Friday, October 31, 2014

Knitting: Bowties are Cool socks.

My October socks are finished! October socks that I technically started in June. :) As I've mentioned before, I started these months ago. But since I knitted about 1/3 of the first sock and all of the second sock this month, I'm calling these my October socks.

These socks are a subtle tribute to the Eleventh Doctor and his fascination with bowties (see how the little stitches resemble bowties up close?). I used this pattern and followed it exactly except that I didn't do as many repeats on the leg section as the pattern said, but I'm thinking that was a typo, anyway. The yarn is KnitPicks Stroll Tonal in the gypsy colorway. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this yarn. The yarn itself seems fine quality-wise (though I haven't really worn the socks long enough to know that), but I've bought three skeins so far and I've been a little disappointed with the colors in all of them. The colors just aren't as pretty as they look on the website, and there are strange shades of color that pool in a way that I'm not crazy about. From a distance they look fine, but up It's not as bad with these as it was with my last pair, but you can still see those rings of darker color spiraling around the foot and leg. Maybe I'm just being picky (or knitpicky, ha). I love KnitPicks and have always been pleased with the yarn I've bought from them, but I do wish the Stroll Tonals were a bit more subtle.

Anyway, I'm happy with these. They'll definitely get a lot of use around Christmas time. :) And I think I'm finally out of my sock-knitting slump!

I'm participating in Liesl's Monthly Sock Challenge, and I'm also using these socks in the "Tender Tootsies" category of the Fall Essentials Sew-Along.

{Ravelry project page}

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Yarn Along

Reading: As You Wish, by Cary Elwes. I'm so excited about this book! The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, so of course I love reading behind-the-scenes stories about it. I'm several chapters in and it's good so far.

Knitting: Since I finished my niece's sweater, I finally picked up my Miette cardigan again (not that you can tell anything about it from this dark photo!). I had one sleeve completed and was halfway through with the second one, but I realized I wasn't happy with them. Because I had cast on extra stitches under the arm, I was having to decrease at twice the rate to get rid of those stitches, and it was making my sleeves look oddly shaped. At first it didn't bother me much, but I finally decided I'd rather do it the right way now instead of later regretting the awkward sleeves. Ugh...I hate having to redo knitting, but it won't take long. And after I fix the sleeves, I only have the button bands and neckline edging left! :)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Knitting: Stella's birthday gifts.

So...this past week, my niece Stella turned a year old. How is that even possible? It seems like we were just sitting at the hospital, impatiently waiting to meet her for the first time. And now she's taking steps by herself and babbling nonstop and blowing kisses and doing any number of other adorable things. :) This has been one of the fastest years ever.

For her birthday, I made Stella a little knitted set. I love how the sweater turned out! The pattern (Granny's Favourite) was really easy, though visually a bit hard to follow at times because of all of the sizes included. This really is the perfect little girls' sweater. Stella's measurements did match up with the 12 months size, so that's what I made.

I used this pattern for the hat and followed it exactly, except I increased a few extra stitches for the ear flaps because I thought they looked too small at first. That, of course, made the whole hat a bit bigger. I added the I-cord ties and pompoms. The mittens were from this pattern and I made them slightly longer. As for the owl...I made some of these little owl puffs to sell at the festival earlier this month. Stella ended up with one of them and she loved it and even slept with it, but then it went missing last week during a shopping trip in town. So of course I had to make her another owlie. :)

Everything was made from KnitPicks Swish DK (in the colorway carnation). Five skeins of it was enough for everything, with a bit leftover. This was my first time using superwash wool with the intention of actually machine washing it. For Stella's previous two sweaters, I used acrylic, which I'm not a fan of. This time I wanted to use wool, but I wanted it to be soft and something that my sister-in-law didn't have to handwash. After reading some of the reviews of the yarn on Ravelry (horror stories of felting and pilling), I was so nervous to throw these items in the washing machine...but if anything bad was going to happen, I wanted it to happen with me and not her. Thankfully, the worst that happened was that the massive pompom I had on the top of the hat fell apart, so I replaced it with a little one like I had used on the ends of the ties (they made it through fine). I washed everything on cold delicate, then laid it flat to dry. But it wasn't drying quick enough and the sweater had stretched out a bit in the wash, so when it was still a little damp I put in the dryer on the lowest setting. It dried everything nicely with no ill-effects, and the sweater even shrunk up to its proper size.

So that's what I gave my niece for her first birthday, along with a copy of one of my favorite picture books: Extra Yarn. She loved the owl most, I think. :) The mittens fit her perfectly, as does the sweater, except for the sleeves being about two inches too long (I thought I was knitting them to the length of her arms, but apparently something got off). The hat fits with plenty of room to grow...she'll probably be able to wear it next winter, too.

Of course I have to include a few pictures of the birthday girl...

She liked the pizza, but as you can see, she was less than impressed with her first taste of cake and ice cream. :) And even though she knows how to feed her baby doll, she'd much rather drink the bottle herself.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spinning: fall bounty handspun.

After working on my last handspun for about a month and a half (off and on), I really wanted my next spinning project to be something easy. This yarn ended up being the perfect project!

It started out as this fiber from Quaere Fibre. The colors were lovely and very fall-like (the name of the colorway was even Fall Bounty), but the fiber itself was a bit more coarse than I expected it to be. It worked out fine, though, because I've been wanting to knit myself another hat from my handspun and this will work nicely.

I spun it as a two-ply fractal yarn, and the finished yarn is approx. 154 yards of light worsted weight. It only took me about four days to spin and ply it, and I didn't worry too much about consistency. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and I'm excited to knit it into a hat. (Probably another Barley, though I've already knit about 10 of those this year. It's a great pattern!)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October socks (in progress).

I started these socks back in June. (Good grief!) I had a goal of knitting myself six pairs of socks this year, and this was my fourth. I was just a few inches away from finishing the first sock when I lost interest. Then I was busy knitting other things, like my cardigan for the sweater knit along (still haven't finished that yet) and things to sell at the festival and most recently, my niece's birthday gift.

Liesl has been hosting a monthly sock challenge that I've really been wanting to participate in. And I've been eyeing some of my pretty sock yarn, wanting to cast on another pair (but I have this "one sock at a time" rule). So I figured now was a good time to join in, and hopefully I'd be motivated to finally finish these socks! :)

Last week I finished the first sock, and today I started the second one. I'm pretty confident that this pair will be complete by the end of the month!