Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oh look, another nautical pattern.

Got a new pattern to show you today, and guess what? It's nautical. You know, just for something different.

These are the Anchor's Aweigh Gloves! (Ravelry Page)

I noticed this past winter that my winter accessories box was seriously lacking in gloves. I have a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy that has been destined for gloves for literally 5 years, but. I haz plans for those gloves. Complicated, tiny-cables-up-the-fingers plans. So I designed these (much simpler, easy and fast) gloves instead. I'm sure my future winter self will appreciate it.

I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport, which is a great staple yarn to have around. I used only one skein of the navy, so these are actually super inexpensive to knit. The coral yarn is vintage and came from my husband's grandma's house a few years ago- I was lucky there, because a) it's sport weight, and b) I freaking love that color. KP makes a similar color if you want to perfectly duplicate these gloves. I think it's called Papaya Heather. The anchors are done with duplicate stitch, then adorned with a bit of embroidery in the same yarn.

I'm totally happy with how these turned out. They were pretty quick to knit, they fit well (I do love me a good thumb gusset), and really, they are infinitely customizable. You could make plain gloves, or fair-isle gloves, or striped-but-anchor-free gloves, or stripe-less-but-definitely-with-an-anchor gloves, or probably any number of other things that I can't think of, because I'm only half way into my cup of coffee for today.

Want to make your own pair?
$4 on Ravelry, no account needed.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A review of sock yarns.

After my last sock post, reader Ariel asked if I would talk a bit about sock yarns that I've used, and what I think about them, so that she can more confidently buy sock yarn online, which I'll admit is what I mostly do as well. I am in no way a sock-knitting expert, nor have I knitted a million socks, so just keep that in mind. So! Here's what I think about the yarns I've used in the past. These are all socks that I've knitted anywhere from one month to three years ago. I'm showing them to you straight out of my sock drawer, in their natural, clean yet pilly/cat furry/fuzzy state.

I wash them all the same way: fill up the sink with warm water and a bit of Woolite, sort by color family in case of bleeding, toss several pairs on top of the soapy water, come back in half an hour after they've sunk into the water, then sort of squish them around in the water. Rinse, roll up in a towel, squeeze some water out, lay them on towels on the floor in the spare bedroom to dry. I know that sock yarn is machine washable, which is sort of the beauty of sock yarn, but there was a green sock-white shirt incident a while back and I just don't want to risk it. I don't mind hand-washing.

Pattern: Sugar Maple from 2-At-A-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Paints
This is a great yarn. It doesn't bleed in the wash, and the socks are holding up pretty well as I wear them. There are some pills, but it's pretty unusual for a sock to NOT pill. The colors are saturated and lovely, and this yarn has my personal preferred amount of twist: not too much, not too little. I would absolutely buy this yarn online... but it's not necessarily cheap. I think I got it for about $19 at my LYS.

Pattern: Plain Vanilla Socks
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet
What on earth was I thinking when I bought this yarn? This is the goofiest colorway I have ever seen. Ok, maybe not EVER, but come on, past self, what the hell? I actually started knitting.... something, can't think of what now with this yarn a long time ago, frogged it, and rolled it back into a ball. It did not like to be frogged. That part of the yarn was so ragged. You can't really tell in the knitted socks, but. I could think of no pattern that would not look awful with these colors, so I just knitted plain socks. I only wear these with boots so that no one can see them. That being said: This is not my favorite sock yarn. It has a really tight twist, which is not my preference. The colorways are all sort of goofy. One thing that I DO really like is that this yarn comes in half-size hanks, and the price is good- I think it was about $7.50 a hank at the LYS. Great for colorwork socks, or if, say, your brother is a real goofball and never wears matching socks, then maybe you could buy two different half hanks and make him two different socks. That's my working plan for him for Christmas. But! It won't be in this yarn, because I don't plan on buying it again. Too weird.

