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