Friday, December 18, 2009

Great Minds Think Alike

This is the story of one of those knitting ideas I have that seem great at first, then kind of fizzle away, and eventually wind up with a happy ending. I guess it could be one of those cheap dime-store knitting romance novels, if they existed.

Stone Brewing Company is one of the many fine breweries in SD county, and is probably the largest and most widely distributed of them as well. You may be familiar with their Arrogant Bastard Ale, which in my opinion can hit the spot when called upon to do so. ;-) Stone has been in existance for 13 years now, has been growing steadily, and is also involved in distribution of other smaller ale labels that they partner with. I've also noticed that they seem to like to collaborate with other business to produce such things as hot sauces, bbq sauce, and mustards that contain their ales. So last summer I thought, "Why not Stone socks?"

Mid-summer, Stone announced their 13th Anniversary bash and introduced a new logo. They have always had gargoyle-themed labeling, and generally, their designs are quiet intricate and aren't very suitable for intarsia work. When the anniversary logo was released, I was quite pleased to see that it was going to be chart-able. I have some software that's made for converting photos to counted cross stitch patterns, and it works equally well for creating intarsia charts, so I plugged the gargoyle in, and got a reasonable chart that is about 40 sts wide and 48 rows high.


I then went about designing a mens' sock to put the design on, and brewed up a new color, Arrogant Bastard Brown (which I am only using for personal use at this point), to make it from . The sock features top down construction, and is covered with a basketweave-ish slip stitch pattern everywhere except where the logo is positioned on the outside of each calf area. The logo is done in natural "white".

All the time I was doing this design work, I was getting increasingly excited about how this sock could set a whole parade of brewery-based socks into motion. How fun would it be to do all the local breweries, and then start hopping around to places like Colorado to do a New Belgian Brewing sock (Fat Tire Ale), or to SF for an Anchor Steam sock, or Seattle for a Red Hook sock - whew! the possiblities are endless.

Once I started the sock, however, my tone started to change. I decided that the commercial appeal of this project would be limited for several reasons. First, while the male beer drinking market share is quite substantial, I'm just not sure there are enough knitting wives, girlfriends, and mothers of Stone drinkers to drive a demand for the first sock in the series.

Second, the sock turned out to be technically difficult to make. As the gargoyle design is only on one side of the sock, stranded colorwork is really not an option as it would just lead to unnecessary tightening of the sock circumference. This leaves two options: work the leg flat in intarsia and then seam it (a concept I just can not endorse), or intarsia in the round. I chose the latter, which is probably the most difficult technique in my arsenal. For those of you who have never done it, I'll give you a short summary...

The first round of the colorwork goes great. You get your main color in your right hand and your contrast color in your left hand, and you just go to town switching back and forth between the two and get pretty full of yourself. After finishing the intarsia area, you drop the contrast color, and finish the other half of the round with the main color. Then in round two when you get to the place where you need to pick up your contrast color, you find that it is clear the heck over on the other side of the design. So, you have a quick stiff drink to reinforce your confidence, and then slip all the design stitches to the right needle, flip your work inside out, and purl your intarsia design back the direction you came. While working on the wrong side, you must also weave in your main color as you go - which happens to be running the opposite direction as the contrast color yarn, so the process requires that you grow a third arm at this point. Then when you get to the end of your design area, you slip all the sts you just knit back to your right needle, have another little nip to celebrate your success, and carry on for the rest of the round in your main color. All the even numbered rows are like this, and they each take about 37 hours to complete. Needless to say, by the time I finished the test sock, I was convinced that this was not a project that the average knitter would want to tackle, unless they are punishing themselves or are trying to increase their WIP stash.

Third (like there even needs to be a third reason why I bagged this idea), I got a bit shy about approaching the fine folks at Stone about the concept. I'm good at a lot of things that go into conceiving and producing products, but I am not a marketing/sales type of person. I had seriously thought of asking help from a friend who is in sales so I could put together a presentation and know what the heck to ask for, but since reason #2 was already nixing the program, I never even bothered.

So I completed one sock, and I did attend the 13th Anniversary Festival in August with hubby and friends to celebrate the success of a fine brewery, and then said sock and the remaining skein of yarn went into the "trunk of shame."

