Thursday, March 31, 2011

2KCBWDAY4 - Where are they now?

Today's post is about the fates of the items we make. Where do they go? How do they last?

I often wonder about things I have given to people. I think most of us would agree we really want our presents to be found useful and our hard work appreciated. Would most non-knitters realize how much more work a scarf is than say, a hat? Don't even get me started on socks.

One of the very first things I ever made for someone else was a crocheted hat for my boyfriend (now husband) about 5 1/2 years ago. I had taught myself to crochet and G really wanted a hat with earflaps. I remember I even went to an LYS and bought some Phildar Pegase+ for it (which at the time I thought was VERY fancy yarn  - ha, little did I know...).

I don't remember where I got the pattern but I worked so hard at the hat and despite it looking a bit like a bowl with ears, G loved it.
a hat only a bowl (or a smitten man) could love
That hat lasted our courtship, our engagement and into our marriage. It moved with us from Vancouver to Calgary. It was still there when we had our first child.
G and his hat with our 6 week old Monkey in April 2008
Can you believe he's still wearing it!
G, Monkey & the hat in December 2010
Its got me thinking, if my somewhat skewed attempt at a hat has lasted this long, imagine the heirloom power of the decent things I am making now.

At the end of the day, I guess I really want the gifts I make for people will be loved and used. I don't want them put away in a cupboard to "save" or "protect" them.

I hope my loved ones will be able to look at the items I have made and be reminded of fun times and happy memories.

Besides, if they wear out, it gives me a good excuse to make some more : )

I think this year G is getting a new hat.

Cheers, Nikki

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2KCBWDAY3 - Tidy Mind Tidy Stitches/ WIP Wednesday #11

I have to admit that I've been looking forward to this post. 
Last year we finished our basement (aka the man cave) and my only demand request was a craft corner in an existing cutout in the main room. 
I love it : )

I have a large Ikea Expedit storage unit for all my yarn and craft supplies. The acrylics-from-my-past are hidden carefully stored in the black bins along the bottom along with my card making and sewing supplies.

There is little method to the yarn storage itself, except that the prettiest of my pretties are all put together.
So pretty.. sigh

As for my knitting tools, my friend the lovely Lisa gave me the fabulous gift of a Della Q needle case for my birthday last year.
Also pictured is my gorgeous Namaste project bag
(a gift from the-most-wonderful-husband-in-the-world...
no, seriously he just got back from a business trip
and brought me 3 skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh DK.
Does is get any more wonderful than that?)

I have recently inputed my needles onto Rav as I keep buying needles I already have. Grrr! Guess it's time to learn how to use two circs.

I have one shelf where I keep my knitting books and a folder of patterns I have printed out, but the center post of my project and pattern organization is my Ravelry account. 
I know everyone uses Rav a little differently. Basically, I use the favourites function for patterns I think I would like to knit one day. Or, I use it to mark projects I think are super awesome or have modification information that I think will be helpful. I use my queue to pair my yarn purchases with patterns I have planned for them. I love looking back at my projects page to see all the things I have made. I also try to keep notes on my projects of changes I made to the patterns or things I would do differently next time. I'm always happy to make friends on Rav and see what everyone is up to. You can find me here

All this organization serves me well to get on with my actual knitting. Right now, I am working on a sweater for my little boy (like my segue there?). The "No Star" sweater is getting some striped sleeves and I think that they are looking pretty good!

Knicroblo is only for a week but every Wednesday you can go to Tami's blog where she happily hosts a works-in-progress free for all.

Cheers, Nikki

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2KCBWDAY2 - Skill +1UP

Hello again and welcome to Day 2 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week!

Today's topic is about looking back at the new skills you have learned over the last year...

This time last year, I was pregnant with my second baby and my first had just turned two. After 2 years of getting my feet on the ground in this new stay-at-home-parent thing, I was finally ready to start reacquainting myself with some of my favourite past pastimes.

A new friend invited me to her Craft Night that she hosted once a week. I took along a cross stitch I was working on but was in awe of everyone and their knitting. I had learned to knit from a friend a few years before and had even made a couple scarves and a pair of mittens but hadn't tried anything in years.

I picked up my needles, relearned how to cast on and made Debbie Bliss' Garter Stitch Blanket. My gauge was off so I kind of ended up with little rectangles instead of squares and all the seaming drove me to distraction but I got it done.

Long before I felt the pride of putting that blanket on my little girl to bring her home from the hospital in July, I was hooked.
By then I had made the Baby Sheep Hat too.

