Friday, January 23, 2015

FO Friday: Tokyo Tower Bandana

This week's FO is the project I knit during my trip to Kansas City at the beginning of the month: the Tokyo Tower Bandana by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, which I knit with a skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Extra yarn.
If you haven't used this yarn before, it's worth seeking out - oh, the softness! It's really delightful to knit with, and once I blocked my finished project, the fabric just got squishier. I've been wearing it a bunch ever since.
The pattern was pretty easy to follow, with the caveat that there is a lot of counting once you get to the lace detail. I got off on my stitch count a few times, but was able to catch it each time to rip back and fix the mistake to get back on track. The frogging was well-worth it - my eyelet Tokyo Tower looks perfect!

Pattern: Tokyo Tower Bandana by Olga Buraya-Kefelian
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Extra yarn in Lake Ice

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January Spinning Project: Manos Del Uruguay Merino Roving

I haven't really blogged about my craft goals for 2015, but one of them is to start and finish a spinning project each month (I supposed I'll get around to blogging about the rest of the goals at some point!).
Left: Two different dye lots of the Bramble colorway
Right: The resulting singles, ready to ply on the new Schacht Lazy Kate I got for Christmas!
I decided to start with some merino roving my husband gifted me for Christmas from Manos del Uruguay; through a series of unfortunate events beyond his control, he ended up receiving two very different dye lots of the same colorway (it was either that or wait til long after Christmas was over to get matching dye lots). Luckily, I am not one to be daunted by such things, and I rather liked each version of the colorway - it was kind of nice to see the full range of variations! Not only that, but I was sure that they would look just lovely spun into singles and plied together.
Since it's been a while since I've dusted off the wheel, I was a bit rusty to start. The singles are not as uniform as I was aiming for, but I think they came together well in the finished 2-ply yarn. I spun the singles on my regular Ladybug bobbins and then used my bulky plyer to make this ginormous skein (approx. 173 yards), also on the Ladybug:
Every time I look at it, I think Christmas. I was thinking of using it to crochet some sort of tree-shaped wall hanging for Christmas 2015 - here and here are my main pattern contenders at the moment.

I'll have a finished project to share with you on FO Friday this week, see you then!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: New Directions in Lace - Hats

It's been a while since I've written a review of a Craftsy class; to be honest, it's been a while since I've logged in and watched any of the 17 (!) classes I'm registered for! However, when I was offered the change to review a new class by Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley of Kelbourne Woolens, I couldn't say no. I'm a huge fan of their patterns, of which I have purchased and knit several, plus I own both of their books, Vintage Modern Knits and November Knits, and I'm pretty obsessed with The Fibre Company yarns, which Kelbourne Woolens distributes. Calling me a fan girl is probably putting it mildly.

My Spiral Lace Hat
Their new class is called New Directions in Lace: Hats, and it includes 3 great patterns:
  • Spiral Lace Hat - a bottom-up basic lace hat that is super-easy and fast to knit
  • Medallion Crown Hat - a top-down hat wit ha more intricate lace chart
  • True Lace hat - a bottom-up lace hat which includes patterning on every round
Even for experienced knitters, there are plenty of new and useful tips and tricks to be gleaned from the 7 concise lessons (the total course length clocks in just shy of 3 hours). My personal favorite was an awesome trick for guesstimating enough yarn to do a long-tail cast on near the beginning of the class. I have been successfully using it non-stop ever since! Another interesting lesson demonstrated an invisible cast on for the top-down hat which I admit I am still in the process of mastering. 
My True Lace Hat (Still Drying!)

In particular, the charts are really well explained - not just what you do, but the how and the why. There is a thoroughness in general to the patterns, which include written instructions plus charts. In one instance, there are a few different versions of the same chart to demonstrate a few different approaches to both making and reading charts. They also cover how to modify lace patterns to suit your own taste. I found the instructions on how to use the gauge swatch to modify even the more difficult patterns to be very helpful.

The course closes with a really good discussion about finishing your projects: weaving in ends (and how to hide those ends), fixing the float from joining to knit in the round, and blocking in general were covered in great detail.

