Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fun new things

The Hogan family had a great Christmas. We traveled to Kansas twice in 2 weekends and visited family without A. Obtaining illness or B. Spreading illness.  Success!  The kids loved playing with their cousins and getting grandparent time. We spent Christmas Eve and day at home with food, presents, toys and PJs. We are feeling blessed this year and are looking forward to a new year.

My wonderful husband nailed my gift this year (of course).  On Christmas Eve, he had this delivered to our doorstep:
The kids were not included.  :)  It's an 8-shaft 15 3/4" Leclerc Voyageur, a table loom. 
It's the perfect size for weaving a smaller piece, and it will fold up to 13 x 9 x 20" and fits into the nice canvas bag they included. 
If I was packing it away for real I would remove the handles for the beams and move the beams to a holding area at the base of the castle.  It looks like you could easily transport it while it's warped and it only weighs 12.5 lbs!

I'm so excited about the 8 shafts!  There are more intricate pattern possibilities as you move up in the number of shafts, so I'm looking forward to finding a fun draft and trying it out.  This loom is just what I wanted to take to craft shows for demonstrating!  Another piece to the craft business puzzle I'm trying to put together. 

In his infinite thoughtfulness, Chris also enrolled me in an intermediate weaving class. It's an 8 week session that will get me out of the house (WAHOO!!), and help me learn some new skills. I've already got a mental list of questions going!  (Better write those down before I forget...)

In other news, I've finished my shawl.  I'm so pleased with how it has turned out! 
I'm really glad I decided to knit as many pattern repeats as I did.  The size is fabulous - giving you enough space to wrap yourself up in it.  I would grab this to go outside and sit by the fire on a cool fall night.  It would also go well with a dress, something to take the chill off your shoulders. 
The yarn, Southwest Trading Co.'s Tofutsies in color 728 (discontinued), has an interesting makeup: 50% wool, 25% soy, 22% cotton and 3% Chitin.  The Chitin is a unique fiber derived from crab and shrimp shells.  It is naturally antimicrobial.  Cool, huh?  I find it fascinating how people have come to the point of developing fibers, and even am intrigued by the age-old processes of taking fleece from a sheep and ending up with a clean, brilliantly colored skein of wool yarn.  One of these days I'm going to take a tour to see each step for myself (and maybe try my hand at it, too).  But I digress.  This great yarn is colorful and bright and lends itself well to the simplicity of the pattern.
Below, it would also work to be worn as a volumous scarf.
As you can see in the shot below, it is shaped as a trapezoid.

This is my second shawl.  I think they're starting to grow on me.  I really am the no-frills sort, but a wearable blanket is right up my alley!  The one thing that irritates me with shawls is the ever-increasing stitch count.  You keep adding width and adding width until it takes you FOREVER to knit one row.  And hopefully by then you are almost done.  :) 

This shawl is now up on my Etsy page.

On my needles now is a pair of convertible mittens.  I am not completely happy with how they are turning out, but I've decided to finish them out.  More on that later.

I keep forgetting to remind you all to come check out my Facebook page!  <----Click the link and "like" me to get updates on when new posts arrive, plus what I'm up to and reading that's fiber-related. 

Enjoy the last few days of 2013!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

7 days until Christmas...

The countdown is on!  I have all my shopping done, have for a few weeks now, but I am feeling the crunch on doing all the fun holiday activities I've planned for the family.  Still left to do: donate food and toys, do the Christmas baking and deliver treats to neighbors.  Not to mention all the wrapping.  Luckily, my boys are oblivious to the huge pile of cardboard boxes in my closet. Once I wrap the gifts, they'll be in the crosshairs.  I think I'll wait till last minute for that.

Yesterday, Elijah was quick to point out to Chris (who was not wanting to share his cashews) that God wants us to share. I look at it as evidence I'm getting through and some of the "reason for the season" is getting absorbed. 😌

About a year ago, my grandparents downsized their home and my Grandma, (who is a great knitter, seamstress, and cross-stitcher, and on and on) wanted to downsize her craft stuff. She graciously gave me some of her yarn stash, and I've had fun researching its origins.

Here is a great photo of my Grandpa, Grandma, and Great Grandma (who I'll credit with teaching me knitting basics as a pre-teen).  My Great Grandma passed away recently, and we all miss her very much.  Grandma, I was looking for a photo of just you and me, and I don't have one!  We need to get one!