That was until a couple of weeks ago. My friend Shelly, an excellent knitter, spinner, and all-around fiber enthusiast, and I decided to have lunch at Stone one day. They built a new facility a couple of years ago with a nice restaurant and a terrific beer garden area which is a beautiful place to knit and sip (a cask-conditioned porter in my case that day). I took The Sock with me because I though it would be a hoot to take a picture of it next to some of their other gargoyly merchandise. To my surprise, they had a very similar epiphany about their newest logo, and had put it onto knitwear, too! Not socks, of course, but they had it on the ever-popular beanie hat in all sorts of colors!

I'm feeling pretty darned validated about my beer logo concept now, and am actually going to finish the second sock (someday) - even if it's just for my own beer drinking man.

Cheers-



Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rock Star Cookies

One thing that you may not know about me is that I'm a Rock Band junkie. I'm part of a group called The Hotties that plays semi-regular "gigs" in the North County San Diego area. Generally, we schedule our shows around the six band members' birthdays, and make a fun evening of it including excellent home cooked dinners, fine cocktails, and uninhibited (yet privately contained) musicianship. When it's my turn to sing, I normally prefer the classics from the 70s and 80s - Sufferagette City is one of my faves. During our last gig in November, I had a lot of fun wailing out Kung Fu Fighting, and actually thought I had done a really good job on the song. That was until I saw video of the performance the next day - ha! The air karate kicks were a little over the top...

As our band had no birthdays to celebrate in December, we started a new
tradition of the band holiday cookie baking and movie knitting day. The event was appropriately named The Hotties' Sugar High Gig 2009 by Edina, who compiled our recipes into wonderfully cute card sets (shown above). Edina is also wonderfully cute (shown on the right), and she also whipped up some soft and chewy lemon cookies that are quite addictive. Glad she provided the recipe!

What a great time it was! We started in the morning with a round of Bailey's and coffee and Becky's yummy pumpkin muffins to get us going, and knocked out several batches of cookies and candy over the next couple of hours. Our Band Manager, Kelie (left), created two delicious cookies with some pre-gig help from her junior assistants. One of her recipes, shown below in red, green, and white really does taste like mint chocolate chip ice cream!

Becky prepared a ton of delicious caramels that required full band cooperation to get individually wrapped. Then, as if that wasn't enough, she moved on to shortbread cookies that were deliciously frosted in holiday colors. She's shown on the right hollering at me to stop bugging her with the camera while she focuses on her balls.

Shelly exhibited her usual joie de vivre as she prepared her chocolate topped peanut butter cookes that are way yummy. She also got high tech points for bringing a silicone baking sheet thingy that was way cool!

As we transitioned to margaritas and various varieties of junk food, we fired up the DVD player and got some good laughs watching Julie and Julia while we worked on our knitting projects. It's been a hectic couple of weeks for me, with very little knitting R&R time, so I really enjoyed this opportunity to kick back and celebrate the holidays with the band!

Cheers-

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two Little Pigs

When my sister had her little girl, I knew I would have fun making gifts for her, but I never knew just how much fun! I've become a total sucker for any cute kiddie knitting pattern I see - filing them away until they become age-appropriate and ready to move into the live project queue.

Last week I found this pattern for Piggy Mittens, and it landed in the "must make for this Christmas" file! How cute are these! They are probably a little big, but I'm sure she'll enjoy them for puppets or mittens for the next couple of years. They are a really quick knit, and I made them from two colors of leftover stash Cascade 220. I swear if it got cold enough here to wear them, I'd make a pair for myself!

We're excited to have shipped to one more state - welcome Rhode Island! Only four left to go. How cool would it be to get all 50 by the end of the year.


Shipped to 46 states (92%)


Cheers!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Green Flash and a Bertha Update

One of the many pleasures of San Diego County is that it is the home of many great breweries. The most well-known of the bunch is Stone Brewing Co, brewer of Arrogant Bastard Ale. Some of our other faves are Port Brewing Co, which also makes a mean pizza, and Alesmith, for which I have fond memories of sneaking out of work early on Fridays with my boss to enjoy their tasting room many years ago.