What made the difference this time?
I think it was a couple things.  Having a couple close friends who are talented knitters and being part of a group that checks in every week definitely kept me motivated and accountable. But, I think the thing that really got me going was the internet. Finding out about Ravelry and knitting blogs changed everything. Having access to soooo many cool patterns and seeing everyone's awesome projects still rivets me and gives me something to shoot for.  YouTube and forums on Rav have meant that when I get stuck I can get help to figure it out without having to put it all aside until my next knit night.

Some the skills I have learned in the past year include:

  • how to knit on circular needles in the round
  • duplicate stitch
  • stranded colourwork
  • kitchener stitch
  • 3 needle bind off
  • CABLES!!!
  • moebius cast on
  • raglan sleeves
  • picking up stitches
  • turning a heel
  • the joy of a yarn "stash" ; )

I've gone from a simple garter stitch blanket to knitting sweaters in less than a year.

My latest FO 
I've even started a blog about it : )

The best part is how much I know I still have to learn!

Cheers, Nikki

Monday, March 28, 2011

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - 2KCBWDAY1 A Tale of Two Yarns

Woo hoo, kicking it off for knitting and crochet blog week!!

I don't profess to be an expert about fiber and yarn, but what can I say... I like what I like

Until recently, I only bought yarn at big box stores because that was really all I knew about. Recently I have begun to acquire a bit of yarn snobbery (snobbity?) in my knitting personality. This of course means that now I have hidden away in my craft cupboard vast quantities of cheap inexpensive acrylic and cotton yarn. No, I know can make great dish cloths from the cotton, but what am I going to do with all that acrylic (especially 13 skeins of gray Bernat Chunky)?

Wow, it's only the first day and I'm already off topic... Today, I am actually going to discuss my experience with two specific yarns. I am lucky to say that I have yet to have a really bad experience with a yarn I have used for knitting or even have yet to really decide that I used the wrong yarn for the project I was working on. 

So, I want to present my choice for a great yarn that is easy on the pocket book and one that is worth the splurge.

#1 - CASCADE 220

worsted weight
100% peruvian wool
220 yards/ 100 g
hand wash

In the short year that I have been knitting, I have used the old standby Cascade 220 several times. Of course, Cascade 220 is apparently no great hidden secret (I'm guessing that by the fact that it's the #1 used yarn on Rav). But, I think sometimes it's worth being reminded about the value of the trusty and familiar.

I have used Cascade 220 to make many hats and a baby cardigan. Within my knitting circle, this year alone, it has been used for more hats, 2 baby sweaters and one rather cool amigurumi fish.

Cascade 220 currently comes in 199 colours! It is pure wool, has lovely stitch definition and is great for colourwork. I have never tried felting with it but it is definitely on my list!
The hat that I have worn several times a week for the past 3 months is still looking great. Best of all Cascade 220 is great for the budget knitter. (Not to mention that their 220 superwash and Eco+ rock the house too)
Seriously, it started out as just one hat!

*Please note that I have no affiliation with Cascade Yarns (although perhaps I should invest as I suspect through my use alone they may be turning a tidy profit)

#2 - Madelinetosh Pashmina
sport weight
75% merino, 15% silk, 10% cashmere
360 yards/ 100 grams
machine wash

A word of caution, knitting with this yarn may ruin you for all other yarn experiences! 

I have only used this yarn once, to knit a cowl so springy, warm and soft I almost want to take it bed with me at night.

Knitting with this yarn is like a knitters day at the spa. It knits up beautifully, with the best stitch definition that I have seen. I was sad when my project was finished.

**Note - after writing this I went out and bought 2 skeins of the lilac colourway. I think I may have an addiction issue.

Of course the down side is the price. Be prepared for a serious wallop.

Well that's about it for Day 1. Hmmm, I suspect that reading everyone's posts about their favourite yarns is unlikely to help my weakness for stash procurement.

Hope to see you again tomorrow.
Cheers, Nikki

Friday, March 25, 2011

FO Friday #5 - A Cute Hoot

My baby owl vest turned out to be a very quick, fun and satisfying knit.

Pattern: Baby Owl Vest
Designer: Jodi Haraldson
Size 6-9 months
Colourway: 80
Needles: 3.75 & 4mm (US 5 & 6) 40cm (16 inch) Knit Picks nickel circulars
Started: March 16, 2011
Finished: March 20, 2011

This vest is constructed from a stockinette front and back with simple decreases for the V neck and armholes. The shoulders are finished with a 3 needle bind off. Stitches are picked up for the ribbing at the neck and arms. The owls are made through a very clever but very simple cable pattern and are on the front only.

