Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cuddle Blanket

I have major battles with migraines every now and then. With the recent weight loss, they have (thankfully) been SO much better and far less frequent. But when they do hit, they do so with a lot of umph. On Friday, I had to take three doses of meds to get it to go away. Highly unusual for me to have one that bad. After you wake up from the meds, you don't have pain, but you also don't have much of a brain. You feel like you have been robbed of some of your time and life, so you want to do feel like you are back in control and haven't lost a day. So...

I casted on the Mini Heaven blanket to knit for Baby K. It is the simple "start at the bottom corner, YO increase and knit in the garter" pattern. The yarn is nice a soft and fluffy...perfect for the knitter who feels less than 100%.

4 balls of Heaven by Plymouth
US size 15 needles (I used size 13)

I plan to add a Duke University ribbon to the eyelets and tie it in a bow. My brother is a HUGE Duke fan, so this will add a little fun detail to the blanket for both him and Baby K!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's a Boy!

I'm so excited to let you all know that I am going to be an aunt for the third time. Drum roll...we are going to have another NEPHEW! He is due to arrive in June. When I went out to teach on Wednesday, I picked up the yarn to make him a few things for the baby shower. I settled on some blankets and bibs because it will be the middle of summer. I'll do some baby hats later in the year for him.

A little teal and brown in Dream in Color Classy
I'm going to make this circular lap afghan that I've had on the make list for over a year.

Some Heaven in white for an everyday cuddle blanket.
Can you believe I haven't made one of these yet?
We sell them like hot cakes to customers and they are cute and FAST.

I also bought Cotton Classic in two colors to make some bibs.
The ones I made for Jack turned out so well that this will be a regular baby gift in the future.

Aunt Gina and Uncle Patrick can't wait to meet you in a few months, Baby Klunk! I get to spoil you and then let my baby brother deal with any bad behavior. Time for a little pay back!!!!!! Karma!!!

I received this picture from Megan of Jack in his birthday hat. He's so darn cute!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jack!

Today is my nephew Jack's birthday. I can't believe it has already been a year since his arrival in the middle of a BUNCH of snow. Although I am biased, he is just such a cute baby. He could totally do little baby modeling ads.

Well, I couldn't pass up the chance to knit him another hat so I knitted up the Birthday Cake Hat from Itty-Bitty Hats. Can I say yet again that I love this book? I've knitted more projects from it than any other knitting or crochet book that I have.

Yarn: RYC Cashcotton DK
Secondary Yarn: Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo
Needle: US 6

Happy Birthday, Jack! Uncle Patrick and Aunt Gina love you SO much!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sasha Skirt: Preparing the Yarn

Linen yarn can be really rough on your hands. It is stiff and can be uncomfortable to use. There are several ways to help the yarn be a bit more friendly:
  • Wash the yarn prior to winding it. 
  • Wind the yarn and then wind it again. The movement from hank to ball and ball to ball relax the fibers and soften them up.
Note: I have heard that some people didn't use all the yardage called for in the pattern. Our store policy is that yarn is returnable for store credit if unwound and not used. So I am washing and winding the yarn as I need it so that I can return the unusable yarn.

I soaked my skeins in Soak for 20 minutes and hung them to dry.

After the yarn is dry, I wound it into a center pull ball.

Then, I wound it into a new center pull ball.

Now, I know that this sounds like a lot of work, but I REALLY wanted to use the linen because it looks so nice in the skirt. BUT, I also wanted to enjoy working with the yarn. I like to look at it as part of the knitting process and art. Plus, you can knit on another project while the soaking, drying, etc is being done!

When you wash it and hang it, leave it in the skein so that you don't create a huge mess!

Remember: Cast on date is 2/27!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Destash of Yarn

Hello of you knitters and crocheters out there! Well, on Sunday I needed to occupy my mind and my hands. I cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned, and organized, and cleaned. I decided to re-organize my yarn by what yarns I planned to knit up for myself and which ones I will knit up as made garments and sale on my etsy site. In the process, I pulled out yarns that I just wouldn't get to. SO.....I have a large lot of yarns available for purchase on my Ravelry yarn for Trade/Sale page. I'm BrownieKnits in Ravelry, so stop by and check it out. There is some lovely Noro in there at a great price. I'm also continuing to add for the next week.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Classes Added for Spring/Summer 2010

I've been super busy putting together a class schedule for March through August! I've had such high attendance in January and February looks great too. I'm blown away by all the enthusiasm for knitting and crochet in the last six weeks. It is SO great to see returning customers and lots of new crafters. I hope that you will all find something to suit your class needs. If not, please don't hestitate to contact me for a private lesson or to request a class for you and your friends.

