Monday, January 26, 2015

New Finished Object: Burberry Inspired Cowl

While waiting for the serious snow to come down tonight, I took some indoor pictures of my newest finished object, the Burberry Inspired Cowl. It's knit out of one of my all-time favorite yarns, Misti Alpaca Chunky, in a color way that Misti calls "Chartreuse Melange," but I call a variation on olive green. Like the other cowl I made from this yarn, this one feels like a warm and luxurious hug around my neck!

Hopefully this new addition to my winter wardrobe will be out playing in the snow tomorrow! Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cocooning with Knitting and the Slow Cooker

It sounds like we will be getting a substantial amount of snow here in NJ tomorrow night into Tuesday. While I work from home so I can do my job regardless of the storm, the forecast has motivated me to stock up on comfort food and start some cozy knitting projects.

We bought a slow cooker last winter and I have fallen in love with it. There are so many healthy recipes and it's so easy! Even for someone who is not a great cook (me), I can make delicious meals that cook while I'm working upstairs all day. Last week I made a favorite, Soy & Lime Chicken Wings,
and today I picked up a Pork Shoulder to make this Slow Cooker Pork Roast. I think it's going to be delicious!

As for knitting, I did start working on the Shalom Cardigan using the "mystery" yarn I blogged about last week. The yarn feels great and I think this is going to knit up quickly. It's fairly mindless so I can take it with me to my book group this week (unless, of course, we are snowed out). But for my business trip to Chicago this coming weekend, I think I'll take my Monkey Socks, which have been on my needles for ages as a back-up project. It would be nice to have another pair of socks to rotate in to my sock drawer during these cold, snowy days!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Repurposing Yarn

Swatch of Mystery Yarn
I went to my first Big Apple Knitters Guild meeting last Saturday, to meet a friend who had been my classmate in the Craft Yarn Council's Certified Instructor Program at FIT in December.

The January BAKG meeting is always a yarn auction that benefits the Guild. Given the tremendous size of my stash, I sat and knit through 99% of the auction and didn't bid on anything, until a lonely bag of what looked like dark green and black variegated yarn came up at the end of the auction. No one seemed to want it, and I thought it was pretty, so I bid $3 and got it. My friend recommended that I reskein and wash the yarn, since it was wound into very tight balls and washing it would give it new life (and remove any trace of pets if there had been any in the previous yarn owner's home).

I went home that night and did just that, winding the yarn around my knees instead of getting out my wooden swift and ball winder. Lo and behold, I discovered that the yarn was actually a strand of dark green wool and a strand of black wool wound together:FullSizeRender

but some of the balls had a fuzzy, thin black strand instead of one that matched the thickness and characteristics of the dark green.FullSizeRender

Once my skeins were washed and hung to dry, I studied them and decided to get rid of the fuzzy thin black and replace it with a comparable black yarn once I knew the yarn weight. When all were dry and beautifully rewound into cakes,Mystery Yarn Wound Together

I determined that each yarn was worsted weight, and held together, they made a bulky weight that watched to about 14 stitches/4" on #9 needles.

I have about 380 yards of the dark green/black combo, and another 338 yards of the dark green that will wait for a comparable black companion (I think KnitPicks Wool of the Andes will work just fine). And I've decided that the Shalom Cardigan will look great knit up in this yarn. I'll probably order the KnitPicks yarn within the next week and hopefully cast on soon!

Some people may be wondering whether all of this work and analysis was worth it for a $3 bag of yarn, but I got a lot of satisfaction out of this whole process and learned a great deal. Besides, I think it's kind of cool to repurpose yarn that has its own mysterious history. I'll keep you posted as the story continues!

IMG_1488P.S. I've been busy making several very warm knitted accessories, starting with my Never-ending Story Cowl. Will post details soon!

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 - A Transitional Year in Review

Well, my assumption that my new job would give me more time to knit and to blog has not exactly panned out, but I feel the tide beginning to turn now, as we reach the end of the year.

In my annual knitting recap, according to Ravelry I've completed 15 projects this year, and that doesn't count the pretty hefty amount of contract knitting I did all summer and through the fall, ending at the beginning of December. It also leaves out all of the knitted accessories I made for a craft show where I sold (or tried to sell!) items from my Etsy shop.

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My 15 finished objects include: 3 scarves or cowls, 3 hats, 2 shawls, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of fingerless gloves, 1 poncho, 1 tank top, and 1 Valentine's Day washcloth. I may finish another item--the Never-ending Story Cowl, which I just started last night with yarn I bought two years ago (from two LYS's that have since gone out of business), and from one of my favorite go-to knitting books, Cowlgirls.

In early December I also completed the Craft Yarn Council's Certified Knitting Instructor program over a weekend at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. It was a fabulous experience--I met great people and learned a lot, and I'm probably going to start teaching at my local public library after the New Year and see where we go from there. That motivated me to find a local knitting group, and I have been enjoying my Saturday mornings with the Union County Crafters in NJ. I would like to try to attend meetings of the Big Apple Knitting Guild in NYC with my CYC class friends; I think I'll be able to make that happen in 2015.

I will also pick up the contract knitting again, but need a bit more time to luxuriate in my own projects from deep stash that I love so much!

Wishing all of you a productive year filled with gratifying and relaxing knitting and crafting!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Beginnings and Endings

When I last posted (which I thought was longer ago than it's been), I had hinted about a new job and even some knitting-related work. Well, all of that has come to fruition. Two weeks ago I left my full-time job of 17 years, and this week I started a new job where I will be working from home, selling advertising and marketing solutions to suppliers in the library industry. I'm really hoping that this will give me more time to relax and fit in my knitting and other crafty pursuits while remaining engaged in meaningful work. Will let you all know how it goes!

