Hooray for Stitches West 2012!! - Part 2

Where was I? Oh, I had just finished my visit with Roxanne of Zen Yarn Gardens. It was now 5:30pm so I had to dash out of the conference center and drive as fast as I legally could to get to my son's daycare before 6pm. I was so happy with my loot, and excited for my Sunday class. I almost forgot! I bumped into a friend from Dartmouth, Katharine Velleman, who is also a knitter, and lives in San Francisco. We are 45mins away from each other and have yet to still meet up. Among the thousands of knitters, crocheters and fiber enthusiasts at Stitches West, we bumped into each other! It was nice to catch up for a few minutes!

So come Sunday afternoon, I was a little tired after my weekend schedule and feeling sick with a sore throat, but I knew I had to go for my class. I made it to the conference center at 1pm, and headed straight for the market because I had seen Kauni at one of the booths and just had to have a ball. I've been looking for Kauni Effektgarn in the EU colorway for a while now, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on one ball, as well as on the EJ colorway.


I also got myself a beautiful ball of yarn from Zauberball.

I was about to head towards the Bobbin's Nest Studio booth when I realized I had less than 5 minutes to get to my class. I didn't even know where the class was located!! LOL! I dashed to the registration desk, where the kind lady gently asked me to look at the back of my badge. There it was! She gave me directions to my class, and I walked as quickly as I could into the class, Sneaky Short Row Shaping by Gwen Bortner. It was a very informative class, and I enjoyed learning a bit more about short row shaping. Below is the handout from the class, and the swatch I made with the four different short row shaping techniques we learnt. I used KnitPicks Swish DK in the Doe and Cornmeal colorways for the swatch.

During a 20min break from the class, I rushed back to the market to pick up this delicious skein of Duet 50/50 mohair and wool from Brooks Farm, a yarn farm based in Texas. The yarn is so soft that I knew I had to have a skein for myself!

I can't wait to knit up all these goodies! So what did I learn from Stitches West? I learnt that I wish we lived in the magical world of Harry Potter so I could use the nifty time turner thingy that Hermione had in Prisoner of Azkaban, so I could go back in time and take ALL the classes I wanted to at Stitches, AND visit all the booths I wanted to in the market. I had such a great time! Hopefully next year I would have made enough money from knitting to pay for the whole package and attend all the days of the conference. Rock on Stitches West, Rock on!!

Hooray for Stitches West 2012! - Part 1

I'm so excited for this week's post. For the past two years since we moved to Santa Clara,  I've never made it to Stitches West. It is held every year in February at the Santa Clara Convention Center, which is 6 miles away from me. The first year I was attending prenatal classes and totally missed it. Last year I don't even remember what happened, but I know that I only realized it had happened after it was over. This year I was determined to make it! However, I am now working and couldn't really take off that many days. My kind supervisor gave me Friday off to go get my knitting on and I was excited!

Friday morning, I scoured through the online listing of classes and saw only two that I could take on Sunday afternoon because as usual, I was booked for something this weekend (I had to sing at church). No matter, I soldiered on, looking at the Weaving class and the Short Row Shaping class scheduled for Sunday. I was leaning strongly towards the weaving class, when the kind lady at the registration desk informed me that the Weaving class was an all day class, which narrowed down my class selection to the Sneaky Short Row Shaping with Gwen Bortner. I registered for this class, got my official looking badge, and headed off for the market, where lots of lovely yarn goodies and awesome people were waiting.

I got to meet Kristin Omdahl (Styled By Kristin) who regularly appears on the Crochet Corner of Knitting Daily TV AND has written a knitting book, and Michelle Miller (of FickleKnitter Designs) who designs the loveliest shawls in person. I was freaking out like a little knitting fan girl! And they took pictures with me!! I was excited to meet them both, and thrilled when Michelle recognized me because I had test knitted her Tree and Arbor Wrap pattern about two years ago (blogged here).

