Tuesday, August 30, 2011

knit for kids update

I think by now, we all know the type of person I am.  That is, once I get an idea in my head, I want to do it immediately.  My mom blames this on me being a Gemini.

As you saw in my last entry, I've slated knit and crochet charites on my calendar for the next few months (and I'm looking for more, so recommend away)!  These items are going to fill gaps in the other projects I need to complete for about 900 babies, a couple commissions, and of course Christmas presents.  I thought it was about time I did something useful with one of my talents.

Suffice it to say, I'm almost done with my first World Vision Knit for Kids sweater!  It helps that I chose the crochet pattern (I thought it was the cutest of the three knit or crochet options).



Since taking these photos on Sunday - before we lost cable and internet for 1.5 days thanks to Irene - I've completed the front and back panels and seamed them together.  All I need to do now is weave in all those ends.  I might jump off a bridge instead.

The dark blue color is Lion Brand Pound of Love in Denim, and the light blue is Caron Simply Soft in Light Country Blue.  Both colors came from my stash, of which the Pound of Love has been a member since 2006.  I'm so happy I've finally put it to good use, as I hope to do with the rest of my growing yarn collection.

Again, if you'd like to see what charites I'm participating in or if you'd like to join me in my efforts, check out my Facebook events page and RSVP!  I'd love to have you :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

join me as i knit & crochet for charity!

I've been talking about knitting and crocheting for charity since around 2006.  For some reason or another, I was never able to set aside time and do it.  Ultimately, that's pretty selfish.  Considering I love my hobby, the least I can do is create something that helps other people.

That's why I've decided to spend the rest of 2011 donating to one charity per month.

First up is World Vision Knit for Kids.  Choose from one crochet pattern or two knitting patterns to create a child-sized sweater that will be donated to kids across the world!  I'm almost done with the sleeves and yoke of one side, and have already created the body for the other.  I'll post a photo when I'm done (of course!), but it works up so quickly.  I started it on Sunday night and have gotten that far already.  I'd love to have one knit, as well, by the end of September... so we'll see how my schedule goes with classes starting again next week (gross).

In October, I'll be starting my Scarves for Special Olympics project.  This is one charity in particular that I keep saying I'll help out with and never do.  So I bought enough of the official yarn to make two scarves, and that will be my goal.  Check out their website for deadlines in your area - in PA, ours is February 2nd (I think).  I wanted to get my two scarves done earlier in case I decided to make more... but at least I'd have those done.

Then comes November, when I'll be creating bears for the Mother Bear Project.  I first heard of this charity a few years ago on Knitty Gritty and always wanted to help out.  Well, I finally donated $5 two weeks ago, so I have my knit pattern ready to go.  They also offer a crochet pattern for anyone who doesn't knit.  If you haven't heard of the project, you create bears in one piece (they're super simple), stuff them, and mail them to MN where team members stitch a red felt heart over the bear's heart.  The bears are then sent all over Africa and to parts of Haiti.

I'm still debating if I want to do something in December because that's usually when I go nuts creating my Christmas gifts (though I know what I'm making this year and have already ordered the yarn, so maybe I can get an early start).  If you have any suggestions, let me know!

If you'd like to join me in my effort, check out my Facebook page's events and RSVP!  We can consider it an online knit/crochet-a-long.  I'd love to know if others are participating with me.  Plus, maybe it'll help with my motivation.  I'm already hitting a wall in this child's sweater.  Not because it's not fun and easy, but because I'm getting new-project-itis where I want to do 20 other projects, as well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

my philadelphia yarn haul

This past weekend, Hubby and I took an impromptu trip to Philly.  We had no major plans in mind - we were just going to walk around and do random things.  It had been an awful week, so getting out of the house and back into the Land of Daywalkers was important.

The small trip was exactly what we needed.  We saw a band that we really like, The Handsome Furs, and the show was awesome - even if it was pouring down rain and 100 degrees.  Hubby even bought me a t-shirt to add to my growing collection.  Then we met up with my friend Michelle and her boyfriend for some drinks at a cute place called Pub and Kitchen.  The next morning, we met them for breakfast at Parc Brasserie before heading back to her boyfriend's house - and you'll never guess what happened next:

He lives about a block away from a yarn shop!  And not just any yarn shop - the yarn shop I was researching before we left on our trip and had told Hubby I wanted to stop at.

The shop is called Loop, and I'm in love. 

Michelle wanted me to make her a hat version of my Whitney Headband, so we picked out some yarn together.  I also bought some yarn to start making Christmas presents.  Here's the swag I walked away with (and the yarn I helped Michelle pick out was even on sale - I'm so cool):

The whole kit & caboodle: P8220144

The Zara yarn, marked down from $10 to $6: P8220146

I loved the Zara yarn because it wasn't a solid color.  I thought that since the hat would be fairly plain, the light texture would add some more interest.  And I just love that orangey-red color to begin with, especially since it's almost Fall (my favorite season)!