Despite using heavier weight yarn and bigger needles than the pattern calls for, my gauge was still a little on the small side. I got about six stitches per inch instead of the five that the pattern calls for. Since the baby this vest is for is only a newborn, I didn't bother going up a size of needles and just made a vest for 6- 9 months (instead of the 9- 12 months based on the pattern).

This is what the vest looked like pre blocking...

This was my first time knitting with Cascade 220 superwash. I found the yarn very nice to knit, has lovely stitch definition and is plenty soft enough for a wee babe to wear. I love the colour of the green. However, it did bleed when I gave it a wash in cool water with some gentle baby detergent.

I blocked the vest flat with a couple (probably unnecessary) T-pins.
This is what what the finished object looks like...

 And here it is again (just cause I couldn't decide which picture was better : )

I wanted to see what size it had ended up being so I tried it out on my Doodlebug. She is a small 8 month old and the vest fit, but was roomy so I think it will be ideal as a 6-9 months size for a little lad.

She is also a very cute but not particularly cooperative model.

This project has got me itching to start an Owls sweater for myself (for which I've had the yarn and pattern for ages... of course).

Once again the wonderful Tami is hosting us all for FO Friday. Go here to check out some cool projects.

Have a great weekend everyone. See you next week for Knitting and Crochet Blog week!

Cheers, Nikki
This was about a second before she launched herself
head first off the chair...
don't worry both Doodlebug and the camera were unharmed.
My heart, on the other hand, got a bit of a workout ; )

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday #10 - and the work goes on...

This week, I have gotten back to work on my "No Star" sweater for my little boy. The back is finished and I am partway through the miles of stockinette for the front. I'm looking forward to doing the stripes on the sleeves but I have quite a way to go before I get too that. This is good TV knitting but I think I may need to start a new project as well to keep things interesting.
the back

soon to be... the front

I would like to get started on some projects to put away for Christmas. I can't decide whether to start Herringbone Neck Warmer in a multicoloured Malabrigo Worsted (this would be my first experience with Malabrigo) or Anne Hanson's Keyhole Cabled Scarf in Debbie Bliss Prima in a bright blue (I bought the pattern months ago).
What do you think?

The other work I have "in progress" is getting ready for next week's Knitting and Crochet Blog week organized by Eskimimiknits. So far, my prep has consisted of tidying my stash area so I can take some photos : )
Anyone else planning to join me?

Click here for more info
 You may be wondering what happened to the baby owl vest I said I was going to start last week (well, maybe you weren't, but I'll tell you anyways)... You will have to come back on Friday to see it! I had it done in 5 days (and I'm kinda proud of myself - can you tell?)

As always, don't forget to check out more creativity-in-the-making through Tami's blog!

Happy Wednesday.

Cheers, Nikki

Friday, March 18, 2011

FO Friday #4 - Sweet as Honey

I actually finished 2 projects this week but I think I will save one for next Friday ; )

I am very very very excited to present my "Honeyed Mushrooms Cowl." It was a delight to knit and I am very happy with the results.

Pattern: Honey Cowl
Yarn: Madelinetosh Pashmina
Colourway: Vintage Frame

Needles: 4.5 mm/ US 7 32 inch circular Knit Picks nickel interchangeables

Started: February 15, 2011
Finished: March 16, 2011

This pattern calls for DK weight yarn but I had this lovely lonely skein of sport weight Madelinetosh that I was dying to use.

I cast on 210 stitches and spent the entire knit worried that it would not be long enough to wrap twice around (as you can see though, it is).
I haven't blocked it because I didn't want to stretch it out too much and lose all the wonderful springiness it has now. (--as an aside I am shocked to find that springiness is an actual word -- thought I was making it up : )

This pattern was very easy and definitely qualifies as a mindless knit - but one of those good ones that doesn't get too boring. The yarn was the most delicious I have knit with to date. It's squishy and soft and has beautiful stitch definition. Worth every penny to me. (In fact, last weekend I snuck out and bought some Tosh DK to make another one - but don't tell my husband!!))

Special thanks to B for taking the photos.
I'm still sad I had to give you this coat back.

My only sadness is that I have realized that this cowl is not destined to be mine. It is my lovely cousin (in-law)'s birthday and I know she would love this. It is a true demonstration of my affection for her that I might  probably  maybe will give this to her as a birthday gift.
Happy Birthday Carly xxx

Check out more beautiful finished projects on Tami's blog!