Yesterday, one of our local breweries, Green Flash Brewing Company, hosted a festival in honor of their 7th birthday, and we were there to help them celebrate. It was a beautiful sunny, warm day for the mostly outdoor event that featured tastings from 20 local brewers, BBQ, pizza, and the opportunity to share a beer with some fellow members of the SD Beer Club.

I wore my Martini Scarf to the event which couldn't have been more appropriate. Not only did it fit the cocktail theme, but the scarf color happened to be the theme color of the event. The scarf caught the eye of a couple of the women in attendance - one who was a knitter, and one who worked for Port Brewing. She asked me if I could knit them to sell in their gift shop. Ha! Clearly she is not a knitter :-)

My hubby and I have a tendency to get pretty geeky when it comes to visiting production facilities due to our background in biotech product manufacturing. Consequently, we enjoyed checking out their equipment room, and bugged a couple of their employees with riviting questions about their process like filling machine dead volumes and CIP chemical content.

On the knitting front, I've finished the tank top portion of the Big Red Bertha Twinset, and it turned out well! I really like the border pattern I chose, and plan to feature it more in the cardigan. This yarn is very soft for 100% merino - not itchy at all! I used about 600 yards of the 2000 yard skein for the tank, so I should have plenty left for a long-sleeved cardigan to match. My apologies for the blurry self-photo of this project.

I also started knitting the most adorable piggy mittens for my niece - I just love knitting things for her! I should have completion photos of the piggies for my next post.


Cheers-

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bertha Red is Out of the Trunk!


I seem to really have a bad case of "Start-itis" lately, but this latest project seems adequately justified in my mind for two reasons. First, I'm consuming stash - and lots of it! Second, if this goes well, I'll make a second one for my sister for her birthday. Therefore, this is R&D.
Just over a year ago, I purchased two "Big Berthas" at the Torrance Fiber Festival. Big Bertha is not the real name for this yarn, it's just the name my knitting buddies and I have adopted for these hugantic skeins of sport weight merino that we bought in bulk from Newton Country Yarns. Each skein that I bought contains 2000 (!) yards, and I got them for about $35 each. What a steal.

So over the last year, I've been thinking about what to do with my Berthas (and how nice it would be to get them out of my yarn trunk), and finally decided to go with a sweater twinset. I haven't drawn the whole garment out as I usually do - instead I'm just playing it by ear as I go, and I'll let the yardage determine my path. All I know is that there will be a tank top, accompanied by a cardigan-ish sort of second layer.  Yay!


My two Berthas are in different colorways. The one I've chosen to start with for myself is a variagation of reds, oranges, and a dark color that is black, navy, eggplant, or some combination of those. It's very fall-ish, and outside my normal color pallete, so I'm enjoying it. The remaining Bertha, Bertha Blue, is in vibrant aqua, green and magenta. It really pops!

Big Bertha is a very soft and "cushy" yarn. It's 6-ply - or rather three plies that are each comprised of two plies. Confused yet? I'm sure there's a name for that, but I don't know it! Anyway, the plies are loosely twisted, and the resulting yarn is very plump and has great elasticity.

I've started on the tank top. I knit a 4" wide border that I REALLY like (see top photo), then picked up stitches along the top of it and churned out the rest in stockinette based on some gauge calculations. The dimensions seem to be turning out just right. Stay tuned for more updates on my progress.

We've added another state to our "Shipped To" list - welcome Mississippi!


Shipped To 45 states (90%)

Five states to go... Oklahoma, Arkansas, Rhode Island and both the Dakotas.
Cheers!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Torrance Fiber Festival!

Yesterday was the annual Fiber Festival in Torrance, CA. Sponsored by the Southern California Handweavers Guild, this event showcases weaving, but has something for everyone who likes to play with string!









Seven of us from local knitting groups carpooled north to the event again this year. Our routine begins with meeting for breakfast at 8am so that we have lots of energy for shopping when we arrive at the event! The drive was great - no LA traffic to impede our ultimate goal of arriving shortly after the show opened.
























There were all kinds of yarns, rovings, fleeces, books, tools, beads, buttons, looms, and spinning equipment. None of us left empty handed. A couple of the girls scored sweater quantities of Malabrigo that I could see they were casting on in their minds before even leaving the booth! Several of the group members are spinners, and purchased beautiful fleece and roving. One lucky shopper purchased two beautiful alpaca fleeces that were in lovely natural light grey and chocolate colors, and were soft as a cloud. Another was excited to find a book she had been looking for.