Pattern: I don't even remember. Something with knits and purls.
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine
This is an unusual sock yarn because it's alpaca instead of the standard superwash merino + nylon. The thing with alpaca is that it's fuzzy. I dislike fuzzy socks. I didn't know this about myself before I knitted these socks. It was fine to knit with and the socks are holding up decently well, but I personally do not want alpaca socks. I recall that this yarn was pretty cheap at the LYS.

Pattern: Hermione's Everyday Socks
Yarn: Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sock
Has every sock knitter made this pattern by now? Probably. I love, love, love these socks. This yarn was a splurge (about $25?) at Stitches West in California last year, and it was worth every penny. These are my go-to socks, but they're not showing any wear. (Granted, they are a fairly new addition to the sock drawer, but I wore them all the time when it was cold, and I even took them on planes with me this summer. Because my feeties get cold on the plane.) Ironically, these have the same tight twist of the Plymouth Happy Feet, but it didn't bother me. Maybe because the color is stunning and not goofy? Not sure. I would absolutely buy more of this yarn, and I think it would have to be online, because the only time I've seen this yarn was at Stitches. Dang it, now I'm totally gonna buy some online right now. Like I need more yarn.

Patterns: Embossed Leaves (the green) and Sailor's Delight (the blue)
Yarns: Etsy indie dyers
I'm lumping these two together. Both are from Etsy shops, but I'm not sure which ones anymore. The blue was actually a trade on Ravelry for a yarn that I'd dyed myself. The green yarn is a NIGHTMARE. It was the culprit of the laundry incident I mentioned at the beginning of this ungodly long post. I have to wash these by themselves because they still leach out enough dye to ruin things, and they are absolutely starting to look faded, even though I rarely wear them. I knitted these in 2011. That's three years of dye. They're also looking definitely worn (apart from being faded), but that could just be that they're the oldest socks in the drawer. These are my (gasp) first socks. Bold pattern choice for my first, but that's how I roll.
The blue is fine, I guess. Not the sturdiest of yarns and they always look dirty on the soles, no matter if I've just washed them or not. My advice about buying hand-dyed sock yarns on Etsy is, I guess, only buy if you absolutely must have that color, of if you have used that particular shop's yarn before and know for sure that it's good. There is so much variation in dyeing (and skill) that I don't want to risk it. I hate saying this, because I'm all about supporting indie shops, but the green dye, people. The green dye.

Patterns: Plain Vanilla (the pastel), Twilight (the pink), and Love Socks (the stripe)
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Hand Paints
Love. Pure and simple love. This yarn is a great deal, even when it's not on sale, and the colors are lovely. I will admit that the plain socks, which I call my ice cream socks, are slightly goofy, but you know what? I got that skein of yarn for $5 during the Black Friday sale. You cannot beat that. The pink was also on sale for five bucks. This yarn is so soft, the colors don't bleed, and knitting with it is a real joy. I love everything about this yarn. I used the leftovers from my ice cream socks along with some leftover KP Stroll in solid gray to make the Love socks. I absolutely plan to knit more socks from this yarn... once I order some more. Which I shall now go do.

Pattern: Plain Vanilla
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici
As much as I love KP Stroll yarn, that's how much I hate Felici. HATE. I have no idea why I have two pairs from this yarn. I think I ordered them at the same time, because I will never order this yarn again. It looks nasty, especially the pink. Those socks look dirty no matter what I do. They've pilled, they're not holding up well, and just ugh. Also, what the what do you do with yarn that has this thick of stripes, besides make plain socks? If I want plain socks I want to choose to make plain socks, not have the yarn dictate that, thankyouverymuch.

Pattern: Charade
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy
This is not my favorite yarn, which is ok, because it's pricey. Most of my socks are softer than these, and I'm pretty sure that this yarn is a bit thin for a fingering. The color is also just slightly odd. I have another skein in my stash that's a light blue, and it also has these sort of yellow-y patches in it. Not sure that I'll buy this yarn again, especially when I know I can get KP Stroll for way, way cheaper, and that it's softer, too.