Have a great weekend!
Cheers, Nikki

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday #9 - Hoot Hoot... Roar!

I don't have that much to show 'in progress' this week... mostly because I have a couple things ready for FO Friday - woo hoo : )

My socks by the pool are still in time out, so I'm moving on.

I've started the front of No Star sweater for Monkey but it's going to be bumped again...

Our family was very excited to hear a couple weeks ago that my husband's newest godchild was safely born - and it's a BOY (the family have two girls already so this made it extra exciting). G will be traveling to New Hampshire for the christening at the end of April so I have a little less than 6 weeks to turn this:
The colour is much more of a forest green in real life

Into a very cute Owl Baby Vest.
I'm casting on today!

In the meantime, we had a very special 3 year old birthday party this weekend. Monkey was very excited to have a Tyrannosaurus Rex cake (as specifically requested). 

In keeping with the theme, my Monkey wore his dinosaur sweater knit by his Great Aunt Sandra. Isn't it (and he) adorable?

He is at a hopeless stage for taking photos.
If you tell his to open his eyes for the picture, he opens his mouth.
Don't forget to check out more WIP's on Tami's blog

Cheers, Nikki


Friday, March 11, 2011

FO Friday #3 - Cupcakes and Camilla Recap

OK, this might be cheating a bit as I have already posted an FO Friday about my Camilla Mittens.... My craft night group took on the Camilla mittens as part of a KAL and I wanted to share our various results with you. (I apologize in advance for the poor, indoor, late night lighting in the photos)

In the end, four of us attempted the mittens. Two of us finished in time to get free patterns from SpillyJane, one finished after the deadline, and one pair ended up in the frog pile.

First up are the magenta and teal mittens by knitApolloknit

When N told me she wanted to use some worsted weight yarn she had in her stash for this project (despite the pattern calling for fingering), I thought she was going to end up making mittens for a giant. But, she found this project by garagebutterfly, with modifications for worsted weight.

They were knit using 4mm & 6mm needles using Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Full o'Sheep. Find her full project details here

I think they turned out amazing AND they knit up so quickly that the rest of us were very jealous. She didn't get them quite done in time for the free pattern but has decided to treat herself to the Gnome Mittens she was coveting anyways.

Next up are these lovely mittens by pricelesspurls.
Unfortunately, this crummy picture doesn't do them justice. These were B's first go at colourwork and I think they turned out amazing!

They were knit on 2.75mm DPNs with Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Socka. They ended up being a comfortable adult size (B's husband has being wearing them on the bus to work and she had to sneak them over for me to get this photo : )

B finished her mittens done by the end of February and was treated to the pattern for Swedish Fish mittens for her effort.

My mittens you have seen before. Details can be found on this post or on my project page here. In the end I chose Wintertime for Adriana for my free pattern.

Finally, we have have the mitten attempt by leftheadknitter. These mittens knit up beautifully using Ultra Alpaca Fine and 2.25 needles. Unfortunately, towards the end of the first mitten it became apparent that they were going to be the right size for a large child. With the deadline passed and no large child in sight these mittens were put in timeout to be frogged and reknit on bigger needles at a later date.

We all agreed that Camilla is a very well written pattern. We all felt our colourwork skilled improved by the end of this project. Our experience was that the mittens tended to run a little small when knit on 2.25mm (US1) needles. I have heard this sentiment repeated by a few people in the "I Love Mittens" group on Rav. We all knit our mittens on DPNs but I would be keen to learn how to use 2 circs to avoid the tension issues mid-mitten.

Our Craft Night is every Wednesday night, usually at leftheadknitter's house.  This week I managed to hijack everyone's work by getting their help with decorating cupcakes for my Monkey's 3rd birthday the next day (this by the way is my attempt at a segue to something somewhat  not-at-all related to the previous topic)

From my browsing of images on the internet, I decided to make Thomas the Train (and James and Percy) cupcakes that looked great but would be very easy (ha).

I would never have got them done by myself but I am thrilled with the results we managed together with only about 1 hours work : )

And we had more than a little fun along the way : )

I am so lucky to have such a great group of friends.

I served them up to three little boys (and four big girls) the next day and they went over great. Of course, none of the boys were able to figure out what the cupcakes were supposed to be without a little prompting (clearly these kids need to watch more TV ; )

Happy Birthday my big boy!
Have a great weekend and please go to Tami's blog and check out some awesome FO's from people who didn't cheat.

Cheers, Nikki