Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rolling Cables Pillow

New pattern!!

The Rolling Cables Pillow is knit in one flat piece and features stockinette and double rib stitches on one side and an offset cable pattern on the other. The cable pattern is similar to one in my Rolling Cables Scarf. Three large buttons keep the pillow cover closed.

This pattern uses less than 3 skeins of Lion Brand's Thick & Quick yarn and covers an 18 in x 18 in pillow insert. Although you could use virtually any super bulky weight yarn to make the pillow, I recommend LB’s Thick & Quick yarn because it can take a beating and is machine washable.

This pillow was designed for my new baby’s nursery, so the “machine washable” factor was an important one for me!

I really like the combination of classic stitch patterns and how they create a preppy-looking pillow. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A New Favorite

Say hello to my new favorite hat.

Isn't it cute?

It's SO me! I feel like I should be on the set of a Hercule Poirot episode wearing this with a fur trimmed coat and rouge lips. Very 1930's.

The pattern, Ruche Beret, comes from Weekend Hats and was designed by Susan B. Anderson. She writes wonderful patterns- very clear and easy to knit. Her designs seem so simple while knitting them, but each one has a special feature or design that makes them look much more complicated then they actually are.

The only alteration I made was to the ribbed edge. I chose to go down a needle size (US 6) for the ribbing to help it cinch in more. Otherwise, I followed the pattern as written.

I used the same yarn for this hat as I did for the Bandana Cowl I made a few weeks ago for the scarf swap. Speaking of the scarf swap... this is what I received!

Well, this is the professional picture of what I received. My friend, Andrea (from the Wool Junkies podcast), made this cowl. She is quite a talented knitter, so I know that this was made well. Plus, this cowl is just my style... simple, soft and with shell buttons (love shell buttons!). 

Lucky me - a new favorite hat and cowl all in one week!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Favorite Knitting Books

This week I was listening to my new favorite knitting podcast, Wool Junkies (a witty and entertaining new podcast hosted by two friends of mine, Andrea and Mary) where the subject of favorite knitting books came up for discussion. That got me thinking... what are my favorite knitting books?

I admit to having a decent knitting book collection, not huge, but definitely sizable (okay, I'll waddle over to the bookcase to count). Apparently, I have 50 knitting books and 14 booklets (published works by yarn companies created just to feature a particular yarn, such as Rowan's Big Wool or Debbie Bliss' Pure Silk). Is that a lot? So needless to say, I have plenty to consider.

In looking over these books, I have narrowed down my favorites and categorized them.

Go-to books: These are books I pull off my shelf when I'm looking for inspiration, whether it's for a birthday gift for a friend, to satisfy my own need for a quick knit, or for visual aesthetics. I have been known to pull a stack of knitting books off my shelves, plop them next to me on my bed and leisurely flip through each beautiful book for long periods of time. Nicole from the Stash and Burn podcast once describe one of these books as "a book she'd like to live in." So true: Weekend Knitting and Handknit Holidays by Melanie Falick
Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson

Books to read: Yes, there are some wonderful knitting books on the market that not only have beautiful patterns to offer the reader, but also, captivating literature on various knitting-related subjects such as the history of specific patterns or the process of yarn from sheep to shelf.

The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes

Technical knitting books:

The Vogue Stitchionary Books and Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears

But my old favorite is the first knitting pattern book I ever received. My mother pulled it from her library and passed it on to me ten years ago when I first learned how to knit. No, it's not some ancient textbook with torn pages and faded pictures. The book I'm referring to has classic patterns, clearly described techniques and an overall inviting presentation with soft hues and visually appealing images...

Knitting Workbook by Debbie Bliss

So what are your favorite knitting books?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lovebug Booties

The result of one evening's knitting with my favorite yarn for my favorite little boy (I'll start calling him that when he stops kicking me).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Matching Mittens

This fall I made my daughter a seed stitch beret (you may have read it about here) and had planned on making a pair of matching mittens. Alas, I never got around to knitting up these mittens until today.

The pattern comes from Teresa Cole of Comfort Wool. These cuties are called Comfort Mountain Mittens, designed to keep the hands of little ones toasty warm, using worsted weight yarn and featuring a linen stitch pattern. This stitch pattern creates a dense, woven-like fabric - a terrific feature for mittens.

I love that I was able to use left-over yarn from one project to make these (my project only took 72 yards). In fact, I still have an extra 57 yards from this skein, Three Irish Girls' Springvale Merino in Cherry Blossom.

What a quick knit! That seems to be the theme of my knitting this year.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blog Anniversary Gift

One year ago today, I sat down at my computer and finally started something I'd been mulling over for months: this blog. I'm so happy that I chose to embark on this little adventure. I have truly enjoyed sharing all of my crafting experiences with you.

I had three goals in mind at the start of 2011:
1. Write a new post once a week.
2. Submit a pattern to be professionally published.
3. Open up an Etsy shop.

Despite my best efforts, I only achieved two of those goals. First, I submitted two patterns for publishing this past fall and unfortunately was rejected. You may have noticed that I didn't make it a goal to get published but rather to go through the process of professional pattern submission. It was a learning experience and I have no regrets. I also plan on submitting more patterns in the future along with self-publishing on Ravelry and Etsy.

Second, at the start of November, I opened up my very own Etsy shop. I have to admit that it was a thrilling experience with positive and negative notes too. I sold many patterns from my shop, but was surprised at the lack of sales of the knitted items I had made. Oh well, you live and learn!

I had hoped to post an entry on a weekly schedule, but alas, life gets in the way. However, 44 posts in 52 weeks isn't that bad. So I'm satisfied.

So today I am celebrating my own personal little holiday... and what holiday would be complete without a gift? Therefore, I have a gift for you.

My blog anniversary gift to you is ... a new free pattern.

Introducing the Simple Stitch Pillow.

This simple pillow was designed for my brother, Steve. Years ago, when I first learned how to knit, I made him a pillow for his apartment. That pillow, which was made of hand-wash only yarn and was seamed shut, has been looking quite sad lately. So I decided to make Steve a new one that could easily be tossed in the washing machine, but still looked worthy of resting on any couch or chair.

The Simple Stitch Pillow is knit in one flat piece and features three kinds of beginning-knitter-friendly stitches: the garter stitch, stockinette stitch and double rib stitch. Three large buttons keep the pillow cover closed. Although you could use virtually any super bulky weight yarn to make the pillow, I recommend Lion Brand’s Thick & Quick yarn because it can take a beating and is machine washable.
This pattern uses less than 3 skeins of Thick & Quick yarn (I was able to complete in 235 yards, which is just a smidge more than 2 skeins) and covers an 18 in x 18 in pillow insert.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Valentine Wreath

"But it's only January!" You say. Yes, I know that St. Valentine's Day is not for another month, but this is a special holiday for me... you see... it's my birthday.

Yep, I was one of the lucky ones born on Valentine's Day. As a result, I get quite giddy at the sight of red, pink and purple decorations in the store front windows, the overpriced Valentine cards, those disgusting yet addictive conversation hearts and of course, flowers, lots and lots of flowers.

Oddly enough, I have very few Valentine decorations in my house. I'll count them now... one, two.... that's it: two decorations. Not good. Totally insufficient for a Valentine-baby born in Loveland, Ohio (that will be my fun fact if I'm ever on Jeopardy).

I saw this pattern for a holiday wreath online days before Christmas and fell in love with it. The Cable Vision Wreath, designed by Hilary Hunt, uses only 2 skeins of Lion Brand Thick & Quick yarn, one wire wreath (easy enough to find at any craft store) and a ribbon. Not bad for some fast decorating. I really like Hilary's green Christmas version, but what I needed was a Valentine one.

I dug through my stash and found 2 skeins of LB's Thick & Quick in the Cranberry colorway. Perfect! What a fun, fast and festive solution to my decorating needs? Thick & Quick is a super bulky weight yarn made of 80% acrylic and 20% wool. It knits up super fast at a gauge of 2-3 stitches to the inch on size 13 (US) needles. It is machine washable, soft, and can take a beating from toddlers (am speaking/writing from experience here). Over the years, I have become quite a fan of this yarn, which has helped me get over my anti-acrylic attitude... or at least lessened it a bit.

It took me only one afternoon of movie-watching/knitting to finish my wreath. The pattern suggests to knit 12 repeats of the cable pattern, but I repeated it only 11 times (was afraid I'd run out of yarn) and it worked out just fine.

I added a wide, pale pink and gauzy ribbon from the craft store to finish the look and hung it on my dining area wall.
Now you all know that I do not possess the gift of great (or even good) photography skills. The picture to the right is without flash on my dinky camera...

And the picture to the left is with flash on my dinky camera.

Oh well, at least I'm up to THREE Valentine decorations now!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Warm Winter Mitts

This week we received our first decent snowfall in Northeast Ohio (and by decent, I mean 4 inches). Not much, but I'll take it. The weather has been unseasonably mild here, which is great if you don't like shoveling heavy snow or falling on slippery ice, but it's also not conducive to great knitting... at least not for me. There is nothing that makes me want to dig through my stash for a new project than frosted windows and the smell of snow.

 So when the flakes began to fall, I cast on for a project I've had in my Ravelry queue since I first joined more than 3 years ago, the White Witch Mitts. What could be a better snow day project than a pair of fair isle mittens with a snowflake motif?

The pattern recommends using Blue Sky Alpaca Sport Weight Yarn, a soft-to-the-touch yarn made of 100% baby alpaca. I chose not to go the alpaca or alpaca blend route because these mittens were intended to replace a favorite pair of knitted mittens I made 2 years ago, Sheepy Mittens, which I made with alpaca sport weight yarn.