One of the yarns she gave me was this Reynold's Tipperary Tweed.  There wasn't a date on the yarn label, but the little bits I could find online indicate it's probably from the late 70's.  Reynolds ceased production in 2012.  Most references to it list it as a "vintage" yarn.  Ha.  Vintage.  It's an Icelandic sort of raw wool, undoubtedly warm, and feels rustic.  I'm not sure what she had in mind to make with it, but it is an interesting blend of colors and textures. 

I had been wanting to try the Growing Leaves Cowl by Meghan Macko.  I thought the leaf design would play well with the rustic yarn. So here it is.
It was fun to see the leaves emerging as I knit this cowl.  I always am amazed what you can create with two simple stitches and their variations.  This project used up about half of the yarn, so I'll have to do some more planning!

Next week will be filled with holiday and family, so Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Crofter's Cowl

I had a lot of fun making this pretty cowl:
I used Gudrun Johnson's pattern Crofter's Cowl, which is free on Ravelry.  It is a quick knit, and great for using up small bits of leftover yarn.  This yarn is Knit Picks Shine Worsted in (discontinued) color Bachelor Button.  It is a cotton/modal blend, so very washable.  I like washable.  The cool thing about this yarn is it is so soft, and it has a lovely shine to it, which makes the stitches really stand out.  Looks like leaves, huh?
A cowl is essentially a tube that can be slid over your head to keep your neck warm (one of those things you learn when you become a knitter). 
It has a lot of benefits that I can see: it won't come unwrapped like a scarf, it will be less bulky than other sorts of neck warmers, and it can add a lot style-wise!  Here I snapped a photo pairing the cowl my leather jacket.

It had an interesting construction, you knitted half of it, then knitted an identical place, then grafted the two pieces together end to end.  That made a neat mirrored effect with the pattern stitches. 

I'm so glad I've used more of my stash, and made a pretty accessory in the process!  Yay!  Soon I'll have another cowl to show you...AND I've finished my shawl, which will soon be washed and ends wove in...all ready for its glamor shots.  Keep checking back!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, the cold weather has found us, and today we are sitting tight at home while the snow comes down.  It's not often that Oklahoma gets a good snow, so I'll take it!  When I don't have anywhere in particular to be, I want the snow to bury us...but I do want my husband to make it home from work first!

I have a cute little finished project to show you!  I had this beautiful yarn I picked up at my LYS, Crystal Palace's Mini Mochi.  It is in colorway Treasure Chest (109) which is - guess what? - discontinued.  But it is a beautiful combination of purples, browns, blues, and pinks - to name a few.  I really never had a clear plan for this yarn when I bought it, and since I only had one skein, I went searching for a small project that would showcase the colors.

I found some glass beads that worked well with it, and strung them on the yarn before I began knitting.  All 612 of them.  Unfun.  But once they are on the yarn, it's easy to move them into place one at a time as you get to the position they need to be in.  As you can see, the beads go in a wavy pattern that really adds a lot to the bag.
I think it's the perfect size to fill with small necessities and throw in your purse or suitcase.  In my purse, it would be the perfect Hot Wheels car holder.  *Sigh*.  I could also see it working nicely as a yarn ball bag.
It has a drawstring closure, made of knitted I-cord, so the mouth of the bag opens up wide.  It's knitted in the round (meaning there are no seams), and it worked up quickly.  We knitters love a little instant gratification!
When closed up, the top of the bag makes a cute flower-like pucker!

What surprised me about this bag was it's weight and substance.  And I suppose I should realize that there are so many beads, it is going to be heavy.

The shawl on my needles now is progressing nicely.  I've already made past the number of pattern repeats I thought I was going to, so I'm pleased with that. I'm a firm believer that bigger = warmer and cozier!  

So keep warm out there!  I wish you were here with me beside the fire, knitting and drinking hot chocolate.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Friday, December 13, 2013

December days

It's been a wet, cold winter so far. I'm holding out hope to get snowed in on Christmas.  We have had holiday-themed activities for most days this month, and for the most part, the boys have loved it.
We saw Santa. 
We played in the snow. It's been fun to show the boys some of my favorite parts of the season. 

I don't knit gifts. I have in the past, but generally find that I don't need that extra stress of finishing things on time when the recipient may not appreciate or even use the item. So I'm free of that load this year. 

An update on my shawl: I am nearing the end, and came to a point where I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to finish without running out of yarn. As an insurance, I ran a lifeline so I could easily back up should I run out. 
There are a couple ways to run a lifeline, but I prefer to use a darning needle and run it through stitches on the needle. I find there's less chance of distorting your stitches than knitting with 2 strands.  Just make sure you get through the stitches cleanly, going through all plies of the yarn. Here I used some cotton (it really should have been smaller gauge yarn, but it's what I had handy) in a contrasting color. Should I need to rip out my stitches, I can now simply remove my needles and rip away, the scrap yarn will stop the unravelling and then I can replace the stitches on the needle. Here is a shot of the lifeline a few rows in. 
I did, in this case, run out.  But after considering doing the border with a different color, I decided it would look better to keep the same yarn throughout. So I got on trusty old Ravelry and found some in a stash for sale. It arrived 2 days later and away I go. Maybe I'll even have enough leftover yarn to make a coordinating item!  

