Monday, October 5, 2015

All the -Alongs

Fall's arrival has given me major startitis, and in addition to the Broad Shoulders sweater KAL I'm leading now through December 13, I've been unable to resist several more -alongs which are taking place in October, such as.....

Weekend KAL
This is a freeform KAL happening now through October 30th, and participants can knit any project from Jen Geigley's Weekend for a chance to win a mystery prize (knowing Jen, it'll be totally awesome)! To me, this book is absolutely perfect for handspun yarn, and I've already picked out a few skeins from my stash to use this month. If you missed my review of this great new book, click here to get caught up. Then check out all of the KAL details here on Jen's website!  

This one's happening here in the Victorian Studio Podcast group on Ravelry, and it's another freeform KAL allowing participants to knit or crochet any toy project they like for a chance to win some great prizes! I have been accruing a backlog of toy projects I've been wanting to knit and crochet (including several past shipments of the FreshStitches Kit Club), so over the weekend, I gathered up some of the projects I hope to complete this month as part of the KAL: 

Miya Shawl KAL 
I'm joining Knitting Sarah to lead this low-pressure KAL over in the Bijou Basin Ranch Ravelry group. It starts on October 12 and runs through November 30, which is plenty of time to knit the Miya shawl - oh, and there are prizes, too! I'm pretty excited to knit with BBR's new 100% cashmere yarn, Xanadu - in fact, this is the first time I have knit with a cashmere (non-blend) yarn! The project takes just one skein and there is a coupon code for KAL participants to receive a discount on Xanadu yarn along with a free copy of the knitting pattern (click here for details in the BBR Ravelry group). 
And, of course, this is all in addition to Spinzilla, which starts TODAY! I have an ambitious pile of fiber to work through this week: tons of rolags, a few batts, and I'm also hoping to spin through a few pounds of various Louet fibers which I've earmarked for this year's event. Yes, spinning a crazy amount of yarn in a week's time (not to mention, plying them all after Spinzilla is over) simply isn't enough - I truly want to do ALL the things this month! 

Who's with me?!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Winner + FO Friday: Frog Hat

Congratulations to Jenny, you've won the WEEKEND and Knitter's Pride needle set giveaway! To claim your prize, you can email me at stefaniegr(at)stitchcraftmarketing(dot)com! Thanks to everyone who entered this contest - don't forget to follow my blog on Bloglovin so you don't miss any more chances to win awesome prizes!
This week's FO is a fun little frog hat which I knit in a new yarn from Knit Picks, Mighty Stitch. I was a little surprised with how much I liked this yarn - it's a blend of 80% acrylic and 20% wool. I sometimes find acrylic yarns really hard to deal with, especially when it comes time to weave in those pesky ends - I feel like they're always popping out! That wasn't an issue here, and I am also quite happy with the overall stitch definition. I'd definitely buy this yarn again, especially for gift projects since it's superwash, not to mention it's a really great value (208 yards for $3.49).
I used the Frog Hat pattern from Knit Simple, and while I would (and most likely will) knit it again, it wasn't the most well-written pattern I've come across. As a fairly experienced knitter, the idiosyncrasies of this pattern didn't throw me, but I feel like a newbie might be flummoxed by the vagueness of some of the instructions. I feel like the tech editor might have phoned it in on this one!

Despite my critique, I'm still very pleased with how the hat turned out and will hopefully get a chance to make a few more hats from this issue for holiday gifting!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WIP Wednesday: All the Grey Projects

I find myself with only grey projects on the needles right now! How did that happen?! It seems like I get stuck in little color phases, and this one is all grey, all the time! Each project is from a different portion of the grey spectrum - for instance, my project for the Sweater of Broad Shoulders KAL is kind of a brownish-grey (the colorway is named Mousey, after all). It's been coming along a bit slowly after a few false starts, but last weekend I finally made it though the first two stitch patterns!
I am still plugging away on my other gray sweater, which is knit with Bijou Basin Ranch yak yarn in a nice, crisp light grey color (I think it has an ever-so-slight bluish hue). I'm using the Pennant Cardi pattern from the fall issue of Knitscene. Yep, That's a lot of grey stockinette!
Last but not least, I am still chugging away on the Leonarda Wrap...which is more of a purple-y grey. Everything was going well till I realized I'd incorrectly knit a crucial row, which has increases across the board to maintain the stitch count - and this mistake was several rows back. Naturally, I discovered this mistake near the end of the evening, so I basically undid all of my work for the night before putting this project down and going to bed. Kind of a bummer, but I'll give it another try tonight, and who knows? Maybe it'll be done by the end of the weekend!
It's the end of September and I have finally decided to give up on my monthly goal-setting. I thought it would help me be more of a productive crafter, but it turned out to have the opposite effect. I was going to try to stick with it til the end of the year, but there is just too much happening this fall to dedicate an entire post to something that my heart's not it. So, this Friday I'll be announcing the winner for the Knitter's Pride needle set and WEEKEND book giveaway, plus I'll have a fun new FO to share, too. See you then!

Monday, September 28, 2015

One Week til Spinzilla!