I bought a book from each of them, and they very graciously signed them for me. :) Woohoo!!

Michelle then pointed me towards Roxanne of Zen Yarn Garden. Now this lady's yarns are to-die-for! The colors are so vivid, and the yarn is so soft!! I've been wanting to get a few skeins for myself for years now, and the fact that I got to meet her just got me acting the fool. I think I was at her booth for almost an hour, and was almost late picking up my son!! She also let me take a picture with her!! 
Then I got down to drooling over yarn!! This is what I got from her! (I had to make the yarn picture extra large because it's just so yummy!!)
Wow! Can you tell how excited I was to go? This post is getting a little long now, so I'll end here and continue in my next blog post! Thank you for reading this far! :)

The wonderful Kitchener stitch

As a new knitter, I was afraid of anything that asked me to stray from the plain ol' knit and purl. I ventured a bit into yarnovers, knit 2 togethers, and slip slip knit because I was dying to knit lace fabrics, but that was as far as I wanted to go. It took more than 2 years for me to get circular needles and attempt to knit in the round. And after diving in head first into a cardigan project for my friend Kathleen with "interesting" results, I've shied away from knitting actual pieces of clothing that require seaming.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I tried my hand at the Kitchener stitch and realized it wasn't scary AT ALL! I mean, AT ALL. I love it! It's such a great skill for every knitter to have in their back pocket. My latest project is a custom order that required me to basically design an infinity scarf by looking at a photo. I didn't want to sew a seam because I suck at sewing. You can ask anyone I know. However, the beauty of the Kitchener stitch is that it doesn't require you to actually know how to sew a seam. There's a distinct order in which you sew the stitches, and the end result is barely discernible. Here is what my scarf looks like after I used the Kitchener stitch to seam the ends together.

Right Side of scarf

Wrong side of scarf

There's just a little kink in the scarf where I joined the two ends, but this kink will go away with a little blocking. Doesn't it look wonderful?

I'm not going to give a Kitchener stitch tutorial here because there's a perfect one over at KnittingHelp.com. Here is the link to that video tutorial. Their knitting tips page has a lot of video tutorials, and you would have to scroll down a bit to find this Kitchener stitch video, but it's definitely worth your while. Do check out the video and let me know what you think about this stitch.

Before I go, here are some pictures of 2 WIPs I'm currently laboring over. The first is a mustard and grey infinity scarf for one of my co-workers, and the second is the Purl Ridge Scarf by Stephen West, knit in my sunset color gradation combo. Both scarves are being knitted in Knit Picks Palette yarn, which is just fantastic to work with. See you all next week and have a fabulous rest of the week!

When I'm feeling blue...hats!

I've been trying, pretty unsuccessfully I might add, to take photos of the Chunky Dean Street Hat (by Nina Machlin Dayton) that I made for my son a few months ago. The little one would just not sit still long enough for me to get a usable shot. I got him in his high chair, and being held by another friend, and the pictures were still not too pretty. Then this morning I remembered that one of my favorite designers, Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting, seems to take photos of her knitted items lying flat on a white background when she sends out her newsletter. I thought, "My, I could do that with a hat!" So I set off to take photos of my poopoola's hat.

I used Shalimar Yarns Missy Bulky (Blueberry colorway) which I picked up from Bobbin's Nest Studio a while ago, and knit the hat on US 10.5 (6.5mm) needles. Now this was before I realized that my gauge when knitting in the round was pretty loose. So the hat came out a little too big, even for the poopoola's big head.

I also squeezed in a chunky Cabled Hat in the Sapphire colorway of Loops & Threads Cozy Wool for my friend Melissa from Colliding Stars. She wanted the same hat as the one my sister stole, but in the sapphire colorway. It's such a quick knit that I whipped it up during a break from projects I actually need to be completing.

By some happy coincidence, they are both blue, so I put them together for a group shot!

