Friday, August 30, 2013

Favorite Friday: Yarn, Part I

When I thought about selecting a favorite yarn, I almost had an anxiety attack! How do you just select one favorite? Oh my goodness...there are so many. I decided that the answer was you don't select just one. So, this is labeled Part I. It will be limited to three favs that will be discussed over the next few weeks. This week I opted for Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage.

200 yards per skein
18-20 sts per 4 inches
Recommended needle: US 6-7

I easily could have just said anything MadTosh, but I went with the worsted weight Tosh Vintage as I find it to be what I go for when it is on the shelf. It is a 100% superwash merino wool that is soft, springy, and the dyes are beautiful! It is the type of wool that you want to snuggle in on a cold rainy day. It wears incredibly well and is just gorgeous.

I'm not a big variegated yarn girl. I love solids, but I also enjoy texture and movement. Tosh is perfect for me because it has the slight variations in color without drastic color changes. (The above picture is a little sneak peek at an upcoming Brownie Knits design. Are you curious?!?)

The stitch definition is so great, which makes it perfect for sweaters, hats, and afghans. Are there downsides to this yarn? As with everything, there are a few drawbacks...namely, price. It is a quality yarn in high demand. It takes shops a long time to get in orders because of the demand. For me, it is worth it. I find that when I need a specific color I can pop around online to find a shop who has it in stock. (Support your LYS by checking there first!) One other note about this yarn, wash it alone the first few times to avoid dye coming off on other garments. Even with the price and the careful first few washes, it is my favorite yarn. If you decide you want to give it a try but only want to buy a skein, you could make a Flossie hat!

This pattern is available for $1.99 USD  buy now

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Brownie Knits Wednesday: Spotlight on Flowers of Fall Hat pattern

This pattern is available for $5.00 USD  buy it now
This is a pattern that combines knit and crochet to create the perfect fall hat. The flowers are crocheted and the pattern includes instructions for both a sunflower and mum look. The hat is knitted from the bottom up in the round.
Level: Adventurous Beginner to Intermediate

0 to 6 months; 6-12 months; Toddler; Child; Adult Small; Adult Large 
Finished Circumference: 12 (14, 16, 18, 18, 20) 
To Fit (in inches): 15 (17, 19, 21, 21, 23) 
Smallest size is listed first with larger sizes in order inside the parenthesis. Pattern has 3 inches of negative ease.
5 sts/inch in St st on larger needles unstretched
US 6 16” circular 
US 6 DPNs (for smallest size) 
US 7 16” circular 
US 7 DPNs (all sizes) 
Crochet Hook in size I if using Chunky weight yarns for flower 
Crochet Hook in size H if using Worsted weight yarns for flower
Hat is knit out of Worsted weight yarn to get 5 stitches per inch. 75 yards for the bottom contrasting color and 150 yards for the top main color will suffice for any of the individual sizes.
Good yarn options: Dream in Color Classy; Berroco Vintage; Cascade 220 Superwash; Fantasy Dark Horse; Plymouth Encore Worsted
Sunflower version yarn: 1 skein each of Dream in Color Classy in Tea Party and Happy Forest for hat and center of sunflower; small amounts of Berroco Vintage Chunky in Sunny (6121) and Crystal Palace Yarns Fizz in color 7342 for the flower. You can use a Worsted weight yarn instead of the Chunky for the petals.
Mum yarn: Berroco Vintage 5157 for flower

Photo credit and special thanks to:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Quick Tip Tuesday: OK, I'm Lazy

The last few days have been a little too complicated to put together a proper QTT, so I'm going to be lazy and just post some cute puppy/fish pictures instead! Tune back in tomorrow as we will back on track for Brownie Knits Wednesday, Favorite Friday, & Share Sunday.

Notice that little fluff ball next to Riley? That is Alpaca baby. It was a freebie when I bought some skeins of alpaca. I took the eyes off of it and let the dogs have it. It has caused many a fight and they LOVE to cuddle up with him for naps.

Blue is a happy little guy. He even built a bubble nest last week!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Oh How I LOVE Music

Music has been a huge part of my life. From very early on I remember listening to pop, rock, and country as a little girl. We would dance in the living room or jam out in the long car ride into town. From sixth grade on I was involved in band and learned so so much about music and life as a member of the band. I barely remember any time of my life when I didn't have songs playing on a daily basis. Lately, my favorite artist has been Bruno Mars. So, when I was super sick earlier this year and very medicated I apparently told DH to order REALLY good seats for his summer tour. Oops. Well, there was nothing left to do but to enjoy it! I'll let the photos speak for themselves. (All were taken by Patrick and I edited a few. I was too busy singing and dancing to snap any photos!)

Yes, he was THAT close. 

The band was fantastic!

I'm still picking up confetti from the car and our house.