I was quite disciplined (since I haven't used what I bought there last year yet), and made only one purchase. I scored a skein of Hand Maiden CamelSpin (7o% Silk and 30% Camel) that is in lovely fall colors and is SO unbelievably soft. I've ridden a camel before, and it was a big nasty animal, so I'm always amazed at how soft it's fur can be when spun. I might try to make a little shrug out of it, or if that won't fly, it will become the most luxurious pair of socks EVAH!

After we exhausted ourselves and our credit cards, we piled back in the cars for our next traditional stop for lunch at an area Noodle House, and were joined by a group of knitters from Orange County that we have met through Stitches events. It was a pretty animated lunch since everyone was still on their yarn-buying high! Finally, with full bellies we made our way back down the freeway with our new purchases. The first thing I did when I got home was log into Ravelry to see what I might like to make out of my new camel yarn!
Cheers-

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sweet Coraline

Let me start with a disclaimer. The title, while perfect for this post, should not imply that I am one of those people that have jumped on this resurgence bandwagon filled with Neil Diamond fans. I didn't even like him in the 70s when his songs weren't all tired from 30 years of use. Unfortunately for me, I have had the song Sweet Caroline stuck in my brain the entire time I've been knitting this sweater, so I'm REALLY glad that it's done!

Coraline is finished! The picture doesn't do the sweater (or me, for that matter) justice. The peplum has a cute lacy pattern, and it's very flouncy and flairs out when I twirl around. Perhaps I should have posted video instead of a photo! It fits well and is quite comfy. It's too cool now to wear it alone, but it will be a good summer top when we get back to our warm days.

I have two other completions to report! First, I finished the three quilted bags that I started making when I last posted. They are really cute, and perfectly sized for a single skein project. It was really fun to do some sewing again, and I've forgotten how nice it is to make something that only takes a few hours to complete! I've used them to wrap some skeins of yarn that I purchased for friends for christmas while we were in NYC last month. Hopefully they are too busy to read this!
Here's a link to the bag tutorial for those of you interested... I did make the pattern a bit larger for mine.
http://www.psiquilt.com/2009/08/friendship-bag-tutorial.html

My other completion is the design for Mystery Sock II: Girls' Night Out. I've finished the first test sock, and am finalizing the pattern and test knitting it as I work on sock number 2. It's really cute, but you don't get to see a picture or it wouldn't be a Mystery Sock! I will say that it includes a mosaic pattern that will be a great learning project for people new to 2-color knitting. Mosaic colorwork is so easy, and it looks great! This sock will be presented to participants in a series of 6 clues that start at the cuff and work down to the toe. I'm thinking this will be our first Sock-aholic fun project for the new year!

Today is Halloween, and hubby and I are dressing up and going out tonight to a Black and White party at a local restaurant. I'm going to be a dead nun, and hubby is still undecided. Pics in my next post! It's our first nice meal out since starting the South Beach diet 4 weeks ago - which is going very well by the way! Looking forward to a nice glass of wine :-)

Cheers -

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crafting AADD

I used to have so much more discipline. I knew that because I'm the type of person who doesn't like to be surrounded with a lot of unfinished business, I tried to minimize the number of projects I had going on at once. Something has changed. Either I don't know myself so well anymore, or I don't care what I think anymore, because I just keep starting projects, and none of them seem to be hitting the "Done!" pile.

Maybe it's just the approaching holidays. I love to make gifts for people who enjoy receiving my handmade items, and most of the things I've started lately fall into that category.

Today is a flagrant example. One of my Ravelry Buddies recently shared these darling little quilted tote bags that she was making. The bags are about 5 inches high by 8 inches wide and are just cute as can be. I got to thinking that these bags, if made a bit larger, would be the perfect way to wrap up gift skeins of yarn for knitting friends. So this morning, with 5 active knitting projects in tow, I started digging through my FABRIC stash to start making quilted bags. It's been so long since I did any sewing besides mending, that this is going rather slowly. I've found fun things I'd completely forgotten about, like my rotary cutter and teflon cutting board. Last time I used these, mind you, they were kind of a new craze in sewing! On the "not so new" list is my old 60s era Kenmore machine which has been used by three generations of women in my family. It's a beast, but it still plugs along!