All of the additional classes (plus previously scheduled ones) are listed off to the right on the blog. However, here is a spotlight on a few new things.

These are retreadable socks from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Around book.
In this class you will learn how to knit from the cuff down and add on the bottom so that you can remove them and re-knit when the bottoms and/or toe wear out. The picture here shoes them with added i-cords, which I will also teach you in the class. EZ was a fabulous knitter, but many people have trouble applying her pattern style to our current knitting interpretations. In this class, all of that is translated for you!!!!

Christmas in July!!!! Stockings!!!
You select any stocking pattern you want to make (from simple like the Knitting Pure & Simple stocking to the more complex fair isle or needlefelting) and I will help you make the stocking. Make 2010 the year that you make those stockings that are always on your list. Start in July to make sure you have them in time for the holidays!!!

Other exciting additions are
  • Ravelry Tutorial: Sit with me at our computer at Crafty Capers (located next door to Stitches & Scones) and learn the ins and outs of this social networking site for knitters/crocheters/spinners. Both sessions are scheduled for Thursday nights so that you can take advantage of our evening hours.
  • Tips, Tricks, and Blocking: I'll go over all types of hints and tips for your knitting. We'll also discuss and demo blocking AND you bring a list of your questions and I'll answer them all!
  • Finally...a special treat (or at least I hope you'll see it that way)...I am in the process of designing the Gina Shawl. It is a 1/2 square shawl that starts out simple and then adds in a lace design. Great for year round as you will be able to make it any multiple weights. This class will teach you about shawl construction and lace knitting. A great project for beginners who want to get into lace or more advanced knitters who want a fun and quick project. I'll post pictures of the finished shawls over the next few weeks and will announce when patterns are final and for sale.
I look forward to a fun spring and summer full of knitting, crocheting, and laughter. I hope you will all join me. Call the store or email me soon to reserve your spot. Some of the added classes already have students in them, so don't miss out!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thrumming Mittens

This weekend I spent a good deal of time working on my thrummed mittens. This is a technique that I had not done before. I was in a Ravelry swap and my partner sent me a pattern, yarn, and roving to make thrummed mittens. I'm always up for a new technique in knitting, so I casted on to give it a go around and looked over some books/sites to see what it was all about. If you have never made thrummed mittens and you live in a climate that gets bitterly cold, I highly suggest that you make up a pair. Here is a quick tutorial for you:

Knit to the point in the mitten where you want to place the thrum.

Pull off a bit of roving -- about 3-4 inches long.

Fold over the roving so that both ends meet in the middle.

Rub the middle together with your fingers so that the fibers lock together a bit.

Insert your needle into the stitch knitwise, lay the thrum over the needle, lay the working yarn over the needle, and complete knitting the stitch.

Your thrums fluff up inside the mitten and keep your hands WARM.

Your mittens will look really big because they are stuffed with the roving.

Yarn: Spud & Chloe Sweater (Worsted)
US Needles: 6 (DPNs)
Pattern: Free Thrum pattern from the Web

Monday, January 18, 2010

Anne of Green Gables

Woohoo! My Anne of Green Gables sweater is finished. It is really more of a cardigan vest with a caplet top. It is knitted as one piece from the bottom up. The pattern can be found in the Tahki booklet Book Smart: Tweed Edition Collection 3. I used the Sedona Hand-Dye that they used in the sample for the pattern. I made the largest size (39" bust) and did not make any modifications. When is the last time I can say I didn't change a pattern!?! The pattern called for a size 8 needle, but I had to go all the way down to a size 5 to get gauge. This yarn is 10% silk, which grOWS so I did knit it a bit tighter to compensate for the silk.

The arm openings are intentionally huge because the top is more of a caplet than it is a normal sweater top. I am trying to figure out what top to wear under it. I have in mind a poofy sleeve in a white or black and I think I could then pair it with one of my winter skirts and boots.

The collar is knitted super high and then doubled over and sewn down.

Although I have never read Anne of Green Gables, I believe that it is the style of this garment that is connected to the name of the sweater. The wide openings and the detailed top.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sasha Skirt: The Prep and The Project

So, one of my goals for 2010 (and reward for weight loss) is to make the Sasha skirt. I thought about whether or not I would want to offer this as a class and decided that instead I would document my journey on the blog. This is post #1 of the Sasha Skirt project. I hope that if you are thinking about making this skirt, you will dive in and join me along the adventure.