I do realize how odd that must sound for me to have knit fair isle mittens with a repeated sheep motif out of alpaca yarn instead of wool. No regrets though. I used beautiful yarn from a friend's alpaca farm (Black Diamond Alpacas) along with some Frog Tree Alpaca Sport and they turned out just as I had hoped. Two years later, they are starting to show some wear and so I needed a second pair to help ease the load of my winter-mitten-wearing.

I chose to knit my new pair of mittens with yarn from one of my all-time favorite yarn companies, Quince & Co. Chickadee is a sport weight yarn made of 100% American wool. I've knit with Quince & Co.'s worsted weight (Lark) and bulky weight (Puffin) and adored the experience. So it was only a matter of time that I'd get around to knitting with their springy sport weight.

I am not sure which part of knitting with this yarn I like more: the smoothly plied, soft wool or the gentle array of colors available.

These were made with Frost, Glacier, Bird's Egg and Pea Coat. They are warm, soft and fit beautifully. And the best part? I have tons of yarn left over!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bandana Cowl

We are at the start of a new year, which means it is time for my local knitting group's anniversary party. I am lucky to have a wonderful group of women to knit with on a weekly basis. The group I am referring to is the Akron Stitch 'n Bitch knitting group.  We meet every Wednesday in the delightful Craft Akron studio, a place where you can take classes on just about any craft - such a great location for a knitters! The women in this group are down right hilarious. Every week I come home to my husband sharing funny stories of our conversations. I could seriously go on and on about them, but instead I'll get back on subject here.

Every January, the Akron Stitch 'n Bitch knitting group hosts an anniversary party. Members each bring a treat to share and a scarf to swap with another member. Last year (my first year participating), I made this scarf for the swap.

I found the pattern on Martha Stewart's website, entitled Knitted Neck Scarf, and made it out of one of my favorite yarns, Three Irish Girl's Galenas Merino.

I don't know about other knitters and crafters, but I only like to give away items I'm proud of. That is, they must be made of lovely yarn and must look great. So keeping that it mind, I chose to make an item I've been coveting since the pattern was released on the Purl Bee blog: the infamous Bandana Cowl.

I'm a bit tired of scarves, or rather, I'm obsessed with cowls instead. I still love scarves, especially beautifully handknit ones, but with a toddler, an overflowing diaper bag and an enormous preggo belly to cart around, I'm just not all that eager to have extra fabric flopping in the way of getting from point A to point B.

I started making the Bandana Cowl in Plymouth's Baby Alpaca Grande (in white), but frogged the project when I realized I wouldn't have enough yarn to complete it (and truthfully, I did not feel like reworking the pattern to fit the yarn). So I dug through my stash and chose to knit with Cascade's Eco Duo, a luscious aran weight yarn made of 70% alpaca and 30% merino wool. This yarn is truly heavenly to the touch. It's one of those yarns that the moment you pick it up at your LYS you say something along the lines of, "ohhhhh" or "ahhhh" and most likely, "I'll take it!" It's just that good.

And the best part? It knits up beautifully!

My Bandana Cowl was knit using 24 in circular needles (the pattern suggested 16 in circs but I didn't have any in the size I needed) and I was able to bind off loosely so I didn't bother using a larger needle size as recommended for the last step.

I sure hope whoever takes this baby home loves it as much as I do!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


With 9 weeks left in this pregnancy, I really ought to be knitting sweet baby items, but alas, I keep getting drawn into selfish knitting. I'm not sure what has come over me, but I cannot stop!

Last week, I finished a cardigan for myself. Hannah Fettig's Contented Cardigan is a pattern that I have been staring at since she first released it in the Spring. It is a casual open cardigan with a little cabled detail on the back.  Knit in worsted weight yarn, this cardigan should fly off anyone's needles. I chose a yarn, Plymouth's Galway Worsted, that is not the kind of yarn to fly off needles. Instead, I found myself pushing it off my needles. What I mean to say is that although this is a terrific yarn, very rustic, warm and sturdy, it is not soft to work with and therefore slows a knitter down a bit.

Don't get me wrong! I'm quite happy with the end result. My Contended Cardigan is cozy, warm, and the kind of sweater you reach for every chilly morning. It just took a little longer to knit than I expected. That's okay. All's well that ends well.

If you do chose to knit with this yarn, which I totally recommend (it would be great for some hearty winter mittens or a classic aran sweater), just remember that the yarn will soften with blocking (like most yarns do). I was quite concerned when I finished knitting this sweater at the level of stiffness and feared that it would not drape as I hoped post-blocking. Happily, it transformed into a very wearable garment. 

Now I have to warn you, I am not usually this big, but again, I am 31 weeks pregnant, so bare that in mind when judging the picture.

It is only natural for a crafter or artist to judge and reflect upon his/her work as it develops and once it is complete. So with that in mind, I wish the sleeves were slimmer - they are a bit wide for my taste. I probably could have gone down a size ( I made the 40/L size) but I just couldn't bring myself to make a size 36. And although I really love this color yarn (color # 751 a deep charcoal gray- one of my favorite colors!), it masks the cable detail on the back.

See what I mean?

It will be interesting to see how this garment lays on me post-pregnancy.