This might be one of my favorite pictures of me ever because I was just happy happy! (So was the little girl next to me who got the tickets as a birthday present. Boy didn't she have a great birthday!)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Share Sunday: Starband Knitting and Sneak Peek at Upcoming Designs

The previous week's knitting was full of design work and little else! Yikes, not sure when I'm going to get around to finishing up those sweaters and such I started before I hit such a hot design spell. Anyway...I spent a few days making myself a white Starband...

I used an OLD button that I had laying around. Don't you love the weathered feel of it...very vintage. It has new life now on my white Starband knit out of Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool from my stash yarn. I see this one getting LOTS of wear. One of the great things about Starband is that you can wear these headbands year round.

When I wasn't knitting Starband or polishing up the pattern, I was designing and working on my next pattern. I won't give too much away other than to share this little sneak peek! Oh so much fun!!!

In terms of books and TV, I've been reading my hubby's second novel (in rough draft) and I wrapped up watching The Wire. Most of that week was really lovely in terms of weather so I opened all the windows and doors and worked away. One of the things I love about our home is how light and bright it is. When you open the windows and the doors there is a fantastic breeze and you actually feel like you are outside. Alas, it heated back up again so back to the AC we go.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Favorite Friday: Crochet Stitch

A few weeks back I blogged about my favorite knit stitch (moss) and decided to give crochet a post as well. It was a tight race between the popcorn stitch and the ripple/chevron stitch. Well, ripple won out. I just find it so addictive and I think the fact that it reminds me so much of waves and water gave it the extra edge.

One of the great things about this stitch is that you can do it over and over again and always get a different look by just changing up the yarns and colors you use. My Gram has only made chevron afghans for YEARS. I finally got why when I completed my table runner and Ripple Wave afghan earlier this year. And, btw, that afghan is the most used blanket in our home. It gets pulled in four different directions each and every night. Usually Riley or I win it!

If you want to give this stitch a go, I highly recommend using Attic24's Ripple instructions. She is amazing! What is your favorite crochet stitch?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Brownie Knits Wednesday: Starband!!!

We are so excited to share our brand new pattern Starband with you! If you have longer hair and like to wear fun accessories, the Starband is for you! This functional knitted piece was designed using a beautiful star rib mesh pattern in the center panel. It is surrounded on both edges by garter stitches to help hold the headband in place. You can adjust the button band to ensure a perfect fit too! (As always, if you are not a knitter, we are happy to make custom finished Starbands for purchase. Drop us an email at the Brownie Knits Etsy shop and we will work out an order just for you!)

Pattern: Starband by Brownie Knits
Price: $1.99 available in our Ravelry, Craftsy, & Etsy shops
Yarn: dk weight; sample made out of Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo
Yardage used: 60
Gauge: 5.5 sts to an inch in garter
Needle: US 6 in circular or straight
Notions: button, tapestry needle, 2 stitch markers, row counter, safety pin, and scissors

The openwork star rib mesh design in the center adds a touch of elegance and is a simple lace repeat to knit. The test knits for this pattern knitted up in a few short sessions, so they are great headbands to make for gifts.

The buttonhole section has three different locations. For the smallest size, you can fold over the section and push the button through the overlapping holes. It is sure to fit teens through adults!

Other good yarn options are Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool or Knit Picks Gloss DK

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Quick Tip Tuesdays: Yarn Selection

For today's quick tip I thought I'd address yarn selection. I remember back when I first learned how to knit and crochet and I would venture to the yarn shop, find a pattern I liked, and then the sales rep would point me to yarns that would work for the pattern. But, as nice as everybody was, it drove me NUTS that I couldn't see for myself why some yarns were right and some wouldn't do. It took a few projects and reading some magazines and books before I went in and said to let me pick something and then verify with them if it was right. Finally, freedom and success! So, what would I have loved to have had as a cheat sheet? Here you go:

  • Yarn goes by weight. When we say "weight" we don't actually mean the literal "how much does it weigh" but instead how thick or thin the yarn is. It ranges from crochet thread, lace, fingering/sock, sport, dk, worsted, chunky, bulky. This is governed by the Yarn Council and there is a handy dandy little breakdown on their site, here.
  • The weight of the yarn directly relates to how many stitches you will get to fit into an inch of knitting or crochet. It also has recommended needle and hook sizes that work best with the thin or thickness of the yarn. Why is this important? Let's say you are going to make a sweater that needs to be 40 inches around. The pattern says to use a worsted weight yarn with a gauge of 5 stitches in one inch and on a size 7 needle. It then gives you a cast on stitch count of 200 (i.e. 5 times 40). If you buy a sock weight yarn (that gets around 7 stitches in an inch), all of the sudden your 40 inch sweater becomes a 28.5 inch sweater (i.e. 200 stitches divided by 7). Oh my! So, get the right weight of yarn and make a swatch to make sure that you don't need to change that needle size from 7. Every knitter and crocheter has different tension. I often change my knitting needle size from the pattern by 1 or 2 sizes to get gauge.
  • So we have the right weight and the correct needle/hook now, that's all we need, right? Nope, we need to have ENOUGH yarn to make the project. Yarn is measured in length by yards and meters. Your pattern will either say you need XXX yards/meters or it will say you need X balls of Such and Such yarn. If it outright gives you the yards/meters, you already know your total. If it give the number of balls, you need to figure out how many yards/meters are in the ball and take it times the total balls you need. Now you have your total yardage/meters needed. You find the yarn you like in the right weight and take your total yardage/meters divided by the yardage/meters in your selected yarn ball. This will tell you how many balls of the yarn you like you will need to purchase.
  • As if all this isn't enough, you need to consider fiber content. Yarn can be man-made or animal fiber or a combination. And, there are lots of combinations of natural fibers. You have to think about what you are making and this will help you know what fiber will be best. For instance, silk feels great but it doesn't hold shape well. Probably not the best option for a heavy sweater. If you live in Florida and want a light shawl, you wouldn't want to buy alpaca. For me, I cannot do mohair. Yuck, yuck, yuck. It makes me swell up like a balloon. I also hate scratchy yarns and I mean even the slightest bit. So, I use a lot of merino wool. So soft and nice.
  • And last but not least, do you like it? Is it the right color of red? All those normal things you think of when shopping for clothes and things that appeal to you come into play here. Everybody sees colors differently, too. Recently we were at a yarn shop to pick out a grey yarn for my hubby's sweater. The sales rep and I looked at a section and saw no grey there. As we went to walk about PK picked up a ball and said, "Isn't this grey?" Myself and a few ladies at the table all said, "WEEELLLLL...." It was very funny. It was technically a grey tone, but I saw it as having too much purple it and one lady saw blue and one saw pink.
I hope you find this useful in trying to go about selecting your yarn. Shopping around by yourself can be daunting, but you can always double check with the sales person before your final purchase. Over time you will also find yarns that you love and yarns that you hate. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up: Baby Boy Blue!

This past weekend was a little bit different than normal. My DH went off to Gen Con (well, downtown so he was still home each evening). But, this left me free to do whatever I wanted and that, of course, included lots of knitting and crochet, some shopping, movies, and a mani/pedi. Now, when most people go shopping they get some clothes and other girly items. Me? I bought craft supplies to turn into new patterns. But, I also decided to bring a new family member into our home! Pre-hubby and dogs I used to have an aquarium and a goldfish bowl. Not really wanting to go back to the aquarium cleaning, but longing for the calmness that having fish brings, I decided to get a betta in a cute bowl.

Introducing Blue Kanouse...I know, such an original name! He is a striking electric blue and has a red belly fin. He's a feisty swimmer and is a male Dragon Scale Betta. I do so hope that I don't accidentally kill him off before his fishy time is up. I got him some rocks to bring out his blue color and some fun greenery to swim around, which he seems to really love darting through. I even got a little hammock leaf for him to rest on, but I've yet to see this occur. He lives on the coffee table where I can see him while I knit/crochet the days away. Riley, our oldest dog, was VERY curious about Blue. Now, Riley is old and can hardly see or hear so I was shocked by this. Then I realized that when feeding the fish I was talking to Blue and calling him Baby Boy Blue. Well, guess who answers to Baby Boy? Yep, my dog got jealous of a fish.

Baby Boy Riley Posing for his close up...

and Little Sister wondering what all the fuss is about.

While Patrick was off and about and pre-Blue, I got my nails done, went to a movie, and then walked the aisles of the crafts shops. I couldn't resist picking up a copy of Crochet: The Complete Guide by Jane Davis. It is full of stitches that I am anxious to give a try and I've already combined a few in my head along with some Brownie Knits flowers to craft a future afghan design. Oh so fun and inspiring. I must admit that with the cooler temps I was all inspired by the pumpkins and fall decor out in the shops, even if it is August!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Share Sunday: Horse Show, Zoo, and Family Time

I know it is Share Sunday, but everything I knitted on this past week is still in secret mode! Yikes! So, I decided to update you on what we had going on last weekend. It was packed full of fun, family, and animals. It was a know that you had a good time when you need to lay around on Monday to recover!

On Friday I went to the Trader's Point Charity Horse Show with my good friend Tonya. She loves animals and invited me a long to this event to watch one of the Grand Prix. It was such a gorgeous day out and the setting was beautiful, as well.

We lucked out when we positioned ourselves right in front of one of the difficult passes where multiple jumps were close together. We also were right in front of the end jump. It was so interesting to learn how these were scored and to cheer on the riders and horses. The animals, of course, were so pretty.

The next day my brother, SIL, and nephew came up for a weekend visit. We played, hung out, ate in the rain, and took in a kid movie. The next day we all ventured out to the zoo. My nephew loves butterflies (b-flies, as he calls them) and the zoo is currently hosting a special butterfly exhibit.

Such a little cutie! I even managed to get that Duke hat off and got him to say "Go IU!" 

The boys in their caps...

Catching a ride on Uncle how he says Patrick's name right now.