Took me a good hour to graph out how to enlarge the pattern, and another hour to cut out the pieces for one bag. My stash of quilting fabric was bigger than I thought, but some of it is pretty dated design-wise, so I'll be heading to the fabric store as soon as I finish this post. I also need some minor things like sewing machine needles... and why have I saved old broken ones with no tip on them? Stay tuned as I share the rest of this experience as I try to remember how to sew. I used to be so good at it... but like everything else (except extra pounds), if you don't use it, you lose it!

Speaking of extra pounds, we're still doing well on our South Beach diet. Hubby is doing really great. I'm not losing as quickly, but then I have less to lose and consequently cheat. I need to find sugar-free candy corn. Those darned things are addictive!

I'm really cruising on my Coraline Top. The front, back, and one sleeve are done! I'd like to finish it to wear to the Torrance Fiber Festival on Nov 1st - that will depend, of course, on how many other projects I start between now and then!

I'm pleased to report that our "shipped to" map has filled in a bit more - Hello Delaware! We've also been doing some international shipping recently, so you can find martini scarves and zebra socks in places like Poland, Australia, Canada, Austria, and the UK! Too much fun!
Cheers!



visited 44 states (88%)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Here Come The Kits!

Since my last post, I released the Drinking Gloves pattern for sale in the online store. I was pretty darned excited that day, because I used some new functionality in my e-store software that allows people to purchase pdf files and get an instant download. It works great! Had to place an order from myself to check it out - ha! I must admit, it's really nice to receive an occassional order that I don't have to make or ship anything to fill.

I thought the Drinking Gloves would be a great pattern to use to test out this pattern-selling method, because this would be a hard design to sell as a kit. There are three contrast colors in smallish amounts that would be painful to measure out and skein.

But... customers spoke! I got immediate feedback from members of my Ravelry group (what a great group it is - join us!) that they would be interested in kits. And how did I respond? Of course I can put together kits! Since I haven't started advertising this design yet, it's the perfect time to get the kits together so that I can launch it with two options: pattern only, or the whole enchilada.

So what was the first step? Finding the perfect charm for the commemorative stitch marker, of course! I started including a coordinating stitch marker with kits a while back - just because I think it's fun :-) My charm source didn't have any glove charms that weren't gardening gloves or boxing gloves, so I found another five-fingered option, and I think this is way cute and perfect. We have a new local bead source in town, and I found some cool cube-shaped turquoise stone beads that will look really good with this for the stitch marker.

The next step - making lots and lots of teeny skeins of yarn - see top photo! Hope to launch the kits on the website on Friday :-)

On and off the needles since my last post is an Xmas present for my neice. I'm not going to talk about it because I'm making a matching one for my sister, and she might read this. I'll have to post these gifts after the holidays! I should make some more progress on my Coraline front this week because I have to take an overnight trip for some family business which means travel knitting time :-) We all love that! I've also started working on what will likely become Mystery Sock II, which uses the Mosaic knitting technique. I've never tried mosaic before, and it's so fun and easy!

Cheers-

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Knitting Diet

I must post this follow up to the kitty I made for my niece. She hosted a little tea party to welcome kitty into her new group of friends (some of them quite famous!) I guess kitty is in...

Now about the knitting diet. No! I am not knitting less - shudder the thought! I'm just finding that another great thing about knitting is that it keeps my hands busy, and away from snacks!

We started the South Beach diet here on the 1st of the month. It's been quite a lifestyle change, but I think I'm finally getting into the groove. The food is fine and there's plenty of it, but I'm having to prepare three meals a day, plus healthy snacks, and that is just something I've never done! I like to cook, but am usually only good for a few nights a week. On the other nights, we have leftovers or go out. Not anymore! The other big change is the lack of adult beverages, which I can live with for a while, but not without some whining! Our first week has been successful, so we are motivated to keep going.

On the positive side of the lifestyle change, this diet requires me to structure my time better, so I seem to be a bit more productive these days. The drinking gloves are finished, and so is the pattern. Tomorrow I'll work on getting it uploaded to the website for sale.

