Thursday, January 28, 2010

Swap project in progress

If you are my swap partner for The Odd Duck Swaps over on Ravelry, do not read any further!  Haha.  Because this post may or may not spoil your surprise.

The latest swap I'm participating in, due at the end of February, is about our favorite holidays.  My favorite holidays are Christmas and Halloween.  Because Christmas so recent, and I seriously don't need anymore Christmas goodies (just ask my husband who helped me put that stuff away a couple weekends ago), I decided to go with Halloween.

Even more fun is that my swap-ee's favorite holiday is also Halloween!  So I get to focus on my favorite holiday for her, too.

My bigger handmade item is going to be another Foliage hat.  It excites me every time I finish one because I really, really, really hate knitting lace, but the outcome is so pretty.  My swap-ee's favorite color is green, so that's what I'm using for this one.  I also started the hat using magic loop (it's a top-down hat) and I remembered that trying to do that on DPN's made me want to stab myself with them rather than make something.  It worked out pretty well:

The picture makes it looks super saggy, but it looks really adorable when worn.  And finished.  You can see my stitch markers at the end of each leaf repeat.  It's hell, I tell you.

I did have to restart the project three times because hubby and I have recently gotten into Dexter, so I've been distracted by Michael C Hall's amazing good looks.  Needless to say, you (well I) need to pay attention to this type of project.  And I don't really have the attention span right now to do that, haha.  So it's going pretty slow.

I hope to finish the last leaf repeat tonight at my knitting group, then knit the super easy ribbing really quickly this weekend so I can focus on the rest of the package.

I haven't purchased the yarn I'm going to include in the package yet, but I do know the theme I'm going for. I also need to pick up some treats, and this weekend I plan on digging through my stash for yarn to crochet some candy corn doo-dads.

In other news, I've been redesigning my logo and website, so we'll see what comes of that.  If you're already a fan of my Facebook page, you'll know I'm thinking about switching from GoDaddy to Webs only because you can integrate your etsy shop with your site.  Which would be awesome.  I'm also working on some ideas for YouTube instructional videos and project videos, which I think could be really fun for everyone (a bunch of people have asked me to do this, and I'm game!).  So lots of renovations will be coming over the next few months!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shop for Haiti Special at OpenSky

100% of proceeds go to Haiti - woohoo!  The great news is that OpenSky has extended the dates on their Shop for Haiti Special!  This offer originally ended on Sunday, but has now rolled into today, so get yourselves over there and enjoy some knitting goodness over at Vickie Howell's shop (or anyone else's super cool shop, too!).

Personally, I wouldn't mind getting me some of these:

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Sweet Treat - Do Not Eat!

Hey, that rhymes!

Knit Cupcake

Aren't these guys incredibly adorable?

I can't tell you what they're for yet (and I'll try my hardest to actually remember to tell you once I can :P), but I just had to post them due to the aforementioned adorabubbleness.

They were created from this incredibly easy cupcake pattern, perfect for any of you beginning knitters out there because it's knit flat, then seamed up the back.  I knit all three flat as the pattern directed, but I think it would be much easier for me to create the cupcake itself in the round next time.  Possibly even the wrapper, as well, using a 1x1 ribbing instead of garter stitch.  Mostly because I hate picking up stitches, hehe.

I did find a pattern error.  It says to cast on 7 stitches, but it really only made sense if you cast on 6.  Otherwise, the number of stitches don't add up correctly.  It could be that I'm doing something wrong - I don't know - but it worked out perfectly when I switched to 6.

You can visit the project page on Ravelry to see each of the cute cupcakes by themselves :)  Just don't eat them!

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Review: Knit- and Crochet-Pattern-A-Day Calendars 2010

Because I promised!

These guys arrived very quickly after placing my order last week - no surprise there, having ordered them from Amazon.  I was still a little miffed at Barnes & Noble for not carrying the calendar selection they usually have, thus having to pay full price for the one calendar (plus shipping!!!!), but whatever.

I now have the Knitting Pattern-a-Day: 2010 Calendar sitting on my desk at work, and the Crochet Pattern-a-Day: 2010 Calendar at home, so I've had a chance to take a deep look at them over the past few days.  Here are some of my conclusions:

The Good:
  • Design: The Pattern-A-Day calendars have really grown up for 2010.  You'll notice that the cover design is different and includes multiple pictures of those patterns you'll find inside.  Though the Marketing side of me is thinking that was done as a better way to advertise what you're getting, the Buyer side really enjoys seeing how the year is gonna go down creatively.  And overall, it's a more mature look.