I went to the shop and looked around at the linen, went online and looked, went back to the store, slept on it for a few weeks, and repeated all the looking. I decided that I am going to do one in coral/pink tones that uses the multi-color instructions. If that goes well, I'll invest in a solid and knit a second skirt. Armed with a fantastic gift certificate from the holidays, I purchased the Louet Euroflax Sport in the following colors:

Fawn Pink

Peach Cream

Soft Coral (MAIN)

Terra Cotta

I am going to make the 22" length skirt, but I will probably shorten it even more. This "short" length on me is really mid-length. I also hear that the linen is a bit heavy and grows in length with wear. The sizing is also a big question mark for me given that I am down 42 pounds and I'm still dropping weight (yah!) and toning up with the exercising. I have decided to knit the medium size for the coral version of the skirt. If it gets big on me later on, I'll add a ribbon to bring in the waist. Of course, as I start knitting, I'll let you know how the sizing and trying on go.

So, get out there and get the pattern and yarn! I plan to cast on February 27th. (If you do plan to join in the fun, I'd love to know that you are out there. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me a PM in Ravelry [BrownieKnits].)

A note about the yarn: I was super lucky to have a great certificate. If you don't feel like investing this much yarn budget into the skirt, you could switch to a more economical yarn. Take a look at what others have used in Ravelry.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blah Blah Blah

I hope all of you in blog world are knitting happily along in 2010. I haven't posted in a few days because I have been teaching, teaching, teaching!!! So excited that enrollment has picked back up for the winter months. It has been so much fun meeting new people and sharing the crafts of knitting and crochet. Yesterday I taught a session of the You Rock Vest and we had a grand time. I love how you can take five people who don't know each other, put them in a room with knitting needles and yarn, and they can completely and honestly have a 100% blast.

In addition to teaching, I've been knitting on my Anne of Green Gables sweater and playing around with my new camera. I'm not ready just yet to share the pictures of Green Gables (hopefully this weekend), but I thought I'd toss up some of the kids that I took this week. Riley managed to twist his leg or something because he limped around for a few days. As a young yorkie mommy, this meant a lot of trips to the vet. As I've become more experienced, I realize that this a normal activity for these fearless little dogs that jump and jump. The trick is knowing when it is something more serious. I suppose being a doggie mommy has a learning curve just like a regular mommy! He, of course, used it to get some extra treats and belly rubs.

I think he is thinking, "I need a damn haircut. Can't you do something about that?"

The constant model...

I also had a great little surprise waiting for me at the store from T. This little holiday package is so CUTE. Love the little project bag, TOTALLY ready for some spring weather to wear the bracelet, the yarn is yummy, and the stitch markers are a hoot!

They are little pills for when your knitting makes your head hurt!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Knitting Zimmerman Thockies Part II

I finally felt well enough to venture out of the house on Saturday. Confident that I was no longer going to spread the cold, I headed out to teach Beginning Knitting and a sweater class. (Hello to my three new knitters!) While I was at the store, I picked up the buttons for my Mary Jane Thockies. I knitted up two i-cords to seam down as the strap and sewed on two buttons on each sock. I LOVE the result!

They are so nice and warm.

A view from the top.

A close up of the buttons.

Exactly the vision I had in my head. A great stash project to start off the year!

A side note: A lot of you asked what puffy paint I used for the bottom of my French Press Slippers. I used Tulip Puffy that I found at Michael's. It is a good one for felted projects because you use steam to puff the paint. Be careful if you select a different brand because some of them require washing to activate the puff.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Knitting Zimmerman Thockies and a Surprise

My friend Christina started the Knitting Zimmerman project after watching Julie and Julia. We are working our way through the Knitting Around book by EZ. (If you are new to knitting, EZ is Elizabeth Zimmerman. Goddess of knitting!) Although many of the ladies are knitting everything in the book this year, I have bookmarked the seven projects I plan to do. The first project for the group are the Moccasin Socks or Thockies, as EZ terms them. These are well known because you can take out the bottoms when they wear out and reknit them. Now, you all know that I am NOT a sock knitter, so these might be my pair for the year. The good thing is that they are knitted out of worsted weight and they are for me. That means, they go FAST. I also love new techniques, so these are keeping my interest.

In true EZ form, I took control of the project and put my own twist on it. I used the second color of black on the toes and the soles so that it looks like a red sock with black shoes. I plan to add a band and buttons to look like Mary Jane shoes. I'll wear them as slippers around the house. Add a little puffy paint and poof! Thockies!