This is my newest yarn: Lorna's Laces. It was, ahem, not cheap. I haven't started knitting with it yet, so I will have to let you know what I think, but I can already tell that it's softer than the Dream in Color. Lovely color, too.

Wish list for future sock yarn experiments: Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock (might be awhile before I get a skein of that... $$$), Lorna's Laces Solemate (again... $$$), and Blue Moon Socks that Rock.

If you've made it to the bottom of this incredibly long post, congratulations. I hope you learned something (anything!) about socks and sock yarn, and if you didn't, well. I did my best. Now go forth, and knit some socks!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

First Christmas Gift, Check.

Sock Pair No. 5 of 2014.

Things I learned while knitting this pair of socks:
1. Pay attention to what you're doing. (This is not the first time I've learned this particular lesson.)
2. Gauge is a filthy beast. (Nor this one.)

I tend to knit fairly simple socks, because I often use them as my "I've been designing all day, I just need something mindless to work on now while I watch Property Brothers because I am incapable of sitting still." I nearly always choose a pattern that has a 4-stitch repeat (or no repeat, just plain vanilla socks), because a lot of patterns are written for 64 stitches (8 stitches per inch), and I know that I need to go down to 60 to fit my thin ankles. The pattern I picked this time is Charade, and it does indeed have a 4-stitch repeat, and is written for 64 stitches. I used Dream in Color Smooshy in the colorway Wisteria, which is pretty, if slightly odd.

I started these socks after a long, long day on our epic house-hunting trip in Louisiana. My brain: not working that well. Without giving it any thought at all, I automatically went down to 60 stitches on my beloved size 2 sock needles. I knitted literally the entire leg and turned the heel before I stopped and really looked at the sock and realized that there was not a chance in hell that they would fit me without cutting off my circulation. Turns out the stitch pattern (which involves passing slipped stitches over) really draws in. If I had been thinking at all I would have realized that, or alternatively, the pattern could list gauge instead of just saying "Meh." Really. Under gauge it says "Meh."

Instead of ripping I made the magnanimous decision to keep going, and end up with my first Christmas gift. It was a tough decision. I wanted these socks for myself, and I will admit that I am a "selfish knitter." (PS: I absolutely hate that phrase. I am the one doing the knitting, so I get to pick what I knit and who gets it, and if that person is always me, well. It's my time, my yarn, and my choice. Rant over.)

So I've decided that these go to my mother-in-law, who I'm nearly sure does not read my blog, but if she does... please act surprised come Christmas time. She's quite petite and lives in the frozen tundra of North Dakota, where winter lasts 10.5 months a year, so these socks will be perfect for her.

I think that my next socks (which will be pair 6 of my goal of 6 for 2014... sweet, sweet success) will be this beautiful, impossible-to-photograph aqua-y, greenish, sea-esque beauty. I've never knitted with Lorna's Laces before, so I'm looking forward to that. Still on the hunt for my go-to sock yarn.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

In which we give up and make a wall hanging.

This quilt: oh, this quilt. What a journey. It's the Converging Corners quilt tutorial from Film In The Fridge (found here). I started it back in the early spring of 2013, got 4 blocks done, taped them to my craft room wall, and considered myself a genius. Each block took just about a lifetime, and was just so fiddly. So many pieces, so much up-down to the ironing board, so many times that my seams were not straight enough and the whole block went a little off. I got those 4 blocks done, admired them on the wall for a few months, and sort of thought about making more, but then we moved. After we got settled in to the new house and I had my new craft room, I got distracted by All Of The Things, and totally forgot that I had made this at all. Then I moved my craft room from the spare bedroom to the unused family room in the basement (best move ever, I have so much space to sew and craft), and I re-discovered the quilt. Aha! I thought, I'll finish this up! Made a couple more blocks, remembered that it was terribly tedious and time-consuming the first time, realized it was no different this time, and put the blocks + cut out pieces in a pile on the floor. (Organization and putting things away are not skills that I have.)

Fast forward to last week, when I decided that I wanted to do some quilting. I actually made a block of a totally new quilt- something with fussy-cut alligator fabric, to commemorate our upcoming Louisiana move- before I thought, no no, finish something else first. Pulled out this stack of quilt blocks, and immediately thought, something's wrong. My cat does this thing where she gets mad at me when I travel, and when I get back from said travel, she does things like poop in the bed, between the sheets, on my side. Seriously. She did that once. So apparently at some point in the past, I traveled, she got mad, and she PEED ON THE STACK OF QUILT BLOCKS. I know what you're thinking. 1. You shouldn't store things on the floor. (I know.) 2. How did you not smell it? (I don't know. I feel icky about it.) and 3. Why on earth do you still have that cat? (Again. I don't know. She's fluffy and sweet usually, but we do. not. mess. with. the. cat.)

Corner matching: nailed it. 

So I tossed the blocks into the washing machine with a ton of Resolve and ungodly amounts of detergent, and hoped for the best. It worked- no more smell, no stains, but. The blocks were now a wonky mess. Un-sewn quilt blocks do not like to be washed, turns out. I didn't dry them in the dryer- I used my iron to try to steam the wet blocks back into shape, and it sort of worked, but at least one of the blocks was still irreparably wonky. I started to make more blocks, and had them all laid out on the floor, when I realized just how many more I needed to make in order to end up with a decent-sized quilt, and nearly cried. "What am I going to do?" I asked myself. "Wall hanging for the sewing room in the new house," I answered myself. I've always thought that wall hangings were a bit goofy, but now I get it. It's a solution.

A little bit of hand quilting. 

So I sewed those nine blocks together, had a hell of a time quilting it (wonky blocks! they don't want to be quilted flat), bound it in my favorite print of all time, decided that I had to wash it to try to disguise the wonkiness, hand-sewed the binding down, then added a little bit of hand quilting in contrast thread. I admit that I only did this because it took me 1.5 True Blood episodes to sew the binding down, and I didn't want to sit there and do nothing for the last half-episode. I don't do nothing well.

And now I have a wall hanging, and a color palette and theme for the new sewing room, and I don't have this WIP anymore, and I finished one of my new year's crafting goals: finish this quilt. Winning. Except for the cat pee.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Admiralty

Hello hello Holla Knits lovers. It's blog tour day!

Let's talk about my pattern from the Holla Knits Home Collection. I designed a 3-D ship's helm pillow, because why not. It's called The Admiralty, and you can check it/buy it out here on the Holla Knits website.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, then I think you'll already know about my love of all things Nautical. It's a real problem for me. Examples.

This is just one of my nautical art pieces. It lives in the dining room. 

A subset of my nautical jewelry. Really, I have more.

A portion of my nautical clothes. I really love stripes. And, uh, navy.

And of course, my living room. I have so very many nautical pillows. Most of them I made after we moved to Delaware last year, because we got that gray couch, and gray is easier to work into a navy-white-and-lots-of-stripes theme than our old tan couch was. When I saw the call for submissions for the Holla Knits Home Collection this past spring, my brain went, "Ship's helm pillow. Round out the couch collection." I honestly thought there was no way that the editor would go for it, but apparently she and I have the same weirdnesses going on. So here we are. A knitted ship's helm pillow. 

Construction was a bit tricky to figure out, but in the end I got it. Like my previous Holla Knits pattern (the Everett Henley, bane of lace sweater knitters everywhere), the difficulty is a little high. You should already know how, or at least be willing to learn quickly, to do intarsia, Kitchener stitch, mattress stitch, and small-diameter knitting in the round. The black circle is your starting point. Each spoke is its own intarsia wedge. After knitting all six you seam them together, then join them on one long circular to knit the edging. You make two of the same, then Kitchener those babies together with a pillow form inside. The handle parts of the spokes are stuffed and sewn on.  

Please, please, someone with a little boy needs to design a pirate-themed room for him and knit this. I am begging someone. I want to see that so badly. 