Spinzilla is almost here! In just one week, I'll be spinning with my excellent teammates on Team Louet North America. This is my third time spinning with Team Louet (and also serving as the team captain), and I think we are definitely in contention for unseating Team Fancy Tiger Craft for first place.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have been prepping a LOT of rolags for Spinzilla using my new Louet Blending board. Part of this is because the blending board is just so incredibly fun & addicting to use - but the other part is because I am going to be traveling for the second half of the event, and I want to make sure that I have plenty of fiber that is easy to use while on-the-go. Small, portable rolags seem tailor-made for travel spinning!

This year, I am going to take a totally different approach to my Spinzilla spinning: I don't plan on plying ANY of my projects til after the event. I have plied in years past, and I just want to try something new, especially since I don't see myself plying while traveling. Of course, that poses some challenges: first, I only have so many bobbins for each wheel. Second, I'll need a way to measure the yardage of my singles which doesn't involve using my niddy noddy (winding my singles off on a niddy noddy will add another step later down the road, because I will have to transfer the singles back onto a bobbin to ply).
The solution came to me one day out of the blue: why not use my ball winder to wind the singles into center-pull balls which I can use to easily ply from later on? From there, I can use a yarn balance to calculate the yardage of each single. I'll just have to take care to label each ball and keep everything well-organized until it's time to ply. I think I can handle that!
I plan to take my travel-friendly Louet Victoria wheel with me, along with my 3-D printed Turkish spindle from Turtlemade. Here's hoping I'm able to keep up with everyone else on my team, we've got some pretty prolific spinners amongst us!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Introducing: Weekend (and a GIVEAWAY!)

I've been anxiously awaiting the release of WEEKEND: Simple, Modern Knits by Jen Geigley this fall, and I'm so excited to share ithis new book with you today!

It seems like indie publishing is where it's at right now - some of my favorite collections have been self-published (or are slated to be self-published, pending their crowdfunding campaigns). I love that designers are taking it upon themselves to make the projects they want to make and overseeing all aspects of the process to fully realize that creative vision. It's a lot of work from start to finish,  and seeing it turn out so well is always exciting.

For WEEKEND, I was fortunate to play a small role in helping it take shape - I was the tech editor for several of the designs. At the time, the concept of a book seemed really esoteric to me, and seeing the finished result of all of Jen's hard work (and her photographer friends Joelle Blanchard, Geof Fischer and Joey Leaming)  is really incredible.

Aside from that, I am just really excited as a knitter to have an entire book of wearable patterns that can be knit up quickly, just in time for the return of cooler temperatures - most can be made in just one weekend!
Each project in WEEKEND is knit using bulky and super bulky yarn to create sweaters and accessories that are casual, contemporary and wearable handknits. Jen's goal was to create pieces that can serve as foundation pieces in anyone’s wardrobe - and I say, mission accomplished! The photo styling is crisp, modern, and perfectly shows off each unique aspect of the pattern. As a music lover, I enjoy a lot of the titles of the patterns: Undone, Sliver, Debut, Valhalla - just to name a few.

I decided to knit the Sliver hat from WEEKEND with a skein of my handspun yarn. It's been a while since I've knit with US 15 needles - this hat practically flew off the needles! In fact, I knit it in just a few hours' time from start to finish. Not bad! With Spinzilla just around the corner (and a HUGE bin of handspun yarn begging to be knit with as it is), I am really excited about using these patterns for more of my handspun yarn. They are a perfect match!

You can visit Jen's website to purchase hard copies of the book (which includes a free e-book copy); WEEKEND is also available as individual pattern downloads and PDF ebook here on Ravelry, or you can snag it on Amazon.

Giveaway Time!
One lucky reader will win a hard copy of WEEKEND: Simple, Modern Knits and a Nova Platina Chunky Interchangeable Set, perfect for knitting projects from the book (it's what I used to make my Sliver hat)!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post saying which pattern is your favorite from the book. Be sure to also let me know your Ravelry ID or email address so that I can get in touch with you in case you win. For bonus entries, be sure to follow my blog via Bloglovin or follow any of these 3 Instagram accounts:

....then leave a comment here telling me which action you performed. 

I'll randomly select 1 lucky winner to announce next Friday, October 2; please note, this contest is only open to the US and Canada. Many thanks to the nice folks at Knitter's Pride and to Jen Geigley for their generous prize donations!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Take 5: Teresa Gregorio of Canary Knits & Great Northern

