Mini Update

I have crossed the half way point with my cowl, knitted from the thick and thin yarn sent to me by Melody’s Makings.  For this cowl I cast on 100 stitches and started knitting.  I began switching stitches on the ends, but stopped that when I decided to join the cowl int the round and knit on circular needles.  Because of this the join is rather messy and when I seamed things up it got sort of ugly.  I fixed this as best I could and will see how badly it looks on the right side when I am done.  If nothing else I can make sure that the ugly side stays at the back of my neck, or create an embellishment to cover over it.  So this is what over half of a cowl looks like:

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I presume that things will block out some.  On another note, I almost forgot that I was crocheting a lace shawl.  I found the bag, and since it is the half-granny pattern I can pick it right back up.  I made a decent start, but since it is lace weight chroma twist things are going to take forever.  Oh well, that just means that I get even more time to enjoy crocheting with the Chroma twist.

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New Tools

One of my new philosophies has to do with having the tools you need to achieve the results you want.  Can I weave tapestries with a picture frame?  Yes, but I will not like the process or the results.  Given that I have decided to invest in a couple of tools to make my crafting life a bit easier and my results a bit better. Before I get to the actual reviews, a disclaimer, I am in no way affiliated with any of the products below.  I purchased them using my own funds, I am not making any profit from these reviews/products.

Recently I have decided to up my knitting and crochet game.  I have started with socks, but I hope to progress to garments like cardigans, shawls, and sweaters soon.  Learning Tunisian Crochet, filet crochet, and lace knitting are also on my list of projects to work on.  With fitted garments gauge is extremely important.  To this end I have invested in the Akerworks Swatch Gauge, but I went all out and invested in the knitting tool kit.

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This includes, tape measure, scissors, two darning needles, knitting needle measuring tool, locking stitch markers, and various magnets across the back in addition to the gauge swatch tool.  Essentially this is everything that I would need to knit or crochet on the go in one compact tool.

The stitch gauge has the numbers engraved on the side that is facing down toward the fabric, but they are engraved backwards so when the tool is being used the numbers show in the right direction, but there is no real explanation as to what the numbers are.  Going horizontally across the top there are the numbers 1-4 and under the horizontal line are the numbers 1-10.  Comparison with a ruler proves that 1-4 measures inches while 1-10 measures centimeters.

The tape measure can be slid out of the compartment that houses it, but can also be easily used from its nest in the tool.  The scissors have comfortable finger holes as well as proving themselves quite sharp when put to the test against yarn.  The darning needles in addition to the stitch markers are standard but since they are metal they stay where the magnets put them quite easily.

When my studio is completed I believe that this will have a place stuck to the metal rack I intend to install.  The swatch gauge will be just at home measuring picks per inch as it will stitches per inch.

I have been lusting after the Eszee twist tool for about 2 years now.  Spinning is still my main passion, however all of the math tends to intimidate me.  No longer!  With the Eszee Twist tool I can measure the angle of twist, but more importantly I have a gauge which I can put my yarn on and have a  fairly good idea of what the wraps per inch are going to be without making a mini skein of yarn.  This kit comes with much more than just the measuring tool, it has a bookmark, knitting needle gauge, yarn tracker, in addition to a user guide that does double duty as an Everything You Need to Know to Get the Yarn You Want guide.

In addition to explaining what twist is, s twist, z twist, and angles of twist, this guide goes on to explain different yarn constructions such as 2 ply, 3 ply, Navajo plied, core spun, cables, worsted, and woolen.  The part that I find most useful is the simple math needed to calculate what size your finished yarn will be.  This simple formula was well worth the investment, but the guide and other tools provide everything you need to gain a deeper understanding of yarn construction.

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Yes, they are stitch markers.  Actually what they are is a charm bracelet I purchased through amazon and repurposed using some split rings and lobster clasps.  I just love the BBC production of Sherlock (except the last season and I HATE Mary) so I wanted stitch markers that reflected me.  However, I did not want to spend $5 for one to three stitch markers that really had little to do with Sherlock.  So I found a charm bracelet, there were 20 charms on it, a little manipulation, and I have 20 stitch markers that I thoroughly enjoy.  Since I made the entire batch in less than an hour I can certainly see the appeal in buying up a lot of charms and making these by the hundreds.  I wonder if I can recoup some of my yarn/fiber expenses by starting a stitch marker business?

Happy Crafting!

