12 December 2013

Recently queued

I've been working on Harbinger, the LondonLeo shawl pattern with such beautiful geometric elements I posted about in August.

I have a sad, blurry cell phone image of the WIP right now, but it isn't even the right color. The actual color is more turquoise. The yarn is from a local dyer, Vice Yarns, and I really need to do a writeup of her stuff, especially because I have a skein to give away on the blog! :D

In other news, I've added more things to my queue, and here are a few of them:

Mountain of Light Koh-i-noor shawl, by Alexandra Wiedmayer. A total color project; it would be fun to play around with yarn choices on this. I'd do lavender and grey, maybe. Or bright blue with cream. Or scarlet and grey. Or.....

Dreiecke, by Shannon Cook. I received this pattern as a gift and just love the texture. It has a ski chalet feel without the pain of Fair Isle. I have some oatmeal-y Tosh that would be great for this. Or an electric yellow. I can see it being so many things. 

And finally, the Maple Leaf Knit Shawl by Natalia @ Elfmoda, because wow. I really, REEEEEALLY hope she's in the process of doing a whole series of leaves. I'd die. And have to knit them all. Gah, I just get tickled looking at it.
- YX

14 November 2013

Yarn ball ornaments

I love all of the knitted holiday ornaments that I see in stores and on Ravelry. Unfortunately for me, I don't have the patient to knit a million little sweaters or mittens or penguins.

But I can make these:

These little yarn ball ornaments are pretty easy to make, and make use of your scrap yarn. I've been meaning to make these for a few years now, and I'm happy to show you my process!

2" Styrofoam Balls
1/4" dowels
Caps for the dowels
Silver cording (I used embroidery floss)
Sand paper
Pencil sharpener
Something to cut the dowels (not pictured)
A thin, sharp knitting needle (optional)
Some type of glue. (I chose 1991's favorite adhesive, my trusty hot glue gun.)
Scrap yarn (The green ornament uses fingering yarn, the red one at the end of the tutorial is worsted)

Step 1: 
Cut dowels into 1-1/2" pieces. I used a model-making chopper for this, but strong scissors, wire cutters, or a hand saw could do the same. 

Step 2: 
Use the pencil sharpener to sharpen the ends of two of the dowel segments. Use sandpaper to blunt the ends of the points. Place the caps on the remaining two dowel segments. The caps held on to the dowels with friction, but you could use a good white craft or wood glue if they don't. 

Step 3:
Stick dowel segments into a styrofoam ball, being careful to line up the segments so they look straight and continuous. 
I used a sharp knitting needle to make holes all the way through the styrofoam, which showed me exactly the angle I needed to use to place the dowels into the ball. 

Step 4:
Glue the dowel segments to the styrofoam, and make a small hole in the top of the ball, sticking both ends of a piece of cording into the hole. Glue cording in place. (I used 4" of cording)

Step 5:
Wrap your scrap yarn around the ball multiple times, in many directions. I didn't even secure the starting end of the yarn, I just overlapped it enough that it held. When I was finished, I slipped the yarn under the wraps and stuffed it under wraps in an opposite direction. Sometimes I could find a little hole of styrofoam and mash the end into the foam, securing with a teeny bit of glue. 

Ta-da! Knitting ornaments!

You could paint or stain the "needles", use i-cord or crochet chains in place of regular yarn, put beads on the yarn... Lots of options! You could even use some large, pretty beads for the needle ends. 

If you make these ornaments, send me a picture and I'll be sure to share it here!
Happy holidays!
- YX

11 November 2013

FO: Baby Love Hat

I finished another baby hat. This time, for the daughter of some friends.

It was just a quickly improvised hat. I cased on 111 stitches, size 3 needles. The yarn is that lovely Anzula Cloud laceweight I used on my Meridien sweater.

A little scrap of Wollmeise for the "embroidery" on it...

And pow! Baby hat time.

The fabric is so soft and drapey-- it's great for a little teeny head that can't have a bunch of hefty, thick fabric on it!

I'm working on a grown-up project, again, so I'll have some WIP photos for you at some point... AND ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

- YX

04 November 2013

October Winner!

This is a guest post, announcing our giveaway winner! A big thanks again to Ellelittleblog, aka Letitia, for a fabulous post and opportunity to win her giveaway... I'm jealous, winner!

I counted 46 unique entries including Sharon’s extra shares (not sure if those are usually counted for YarnExploder’s giveaways, but I did anyway) and the winner is. . .
 Anonymous Belinda aka beedragon.  I see her on Ravelry, so I will let her know she won!  And I find our comments quite curious:
Beedragon:  “Perhaps winning would be a curse more than a gift ;)”
Ellelittleblog:  “I hope you win anyway!”

Thanks for all your comments everyone.  I enjoyed looking at your projects.

28 October 2013

Poor October

Sad little October, you've gotten away from me. The thing is, there's nothing going on over here to report! As you know, I'm gearing up for a new arrival in April, which means I've been sleeping a TON lately. Between that and my day job, I haven't accomplished much in the way of knitting.

It's Halloween time, though! A cute article on Craftsy shows some Halloween-y knit options, which is leading me to ask: Have you ever knitted a Halloween costume? The closest I've come is my viking hat:

I'm working on another newborn hat using the leftovers from Meridien, as a gift for a friend who just had a baby girl- congrats, Kate! I'll post it when it's done.

And I'm excited that we're coming to the close of October's giveaway, a lovely project kit from ellelittleblog! Winner's coming up soon!
Go check it out while there's still time!
- YX

09 October 2013

FO: Sultan Pompom Hat

Click here to check out  the October Giveaway

I've made a new little hat:

It's a top-down beanie, and I love it. A quick pompom made without cardboard, and some leftover yarn turned out really well. I love the variation of color in the pom:

This heavily-variegated yarn looks like a ton of different colors in one pompom, but is much easier to make.

Both yarns are Wollmeise sock, and the stitch definition is, as always, gorgeous. I should get around to writing up the pattern. By making the hat top down, I was able to control exactly how long the hat was without being afraid of running out of yarn.

I made this hat for a very special recipient... My husband and I are expecting our first baby! He or she is due in April. I'm so happy to share this news with you! We've been through a lot together since I started this blog TWO WHOLE YEARS AGO! Hopefully I'll have more baby knits to show in the future!

- YX

01 October 2013

Guest Post: Entangled Stitches Gloves from ellelittleblog

This week, I'm bringing you a guest post. This is a friend of mine from the knit-o-sphere, and she's done a lovely project to share with you. I'll be featuring a few more guest posts in the next few months, so enjoy! 

Hi YarnExploder peeps!  My name is Letitia.  I will also answer to Elle, blond chick, and hey you.  I am poly-craftual, as most crafty people tend to be.  I consider myself mostly a sewer these days, but I have also been knitting since December 2008.  I taught myself how to knit by looking up stitches online and making preemie baby caps.  “Hey!  Bobbles look fun.  I’ll put some of those in a hat!  February Lady Sweater?  I’m not sure what lace is, but I can turn that into a hat. Etc.”  I love knitting, but unfortunately/fortunately I live in Florida and there isn’t much use for knit beanies or giant Aran sweaters or gloves.  Yeah.  So about those gloves…

I fell in love with the entangled stitches pattern by Julia Mueller sometime in 2010.  Someone posted in Remnants about how her brand-new gloves in a beeyoutiful silk blend yarn were stolen off the train.  She was understandably heartbroken.  Anyway, awesome ravelers are awesome and someone was able to get the dyer of that yarn to dye more (she wasn’t dyeing anymore from what I remember) to gift to this chick.  That’s how I remember it happening anyway.  Fast-forward to August 2012 and I see an ad on LSG for sheepytime knit’s colorway of the month, South Pacific, and I HAD to have the entangled gloves in THAT color.  Never mind the fact that I was going nowhere close to cold anytime soon.
My first order of business was to find my colored pencils and color in each different symbol on the pattern.  There are so many different kinds of twisted stitches in this pattern and the symbols look similar enough that coloring in the squares was very necessary for me.  That took somewhere in the neighborhood of three hours to complete.  That should have been my first clue as to how intense this project was going to be.  There are seven (7!) pages of charts after all.  I’m not one to look at something complicated and think I can’t do it, so onward I cast on with my tiny size 0 DPNs.

I note on my Ravelry project page (very light on the notes, btw) that I was 15 hours into my first glove and I wasn’t done with the first chart yet—that’s not even 40 rounds in 15 hours.  My hands are like normal people hands with the pinky spread thing (not sure what to call that exactly, but you know what I mean right?) starting earlier than the other fingers.  I moved my pinky stitches onto waste yarn on after round 88 and continued working the other three fingers according to the chart.  That’s the only modification I made that I can think of apart from using a smaller needle size.  I tried to make the crosses on the fingers line up with my knuckles because I thought that would look cool.  I wish I had a picture of that!  Sorry, not sorry.

From start to finish, these gloves took just short of 6 months.  I was zipping along on them all through September and was almost done with glove 2 when I stalled for all of October.  I picked the gloves back up to finish chart 2 on the second glove and was almost done knitting the fingers by mid-November.  Then I stalled again, spent a month in Central America, and went back to work in January busy as hell.  My biggest challenge was WEAVING IN THE DING DONG DURN ENDS!!!  Mugglefrackin ends.  Ends are my kryptonite.  Well, ends and buttons.  I was so not wanting to weave in those ends.  I made a deal with myself to just weave in 2 a day.  Just 2.  Per day.  That’s it.  It still took me forever, but here, look at my pretty finished gloves!  Glorious gloves really.

My original idea was to take these pictures at the beach.  I’m glad I didn’t because the reflection from the sand would have been horrible for showing the detail on the gloves.  The backyard wearing a $2 dress from the Nicaraguan version of Goodwill was way better.

This photo is really blue.  I was trying to get all the cabling to show and overadjusted the colors in the process.  Oops.

For the record, we had a really cold March and I was wearing my gloves regularly in the mornings.  Steering wheels get cold!  Enough about my gloves.  You can find me as ellelittle on Ravelry and/or read my blog about sewing, what I’m cooking, and where I’m going, as well as other random things over at ellelittleblog.blogspot.com. 

And since I’m feeling really generous, I’ll sponsor a giveaway too.  Up for grabs is a digital copy of Entangled Stitches (gifted through Rav so you gotta be on there) and a skein of Knitpicks Stroll Tonal in Pearlescent that’s been languishing in the stash forever.  And because I’m really freaking awesome, I’ll make you a sweet project bag to go along with it all.

You want this?  You know you do.  Leave a comment 1) confirming that I am, in fact, awesome and 2) what the hardest thing you’ve made so far was and why.  Bonus internet points for linkys.

That’s it!  Thanks to Yarnexploder and readers for having me today!

28 September 2013

Park Avenue Yarns

So recently, I headed down to League City, Texas to check out a trunk show at Park Avenue Yarns. I'm saving my post about the trunk show itself for another day (perhaps another yarny day, with lots of lovely yarny giveaway potential. Indeed, I may have shopped for you while I was out!)

But I was so excited because I just absolutely love this yarn store, and I want to tell you all about it.

So if you go to the website I liked above, you can see the front of the store. It's a cute little house on a street with some other shops-in-houses. As I walked up to the front entrance, I was amused by the yarn bombings on the porch:

It was super cute. Once I got in, I was immediately overwhelmed. In a good way.

