot:

I made a few alterations to the pattern. First off, the pattern is written as a bottom-up sweater, with the sleeves being the first items to knit. I don't like guessing on sleeve length (being chronically monkey-armed myself), so I skipped straight to knitting the body. When I got to the area where the sleeves would normally be attached, I just provisionally casted on the sleeve stitches. After finishing the yoke, I knitted the sleeves downward from the provisional cast on, and then finished with the collar. 

Regarding the sleeves: the pattern suggested a gradual taper to a cuff, but the sleeves weren't fitting as desired, so I tapered them and then decreased 5 stitches on the first ribbing round, which allowed me to maintain the same needle size at the sleeve and snug up the cuff just a bit. 
The fit is just right... But I'd probably block a little space into it, just to make it fit more like the original. 
I thought the pattern was well-written and easy to follow. Like all of Brooklyn Tweed's patterns, the actual PDF was nicely laid out and easy to read. I worked directly from my screen without printing the PDF, though. 

I used 10 balls (and some change) of Sublime Organice Merino for this sweater. I got the wool on sale for 50% off at my LYS's summer sale, so that puts this sweater in retail pricing at $55... at least, for the material. 

And London! I love that these photos have such effortlessly beautiful settings:

Now time to update my project page! Thanks for being a good model, Andrew!

- YX

01 May 2012

May Giveaway!

Happy May! Are you as excited as I am for a new giveaway?

This month we have some awesome springy yarn, courtesy of Sheepy Time Knits!

This lovely little gem is STK's Sparkle Feet base in "Teal Deer". It's a gorgeous teal with just a bit of an inky ribbon running through it, and a spattering of silver sparkle. Not too much sparkle, either. It also get mega extra bonus points for matching my blog's color scheme so wonderfully!

Hello, yarn... I PUT MY FACE ON YOU.

I love the sophisticated color palette used, but also the texture and feel of the yarn are great... 63% superwash/ 20% silk/ 15% nylon/ 2% Sterling silver make this a super soft knit that would be great for close-to-the-skin accessories and edgings.

So how can you win this month? Go to Sheepy Time's In Stock page and choose a favorite product... Each product page has a set of buttons, so share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Amazon! And of course, as usual, come on back here and tell me which one you love (and why, if you're so inclined! It'll make each giveaway better!) and how you shared it!

Here's Sheepy Time's photo of the same colorway, from her In Stock page:

Thanks for entering and good luck! I'll pick a winner at the end of the month!

- YX