Sock Obsession

Okay, so I still have not knit any socks, however I have started crocheting another 2 pairs.  I use the term pair loosely, the top sock is certainly going to wind up as a pair.  I love how it is turning out and I have plenty of yarn for the second sock.  The pattern is from the Interweave Crochet Issue Winter 2011 on page 56.  The top sock is out of a fingering weight yarn using a size E crochet hook following the pattern almost exactly.  I added a few decreases where the sock hits my ankle to avoid the pouch of fabric the other sock is showing.  The bottom sock, which will not have a matching mate but I believe will wind up having a crazy mate out of a different yarn altogether, is made using the same hook as well as the same pattern.  The top sock has a looser fabric, I will probably try and play with that if I have any yarn left after the pair is finished, but the bottom sock has a much tighter fabric.

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According to sock experts this means that the bottom sock will wear better and the top will wear out sooner.  I have to confess, if I can figure out a good pattern that will work with fingering weight yarn, yet be fun to crochet, I don’t think I will ever bother learning to knit socks.  Only time will tell however.  There is a new form of knitting needles called Addi FlexiFlips and they might be what I need to help socks become easy enough for me to consider knitting, but at over $20 a set I almost think I would have to be in love with sock knitting before I invest.  Fortunately I might be able to visit a yarn store and take these for a test knit sometime and see if it is worth the investment.  Until then, I’m going to keep crocheting socks!

Happy Crafting!

Still Bargaining

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I subscribed to the Darn Good Yarn box of the month back when it was a new thing, probably 3 years ago in 2016, for $10 I thought it was worth a shot.  I received a skein of Sari Silk yarn, which sounds lovely.  In reality it was a sari from a woman in India that had been torn into strips and hand tied to form a ‘skein’.  Since the photo being shown when advertising the box was a lovely skein of beaded yarn I was understandably disappointed to receive a ‘skein’ of purple fabric that bled everywhere, had tons of strings hanging off, and that tore every time I tried to use it.  I washed it until it stopped bleeding, let it tear where it was going to, and tied skeins of yarn with it.  I also cancelled my subscription.

That brings us to last week.  One of my colleagues let me know that she had decided to subscribe to the Darn Good Yarn box, she made it sound like I had recommended this (I don’t remember doing that, but I might have.)  She loved it, it was a beautiful skein of rainbow silk yarn that she made a cowl from.  Not only did that strike my interest, but there was an advertisement on Facebook that the kit would also include knitting needles and a crochet hook made from wood and painted purple.  I was officially hooked in, even if I hated the yarn, knitting needles and a crochet hook!  I also spent the extra $5 to get a surprise.  For about $20, with shipping, I received 2 skeins of silk yarn 75 yards each, a set of knitting needles, and a crochet hook.  I do like the looks of the yarn and the tools.

Now the question becomes what am I going to do with 75 yards of worsted weight silk yarn in two different colorways?  According to ravelry, fingerless gloves, toys, water bottle covers, drink sleeves, wrist warmers, a pouch, or an accent for color work.  I can also use the included patterns to knit or crochet a little cowl, actually I cast on the knit cowl out of the rainbow yarn to see how it looks.

So, I think I will keep this subscription going for a month or two to see what other goodies will arrive.  If you get a chance, and like small projects, this is well worth the $10.

Happy Crafting!

Still Spinning

Okay, so the 2 pounds of Shetland Moorit arrived so I am working on carding it into rolags to spin up for my Hap.  I was feeling under the weather a bit so in between my knitting, crocheting, laundry and dishwasher loads, I curled up in bed to look over past issues of Spin-Off Magazine.  While paging through I happened across a pattern for little wrist cuffs as well as ankle cuffs.  Each of these take a bit over 100 yards of fiber, well I have all sorts of little scraps so I decided to go for it.  In December I purchased the international box from Camaj Fiber Arts Spinning Boxes, she was selling off past boxes.  There were some very pretty fibers based on Korea and Norway/Finland that I decided to spin into a little skein.

IMG_2178  I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  However, it is only 78 yards.  Yes, not even enough for one of the patterns.  Oh well, I have more little samples (I have already started) so I will be incorporating two mini batts, and three more random colored combed tops that look like they will fit the bill.  I am already almost half way through spinning this batch, it already looks like more singles than the last attempt.

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The patterns are from Spin Off Winter 2007 pages 46-47 titled “Anklettos and Wristlettos: Fringe Benefits” by Phreadde Davis.

Hopefully once I have this yarn spun, plied, set, and dried, I will not be either bored with this idea, working on the hap, or ready for more installments from Jimmy Beans Wool.  I will admit to a small amount of introspection, I am aware that I have been keeping myself too busy to really take the time to miss my Mom.  February tends to stink since we lost Dad near the end, I have already found myself crying for no apparent reason simply because it hit me hard that she isn’t around.  Oh well, back to distractions!

