Monday, January 30, 2012

Knitting Group

I've been wanting to be a part of a knitting/crochet group for a while.  There's open knit at my local yarn shop two nights a week, but for some reason that seems intimidating.  A friend has hosted a few knitting groups, but I've always had previous engagements.  And, honestly, despite how fun and helpful I think it would be to be part of a group, I'm quite cozy sitting on my own couch watching TV in my pajamas while I knit, so why mess with what's working.

Last Friday, I finally decided to step outside my comfort zone and go for it.  A friend forwarded me an email she got from her neighborhood coop - some people were trying to start a group and anyone was welcome to come.  So, my trusty knitting buddy and I emailed that we would be there and, come Friday night while others our age were heading out to the bar, we went off to knit in a stranger's living room!  IT WAS SO FUN!!!  Firstly, this woman's house was GORGEOUS!  She's lived all over the world and has artwork from her travels hanging on the walls.  I'd say she's in her early 60's and she's been knitting since she was a child, so she has a lot of experience.  She served as teacher for those who had questions or were just learning.  Another girl and I also offered a few tips, but for the most part we let the host handle it.  It seemed like most people were just getting started with knitting.  In addition to me and Sab, there were two other people who came with projects in hand.  One girl was working on a very pretty lace scarf.  The other was just getting back into knitting - she had started off making a scarf, but it was turning into more a large swatch/small blankie type thing.  Either way, it was really pretty and the yarn was luxurious.  Everyone else either came to learn how to knit, or were just starting new projects after a long hiatus and needed some help picking knitting back up.

All in all, it was a really fun time.  We're scheduled to do it again this week, so hopefully people come back.  It will be nice as we all get to know each other and can just chat rather than trying to force conversation or only talk about knitting.

Here are a few shots from the night:

That's Sab in the back working on her beautiful (though tedious) shawl for her Grandmother.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Domestic Goats T-Shirts

Because we are awesome, my trivia team was invited to the trivia invitationals at the end of January!  Since we're already convinced of our intellectual prowess, we decided we'd earn some bonus points in the Spirit category.  Our team names is the Domestic Goats, so, in addition to finding a stuffed goat and hopefully some goat horns, we made these awesome t-shirts!  I thought of the idea of the goat sitting on top of his house because there was a goat that lived down the street from me that always did this.  He was sitting up there so often that I used him as a landmark when directing people to my house: "Turn left at that street - you'll see a goat sitting on top of his house" (yes, I grew up in the boonies).

So, with an iron and some transfer paper, Domestic Goat Tees were born!  We each have a clever nickname loosely based on trivia or our team name:

Zeiga - which means "goat" in German
Posh Goat - she's definitely the fanciest of us all
Cooper - Because he knew coopers are barrel makers
Shirley - this is me; I order Shirley Temples during trivia every week - well, now I don't so much as order them as the waiter just brings them because he knows what we all drink without asking.
OOOH Face!!! - This is my boyfriend.  Whenever there's a question he knows (which is often), he gets this look and kind of shrugs his shoulders as if to say "Is that even a real question?  You're insulting my intelligence by asking that."
That Guy - You'd have know Zack...

Semi-finished project - mine is the light purple/pink one
Tits ironing on the goats!

Wavy Cables

I made this hat and the Waffle Hat as holiday presents for friends.  I just taught myself (thanks YouTube) to cable and so I was excited to try this pattern.  It's so fun to be able to do more than just basic knits and purls!  I used Berroco Peruvia Quick in color Nautica for this hat and followed the Plum Cabled Hat Pattern by Molly Jane Wick, available for free on Ravelry.

I really love the twists and turns in this hat and the texture that the cables create.  I also really liked this yarn.  It worked up relatively quickly and I ended with a ridiculously warm and stylish hat - well, my friend did.  Perhaps I will once I finish all my holiday gifts (yes, I'm very behind).  My one comment for this pattern is check your gauge!  I didn't, and I paid for it.  I ended up knitting this hat three times because my first two attempts ended up ridiculously small!  The third and final could have maybe used a little more length, but the circumference was good so I refused to rip it out and start over for a fourth time.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guest Post - Jen's Headband

To encourage my friends to let their crafty sides shine, I've decided to start a new section for Guest Posts!  The first installment comes from my good friend Jen who, in her busy life as a 3rd year law student, managed to find time to knit this pretty and practical headband.  Side note - this is her first knitting project (I'm pretty sure - correct me if I'm wrong JHal)!