While I was waiting for yarn to arrive, I made some progress on my multicolor cardigan. I am quickly nearing the end of the last sleeve.  Next will be finishing and knitting the button band. I am somewhat anxious about the finishing process on this item, I've never done it on something with so much colorwork. It will be important to keep things lined up so the colors line up, too.  

My next project up is something to keep hands warm!  I'm looking forward to it!  

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Can you believe the holiday season is already here?  It's been such a fast year, but then again, I think each year is shorter than those previous.  I'm so excited for Christmas, and for all the magic there is to show my two little boys who are just beginning to "get it".

I have primarily been knitting in the past few weeks, mostly because I'm put off by having to change my colors every 4 throws with the weaving, but I'll get back to that soon.  My goal lately has simply been production.  I need to have items available to sell for craft shows!

Today I have the finished linen stitch scarf to show you!
It turned out great!  As I said in my previous post, the yarn color is called "Pony Ride", and I think it's so appropriate.  It is just the colors I would pick to describe a horse or pony ride.  The colors also appealed to me because they were subtle, earth tones that would go well with browns, blacks, creams and khakis. 
 The fabric made when using this stitch is thick, so I'm sure it'll be warm, given it's a wool/nylon blend.  Head on over to my Etsy shop to check out all my current offerings.
I really am so thankful that I'm able to find time to do the things I love, that I have a wonderful husband who works hard so I can stay home with our two boys, and that I have the ability to create.  And a roof over my head, and plenty of food, and a fantastic family.  We really are abundantly blessed.  That really is what this season is all about.

My knitting corner in the living room has had to be moved to make way for the Christmas tree.  (I may be INSANE for placing the tree in a commons area in our house with two little boys...time will tell.)  So hopefully I'm able to keep up my productivity this month!  But on my needles now is this colorful shawl.
I'm a little under halfway through my yarn, and I plan to make it as big as my yardage allows.  This is self-striping sock yarn, I'll give all the details later but I really like the colors.  It's fun to work with self striping yarn - it's always fun to see what's coming up next.  It also occupies my mind, because I'm that anal type A sort who gets mad when the colors pool too much (HA! That's hard to admit!).  

More to come later - it's time to decorate the tree with my little family!  God bless you in this season!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Plodding on along...

On my needles now is this lovely scarf:

It's worked in a linen stitch lengthwise, with fringe added at the beginning and end of each row.  It's a simple, mindless knit that's been good with football and basketball watching!  I'm really loving the colors.  The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Handpainted in colorway Pony Ride (YAY IT'S NOT DISCONTINUED!!).  There are 450 stitches in each row, so the scarf is slow to grow, but It looks so pretty.  Almost woven (which I'm partial to).

A bit on Kristi's organization:

I only work on 2 projects at a time with my knitting.  Now, I know hundreds of knitters who work up to 10 projects at a time, but I find it hard to keep track of what's going on with each project.  It's also rewarding to me to finish a project and then move on to the next one.

I have large canvas bags that I keep my WIP's (work in progress) in, and each bag contains a little kit with commonly used tools.  I have recycled various containers to use for these kits.  Right now I have a Crystal Light container and a Hillshire Farm lunch meat tub.  They don't have to be fancy.  Just functional!  In my kits are:

1. A tape measure - the retractable kind are nice but my kids have broken most of mine so I have a wadded tape in most of my kits
2. Small scissors
2. A tapestry needle for weaving in ends
3. A small crochet hook for dropped stitches
4. Yarn markers (number and size depend on the pattern)
5. A row counter
Other items may be included if they're needed for a specific project, such as: stitch holders, cable needle, needle point protectors, and etc.

The bags also (obviously) contain the yarn and needles needed to make the project, plus the pattern.  I like to keep the pattern in a sheet protector to make it easy to keep all the pages together.  It's also nice to keep spilled coffee off!

So two projects are in progress in my canvas bags by my knitting chair.  In my craft room, I make up queue bags for the next 2 projects on my to-do list.  The bags I use for this are actually drawstring shoe bags that came with some luggage.
I gather the yarn, needles, pattern and notions and place them together so they're ready to go.  I keep my queue updated on Ravelry, so I always know what's coming next.  The yarn in my stash that's ear-marked for a project goes into a certain drawer in my craft bureau so they are all together.

