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-