So, there we are. Knitted ship's helm pillow. If you want to check out the other stops on the blog tour for this collection, here you go. 

July 7: Launch
July 9: Jean Chung
July 11: Klever Knits

July 14: Canary Knits
July 15: Louet Blog
July 16: Laura McDougal
July 17: Knits in Class

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Holla Knits Home Collection 2014

The Holla Knits Home Collection 2014 is out and I have a pattern in it! 

This is The Admiralty. Yes, it's a knitted ship's helm pillow. You can get the individual pattern for $4, or the entire 5 pattern collection for $12 on the Holla Knits website. Then you, too, can show the world your love of nautical. :)

I'll be back on July 10th to talk a little more about the pattern and my love of all things nautical. Here's a blog tour schedule so you can check out everything that's going on in this collection! 

July 7: Launch
July 9: Jean Chung
July 10: Emily Ringelman - that's me!
July 11: Klever Knits

July 14: Canary Knits
July 15: Louet Blog
July 16: Laura McDougal
July 17: Knits in Class

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Nettie bodysuit + Simplicity 2413

I've decided that I need to make an effort to make entire outfits instead of just pieces. Lately, I've been sewing sort of random don't-go-with-anything-else-I-own items, and then guess what? I don't wear them, because they don't go with anything. This outfit was a concerted effort, and I think I did pretty well. Couple of problems, but that's inevitable.

Two patterns here: the Nettie bodysuit by Closet Case Patterns (you'll just have to trust me that it is indeed a body suit, and not just a top. Confidence is not high enough to pose on the interwebs wearing basically an adult onesie.) and view A of  Simplicity 2413, which I think might be out of print. I've had that pattern for ages; I actually made view B in probably 2009, then never wore it (shocker) because it is a paper bag skirt, and those are tough to wear if you're not a size 2. Which I am not. But anyway. This time I made view A, which is much more normal and wearable. 

So, the bodysuit. When I bought the pattern my husband thought I was insane, but honestly it's exactly what I've been needing for-EV-er and just had never realized. With this style of skirt, it's so hard to keep your top tucked in, or not bunchy, and usually things end up looking odd, or I get frustrated and just change into my Argentina t-shirt and jean shorts and say, "Screw it, didn't want to look nice anyway." Bodysuit under skirt: genius. Works so much better. This is my second Nettie. My first was a pretty epic fail, because I used some white knit from JoAnn's that was way too lightweight and stretched out during sewing. That bodysuit is about 6 inches too long for me, and that's awkward. Plus I made the version with the lower back, and it always feels like it's falling off my shoulders. So for this version, I bought some true medium weight knit online from Girl Charlee (great store), and it was night and day different when sewing. So much better. I also made the higher-backed version, just for peace of mind. It's an easy, quick pattern to sew. The only changes I made were to sew on the bands flat instead of in the round, because that's just my preference. 

Skirt! I used one of the "silky solids" from JoAnn's, and it's pretty nice. There's some weight to the fabric, which surely made it easier to sew. I really wish I would have read through the instructions fully before I started, because for reasons that would make sense never, the invisible zipper is on the same seam as the pocket. I could not figure out how to put that zipper in. First I sewed it in so that the pocket was sewn closed, then I was dumb and sewed the zipper in wrong-side-out, then I just sort of sat and stared at it for awhile. I finally got it, but geesh. It would have been so easy to just put the zipper in at the center back instead and not have to bother.

See? That's stupid. 

In conclusion: these are the types of pieces I need to be sewing. I like to wear higher-waisted skirts with belts, so in theory, that's what I should be sewing, yes? Instead, in the past couple of months, I've made an anchor-print romper that absolutely does not fit; an open-back, buttoned, zippered top that's just a bit too complicated; a peter-pan-collared little girl dress (but for me, not a little girl); and a pair of pj shorts that are sorority-girl tiny. Great success! But no, not really. Mostly, the pile of "oh wow that is awful, now what do I do with it?" stuff is just getting bigger and bigger in the craft room. Ah well. Live and learn.