Square shelving units create "aisles" of yarn, and there are two back rooms- one with couches for hanging out (this is where the trunk show was) and one with a large table for classes. Everything in the shop is tidy and organized, so walking through, it was quite easy to see things and compare items.

Each table is curated and displayed with intent. It's so nice to walk in a store where a display table has a clear feature. Yarns were piled in baskets or bowls, not left on a table to fall all over the place. The store recognizes knitting, but also crochet (a large selection of books and hooks) and spinning (you can see the wheel, and they carry fiber and if I recall correctly, a few drop spindles).

My favorite thing about this store is definitely the variety of products. Normally, when I go into a yarn store, the owner or merchant's preferences are super easy to predict. There are lots of yarns in a specific color range, for instance. Or fifteen different kinds of Debbie Bliss, a handful of Rowan, and no indies. Park Avenue has a nice spread of local indies, small, specialty brands, and big names. Aside from the Vice yarn, I picked up two skeins of Classic Elite Chalet, which is a wonderfully squishy braided ply yarn. The friendly lady behind the counter was making a project with it, and we chatted for a bit about the yarn and how it works. She even showed me her project, which was lovely.

It's nice when employees are invested in talking about your project plans. I had an excellent experience at Park Ave, and my only complaint is it's woefully far from me- 40 minutes in the car, as opposed to the 10-minute hop to my current LYS. Regardless, I think Park Ave is going to be my primary stop for projects. I know I'll find something I like there, and probably a bunch of other things I didn't plan on buying!

Next week, I have a guest post planned. I was going to set it up this week, but my lovely guest poster has some surprises in store for you, and they'll be perfect to ring in October!
- YX

18 September 2013

FO: Big red cowl

Big needles, giant yarn, and we have a cowl:

It's a monster. And really cute double-wrapped:

This yarn (Lion Brand Hometown USA) isn't the fanciest or most expensive stuff on the block, but it will withstand football tailgates, washing and drying, and anything else a college kid can get into. 

The texture isn't bad, either, and it's super soft, as acrylic tends to be:

As soon as I took these snaps, it was off in the mail to its new home! So long, cowl!
- YX

11 September 2013

Giant Red Cowl

I started babysitting when I was 13. It was more of a mother's helper gig at first, entertaining the kids while mom and dad got housework done. As time went on, though, I did more and more, until suddenly, I was leaving for college. 

And now, the one who was just 3 when I first met her, has started her first classes in college, herself. Wow. 

So she contacted me to ask if I could knit a big ol' red cowl for her, I was happy to oblige. This is the photo she sent:

It looks to me like a simple ribbed cowl, but then look at the bottom bit... Is that reverse stockinette stitch?

I could easily do a simple ribbed cowl, but why not at least look at some potential projects? There's the Infinitude Scarf by Jeni Chase: 

Tante Ehm's Northern Loop

Or do I go ahead and stick with the standard ribbed cowl, something like Mallory Cowl by Shannon Cook:

What do you think? I picked up some red, bulky yarn and have the giant needles to go with it...
- YX

03 September 2013

Wall decor: knitterly pride

Who hasn't seen the fifty billion renditions of the "Keep Calm (Something) On" posters over the past year or so? I was thinking about ways to add more yarn references to my house, and it seemed like the only option I had was one of these ubiquitous posters. Harumph. 

So I did some shopping. 

The first thing I found was this fabulous eye chart-inspired piece. I love the vintage feel of the chart, combined with the knitting references. At $20, it seems like a great art piece for a reasonable cost. 

Next is this great Red Cross poster. Also $20, I love the old-school war propaganda look, and the colors are fabulous. Not to mention, the yarn looks luscious. 
Or, you could go a little more three-dimesional. I've seen about fifteen million yarn-wrapped letters on Etsy and Pinterest, but I really love these yarn letters on Etsy, which are wild and interesting, and could make a great wall installation. 

I love yarny housewares! Do you have anything on your house/craft room walls that you want to share?
- YX

25 August 2013

Slowing down

I haven't been posting much due to a resurgence of work contracts and a substantial bout of illness... What an August!

I'm still queuing things, at least. And slowly working on my worsted sweater, which isn't very promising, as I haven't even gotten to the sleeve separation yet. Regardless, there's something on the needles, so that's a relief.

Anyway, here's some stuff I've queued:

On the Grass is a Joji sweater. The pattern page has some lovely interpretations, my favorite being this one by Rav user jettshin. If you haven't checked out jettshin's projects, you are absolutely missing some of the best needlework on the internet. She's like lightning, too. I have no idea how she finishes so many test items so quickly.

To continue the grass theme, I also love this slouchy Grassroots hat by Dandilion Girl Designs- a very simple toque/beanie with a cute little leaf pattern. Nothing particularly standout about the design, I just think it's a very nice combination of design elements, executed well.

Finally, I have Harbinger by LondonLeo, which is an incredibly wearable shawl with simple, geometric design elements. The angora/merino Lion Brand suggested looks fabulous in the sample, and makes me want to knit this immediately.

Yum. Too bad "winter" won't start here for another two months!
- YX

08 August 2013

The Mystery Worsted

Okay, so I was in Florence last May, and went to a lovely little yarn store called Campolmi Roberto Filati, which I found via Nicky Epstein. It's a lovely store, large and chock full of fibery goodness. The language barrier was noticeable until an English-speaking employee stepped in to help translate.

I should've bought some cashmere- we picked up a sweater quantity of cashmere yarn for my mother-in-law, who celebrated her birthday just before our trip. When the yarn lady quoted me a price for the cashmere, I started laughing. I couldn't help it! It was about 50% of the cost of similar-quality cashmere in the US. So inexpensive. It was about the same as a regular skein of superwash.

I picked up only two things, but I made them count. Both are GIANT skeins of worsted yarn, dyed in the shop.
These skeins are LITERALLY as big as my head. They're huge. 400g (14oz) of worsted yarn. It's probably close to 1,000 or so yards each.

I love the colors, which have some abrupt changes. The grey skein goes from light to dark smoothly on one side, but has a dark line on the other. It's super odd, in a cool way. I tried casting on for a "huge shawl of indeterminate size", but ended up ripping it out when I decided that I was wasting a great opportunity for a gargantuan sweater.

Yep, a worsted sweater, even though it's currently 103°F (39.4°C) here.

Yep, a worsted sweater, even though I just finished a sweater project and determined I needed a break from major garments.

Yep, a worsted sweater, instead of cracking into any of the various other yarns I have in my stash, doing a lovely little hat or a pair of super-bulky-fun-fur-electric-house-stomper socks.

What is wrong with me? Seriously?!

- YX

30 July 2013

Technique: Cables

Awhile ago, I was talking about knitting techniques I love or would like to learn. Today's is cable stitch patterns.

So, this is the most cabled project I've done:
It's a pattern for a cowl, but I made it extra long and turned it into a crossbody vest thingy. I'm super happy with how it turned out, though I'd like to reblock it wider to show the details on the cables.

I've done some other cable projects, but I don't find myself particularly drawn to them. Indeed, there's something kind of annoying about having to remember which row is a cable row, which direction to cable, etc. Small projects can be quite fun, though:

And I do enjoy them as a design element. My most recent sweater has a few cables, and they were fairly easy to manage:

There are always row counters to help, and quite a few people like cabling without cable needles. I've never been able to cable without a cable needle and have it come out properly. Like the linked video says, my knitting is too tight to make it work with anything more than a stitch or maybe two. Instead, I use a darning needle, which I stick into my yarn cake and use as a cable needle. I have some actual bent needles for cabling, but I find that the darning needle is twice as useful, and much smaller.

I'd like to do more things in the spirit of my Pinctada, but a girl can only have so many cowls in Texas...
- YX