    The photos are also really nice to look at, and much more professional than in past years.

  • Indestructible: In past calendars, you couldn't help but destroy the daily pages if you removed them from the box.  I keep finding them in my stash pile, actually, and they're crumpled-up messes.  It makes me sad because when I find a pattern I like, I probably want to make it again, but I was always too lazy to laminate the pages.  The newer pages are much thicker.  I mean, they're still paper, so you don't want to set them on fire or let your cat bat them around, but you don't feel bad about leaving them on the couch for a couple days while you work with them.
The Bad
  • Lack of patterns: This "bad" isn't much different than what people have complained about in the past, but it seems 2010 is lacking in patterns even more severely than past years.  This might not actually be true, as past patterns that lasted for several days would have their own pages for that day, whereas this year, each page has two days on it.  In all actuality, it probably evens out, but it just seems like there are less.

    But... each month also gets a bonus pattern, so that kind of helps.

    If the problem is that they're lacking pattern submissions, I am more than happy to volunteer some of my pattern ideas in the future :)  I have so many ideas floating around in my head, and I actually have some patterns written down that I've never typed up to sell, that it might be another venture worth looking into.
Take that as you will.  I think they're worth getting if just to take a mental break from daily life and look over to see things like "[K1, inc] twice, K1".  It just makes me happy.  Yes, I know that probably makes me strange.

If you're about as crazy as I am, you can check out both items in my Amazon Associates store.  Because you can never have enough patterns!  :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

FO: Knitted Spiral Hat

I give you my finished "Dizzy", by Berroco Design Team:

I had added this hat to my Ravelry queue back in late November or early December in an attempt to make a bunch of hats for Christmas gifts.  Lo and behold, Life kicked into gear and got in the way of accomplishing my goal; however, I still really wanted to make this hat because you have to admit it's pretty unique.

The yarn is Moda Dea Vision, which may turn into one of my favorite yarns to work with due to the color patterning.  I have another skein in pink, and I know exactly what I'm going to do with it, so that left me to use this purple-y skein I had sitting around.  Both skeins were purchased years ago to go with a free purse pattern I picked up in an aisle of ACMoore.  We all know how that goes, so both have been sitting in my closet ever since.  It was time I used them up!

Though the hat came out niceley, I made one or two mistakes because the pattern was a little difficult for me to read.  The first part is fine, where the pattern is written out for 5.5" (you do the same repeat during that amount of time).  But then the instructions turn into just that - instructions.  The last quarter of the hat is reading a paragraph with some knitting language embedded within it, which really threw me for a loop.  I figured it out, and it wasn't difficult, but I really had to pay attention.  If you know me, you know that's not something I like to do when I'm making something for fun, so it was a bit frustrating.  It looked so neat, though, that I had to finish :)

Of course, I still haven't learned that I need to make my main hat section larger than 5.5".  It's a bit short, but still adorable.

Overall, I consider this one a success.  And since posting it on Flickr, it was already requested to be added to a group - how cool?!

View this project's details on Ravelry.

Monday, January 11, 2010

FO: Bella's Mittens

Whelp, there they are - my first pair of knitted mittens (rav link). I'm so glad to have them done. Not because they were terrible to work on (because they weren't), but because I was so excited to see the final product.

The thinner yarn I chose actually worked out really well because they fit nice and snug. I'm sure a thicker yarn would have been fine, but my wrists are so tiny that I'm afraid they would have been too big. These are perfect for winter driving, and I can also be somewhat mobile with them, which is something I can't do with my store-bought mittens that are cute, but huge and clumsy.

They're warm enough, though I'm not sure I'd clean snow/scrape ice off my car with them. For that, I should probably knit some gloves with a lining inside. I had found a cute pattern awhile back and added it to my Ravelry favorites, but now I can't find it. Guess that gives me more incentive to organize my queue for the HPKCHC challenge. Which, by the way, these mittens are also my first finished project for that, so yay me!

They say people get really addicted to socks - I think gloves are my calling. Last night, I started another pair of gloves (well, fingerless mitts) just because I've recently found a use for them. I keep meeting people who say they look hokey, tacky, like something a homeless person would wear, etc. But whatever. When it's cold in one room of you apartment, but sweltering in another, just put on a pair of these and you're golden to go about your activities.