I would definitely recommend this course for intermediate and advanced knitters who are looking to refine their lace knitting skills and pick up new ones along the way!

Click here to register for New Directions in Lace: Hats on!

You may like to know: I was given a free course in exchange for this review; I am also a Craftsy affiliate and your course registration using my affiliate links help to power this blog. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

FO Friday: OMG!

I finished my OMG Heel Socks on Monday night! I used the yarn my nephews gave me for Christmas, two skeins of Crystal Palace Sausalito.

I made the intentional decision to make fraternal twins, and I really like how they turned out, colorwise. I also like the sock pattern itself - I got a lot of questions about it on Instagram about what I thought of the OMG Heel (which stands for One-needle Mini Gusset).  The short answer is yes - I ended up being happy with the heel it produced, and I would definitely it into other patterns.

The pattern itself (by Megan Williams of the Stockinette Zombies Podcast) is really well-written for both cuff-down and toe-up; the instructions are written for working on two needles via magic loop, but it's very easy to translate to DPNs for those of us who prefer that (ie, me). I will definitely be knitting the OMG Heel Sock pattern again: it's perfect for variegated, self-striping and hand-dyed yarns and it's easy enough to follow along when knitting on the bus/train/what have you.

Pattern: OMG Heel Socks by Megan Williams

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WIP Wednesday, Wherefore Art Thou?

It's been a while since I posted a WIP Wednesday - but don't worry, the disappearance of this weekly feature was only temporary! At the moment, I have just two projects on the needles, and best of all...they are both for ME! The first is something I started in December, about 5 seconds after finishing my last holiday gift project:
The pattern is the Lace Leaf Edge shawl by Jen Lucas which appeared in the Knit Accessories 2014 issue of Love of Knitting; I'm using the yarn called for in the pattern (Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Basin Ranch) in the Sassenach colorway. It's at the extremely hard-to-photograph stage since I've finished knitting the body of the shawl, and am now working across allllll of those stitches to create the lace border. I have a ways to go, but the chart is starting to go faster for me!
My next WIP was started during my trip to Kansas City last week - my first sweater of 2015! I'm really hoping that this year will truly be the Year of the Sweater for me, and I've been eyeing the pattern from Knitscene for quite a while.
The pattern is the Block Island Pullover by Allyson Dykhuizen which appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Knitscene; I'm using Peace Fleece Worsted yarn in Indigo Smoke and Patience Blue.

I can't wait to share this week's FO with you this Friday - see you then!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Eye Candy: Plains Indians Exhibit

While in Kansas City last week, I was fortunate to catch the Plains Indians exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which was in its final week. There was plenty of eye candy for the craft enthusiast: beautiful beadwork, exquisite quilts, and colorful painted motifs. Below are just a few of my favorite pieces; if you have a chance to check it out when it arrives in your neck of the woods, I highly recommend it!

Friday, January 9, 2015

FO Friday: Baby Buffet & Jive Mitts

I'm sure I've mentioned more than a few times that pretty much everyone I know is expecting a baby in the next 6 months (if they haven't already had one). Now that I've finished my holiday gift projects, I'm all about some selfish knitting in the new year, but I can't let my friends and their new little ones go entirely without something handmade! The Baby Sweater Buffet pattern by Allyson Dykhuizen is perfect for all of my baby sweater needs (and yours, too) - it's totally customize-able and knits up quick in worsted weight yarn. I made this cute little Calico Cat sweater recently using some Brava yarn from KnitPicks and three vintage buttons:

I also whipped up a pair of mitts in Blue Sky Alpacas Techno yarn - which is on sale for 50% off at WEBS right now (well, discontinued colors anyway). The yarn itself has an interesting construction I just had to try out for myself: it's a tube of whipped alpaca fiber! It was rather nice to knit with, but the real treat comes with blocking, where it blooms and becomes even softer than it was in the skein. I used the Jive Mitts pattern, which is a quick-knitting mock-cable design.