I had secured a once-weekly job at a LYS, but that is now on hold for a few months. I hope it does happen, as this is something I've always wanted to do. In the meantime, I've been doing quite a bit of contract knitting throughout the summer. It's fun and provides a very small extra income, but I want to make sure it doesn't overtake my time and preference to knit for myself, my family, and my Etsy customers. So that will be another variable to watch this fall.

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After finishing the contract knitting, I went back to the Braided Gem Socks for my son. Finished last night, and they are beautiful. I love the pattern and the yarn, and I think they will keep him very warm when the cold Michigan winter inevitably arrives.

As soon as I bound off, I wound my next ball of sock yarn--a Socks That Rock Lightweight skein from the 2008 Rockin' Sock Club! After this one, I have one skein to go from that club. I can't believe it's taken me so long to get through it--I guess I've had other sock yarn skeins sneak in between. I'm going to make Cookie A's Monkeys with this skein--I wasn't wild about the pattern that came with the yarn (a reason, along with my inability to keep up with the shipments, that I stopped renewing membership to this club), so I will do the Monkeys, a pattern I've been wanting to make for years.

To wind this yarn, I used my new and improved Royal Ball Winder. I think I had had my old one for 30 years and it was just "tired." This new one works like a dream and the skein wound up in no time. A nice little treat for myself.

With college football and the NFL this weekend, I'll have lots of knitting time and can make a dent in my current projects before my next round of contract knitting kicks in.

Hope to be more frequent with the blog posts now that I have all of this free time....hahahaha!

 

 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Latest Shawl: My Hope Brightens Rough Times

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Just finished the very fun-to-knit My Hope shawl, designed by KnitGirlll Laura Linneman. I sued some beautiful Schaeffer Anne yarn that I won several years ago (and sadly, is discontinued). I love the color combination--reds/pinks, coral, gold and bronzy brown. A group I wouldn't necessarily have put together but really liked.I just bought a summer dress in that coral color and this will look great with it.

For the beaded bind-off, I used beautiful beads bought at EarthFaire--just enough color and glitz and the gold beads with coral insides look like they were made for the yarn. Also bought the Beadle Needle which made the beading fun and easy! Highly recommend!

I enjoyed the knitting of this project very much, once I got the hang of the Indian Cross Stitch--used Knit and Tonic’s video tutorial and her way of doing it rather than the way it was written in the pattern--much easier.
I also switched from Signature Needles to KnitPicks Nickel Plated--the join on the fancy Signatures was acting as a stopper that made it hard for me to move the yarn along during the cross-stitch sections. Worked much better after the switch to the inexpensive, but almost always reliable for me, KnitPicks.

IMG_1609The colors of the yarn and the rhythmic nature of the project have soothed me through a few tough weeks; work continues to be a challenge--but I may see the end in sight in the form of a new chapter on the career front. Hopefully by the time I post again after finishing my next project (either socks for my son or a tank top for my daughter), I'll have good news to report. I even plan on having my new career path include knitting.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Transitions

As winter has FINALLY turned to spring, my husband and I have just returned from a fantastic trip to Spain, where we enjoyed some time with our daughter who is studying in Seville this semester, and spent some time alone in Madrid at the end of the trip. Spain did not disappoint on this, our third trip to the country. The food continues to get better, the people are warm and friendly, and the breadth of history never ceases to amaze.

My daughter couldn't wait to point out a yarn shop she's seen in her neighborhood--but alas, when we walked by, it was siesta time

and the shop was closed. I probably saved ImageImagemyself some money--but was somewhat surprised when it dawned on me that I hadn't researched yarn shops in Spain before we left--something I usually do before any trip! I think I was too caught up in figuring out which projects I'd take with me!

I finished two projects on the trip--another striped cowl to replace the one I sold in my Etsy shop just prior to our leaving, and a pair of socks, the Sweet Tart Anklets (I made mine longer than anklets) that I've been working on as a secondary (or tertiary) project for a year! They are very springy and they may go to my daughter when she gets home.Image They were made from sock stash--a while different category--from a years-ago Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock club. ALMOST done with those skeins!

 

 

I also worked on the Riding to Avalon hoodie that I had started as part of my project to use my oldest stash and work forward. The yarn was Ella Rae Silkience in a beautiful pink shade--I had bought it in 2008! Needless to say, the design I was going to make with it doesn't interest me anymore, and nothing--including the hoodie that I worked on throughout two excellent movies on the plane ride home--worked. The hoodie ended up being too big, and I was making the smallest size and using the smallest needles possible without making the fabric stiff. So I decided to sell the yarn. That was a very liberating feeling--sometimes a purchase just isn't meant to be, and if the yarn goes to a good home, all the better! 

Today I started fresh by winding the NEXT item in my stash--that is a skein of Schaefer Anne (also discontinued), that I believe I won around 2008-2009. It's a beautiful melange of earthy colors--bronze, gold, and a pinky coral. I'm going to cast on the My Hope shawl, by Laura Linneman, and have ordered beautiful gold/pink beads from my favorite bead purveyor, Earthfaire, for the beaded bind-off.

I'm looking forward to casting this on with the new Signature needles I ordered to reward myself for winning my office's March Madness pool!

In the meantime, I'm working on the project I left home, the Wrap Me up, Buttercup! shawl from Dancing Leaf Farms. The goal of sneaking this project in is to finish something that I bought at last year's Maryland Sheep & Wool before this year's event comes around. I would like to go again with my sisters, but I may have a conflict with my kids' comings and goings around that time. We'll see. The shawl is a ton of fun--six individual yarns alternate to make a great-looking pattern--this will be a show-stopper once it's done. Easy stitches and no shaping (it's a big rectangle), so good mindless TV knitting.