Happy Crafting!

Jimmy Beans Subscription Boxes: Quarter 1, Part 1, Post 2.

Due to the horrible weather the Community College I work at was closed Wednesday and Thursday, SNOW DAYS!  This was fortunate since I was feeling under the weather and would not have been able to accomplish much, there was also a staff meeting that was rescheduled.  Because of this I not only finished the first quarter of the shawl pattern I completed as much as I can at this point.  Let me clarify, this shawl is supposed to be knit over a period of three months, with each month’s kit building on the last.  There are two more repeats of the white portion and another type of stitch that are supposed to be a part of this month’s construction.  Many of the (very fast) knitters on Ravelry have commented that they have run out of white before finishing the portion of the shawl that I am on and have been unable to start the final portion (bobble stitches).  Jimmy Beans has apologized and sent out extra yarn to those that have let them know, they are also including extra yarn for everyone in the next installment.  Since I know that I do not have enough yarn to complete this portion, do not want to halt the pattern in the middle of a section, and have plenty to do, I have decided to wait until the next installment arrives before I continue.  That being said, this kit is amazing!  I am having so much fun as well as learning that I am capable of knitting much better than I believed.

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The bottom of my crocheted ottoman.  This is the first installment of the Jimmy Beans Crochet kit, there were four skeins of yarn left over (tiny skeins) but the next portion is supposed to take a lot of yarn so these bits will be used there.  From what I understand the next portion is building up the sides of the ottoman.  The way things look I think I will have plenty of pillows for stuffing this thing, even if it is much taller than anticipated.  Much like the knitting kit, this spinning kit has brought me hours of enjoyment for very little investment.  While I honestly haven’t learned as much I did begin this journey with a wider base of knowledge, and I will have a neat ottoman when I am done.

Since there is going to be an installment of each of these clubs every month I am going to try and keep up with the stitching as well as reporting how they are going.  I have a couple more projects going on this week and will be writing posts about them shortly!

Happy Crafting!

Jimmy Beans Wool Subscription Boxes

In the Fall of 2018 Jimmy Beans Wool had the option to buy a three month set of their knitting subscription for $30 so that you could knit up some little cacti.  I don’t need any more junk in my house, but I wanted to know if I was capable of knitting a cactus.  Now I have a pair of cacti sitting on my shelf in front of my mother’s religious statues, and I have the parts of the third waiting to be stuffed and added to the collection.  It might be a bit of a wait since I purchased a year subscription to the knitting and crochet clubs that Jimmy Beans offers.

TIP: If you want to order more than one of their subscription boxes, make each one into a separate order.  They don’t say that anywhere that I can find on their website but it really does save a bit of hassle.  That being said, though I have contacted their help about 3 times so far this year, they are quite quick to respond to my concerns.

My knitting skills are a bit rudimentary, to be kind, and so I was not sure if I would be able to follow the instructions to create the shawl that is the first project for this quarter.  Fortunately the instructions are very clear allowing me to expand my skills very quickly and obtain beautiful results.  I am only on the first third of the first set of instructions but the pattern is time consuming and fascinating.  It takes me about 90 minutes to complete the 4 rows that go into one repeat of the pattern.  As of the writing of this I have completed 3 repeats and have 2.5 left to go (the piece leading into the next pattern is only 1/2 of the pattern, the hard half.).  I believe that learning the stitches took me longer than the 90 minutes mentioned above, however, even if it did not I have already accumulated 4.5 hours of enjoyment out of this $20 and I have not even finished the first section.  This club also came with a little knit notebook, which I do not know what I am going to do with it, and a beautiful bag with snaps called the Oh Snap bag.  When I get the first third of the shawl completed I will attempt to post a picture.

I decided to try the crochet kit of the month club simply because Mom loved to crochet and I didn’t want my skills in that area to get rusty.  The first project is an ottoman, crocheted and stuffed with whatever blankets etc you would like.    I love the concept and mildly resent having to purchase the extra equipment to stuff the sucker with.  I contemplated getting a storage ottoman and trying to find a way to create a slit of some sort in the cover, however Wal-Mart had fuzzy pillows on sale so hopefully the four I purchased will be enough to stuff this thing.  If not I am certain I will think of something.  Right now the pattern is a simple single crochet starting in the magic loop and gaining stitches every row.  There is a little hitch where you reach down a row for one of the single crochets to form a cute spike.  We are also working with doubled up yarn, two strands at a time, which I have never done before.

Really, if you enjoy crafting and need some external motivation (which I am realizing is my problem) then these are a great way to expand your skill set and get neat projects to boot.

Happy crafting!