Some Giselle yarn from Classic Elite: P8220145

I'm really happy with these purchases and can't wait to start making something with them.  The Giselle yarn is for a Christmas present, so I won't mention what it's for here - but we'll say I'm super pumped to use it!

So yeah, the next time you're near South Street in Philly, make sure to check out Loop.  I'm hoping to get back sometime soon, since Hubby and I were talking about taking more small weekend getaways to the city.  There's a lot going on down there and we're not far away by any means, so why not?  Our next trip?  Looking to see if there are any deals on the museums.  We wanted to visit them this weekend, but it was just too expensive for the time we wanted to spend there.  So we need to make a day of it.

If you know of any other cool yarn shops in or around Philadelphia, let me know.  I'd love to check them out :D  Hope you're all having a great week!

Monday, August 8, 2011

my review of leisure arts' new product: the knook

I'm always game for trying new ways to play with yarn, so of course I was excited to get my hands on one of Leisure Arts' new products: The Knook.

My new Knook!

The Knook is like a crochet hook on steroids.  One side is your typical crochet hook, and the other side is shaped a bit like a knitting needle.  When you're ready to start a project, you weave the thread through the needle-shaped side and get to work.

Unlike tunisian crochet, The Knook produces fabric that looks exactly like knitting.  We're talking knitting, purling, the whole nine yards.  Of course, I haven't tried anything too advanced yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if you could do all the same increasing, decreasing, cabling, and other fancy work that can be done on two needles.

This first kit comes with hooks to use with medium weight yarn (i.e.: G, H, and I).  It also includes three strings (which is great because I always lose everything) and a small instruction booklet with four patterns.  My guess is that they'll be coming out with other hooks, as well.

Here's how it works:

This is what your knitting will look like when you've started a row.  As you can see, the yellow thread is holding into the stitches and you are working the Knook into those yarn loops.  This method is very similar to creating a slip stitch, and you enter each stitch from front to back (just like a typical knit stitch).

Here is what you'll have when you're done knitting your row.  All the live stitches are now either on the hook or slid down a bit to sit on the thread (which now looks like it's in one big knot, but thankfully it's easy to remove!)  Now comes the tricky part.  The thread that's woven in that fabric now...

...has to be pulled out.  It took me a couple rows to figure out which one I was pulling on, and I was very concerned that the whole project would come off and be ruined.  But that never happened.  The thread is nice and slippery, so it's actually quite easy.  Do not panic!

Continue not to panic as you slide the project off your Knook via the needle-shaped end COMPLETELY onto the thread.  Yes, for knitters, this is almost heart-attack-incuding.  But no need to fear.  The thread is very long - just make sure to keep about 8" of thread looped through the other side of your Knook.

Finally, turn your project over and begin knitting again.  See, that's not so hard!  And as you've just seen, you can both knit and purl.

So, is The Knook something you should pick up?

I think that crocheters who love the look of knit fabric, but are sometimes intimidated by using two needles and learning new stitches, will greatly benefit from this product.  You really are just crocheting slip stitches in a slightly different way than you normally would.  It's a bit slow at first, though - I'm sure the more I use it, the faster I'll get... just like any other new craft!

Knitters, on the other hand, may find it a bit tedious.  Because knitters are used to finishing a row and merely turning their work to continue on, the whole "now remove the thread and pull the fabric down and flip it over and make sure it doesn't come off" thing may not be something to look forward to.  BUT I have to say it's nice using a hook to catch the yarn when making my stitches instead of worrying it may slip off my needle.  This will be great for doing more advanced decreases that give me headaches now.

For BOTH knitters and crocheters, I think this is finally a way to easily combine both crafts.  For example, you can start a project with one and then switch to another halfway through, depending on what type of fabric you're wanting to produce.  As it stands, if you want to knit into crochet fabric, you have to pick up stitches and worry that the gauge may be different - worry no more!  I see a lot of people using both knitting and crocheting in their projects after this.

Ultimately, I think it's worth trying.  If you've always wanted to get into knitting, then this is a great transition to help you learn how stitches are shaped and how they're produced - you may not have to move on to needles at all, either!  In fact, I'm already working on some stitch tutorials and patterns in my head.  And if you've always knit and want to crochet, then this will probably help you, as well.  It may even make some harder stitches easier, thanks to a convenient hook.

You can currently buy The Knook at Wal-Mart, though Leisure Arts is working on bringing them out in more craft stores.

