Thursday, October 14, 2010

Awwwww! Widdle booties!

These are about the cutest booties on the planet. Every time I whip one of these out, it incites a cacophony (look it up) of squeals from everyone nearby. Even men. It's true. I've seen it.

They're wee widdle UGG booties!!! Aren't they cute? I have to admit, even these booties are completely adorable. They're knit out of Berroco Suede (discontinued, grumble grumble) and Berroco Plush for the white fluff at the top. I found a free pattern online a few years ago and now have the pleasure of teaching a class for these booties at the LambShoppe in Denver (click the link for the full list of their classes and instructions on how to sign up). Right now they're scheduled on November 13 and November 20 from 3-4:30pm. That may change -- after knitting up the sample, I think I'll need longer than an hour and a half, but I have some other classes that day (Knitting 101 at Fancy Tiger). Call the shop if you want to sign up; if it changes, you'll be notified.

I also finished a hat.

Shown here on Gwyneth because it's too big even on me. Everything looks big on Gwyneth, so I figured this would work out well. It's EZ's Dairy Queen hat pattern, and I knit it up from my first handspun. I've considered tossing it into the washing machine to tighten it up a bit, but I have the feeling I shall be smoted upon if I felt my first handspun. I'm keeping it as is for now -- it might be good to wrap my hair up in on certain days.

Still have a lot on the needles, and becoming a little overwhelmed with it. I agreed to do a knit-a-long starting in November that will be my first lace project. Another EZ pattern, her circle shawl from Knitter's Almanac. I might keep it to her pattern, but I'm tempted to try this gorgeous thistle pattern I saw on the cover of a book years ago.
Upon closer inspection, it might be even more advanced than I was remembering it, which makes it grossly intimidating for my first lace project, especially when I'm knitting so much already. Perhaps I'll just keep it to EZ's instructions and not overthink it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WiP Parade

I've been doing a poor job lately of posting about my works-in-progress. I always have a few projects cast on because I like different projects for different moods. Combine that with the fact that I'm trying to get samples and products done for an upcoming craft fair (my first!) and I have quite a to-do list. I have so much that I decided it was only making things worse trying to keep everything in my head, so I'm making lists throughout this week of upcoming projects I need and want to work on, tasks to do, future blog posts and anything else. It feels kind of good to get things down on paper, but I picked of a helluva time of year to start turning my alarm back on. It's starting to get cold and that makes me want to stay in my cozies and knit all day, rather than go to the gym and get as much done as possible.

First off, I finished a beaded scarf that I was knitting up as a sample for the LambShoppe. This is Gilda by Twisted Sisters.
This is my first attempt at knitting with beads, and I did enjoy it. The scarf is beautiful, I love the way the colors work together and the yarn creates a bit of a pattern ... it reminds me of a mermaid's tail. I made the longer-and-skinnier version and had a bit of a headache with the yarn. The skein had a knot in it which made transferring the beads a process I had to undergo twice. The yarn also had a very high twist to it, so pushing the beads further up the strand meant the yarn started to twist up on itself like a hula hoop champion (sorry, was that cheesy?). I ran out of yarn with two rows left, which was frustrating, but I think no one will really notice. Overall, it's a gorgeous scarf -- but too short for my taste.

I'm also getting a start on my Christmas knitting already. I'm calling these "Ribbed for her Pleasure," and they are for my nature-loving aunt who lives in the California mountains.

We do a name exchange every year, and this year I drew Janet's name. I figured socks would be perfect, and green and purple are her two favorite colors. I did 2x2 ribbing all the way around and across the instep because I wanted to add a little texture to the yarn without taking away from the pattern it was creating. It's also my first successful short-row heel, and I'd never thought I'd say this: but I think I'm a convert.

This is a sweater I'm knitting for Dear. It's the Cobblestone Pullover by Jared Flood {Rav link}, and I'm loveloveloving it. Knit with Cascade Yarns Eco 100% wool. The ballband isn't near me, but here's my Rav link, and I'll do a full report when it's finished.
This is my go-to project when I want something warm in my lap and comforting un-dyed wool running through my fingers. Mmmmmm.

I'm working on another sample, this time for Fancy Tiger. I'm doing a craft trade with Emily -- I knit up this sample for the shop and she's making me a sweet-ass project bag that I'll post photos when we make the trade.It's interesting to knit with. It's about like knitting with thread, so it's a little slow-going. The stainless steel "thread" is pretty cool, though -- you can stretch it out to it's full capacity and it stays there, but you can scrunch it right back up again. Nifty.

This one is going to take a while. I'm finally knitting an afghan {Rav link} for me and Dear, and it's going to be gorgeous. Knit entirely with Plymouth EcoDuo in the five colors the LambShoppe carries, it's a gorgeous blend of 70% alpaca and 30% wool. The alpaca makes it super soft and the touch of wool will give it some extra strength to avoid stretching. The seaming of the mitred squares will also add stability and I'm thinking this blanket is going to be with us for a very long time.

As for spinning, I'm working on a couple things for the upcoming Fancy Tiger Holiday Handmade Craft Fair in December. I'll have some of my yarn for sale there and I want to make sure I have plenty to go around. I'm spinning through my stash because ... well ... I have plenty to spin through.

Last but not least, I was talking to one of my classes last weekend, and they were asking me about the proper way to care for their wool sweaters. I thought I would give a quick step-by-step here, because it's really so incredibly simple and totally worth the little extra time it takes. If you care for your wool garments properly, they can last you for years and years.

If your garment contains 50% or more of any animal fibers -- wool, merino, cashmere, alpaca, mohair, angora, etc. -- you want to hand wash them. Be gentle when handling wet garments, and use cool or room temperature water. Animal fibers do something called felting, or fulling. The individual animal fibers have microscopic scales on them; hot water makes those scales raise up, and those scales interlocking is what causes felting, compacting the fibers together and shrinking the fabric. Sometimes you want to do this on purpose to make a nice sturdy purse or pair of slippers, but usually for sweaters you want to avoid such a thing.

First step, fill your sink or tub with room temperature water and add in a little bit of wool wash -- you won't need much. You can find wool wash at your local yarn store (LYS) and brands like Eucalan and Soak are easy to come by in shops. You can also use Woolite or Ivory Snow.

Once your sink/ tub is filled, submerge your garment slowly and gently squeeze it to get the water into all of the fibers. Do not agitate -- gently squeeze. Let it soak like that for at least 15 minutes.

Once your garment has soaked, drain the sink or tub and gently squeeze excess water. Lay out a towel flat and place your garment flat on the towel. Roll the towel up and walk on it to squeeze excess water. Lay your garment flat to dry and re-shape if necessary. Ta-daahh!