US needle 6
5 sts/inch
1 skein of Coral Cascade 220
1 skein of Black Cascade 220
2 buttons
Tapestry needle
Knitting Around book by the amazing Elizabeth Zimmerman
If you are in Ravelry, join our Knitting Zimmerman forum!

A Surprise Arrival!

I was laying on the couch this morning, having completed my class handouts and publishing work. Feeling bad for myself that I still can't breath like a normal human being and a little down that I haven't seen another person in 2010 except for my DH. PK came home for lunch and brought in the mail. He handed me a Fedex package and I didn't think anything about it because I'm waiting on an Etsy order for a swap. I open it and realized that it wasn't the order. Instead, I received a beautiful card/note from my sister-in-law and some super COZY socks. Just what I needed, Meg! Love ya!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Finished French Press Slippers

Here are my completed French Press Slippers. I was so happy with the felting process. I ended up felting them for 35 minutes to get the right fit. I checked them every five minutes (after about 15 minutes in) to make sure I didn't felt them too much. I felted them a little tighter to compensate for any strech that happens over time. I recommend that you mold them to your feet each time you check the process and when you set them to dry.

I have little feet. I wear a size 6 1/2 shoe. Because the pattern comes in 5/6 and 7/8,
I made the 7/8 and felted it a bit longer to get the 1/2 size.

They are cozy and warm. I HATE to sew, but it wasn't bad at all.
I used a sharp tapestry needle and quilting thread.
If you use small stitches, you don't see them at all in the felted wool.

I did put puffy paint on the bottom to help with grip.
Not the best color match, but it was what they had and it works.
Who looks at the bottom anyway?

Love, love, love them!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

French Press Slippers

I got together with my good friend recently for a quick visit. She gave me a fantastic holiday gift! (Don't you love the gifts knitters give each other? We know how to shop for each other!) She gave me this cool bag and, as if that wasn't enough, had it full of goodies. A little Soak, a blinged out tape measure, and the buttons, yarn, and pattern to make French Press Slippers. I was so excited!

Earlier this fall a customer came in the store talking about these. Like her, I had noticed them that day on Ravelry and loved them. Tonia mentioned that she had seen them and thought they looked like me. Well, Carol did too! It was like I was destined to make them. I casted on when Carol made the trek home and knitted all but one piece that afternoon.

The next day, I finished up the knitting, whip stitched them together, and felted them. The waiting for them to dry will be the longest part of the project! I have the buttons and puffy paint ready to roll as soon as they are set. A note about the yarn for this project: Carol gifted me Patons Classic Wool. I have heard a lot about this yarn from others. However, we don't sell it at our store and I can be a yarn snob. I am SO glad I had the chance to try out this wool. I dare say that I like it more than Cascade 220 in terms of the feel. It is super soft and I don't find it scratchy at all. Cheaper price point and 3 more yards than 220. My only negative notes would be the more limited color choices and it seems a bit thicker to me, even though the gauge/needle size are the same. Maybe a false impression on my part? Anyway, I will definitely be looking out for sales on this yarn for future felting projects.


Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Goals

I LOVE to knit. I LOVE to crochet. Those are simple statements that, if you have read any of the blog before, you know. I used to really, really enjoy making things for other people. I suppose, I still do enjoy doing that. But, recently I noticed that I wasn't making anything for myself, which is also something I LOVE to do. So, I am declaring that 2010 will be the year I take back my knitting. In the last post, I talked about how I did on my 2009 knitting goals, so here are my goals for 2010:

  1. Make at least 2 items per month to sell on my etsy store. If some months are more, great.
  2. Design at least 4 patterns this year and add these to Ravelry and etsy.
  3. Knit only items for myself or PK (outside of the business/class items).
  4. Knit to participate in the Knitting Zimmerman project.
Now, that third one is going to be hard because I do enjoy giving so much. I will make a caveat that I have a complete softness for my nephews. They want it, they get it. Or, I want to make it, they get it. So, Jack, Aidan, and any other niece/nephew get a special pass.

I DO have to finish up that Babette blanket from last year's goal, keep Ravelry and the yarn room organized, and stop myself from buying sock yarn and/or variegated yarn since I never end up using them! Solids and tweeds, Gina. Solids and tweeds!

I have SO many kits that I have purchased over the years, so I really want to knock out several of those after my weight stabilizes. The item I want to make most for myself as a weight reward is the Sasha skirt: