Thursday 25 November 2010

Instant FO Goodness

I love instant gratification. There's nothing like casting on a new project, and casting it off in the same evening! I reckon this scarf took about an hour to do. Can't beat that, right?

The yarn is Sirdar Snowball. It's a slub yarn, with string in between the slubs. Knit it on 8mm needles and it looks great! Dead easy.

There's no pattern for it, just CO 5 stitches and stocking stitch. This is for Alice as part of her Christmas present. She's wanted a "snowball scarf" for ages now. So I've officially finished my first knitted Christmas present! Go me!

In other knitted present news, here's the progress so far on hubbys jumper. I'm calling this Square Dance, as the pattern is squares, and I'm original like that :)

This is based on a jumper he saw in a Van Heusen store in Orlando that I took a picture of on my phone.

I think it looks ok so far, don't you? I've yet to decide how to do the yoke and sleeves, as I want the pattern to continue up without shaping if I can, but it's acrylic so I believe I can't steek it. I may end up splitting the front and back once I reach the armholes. I don't want to, but so far it's all I've got. We'll see how I feel once I get there :)

Here's a close up of the pattern:

The hospice craft fair will be on the weekend of Dec 11 & 12 in the Blanchardstown Centre. We spent knit night last Tuesday cutting, stamping and labelling all of the items we had so far. Not a bad haul from one group I must say

Good knitting!

Saturday 20 November 2010

Yarn Stores Galore!

So I said I'd blog about my yarn store visits on my recent holiday. Well here you go!
I uploaded them in the wrong order, so we're going with last store visited first. Oh well!

The last store I visited was Knitch in Atlanta, Georgia. Hubby took the pictures in this shop, so they're MUCH nicer than the rest :)

I was super excited to go to this store because of BrooklynTweed's SHELTER yarn. I made a bee line for the shelf it was on!

Their store display was absolutely gorgeous. Everything was beautifully laid out, and there was loads of space and light.

Their samples were lovely too, here's some felted bags they had on a shelf. I could have spent hours wandering round it, just looking at everything.

The colours they had together were really striking, here's a display of Colinette Jitterbug. Really vibrant!

At the back of the store they had a really nice area for classes & knitting groups. A huge table right under a window, and a blackboard announcing upcoming events etc.

Everything was really thoughtfully arranged.

This had to be the best thing of all though. Chicken Run! Apparently one of the customers made it. Isn't it brilliant? It sat on a shelf by the till.

So that was Knitch! Next up is Four Purls in WinterHaven, Florida.

This was a lovely store that was a bit hidden away. It took a couple of drives around the block to find it!

This store was a flying visit when I was trying to buy a replacement dpn for my Everglades Socks. I can't remember the name of the owner, but she was a really lovely person who tried her best to help me. There was also an impromptu knitting group going on, so I was a bit sneaky taking my pictures. I only took pictures of alcoved areas of the shop, and not the main floor area.

She had a great selection of yarn, the biggest brand was Cascade. She had a lot of Italian yarns too.

I liked this shop and would have liked to spend more time there, but alas it wasn't to be. If I go back next year, I'll definitely go for a longer poke around.

My last store for you is my favourite, Sip & Knit in Maitland, Florida. this store is about an hours drive from the house we stay in, in Orlando. Doni the owner is just lovely. She remembers me every year, and I was greeted with a big hug when we arrived. Alice loves to play with her dog Tucker too.

Look at the sheep outside the door. Isn't it the best? I wish I could have one of those :)

Inside the store is a treasure trove. It's like a converted house, so you walk down hallways to find more rooms filled to the brim with lovely yarn, notions and patterns. I could spend all day (and all my money) here.
This is the main room of the store. *sigh* yarn heaven. She has lots of brands of yarn, and some really exotic stuff too. This is where hubby got me my Qiviut for Christmas last year.

This is the back room of the store, where I probably get most excited. It's the sock yarn room. Squee! Look at all the sock yarn! And the cutie sheep on the top shelf. Aww!

She also had Della Q bags, and lots of notions. This room is the notions and pattern room. I could sit here for hours going through all the books and magazines, not to mention the button jars! This store is a must-visit for me every time. I can't wait to go back!

Other random yarny/crafty spottings were made too. On Hallowe'en we went to Celebration for lunch on our way to Disneyworld and there was a farmers/craft market on. It was brill!

There were the most amazing looking vegetables, fruit and cakes there. We got some delicious organic Orange Blossom Honey, hand candied fruit (NOM) and of course some sweet stuff. This stall was all about gingerbread and it was good, let me tell you.

Although I was a bit distracted looking at all the lovely hand sewn aprons, oven mitts, tablecoths etc. I have a soft spot for gingham.

Then we found this stall. I'd forgotten all about this one, we've seen it before. The stall holder is usually knitting socks when we arrive, but not today. She was mainly selling quilts.

Although, if I'm honest, I don't think they're "proper" quilts per se. They don't look like the designs were made from fabric shapes, more like a sheet of pre printed fabric that was then wadded and sewn to look like it was quilted.

They were still pretty though.

So there you have it! My yarn store adventures from my holidays. Writing this post has given me a real longing to go back. Fingers crossed!

Good knitting!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Surprise Package!

I got home from work today to a really lovely surprise!

A book on the Japanese art of Furoshiki Tsutsumi. It's gift wrapping with fabric. The lovely Averil sent it to me. She was on holidays in Japan this year and picked it up for me as a surprise. How nice is that?
She also included two beautiful squares of fabric for me to practice with. They really are lovely:
These are some of my favourite items. A bag:
A wine bottle wrapper:
A gift box wrapper:
Thank you SO much Averil! Alice and I are really looking forward to trying it this weekend. You're so thoughtful, it really made my day. :)
Remember I was talking about making tags for the knitted hospice items to give credit to the makers? Well I picked up this stamp in the states:
I think this is perfect.
Speaking of hospice knitting, I just this minute cast off my last project for the fair:
A two colour Brioche scarf. This was a technique I'd wanted to try for a while now, so what better excuse? It was a bitch to get the hang of, but once I'd got my head around it, I was happy enough. I love the way one colour is to the front on one side, and it's reversed on the other. Perfect for a scarf!

Pattern: A basic scarf, CO 31 sts and use brioche stitch.
Yarn: King Cole Big Value Chunky (Acrylic) 1 ball of light blue and 1 ball of dark blue
Needles: 6mm KnitPicks Options Circulars
I'm happy enough with it, I think. Now on to Christmas knitting! What is it, 5 weeks to Christmas? I best start hubbys jumper then! I'm making this pattern up too, so I hope it goes ok! I'll be chanelling EZ all the way.
Good knitting!

Sunday 14 November 2010

Holiday Socks

Everyone who goes away has a holiday knitting project to bring with them, right?

Well I do. I couldn't conceive of being without my knitting for any period of time. Plus, what would I do on an airplane for 8+hours, then 4 hrs layover, then another 1.5 hrs? Someone would meet an unfortunate end if I was knitting-less.

For some reason I found it really hard to pick a pattern this time. Do you ever have that, where nothing jumps out at you? I studied my knitting books and Ravelry for AGES and eventually managed to decide on this pattern:

Glynis (RavLink) by CookieA from Sock Innovation.
Off I went. I knit solidly on the planes and in the car, and by the time we'd arrived in Orlando, I'd turned the heel and was on the foot.

I have to say the pattern was a bit of a pain. There were sssk's followed by m3 from 1 st followed by k3tog which was difficult to do. But I soldiered on.
Then disaster no 1 struck. I was knitting happily by the pool, and *snap*! One of my dpns broke. I was devastated! After I got over the trauma of one of my beloved KnitPicks harmony dpns "biting the dust" I decided to soldier on.

Then I stopped to examine the sock. Hmm, I thought, that looks a bit snug. So I tried it on. No chance it was fitting. So I called Alice. Tried it on her. No chance it was fitting her either! WTF! This sock was sized to fit an adult, I used the same needle size, same sock weight, and it didn't fit a 9 year old? I'm not a tight knitter either, so I was flummoxed. Not to mention annoyed that half my holiday knitting was wasted.

Still, there was no point in crying over teeny socks. I ripped back and searched for a new pattern. And the indecision hit again. Plus the fact that I was determined to finish these on holidays. Sod it, I thought, I haven't made a plain pair of socks for ages. That'll do.
So I cast on 64 sts and off I went:

I knit like a sunbathing fiend and actually got as far as finishing the heel flap on day 1!
I did go searching for a replacement dpn but to no avail in Florida. I prefer to knit on 5 dpns, but can make do on 4 if I have to. I finally got some in Knitch in Atlanta.

Anyhoo, I stormed along, and finished the first sock on the road, somewhere between Gainesville, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. I had to take an "action" pic to prove it!:

I was on a roll now. I didn't get much knitting done in Atlanta, but I hit the needles once we were on the plane!
I got as far as the end of the gusset decreases on the foot on the plane, and finished them the day we arrived home. Yay! Socks done while on holiday! And I would have been finished much sooner if it weren't for the Glynis disaster.

Not too bad.
Pattern: Made up out of my head plain socks. I've decided to call them Everglades socks in honour of knitting them in Florida, and also because I think they look kinda swampy coloured.
Yarn: Fibranatura Yummy. To be honest, I didn't like this yarn. It was quite scratchy to work with, and hairy! Lots of little hairs coming off. I wouldn't use it again. Hopefully it'll soften up once washed.
Needles: 2.5mm KnitPicks Harmony Dpns, with one Brittany dpn added towards the end :)

More to come on current projects, and I promise to post about the stores I visited.

In the meantime, here's a slideshow of the cardmaking stuff I bought:

Oh, I almost forgot!
Wyvernfriend and I, as you know, maintain the IrishKnitting website. Last night we were talking on Twitter about how great it would be to encourage new knitters and also to try and get more teachers to teach knitting in primary schools again. We think that maybe some kind of lending library would be a good idea, so that people can borrow books and magazines for techniques or to "try before they buy".
We decided to have two categories, one for lending, where the title will remain the property of the lender, and one for "liberated" books, where the book is free to go to a good home, but with the proviso that it remains on our list of available books, so that anyone else can borrow them too.
What do you guys think? This project will only be as good as the books made available to it, so we will need lots of knitters and crocheters to sign up! Check out the site and leave a comment on the Lending Library page to let us know if you have any suggestions, or are willing to take part.

Good Knitting!

Monday 8 November 2010

Bootie Haul!

I know what you're all coming here for, to see my stash acquisitions, so let's get to it, shall we?
I've loads more to post about yarn store visits, beautiful Savannah & Atlanta, plus my holiday sock progress, but I won't tease you with those details first. I'm nice like that.
So, here we go!

I went to a couple of new stores this year. One of them was Four Purls in Winter Haven. While there I got this:

Cascade Ecological Wool. This is a yarn I've wanted to try for ages. The yardage is fantastic, 400yds+ in the skein for $15!

I also made several visits to Michaels. Love that store. Hubby got cake decorating stuff and I got loads of cardmaking thingies (another post) along with some yarn.
I bought the latest issue of Knit Simple and fell in love with three projects inside, hot water bottle covers. I got the yarn recommended which is a rarity for me. I also got animal eyes & perfect buttons too. Score!

The first one:

Ladybug! Too cute. Uses 1 skein of red & black Lion Brand Homespun.

The next one:

Aw widdle bear. 1 skein of blue & brown Homespun.


Turtle/Tortoise. Isn't he cute? 1 skein each of two shades of green.

Dunno who's going to get them, but they're getting made!

Then I hit the Sugar n Cream shelf. I love this cotton. And so cheap!
I gots me some Green:


Daisy stripes:

Cool Breeze:

Plain ol White:

Great workhorse yarn.
Then I went to my favourite yarn store in Orlando, Sip & Knit. I love this store. The owner, Doni, is really lovely and always remembers me & makes me feel really welcome. Plus she has really scrummy yarns!
My haul this year:

This stuff is weird. It's Zuki Designs Tokyo (the cotton on the right) and Zuki Designs Bloom (on the right). Apparently there's a stole pattern for this yarn, but I don't have it and it needs more that one of each skein. This was a real impulse buy with no clue what to do with it! God knows what it'll become.
This sock yarn is delicious:

Debbie Macomber Blossoms Street Collection Petals Socks. Yum yum yarn thats 50% Merino, 20% Angora & 30% Nylon. Squishy!
This stuff was a bit of an impulse too:

It's Hand Painted Knitting Yarns Sock Donegal. Tweedy. I'm not a huge tweed fan, but I do love Autumnal colours.

Then I was reunited with an old friend:

Pagewood Farms Chugiak! Yipee! I love this sock yarn. This colour is lilac, which Doni created for Pagewood. Apparently she had it on exclusive sale for 6 months before it was released widely. It's a lovely soft shade of lilac. Should make some lovely socks.
There was this too:

More Chugiak in a fabulous jewel toned green. So lush.
Then this:

Shenanigans Cashmere Delight Sock. Mmm. Cashmere in sock yarn. Mmm. It's weird, it kinda feels like silk in the skein. Should be really nice for socks or maybe a small shawl.
Had to get this for hubby:
Berocco Comfort Sock. He loves his hand knit socks, but hates the wool, so this stuff is perfect for him. It's not too squeaky to knit with and wears really well. Cheap too!
I've deliverately saved the best for last. I'm mean like that :)
When I knew we were going to Atlanta, I just had to visit this store. Knitch.
It cost me $20 in a taxi to get there and took approx 45 mins to 1 hr to walk back to the hotel afterwards (uphill), but it was worth it.
I got this:
Some really nice Malabrigo Sock. I love the shade, a nicely hued russet type colour.
But this was the star of the yarn tour. This yarn should have its own sound effect, kinda like a choir of angels singing "Aaaaw"!:

Brooklyn Tweed SHELTER y'all! Oh yeah! I think I deserve major kudos for only buying 3 skeins of this baby. They had loads. It's so soft and squishy yet not overpoweringly tweedy. I thought these colours go well together, maybe a hat and scarf set in stranded knitting? I dunno, I think it'll require some thought. This stuff is special, I want to make the best of it.
They're one of only a handful of yarn stores in the US stocking this yarn. Apparently Jared hand picked the stores himself. No way was I missing out on this yarn!
So there you have it. Much more than I planned on buying, but much less than I wanted to buy!
More specifics on the yarn stores with photos next time, plus my holiday sock project. Then I'll hopefully get to some of the actual sights we took in!
Good knitting!