Today I have an extra-special bonus post from Teresa Gregorio, who is working on an exciting new project with Leah Coccari-Swift called Great Northern, a pattern collection inspired by Twin Peaks (more on that in a sec!). Teresa is a talented designer and blogger whom I met at TNNA earlier this year, where we shared our love of craft beer and I got her hooked on Untappd! 
Leah and Teresa are raising funds for their project via Kickstarter; as you may or may not already know, I absolutely love supporting cool projects on Kickstarter, especially when they involve knitting (see: Midwestern Knits, Wooly App, etc). They already have my pledge - I hope you'll consider supporting them too!
Without further ado, I'll let Teresa share more about this project along with her list of the Top 5 Knitwear Themes inspired by the show!
Knitters and sweaters. We go together like cherry and pie.
Or like Audrey and Dale.  Or Norma and Ed.
I’m alluding to Twin Peaks; for those who may not have encountered this 90s television gem before, it was a groundbreaking series that ran for two seasons and is well known for its unusual, eerie atmosphere, bizarre characters, and (for the fashion-watchers) its collection of vintage knitted sweaters.
The wardrobe on the show is one of those things that made the show so groundbreaking; director David Lynch brought a big-screen sensibility to tv, where he created a sense of timelessness and character individuality through wardrobe. There’s the mid-century class of Audrey; the cozy 70s vibes of the Log Lady; and even the oversized pre-grunge of the late 80s/early 90s. The show is filled with fantastic inspiration; so fantastic, in fact, that fellow knitwear designer Leah Coccari-Swift and I have a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of a pattern book filled with our own take on the vintage vibes of Twin Peaks. Our book is called Great Northern, and we’re really excited!!
Let me walk you through some of that vintage fabulousness and what we’re doing with it.

Sweater Type 1: Late 80s oversized ski sweater
Twin Peaks was filmed right at the dawn of the 90s, so it’s no surprise that there’s a great set of late 80s/early 90s fashion sensibilities in the wardrobe. Several character sport sweaters of this kind; here you see Donna (a young Lara Flynn Boyle) in her oversized circular yoke pullover. 

Leah has drawn inspiration from this garment type to create Filled With Secrets, one of her coziest sweaters that’ll be part of our book Great Northern.
Sweater Type 2: Retro Vibe Cowichan
Everybody loves a cowichan sweater. They’ve been around for over 100 years now, getting love from each decade and picking up a sense of 20th century timelessness along the way. They’re cardigans/jackets that feature graphic colorwork. The non-sequitur spouting Log Lady, a fan favourite, is often seen wearing one of her many cowichan style jackets.

Leah’s taken the spirit of this garment type and added an updated flair with cable work and waist-defining belt in her design, My Log Does Not Judge.
Sweater Type 3: Mid-Century Glamour Top
Audrey Horne has got to be the most stylish character on Twin Peaks. She goes from sweet high schooler in saddle shoes to self-directed, powerful seductress over the course of the show. This journey is reflected through her wardrobe. One of her iconic outfits is the fitted, set-in-sleeve sweater and plaid skirt she sports near the beginning of season one.
Leah has drawn inspiration from Audrey for a number of pieces in Great Northern. One is her classy Jack with One Eye, a figure-hugging vintage crop top with attractive yoke detail.
Sweater Type 4: The Henley
A Henley is a classic sweater shape. They started out as menswear many decades ago, and gained wide popularity in the 1970s. They’re essentially collarless polo shirts, with a buttoned placket running beneath the rounded neckline.
One of my favourite characters in Twin Peaks wears a Henley in a season one scene. This sweater is a fantastic representation of vintage inspiration, with delicate lines, set-in-sleeves, and a classic, wearable style.
I drew inspiration from this sweater to design my own Henley; slightly updated for a 21st century palette, including a graceful neckline, gentle ease throughout the body, and a tailored look with clean, turned hems.
Sweater Type 5: The Drop Shoulder
Knitting was super popular in the 1980s. It was THE era of the drop sleeve sweater. And that uber popularity came to pigeonhole that sweater type as exclusive to an earlier age. Fortunately, this is turning around, with loads of drop shoulder designs once again hitting the knitting world.

Both Leah and I have drop shoulder sweaters in Great Northern. Mine was inspired by yet another of my favourite characters, the sweet and silly Lucy. The costume designer for the show LOVED to put her in oversized drop shoulder tops; I love this cabled one, and have embraced it and updated it in my design Jelly Donuts, with angled pockets, toggles, and a cozy collar.
Want to help make Great Northern happen? Please consider becoming a backer! There’s loads of fun incentives, and the opportunity to pre-order your own copy and receive free shipping when it’s published in the fall of 2016. Click here to make your pledge!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Inching Along

Last Wednesday night, I discovered that I had inexplicably cast on 100 extra stitches from my Broad Shoulders KAL project. I don't even know how that's possible, but that's just the kind of crazy stuff my brain seems to enjoy doing lately. Thank goodness I discovered the mistake early on - having 5 extraneous stitches at the end of the first row of the first stitch pattern section was a major tip-off...though you would think that the unusually large size of the ribbing would have been my first clue.

At any rate, I ripped out the entire thing and started again. By the start of the weekend, I was ready to start the first stitch pattern once more, and I am now halfway through that section:
It's been slow going for most of my projects because there is just so much stuff going on right now. I'm not even finished with the third clue of the Perspectives MKAL! The final clue comes out tomorrow, so I definitely need to put some hustle in my bustle to get caught up:
I've been working on my yak sweater, but it's still not very exciting to photograph - just miles and miles of stockinette. However, I did finally get to an exciting point on my Leonarda Wrap - the very beginning of the border stitch!
And that's it for this week, thanks for stopping by!