You can download the pattern for free here.  Jen used Patons Classic Wool in Light Grey Marle and ended up knitting a few more than the suggested 86 rows to have the headband fit comfortably.  According to her, "This is a GREAT project: a way to practice a basic stitch without thinking too hard about counting, easily modifiable, and (nearly) INSTANT gratification."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan

That's right, a sweater!  After 9 years of yarn arts, I'm finally making a sweater!  I've been wanting to take this leap for so long.  A few years ago I found a neat pattern for a crocheted cable pullover sweater, bought a BUNCH of yarn and measured my mom, but I never even chained one stitch for it.  Now, with my new skills in knitting, I decided it's time to take the plunge.  But there was no way I was doing it alone.  My family generously purchased a top-down sweater making class and the necessary materials as birthday and Hanukkah presents for me, so last week, I casted on during my first class!

I chose a really cute (and hopefully simple) pattern by Stefanie Japel called the Shapely Boyfriend, available for free on Ravelry.  I like the casual look of the sweater, and I think with purple tweed yarn I chose, this sweater will really fit my personality and style.  So, with the help of Jess at Looped Yarnworks, I will be making this sweater!  I'm using Rowan Renew yarn in Garage (how awesome is it that it's recycled!) and am knitting on size 10, 32 inch needles.

I'm going to do something different and post updates of my progress as I go along, so be sure to check back over the coming weeks (and probably months) as I work on my sweater.  Hopefully I'll be able to wear it a few times before while it's still cold/chilly outside.

Update: January 17
I worked frantically last night so that I could get to the necessary point in my sweater in time for class.  I'm about 1/4 - 1/3 of the way there, so guess what I'll be doing on my lunch break and all evening (after yoga, of course).  So far, I'm really pleased with the progress.  I actually think I'm liking this one better than the original sweater I picked (see post script below), at least for this yarn.  I think this tweed is the perfect yarn for a sweater like this.  And not having to worry about resizing or measuring or anything is making it such a breeze.  I was so stressed out with my previous attempt, and now I'm having fun again (even if I am getting arthritis in the process)!

P.S. If you checked my blog at all yesterday in the last few days, you'll have noticed that I had a different sweater posted here.  I was attempting to make this sweater with modifications to look like this, but it just wasn't working out.  For my first try at a sweater, doing all the recalculations and measurements was not a good idea.  I still love this sweater and will definitely come back to it once I'm more knowledgeable and skillful, but for now I needed something for which the designer had already made modifications for different sizes so that I can just follow the pattern directly.

Update: January 26
My sweater is starting to look like a sweater!  I've been knitting like mad and can feel the arthritis building up in my hands, but it's worth it.  I created the arm holes last week, finished my waist shaping last night, and and reaching the home least as far as the body is concerned.  I still have to go back up and knit the sleeves, and then put the ribbed boarder and buttons (not looking forward to this part) along the front and collar.  What do you think?  I absolutely love how the purple tweed is turning out!

Update: March 9
After a few weeks off to work on other projects and gifts, I returned to my sweater and finally finished the body (for now, at least).  You'll remember from my last update that I had ripped out a good portion of the body because I made it too long.  Well, this time I increased a bit too quickly, which resulted in little wings at the bottom of the sweater along the seams.  I didn't notice until I tied off, but I'm not happy with how it looks, so I think I'm going to finish the sleeves, then rip out the bottom and redo it with less increases.  We shall see.  This sweater is taking much longer than anticipated and I'm a little worried I might never finish, but I think it will be worth all the time and effort once's it's done and perfect (and I'll be wearing it every single day!).

Sweater, front
Sweater, back.
My cat, Mitchell, also sneaked into this photo. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Origami of the Day

I just made an amazing (and 50% off) purchase - an Origami Day-to-Day Desk Calendar!  That means that now, almost every day, you will be able to see the cool origami figure I create.  Check the Origami of the Day page to see them all!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Waffle Hat

I made this hat and the Wavy Cables hat as holiday presents for friends.  This pattern is from Close Knit, a blog for a yarn store in Portland, OR (perhaps one day I'll get to visit...).  I liked it because it was interesting, yet would still be appropriate for a man's yet.  Usually I feel that too much pattern becomes too feminine, but I think this hat works.  The yarn choice doesn't hurt either.  I used Lion Brand Tweed Stripes in color Tundra - the dye pattern created subtle stripes in varying shades of browns and grays, yet still kept it neutral and masculine.

I really like this pattern.  It's super simple yet creates and intriguing pattern that can work for both men and women.  I'll definitely be making this one again, though probably with a different yarn.  While I like the final look, the yarn wasn't the easiest to work with.