In other news, I've created a gallery on my Facebook Fan Page. I have so many more photos to upload, but didn't have the energy this weekend to crop them all and make them look nice, so these are what I already had done. I'll be posting updates on the most recent FO's this week, too.

Sigh... I should really make some more inventory for my shop, considering I have nothing. But I'm taking a short break and concentrating on stuff I've really wanted to make for awhile. Plus, I'm participating in a swap right now that I'm really excited about. We have to make stuff pertaining to our spoilee's favorite holiday, and my spoilee's favorite is Halloween (yay!). It's always fun to make some different things for a change, and I love how these groups I'm in have been challenging me and getting my mind off looking for houses, applying to grad school, and all that other junk. Apparently repetitious counting keeps me sane.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ATTN: B&N - Where are your knitting/crochet calendars?!

It's a sad day when I lose faith in Barnes & Noble.

For the past - I don't even know how many - years, I've always taken the B&N gifts cards I get for Christmas and buy desk calendars on sale. But not just any desk calendars: the Knitting-Pattern-A-Day and Crochet-Pattern-A-Day ones:

(Side note: it kinda miffs me that they're not really a pattern-a-day, and sometimes you end up with something really ugly spanning the course of three days or over a weekend, something that drove me nuts).

Anyway, I've always gone a week or two into the new year, almost completely missing the entire first month of patterns. B&N always had an amazing sale of 50% off desk calendars, so it was a steal, and I always had some fiber inspiration when I'd come to work in the mornings.

So last night, I was at B&N to get my mind off the whole buying-a-house drama, and got really upset at their terrible collection of calendars. They had a rack of wall calendars, and then maybe 20 desk calendars to choose from. And even then, none of them were duplicates. I understand the year just changed and everyone wants their calendars, but I've never seen such a poor display there before.

I was actually pretty miffed. I think I'm stressed out, haha. But I guess I'll see what Amazon can offer me. I think I've only ever made, like, five things off those calendars, but I won't be able to make it through my days without them!

Oh for the love, Amazon has them full-priced for $15. Totally not worth the $30 + shipping. WAH WAH WAH! Wait... no, the knitting one is only $8. What the heck, Amazon? Why would the less-intense crochet patterns be more than the knitting one? Whatever. But if you're interested, here's the crochet one, and here's the knitting one.

...heck, I'm just gonna freaking buy them. It's been a rough week. I'll review the patterns when I get them and let you know if you're missing out on anything :D

Monday, January 4, 2010

Twilight Knitted Mittens and the Thrill of Magic Loop

Whelp, it's 2010 now, and as usual, I'm filling up my schedule to the point I will have zero free time until what looks to be a little before 2014. If the world is even still around at that point.

Despite not having much free time, I've still managed to work in some knitting (I'm going through one of my knitting phases, so all my crocheting has been put on the back burner temporarily.

My latest project is a pair of mittens like the ones Bella wears in the movie Twilight:

It's for the Harry Potter House Cup, which I spoke about in my last entry, for the Divinations class. We're allowed to make mittens, gloves, anything to cover the palm, and I decided to knit my first pair of mittens. I've crocheted some in the past, so knitting them was a whole new adventure to me. I had also never made a horseshoe cable before, though I'm not sure that's a huge feat if you know how to make cables already.

But the biggest thing I've learned so far is the magic loop method of knitting in the round. I've always stood by my DPN's, but let's face it - that was only because I was too lazy to learn any other method. I absolutely love magic loop now. I have absolutely no annoying ladders in my work, I don't stick myself with sharp, tiny needles, and it's much easier to try on your work as you go because of the ease the longer cable gives you.

I'm about halfway done with the second mitten, which has worked up really quickly for me. I switched over to making cables with DPN's instead of those idiot cable needles, which might be why I'm moving faster and my stitches are loose enough to slide around from needle to needle. I hate cable needles - ARGH! The pattern is really simple and easy to follow.

One other thing is that I'm using the incorrect yarn weight on these, so the gloves are bit tighter and stretchier, but that's not a bad thing. I figured that would happen going into it, and I like more fitted gloves because my wrists are so small. I knew whatever I'd make would fit, due to the 1x1 rib, so I just sort of jumped in. They look super tiny, though, when I'm not wearing them.

I can't wait to have these done! And I'd definitely love to make more.

Kudos to the HPKCHC for forcing me to go out of my comfort zone, try new things, and possibly even finish a project for once.
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