Who knew blue was such a pretty color!! Enjoy the rest of your week and belated Happy Valentine's Day!

Ode to the Scrunchable Scarf

If someone were to ask me, right now, what my favorite pattern is, I would say it's the Scrunchable Scarf by Susan McConne, hands down. I mean, I've knit enough scarves with this pattern that I have it memorized. Ok I'll tell the truth -  the pattern is so easy that even a new knitter will have it memorized within 10 minutes. But the finished product is so beautiful that you wouldn't believe the pattern is just 3 stitches long. Yes, 3 stitches long. If you clicked through on the pattern name to get to the pattern, you'll find that the pattern was put up in 1996. That was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before Ravelry was even born. I don't know who listed the pattern on Ravelry, but it has 3558 projects linked to it. And I made 7 of them. :)

The most recent one was a gift for our former roomie Geoffrey, who just moved further North to be his wife. Now we all know how cold it can get up North over there, so I offered to finally make him a scarf. (Just as an aside, if you are one of my loved ones, it's going to take you FOREVER to get anything knitted by me. I seem to always assume that my loved ones will always be around so I can knit for them whenever. Terrible of me I know. I'm going to change that soon...as I sit on a year-old winter scarf WIP for my dad. Back to the lovely Scrunchables). Geoffrey wanted a thick scarf that was Grayish Blue. The denim colorway from Lion Brand's Wool-Ease Thick & Quick was just perfect for the project, so I cast on for the scarf 3 days before his departure. The scarf is so beautiful and squishy, and photographed so well that I just had to share the pictures.

Seeing this scrunchable scarf made me want to take a quick trip down memory lane of all the Scrunchable scarves I've made, so here we go, in no particular order. They are all so beautiful in my humble opinion!
PS: I wish I could set them to music so it's like a little slideshow of the scarves. I know, I know, too much. Also, I didn't include the Granite Scrunchable because I don't have any pictures of that scarf. I had to mail it right after I finished knitting and blocking it. Enjoy the pictures!

I hope you liked my little photo trip down memory lane. Take a stab at knitting a Scrunchable Scarf of your own. See you next week!!

Wool People Vol. 2

My son and I are taking turns being sick, which means I've not been able to finish any projects that in the past two weeks. Instead, I'm going to share with you three patterns that caught my eye from Wool People Vol. 2, the newest pattern collection from Brooklyn Tweed, using Shelter yarn by Jared Flood. I must confess that I still haven't made the patterns that I loved from Wool People Vol. 1, and I'm hoping that one of these, one of these days I tell you, I'll have enough time to actually knit something for myself. LOL!

The first pattern that caught my eye is the Elfreide Scarf by Lucy Sweetland, because I have a friend called Elfriede. The second reason is that the scarf was in green. And, it has cables. Lots and lots of cables. The scarf is an architectural work of art, and I found my fingers itching to cast on for this one. I think the rustic looking nature of the Shelter yarn also adds to the beauty of this pattern. It would look beautiful in red/burgundy, as well as in an oatmeal/off-white color.

The second pattern was this delicious looking blue short-sleeved sweater called Lawrence, by Melissa LaBarre. I think sometimes the color choice for a pattern actually MAKES the pattern. This blue vest looked so stately but simple that I wished it was already knit and hanging in my wardrobe. Plus, I don't have a lot of blue clothing items so this would work pretty well. All jokes aside though, the construction of this vest makes me happy, as someone who doesn't like too much fussy detail. The simple garter stitch knit, accented by a large lace panel and topped off with that awesome cowl neck, made me go "Wheeeeeeeee". Such a great piece.

Finally, Fuse by Veronik Avery, a drape front cardigan that is just the style I've been dreaming off. The fronts of the cardigan are wide and swingy enough that you can drape one side across your neck as a makeshift scarf. How beautiful and functional! And the allover lace pattern means you won't get bored on this one. This is one cardigan that I think I would actually wear...if I ever got around to knitting it!