My stash that is not scheduled for a project is divided into items for sale and yarn for scrap.  I'm a firm believer in offering up my yarn leftover from a project for sale or trade on Ravelry.  At one time, I was making a sweater and even though I thought I had made careful calculations, I ended up being short on yarn.  Of course the yarn was discontinued, and the only option was finding someone who had it in their stash who would sell me some.  I literally needed only 80 yards.  After finding the "Will sell or trade" stash section on Ravelry, I found a lady with some, but it wasn't listed as for sale or trade.  I messaged her, describing my situation, and asked if she would be willing to sell me 80 yards.  Bless her heart, she mailed me her whole lot of it, it was 5 SKEINS, at no cost to me.  That very evening, I got onto ravelry and put up all my leftovers for trade or sale.  I hoped I could help someone in the same way she helped me.  And a few months later, I did the same for a knitter in need.  :)  So keep those stash lists updated.  You never know when you could help a fellow crafter!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Finished project: Reversible Blue Infinity Cowl

I'm so excited to show you some pictures of the cowl I finished.  It's lovely!  It was fun to knit, easy, and the results were great.  I may have to make more of these! :)
As I mentioned before, this is made out of Berroco Blackstone Tweed, so it's SO soft and warm.  65% wool, 25% mohair and 10% angora.  Yum.
The fully-reversible-ness of it makes it nice to wear looped either once or twice, depending on what look you want.

And see my new dress form?  My husband rolled his eyes, but I think it's great - and a must have when photographing this stuff!

It's up for sale HERE on my Etsy page.

I have more projects coming down the pipeline soon!  Busy, busy, busy. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hot chocolate and electric blankets

I love the fall.  Well, when I really think about it, I think I love the cool (not cold) temps.  A more temperate climate is probably suited better for me.  But I also love the changing leaves, football, cuddling under blankets, and apple cider.  Of course, knitting is better in the cool months.  I seem to have more motivation. So welcome, Fall!

My little monsters had a good time on Halloween - they're finally getting old enough to "get it".  However, once they successfully obtained candy, they immediately wanted to eat it.  :)  I guess I would too if I were 2 or 3 years old!
Aren't they adorable?

I've finished up the cowl - and it turned out great.  Here I am working a three-needle bind off to finish it out.

I'll get it blocked soon and put up some finished photos. 

My new project is a pretty beaded handbag. I've not worked in beads while knitting before, and it's been fun!  However, getting started by stringing 612 beads onto delicate, single ply wool was not fun. The Mini Mochi yarn is perfect for this pattern, though!  This is colorway 109 - Treasure Chest.  I keep checking these yarns I'm using and they're all discontinued colors.  I guess that's what happens when you have a massive stash and a huge project queue.  *guilty look*  *let's change the subject*
I also have a Facebook Page now!!  Please come by occasionally to see me there.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I feel especially productive this week, thanks to some motivation!  My mom and I attended the Affair of the Heart show last weekend. While I was expecting to see many more handmades, it fueled my excitement!  I would love to do 2 craft shows a year with my mom's help, and I'm considering the purchase of a small, foldable loom to demonstrate on.  I think people would be interested to see how the weaving process goes, and it would probably open up communication with customers.  So I've spent some time planning some projects for sale.

My current weaving is going great. I finished the first scarf on this warp and now have moved to this design:
I've nicknamed it Flying Birds!  Isn't it cheery?  I think one of my nieces or nephews will like it.  There will be one more scarf on this warp.  I seem to be steadily improving. 

On the knitting front:

I finished one sleeve on my cardigan and have several inches on the second sleeve done.  Ugh.  Not worthy of a photo.  I wish I had a magic wand to finish this thing.

I finished a hibernating project: a pair of robot mittens for my oldest son.  They are in need of blocking.

And I have started a cowl (here is the pattern on Ravelry) with this lovely Berroco Blackstone Tweed, color is Cape Cod (discontinued). The yarn is leftover from a coat I made.

And one more category, a new one for the blog: felt. I have been working on a felt activity book for my cousin's little girls and this is the 3rd page set. 
A dollhouse bed and bath page. The doll has Velcro undies and can change clothes.  The bed and bathtub have pockets behind them to allow the doll to sit in them. I got the pattern from Imagine Our Life, who has SOOO many cute activity book page patterns. I have 2 more page sets to do, so I'll post those as I finish them.

WHEW!  I'm worn out just telling about all I have finished!  Ok.  Back to work.