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!