As usual, these drool-worthy pictures are courtesy of Jared Flood. Now if only I could knit/design/take photos as well as this man does.....

Anyway, see you all next week. Hopefully we'll be all better from this bout of sickness, and I'll have some lovely finished projects to share with you all. Have a great rest of the week!

Another shawl is done!!

I have another FO this week! I finally finished the Tan Moody Kerchief, got it blocked, and even photographed all over the past weekend! No scrambling to take photos before the daylight ends, and no staying up late the night before to put up a blog post! Yay! 

This version of the Moody Kerchief was knit in Knit Picks Palette, using the Coriander, Almond Heather and Camel Heather colorways, and made the color changes like I did in the Sunset Moody Kerchief. I hope Veronica's mom likes both her shawls. 

Thanks to my lovely model Zeina Newman for being so willing to come and help me out whenever I call. Such a wonderful friend! Now I'm off to work on some more WIPs and UFOs. Have a wonderful week and thank you so much for reading!

Now, for some FOs!

I finished some projects! Yay! I completed the Merlot Scrunchable Scarf from last week's post, the one for my sister's bf. He visited us briefly this past weekend and he's darling. He even enjoyed playing with my son!! He tried on the scarf and loved it, but I didn't give it to him as I hadn't blocked it yet. It's now blocked and photographed, but I took the photos late in the day so they are pretty bad quality. The model I had lined up for this photo shoot (my sister), decided that she needed to take a nap in the middle of the day, and when she woke up she didn't feel like getting all dolled up for a photo shoot. So I lost the daylight needed for good pictures, and had to pull out my trusty plastic bodyform. One of these days I'll get a beautiful fancy-looking bodyform...

For the photos, I tried for some artistic, close-up shots to make up for the bad lighting and my rudimentary photo-taking skills. Here are a few pictures of the Merlot Scarf. I think adding the cable on one side of the scarf was a good call. I love the effect it gives to the scarf.

I finished the Black Moody Kerchief for Veronica's mom a while ago, but hadn't put up pictures because I wanted to shoot both shawls together. Sadly, I still haven't finished the Tan Moody Kerchief (but I'm working hard on it), so I gave up on that idea. Here's the Black Moody Kerchief, knit in KnitPicks Gloss DK.
PS: Shooting something knit in black yarn is hard! Heck, knitting something in black yarn is hard!! Does anyone have suggestions/tips on taking better photos of black items? I would definitely appreciate some pointers. 
Have a wonderful rest of the week! 

UFOs, FOs, WIPS and Startitis

Wait wait, don't go. I'm not talking about aliens. Just what might be an alien language to you if you aren't a knitter or crafter of some kind. But first, a confession. I have Startitis, which is defined by KnitWiki as "an expensive, but rarely fatal affliction that often affects knitters and crocheters where they begin several projects all at one time but don't really make much progress on anything before starting another new project." 

Because of my startitis, I have a lot of WIPs (Works In Progress) and a few UFOs (UnFinished Objects). :) (see I told you it had nothing to do with aliens). WIPs are items that I've knit a bit of, but which are nowhere near completion. UFOs are items that are almost done but just need a little finishing touch, such as weaving in the yarn ends, or seaming, or blocking. FOs (finished objects, as you rightly guessed) are the kinds of things I've been mostly posting about on my blog. This week, however, I thought I would clean out my closet and confess to my little problem.  

I have a lot of projects that I'm a third or halfway through (my WIPs), but which are now languishing in various states in my stash bookshelves. Some are from as far back as 2008, and I'm too embarrassed to show those today, so I'm just going to post about the ones I have no problem confessing to. 

The first one I'll show is one of the giveaway shawls from last year, the red Snap Peas Shawl that Anuli won. I've started it, but because it's a written pattern with quite a bit of detail, I only knit it when I know I have at least a 2 hour block of knitting time. It's being worked in Knit Picks Swish DK in the Hollyberry Color.

The next item up for confession is a Cobalt Blue version of my Procragratification Infinity Scarf that I started mid-December and use as my "I'm-feeling-lazy-don't-want-to-think-while-knitting" project. It's being worked in the Cobalt Blue colorway of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. I pick up this scarf when I'm too tired to think and read patterns properly, or when I'm at church or waiting at the doctor's office.

The third dirty little secret is the Tan Moody Kerchief for my friend Veronica's mom. Veronica won the sunset Moody Kerchief in my previous giveaway and asked me to make a black and a tan version for her mom. I've finished the Black one, and I'm not on the Tan version. The black version was knit in KnitPicks Gloss DK yarn, and the Tan version is in KnitPicks Palette, as I'm doing the same color gradations that I did in the sunset version

#4 on the list is my selfish knitting project, the Xenia shawl in Lana Grossa Lace Lux. I think I should be given an A for effort. I knew that I would definitely not finish the shawl in time for the Christmas choir in December, but I tried. Here is the shawl. I'll finish it sometime soon...I hope.

Last but not least is the Scrunchable scarf in the Merlot colorway of Loops & Threads Cozy Wool, my new favorite yarn. This is the same colorway I made the hat my sister stole in. And she asked me to make this scarf for her bf. He wanted the same colorway. I cast on for this scarf earlier this week, and I need to finish it soon because she leaves for school next week. I added a small 4-stitch cable on one side to make this scarf a wee bit special for him.

Whew! I feel a little lighter now that I've made this confession! This should keep me light until I have to make another confession of the older WIPs. Hopefully they will be FOs soon and I won't have to make any confession! Have a great week everyone!!

About a hat

I've been talking for a while now about knitting myself a hat. So when I found a cute hat pattern on the ball band of Loops & Threads Cozy Wool yarn, I was very excited to try it out. Plus, it only required one ball of yarn! Just perfect! I thought I would make myself one in the Merlot colorway to see how easy the pattern was. Then I would make a few more hats for my Etsy shop.

Now this yarn is soft and gorgeous. Made of 50% wool and 50% acrylic, this yarn is extremely soft and just wonderful to work with. It has minimal splitting, gives great stitch definition, and is just the perfect chunky yarn for gifts and items for sale. Plus, their color palette is just beautiful. I've knit four items with this yarn so far, including this hat, and I plan to make many more with it. (See the Silver Grey Scarf, Forest Green Scrunchable and Claret Procragratification Scarf.)

So back to the hat story. The pattern calls for a US 11 and a US 13 circular needle, so I got my needles together, got the yarn, and started knitting on Dec. 30th. As the knitting progressed, I realized that the hat seemed bigger than it should (even though it fit my big head), and the yarn was getting smaller and smaller. I realized that my gauge was waaaaaaaaaay off! Now if I had taken my time to make a gauge swatch, this wouldn't have happened. I know, I know.I should know better than that. I thought it was a small hat, so what was the worst that could happen. A humongous hat, that's what!!!

Anyway, I ripped out the whole hat, and started with US 9 and US 11 needles. I didn't swatch this time either (hehehe!). But I was SURE that it would work it out this time. :) Luckily for me, it did! I got to practice both Cable front and Cable Back stitches, and finished the hat in one night. Excited with my new gorgeous hat, I put it down and waited to try it on the next day.

Alas! When I tried on the hat, it looked terrible on me. Or I looked terrible in it? I have a pretty round face, and the hat just accentuated the roundness to a very unflattering level. I looked like I was recovering from some disease. I thought I'd ask my sister to try it on to see if it was the hat, or if it was something I had done. She looked fantastic in the hat! I mean, almost supermodel gorgeous! I was sooooooooooooooo MAD! I mean, it was my hat! Anyway, I'll stop whining now. Here are some pictures of my sister looking pretty fabulous in MY HAT!! Grrr!!

Have a wonderful rest of the week and see you next week!