I've also started the front of Coraline - yay! I'm even giving consideration to restarting my vow to do a row on my lace shawl everyday. I have ideas for two new socks that I need to get charting. Good thing I'm feeling productive!

I've registered for Stitches West which will be held next February in Santa Clara. I'm going to take a day-long class from Laura Bryant (!) on Intentional Patterning from Hand Dyed Yarns. I hope to learn some tips that will allow me to create some interesting new sock kits for the shop. Wish it wasn't 5 months away! It's over my birthday weekend again this year, so hubby is going to meet me up there for a fun weekend of wine tasting, or whatever else grabs our fancy.

Time for some charting!

Cheers-

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Socktoberfest!!!

It's that most auspicious sock knitting month of the year - Socktober! To celebrate it, I've launched a Mini-Sock Swap on the Ravelry Board which should be lots of fun. I look forward to seeing all the teeny-tiny socks that are going to be shipped all over the place - whee! If you would like more information, or would like to join in on the fun, register Here on Ravelry by 10/14/09. The more the merrier!

I have several other updates as well. First, I am so proud to report that the Ravelry group now has over 700 members now. Wow! I never would have guessed the group would grow so fast in only 6 months. I also want to share that I've started doing some international shipping which I manage through my Etsy store. To date, we've shipped to Canada, Australia, and Austria! "Locally", we've shipped to 43 states, and are looking to get to those last 7!

I shipped New Kitty to my niece earlier this week, and am trying my best to wait patiently for her to open the present so I can hear if she likes it! She'll be having an ice cream party this year, so it's good that New Kitty is completely washable ;-)

Our trip to NYC was great! It was so nice to spend several days doing nothing except enjoying the moment. We walked at least 5 miles each day, and I was really feeling it for the first couple of days, but then I started getting used to exercise (which is generally pretty much a stranger to me!) We visited 4 really nice yarn stores - each different and wonderful in its own way. Seaport Yarns (pictured) was filled with good stuff, and had some local-indie dyed inventory that was very nice (and made it into my shopping bag). Purl in Soho has a trendier feel - just like its neighborhood which I love. Purl also has a fabric store a couple of doors down that features very cool prints for quilting and crafting. Downtown Yarns in the East Village was welcoming with it's homey screen door and warm wooden appointments. It's a skinny store, so it had shelves going all the way to the top of its high ceilings, and a rolling library ladder for yarn access. The ladies there were very sweet, and several locals were knitting and chatting. I picked up a fiber gift here, plus some good ole' Cascade 220 to make some felted ballerina slippers out of for a couple of girls on my christmas list. Last but not least was String on the Upper East Side. The ladies in this brownstone-housed shop were very friendly to point out all the inventory that might be new and different to me. Found some 100% sugarcane yarn there (whooda thunk!) and bought a gift skein, and a self-gift skein.

Other than the yarn stores, we saw a play, visited the Met on a rainy afternoon, went to a comedy club, and hit a number of taverns that we encountered while walking through the different neighborhoods. Great trip!

I got quite a bit accomplished on Coraline. The back is nearly done - just a few inches to go at the top. It's going to benefit from some serious steaming, but I really like the yarn. I need to evaluate my yarn supply, and soon. I think I'm going to be short, even though I bought more than recommended. Better put that on my to do list for tomorrow so that I can hopefully get the same dye lot! I'm going to have to shelf this project now for a bit while I finish the last of the drinking gloves.

I think that's enough for today! Cheers-

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A kitty and a confession

Kitty is finished, and she's a cutie! This was really fun to make, as I think all toys are. With lots of pieces to make, there's an ongoing sense of completion. I also get to work with funky yarns like Fun Fur that I don't generally use when I make more "serious" things like garments. She's completed on time to ship to my niece for her birthday, and I can't wait to hear if her new little girl likes her!

The pictures below show the size of New Kitty. Our real kitties are nearly 20 pound thugs, and she's taller than they are. She also seems to have taken a liking to Smithers chair, so he's looking forward to her departure! Two kitties in the house is enough for him.





I'm halfway through test knitting the large size Drinking Gloves. Here's the Righty in the Tidal Wave colorway (still needs its bow). I have a christmas gift recipient in mind for these - I don't think she reads this blog, but I'll hide her identity just in case.










Now for the confession... In my last post, I stated that I wouldn't cast on the Coraline Top until I had finished the kitty and the gloves. Well, last night, I was feeling really good about finishing the kitty and one glove yesterday, and I thought I deserved a little reward. I decided that it really couldn't hurt to just swatch for the new sweater. OMG - but how wonderful the DK alpaca/tencel feels! It's so soft and beautiful, and the gauge was perfect. Then I started thinking about what I'd like to knit on my NYC trip in a couple of days. I imagined working on the drinking gloves on a plane - having to carry and jockey around three cakes of yarn to do the colorwork, and thought how distracting that would be to my neighboring passengers. So I decided that it would be much more polite to work on my new sweater which just feeds from one pretty little ball of yarn at a time. Long story short, I've already cast on and am about an inch up the front! It was the only polite thing to do...

Tonight I'll be checking out a new local Stitch n Bitch with a friend of mine. We're going to make a stop to celebrate her birthday over a few cocktails on the way, so I'm sure we'll have a great time! I promise I'll work on glove number two...

I'm looking forward to seeing all the NYC yarns I can later this week! I'll make sure to post some highlights for you!
Cheers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Eye on the Prize

At long last, I finished the Drinking Gloves this week! I also wrote the pattern in two sizes, Ladies Medium and Large - that burned a few brain cells! Now I know why I have this math degree.

Shortly after completing this Medium pair, I cast on a second pair in Tidal Wave to test knit the Large size. This pattern has constantly changing stitch counts due to the fitted sizing and all the finger hole manipulation, so I really wanted the opportunity to double check my written pattern. I'm hoping to complete pair number two soon, and once I do, I'll upload it to my site for sale. I've got some new online functionality that will allow me to sell instant downloads, and I'm itching to try it out!

I've made some progress on the kitty, too, who now has one arm! Still need to make arm #2 and a tail. I think she'll get a big pink bow around her neck - my neice likes her pink! I need to keep on this project to meet her October 3 birthday deadline - particularly since I'll be heading to NYC for a few days next week.

In order to keep myself diligently working on the above two projects, I'm dangling a new sweater project in front of myself like a carrot. When I finish these, I get to cast on the Coraline Tunic Top by Joan McGowan Michael. I just love her feminine designs and can't wait to get this on the sticks! The yarn I got is Elann Quechua, an incredibly soft DK weight alpaca/tencel blend, in the softest pale pink ever. I'll feel SO girly in this!


Cheers!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun with Fun Fur

Did I need to start another project - hell no! But I just can't pass up opportunities to make fun things for my niece. Her 2nd birthday is October 3rd, and she's crazy for kitties, so I thought she should have one!
This work in progress is coming together pretty well in spite of the "wing it" methodology I'm using. I'm working from a book called Toys to Knit by Tracy Chapman. There's a kitty pattern in the book, but it's a pajama bag, so only the head is actually knitted. The body for this pattern is a cloth bag to stick the pjs in. So I made that head - and modified it to be two colors. The dark part is one strand of black Carron Simply Soft held together with one strand of Lion Brand Fun Fur. Since features wouldn't show against that combination, I made the face white (also Simply Soft). The face is embroidered on using some of the black and some leftover pink Berocco Comfort that I had. The eyes are from my stash of safety eyes that I collected MANY years ago when I used to make teddy bears.

The body is from another animal pattern in the book - a kangaroo! I had no idea whether the sizes of the head and body would be comparable when I started this project, so I got pretty lucky! I'm modifying the kangaroo body to remove the pouch, widen the torso to fit the neck of the kitty, change the front legs, and add the kitty tail. Given that there are a couple football games on tonight, I should make some more progress today!

So this kitty is why I haven't finished the Drinking Gloves yet - sorry to everyone who is waiting for them!!!

My cousin was here last week, and I think we co-enabled each other into new projects and stash. It's always fun to have her here, especially since she is as big of a yarny as I am! While we were browsing the LYS, I purchased a new sweater pattern, and subsequently some new yummy yarn to make it from... stay tuned! I'll show it off in the next post!

Cheers!