If you want more patterns than what's included in the original kit - or if you want video instructions - then hop on over to the Leisure Arts Knook website for more information!  I hope this review has been helpful - please let me know :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

mary maxim's santa face crochet pattern is back!

Yes, I know it's just the beginning of August, but I was very excited to spread the news.
Some of you may remember these little Santa face magnets I make every year:


Each time I post photos, everyone either wants me to make them or find out where I purchased the pattern.  For years, I've had to tell people that the pattern is no longer available for purchase, and I'm just not the type of person to photocopy a pattern and mail it out to everyone.

But there's good news.  I received the latest Mary Maxim catalog a couple days ago and was browsing through it this morning.  You can't imagine how excited I was to see that they're selling the pattern again!

You can claim the pattern for your very own by clicking here.  It includes the pattern and yarn for only $9.99.  Make sure to check out their other stuff, as well.  I just ordered their Little Blossoms Blanket Kit to Knit on Wednesday, and I'm so excited to get it.  For those of you subscribed to their mailing list, you'll also know that they're offering free shipping on all orders over $60 until end of day today.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

i designed my own hat with robyn chachula!

I wanted to wait until I had made a couple more of these for troubleshooting purposes, but I don't think that's going to happen for a couple more weeks :)

Anyone who follows Robyn Chachula knows that she recently released a DVD tutorial set called "Design Your Own Crocheted Hat."  I've been coming up with some of my own simple patterns for years, so I decided to buy these instructions and learn how to do more complicated things.  I was tired of guessing at the math and having to rip everything out all the time.

Her instructions are clear and easy, and I've started reading off charts more.  If nothing else, they really help in designing your own projects because you can create a visual map of where you think you're going to go instead of throwing something against a wall to see what sticks.  It was very helpful!

I also learned that it doesn't have to be perfect - a lot of it is just adding stitches where it's going to look best.  All these years, I thought it was an exact science; it's not.  That revelation helped me loosen up and face my fear of starting my own advanced hat designs.

After watching the video, I sat down and tried to make a hat out of a random pattern in any crochet stitch book I own.  Yes, my floating head now has white hair.  It was an impromptu purchase that I thought would help keep people's attention on the color of my hats instead of how long and flowing the model's hair is.





I chose some stash yarn I had that I'll probably never use, so the quality's not as nice as I'd like it to be for a hat.  I'm also not a fan of the colors.  And I hate the way the bottom came out - it looks more like a brim when I wanted it to be more fitted.  I might use a smaller hook and make it crocheted ribbing instead.

Pretty much, those are the reasons why I wanted to make a couple more - I wanted nicer pictures to show you!  I guess those will come when I post the pattern for you one of these days!  But overall, I'm happy with the design and am confident that I can now turn almost any stitch into something you can wear on your head :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Knit and Crochet Haul Goodness

It's not often I get to indulge in purchasing yarn these days.  Not that I don't want to, but all I have to do is take one look at my giant stash to feel guilty about the 10lb bag of yarny fun I lug home with me every now and then.

That's why I've been giving in to my cravings lately.  Sort of.  I tend to save up my purchases for when I visit my other crafty friend down in West Chester.  We have a problem where we visit her local yarn store and buy way too many knit and crochet supplies.  At least the husbands don't really know about it because we go without them and just hide the goods within our current stash.

Here's some fun stuff I bought this weekend at Garden of Yarn in Chadds Ford, PA, and Joann Fabrics:

Supplies for Sailor Baby Sweater

My friend is preggo with Baby #1, so I have plenty of projects for wee ones in the Ravelry queue right now.  Don't have any of my own, so I might as well spoil someone else's!  Together we picked out this Little Sailor pattern and some yarn (Sublime Yarns Cashmere Merino Silk DK).  I even spoiled myself with some new bamboo needles from Plymouth Yarn Company.  Apparently I had money to burn.

Patons Lace Yarn (for long tube scarf)

While at Garden of Yarn, we found a really pretty tube scarf that we both enjoyed.  After making a quick trip to Joann's, we both wound up purchasing some Patons Lace Sequin to make our own.  I'll have to block the darn thing on the edges, which I hate doing, but oh well.  It looks great so far and I absolutely love the color.  It's stockinette in the round, so it's perfect for days when I want to come home from work and not think about anything while watching mindless TV (I never said I wanted this summer to be productive).

So here are all my new toys:


Plus, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I procured myself one of these lovelies:

Me and my brand new Knook!

It's the new Leisure Arts Knook!  That is, a combination knitting needle and crochet hook.  Unlike tunisian crochet, this method of crocheting produces fabric that looks exactly like knitting.  I'll be testing it out this week and posting a review soon, so stay tuned.  Needless to say, I'm a little excited.

Less than a month left until classes start up again, so I have to work all this craft stuff out of my system before then.  I think I'll manage :D
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