|Posted on April 30, 2012 at 6:35 PM||comments (1)|
Like many of the wired world, I have been using Pintrest recently. A few months ago I signed up but hadn't gotten around to using it and, Evernote had been the answer to my online 'scrapbook'. Still, once your friends and family start using something on a regular basis, you are bound to at least try it out.
Before Evernote, I would simply save that information on my computer, wasting quite a lot of space and, lets be honest, those files are forgotten once 'Save' is pressed. The first clipping-type website I had signed up for was Skitch and then Polyvore. Sktich is more useful as a drawing tool than a clipping tool where Polyvore is centered around fashion. While I think Polyvore is a great site, I could never play dress up online and my life has very little to do with fashion.
"Growing Tomatoes 101" pinned to my 'Homestead' board
In the past two weeks I can see that Pintrest is ideal for all the clippings and ideas I find online. You can create 'Boards' to organize your clippings and best of all, nothing is permanent. For example, I had clipped a kitchen idea into my 'Organized' board. Later I moved it to the 'Clever!' board. Once I use the idea and either put it into practice or decide it is not for me, I can delete the clipping to make room for more.
Now I can see where some are 'pin happy', clipping and pinning hundreds of photos and video a day. It seems like a slippery slope, you start with four boards and before you know it, you have twenty-five. But, if you view Pintrest (or any of these sites) as a tool rather than a game or 'the next great thing', it could be very useful indeed.
|Posted on November 20, 2011 at 4:20 AM||comments (0)|
A little behind but posting nonetheless! For this Focus Friday I'd like to remind you all that the Quasi-Mystery Tam KAL is ongoing until the end of November. Don't forget to post your FO in the finishers thread to be inlcuded in a prize drawing December 1st. All details can be found here.
And now for a little review:
2011 Sixth & Spring Books
As the title suggests, 60 quick knits designed for use with Cascade 220 Sport. A fantastic collection of hats, mittens and scarf projects featuring bobbles, cables, colorwork and some easy lace, ranging from beginner to experienced. With the holiday season fast approaching, this book will get great use!
#10 Bobble Gauntlet Mittensby Cheryl Murray photo © Jack Deutschsearch
#29 Cabled Beanieby Nichole Reese photo © Jack Deutschsearch
#51 Nordic Tube Scarfby Cheryl Murray photo © Jack Deutschsearch
#51 Lace Stoleby Faina Goberstein photo © Jack Deutschsearch
Ravlery, Amazon and even Sixth & Spring do not provide photos for all the projects in the book, which is unfortunate becuase some of my favorite projects in this book are not listed (yet). Below are some of my favorites, please excuse the iSight shots.
The very first project, #1 Bobbles & Lace Slouchy Hat, is beautiful and would be a great quick gift knit.
#36 Cabled Block Scarf is comprised of several blocks, knit on the bias, and then seamed together. This would be a great gift for either a man or a woman.
#43 Fringed Scarf is another great unisex choice. A simple, handsome design.
#47 Fair Isle Tam provides just enough challenge for Intermediate knitters new to colorwork and not quite ready for multi-colored fair isle.
|Posted on November 15, 2011 at 1:35 AM||comments (2)|
Where do I start? It's been too long since the last blog post. This week I will try to get back my regular posting schedule (post on Monday, pics on Wednesday and reviews, projects, spy on Friday).
To explain the lapse: At first simply a matter of life being far busier than usual and then sickness fell on our household. Then, while not 100%, I still had errands to run and obligation to tend. Simply not much time for the internet save for a random post via HootSuite (I love that tool!) or most days, just check a few messages here and there. Finally, this past week, I don't think I had been online at all, except to check my email a few days.
What I've been up to this past month:
I always try to make time for knitting. I've finished two pairs of socks for SKA's October challenge, finished my Quasi-Mystery Tam and have started a mystery shawl by Pat Shaw. I am currently knitting a third pair of socks for the October challenge as well as a pair for the November challenge. (photos on Wednesday)
I found making time for sewing to be a tad more challenging. The Monthly Adventures group was started at Christmas time and so, the Christmas/Holiday swap is a big one. I had to make a GCD (Gift Containment Device) - last year was a stocking, this year I made basket. I knew I needed something large (to contain the gifts!) but also wanted something on the utilitarian side. Aside from some seams not matching up, I am pretty happy with how it turned out. (photos on Wednesday)
And of course, shopping must get done. One of the items on my list of things to purchase was a pound of Lavender. I became dizzy with the options out there and ultimately settled on ordering from a small farm based in Washington state, Scented Lavender Farm. I am utterly shocked at how quickly my order arrived, less than a week - unheard of for military mail! (In my experiences, anyhow).
This next week I will have to make several sachets for storing my yarns and fibers and other stored items in need of protection of moths and carpet beetles. How do you store your valuable yarns, fibers and made items for long term storage?
Another item in need of attention this past week was to order a new piece for one of my ball winders. I am embarrassed to say that I have more than one but my favorite one is a U-nitt Jumbo Ball winder. I am able to wind nearly 500 gr of yarn into one cake! (sometimes joining is required) Of all my winders, this is the only winder able to handle the 300 gr Wollmeise Lace in one winding. (ok, I may need to take break from time to time) The pigtail or yarn guide had been broken by my youngest son. Try as I might, I was not able to repair it myself and so, wrote the U-nitt company, asking if I would be able to purchase the piece. What excellent customer service! Within 24 hours a message was sent, asking for my mailing address so that a new piece can be sent!
There really has been so much going on here and this post is already quite long. I will leave you with some great titles I've perused this past month:
Just in time for the holidays! This book is filled with sewing ideas for gifting, ranging in Easy to Intermediate projects. I've already marked two items - time to whip out the sewing machine (again)!
A great idea for a book if ever there was one! Focused on the crafting community and the transition from DIY to Craftivism - the act of crafting from the heart to better the community and/or make a statement. Yarn bombing, sewn grocery bags, charity crafting, crafting for the sake of the Three R's (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle) and crafting to raise awareness are all covered subjects with included projects.
If there is one thing many knitters shy away from, it would be finishing. I myself recall the first pair of socks I knitted in worsted weight yarn. I had no idea how to Kitchener and let the socks sit for weeks before finally attempting the task. This book covers all aspects of finishing and would be a useful addition to your library.
Less of a focus on design and more on sock knitting with a purpose. Clara breaks down sock yarns and to an almost scientific detail, educating knitters as to how certain yarns behave due to fiber content and ply. Several patterns accompany this book by well known designers such as Cookie A, Nancy Bush, Cat Bordhi and others.
I really love the concept of this particular book. Picking colors and fabrics can sometimes be overwhelming. This book shows you how to keep it simple: select four fabrics and go!
The quilts in this book are nostalgic, gorgeous and inspiring. I've never been one for applique work but this book certainly has me considering it!
A great collection of traditional quilts made of 10" blocks, with clear instructions for piecing and layout.
A nice collection of quilts and pillows of modern, oversized design. As with all Martingale quilting books, instructions for piecing and layout are very clear.
Fun, traditional and seasonal quilting projects all created with your scrap stash!
|Posted on October 17, 2011 at 1:35 PM||comments (6)|
As you might have noticed, I took a little blog break these past two weeks. Not that I should have, I have several posts back logged but I really did need a break from the computer... I do that from time to time.
Anyhow, I am back with a week of reviews for you! Today: Square Needles.
A few years ago, when the Kollage Square knitting needles were released, I did not bite and thought the square shape was simply a gimmick to sell a knitter another set of needles. I did read about the supposed benefits but simply didn't believe the square shape could make such a difference. In fact, it seemed reasonable to me that they would cause more pain.
This past year, several knitters from Sock Knitter's Anonymous touted the Kollage Squares, declaring that the square shape really did work. After considering the sources, I thought it was about time I tried a pair for myself. I ordered three sizes from Paradise Fibers and waited for arrival.
In the meantime, I started a project and realized I truly needed a needle tip, US 15, which I did not have. Knowing that KnitPicks and KnitPro needles are one in the same, I chose to order KnitPro from a local source for faster shipping. In my search, I discovered that KnitPro had released Cubics (also Cubix, depending on the distributor), a laminated birch wood, square knitting needle. Since I had just ordered the Kollage needles, I thought this would be a great opportunity to compare and review both needles. With out further wait:
Made of: Coated Aluminum
Types available / Sizes available:
Straights / 10" in US 0 - 10 (2,00 - 6,00 mm), including half sizes.
DPNs / 5", 6", 7" in US 0 - 8 (2,00 - 5,00 mm), including half sizes.
Circulars,available in both soft and firm cables / 9", 16", 24", 32", 40" in US 0 - 10 (2,00 - 6,00 mm), including half sizes.
Crochet / US A - M (2,00 - 9,00 mm).
Impressions: I'm a sucker at first impressions. Like a child on his birthday, I love all the new shiny toys. It takes a few hours to a few days for the novelty to wear off before I can usually give an honest assessment.
I like the feel of the Kollage needles, slick but not too slick. The metal seems to warm to my hand, never feeling cold or uncomfortable. (for your information, it has been quite cold here in Germany, we've even turned on the heat a few nights!)
I find the tips to be on the blunt side, which I did find troublesome with certain yarns (Trekking XXL) but for nice round types (Wollmeise, Bugga!), the bluntness did not seem to be an issue.
Made of: Stained and Laminated Birch wood
Types available / Sizes available:
Straights / 10", 12" in 3,50 - 8,00 mm
DPNs / 6", 8" in 2,00 - 8,00 mm
Circulars, fixed / 16", 24", 32", 40", 47", 60" in 3,00 - 8,00 mm
Circulars, interchangeable/ in 4,00 - 8,00 mm
Crochet / not available
Impressions: As noted above, I'm a sucker for shiny, pretty things. These needles are gorgeous. The deep rich color of the wood just beckons to be touched. I cast on one set 2,00 mm for a pair of socks and size 4,00 mm for a sweater swatch.
The Cubics needles are light and smooth. I paid close attention to the drag, a pet peeve of mine in terms of wood-type needles, and found that neither the Merino/Silk blend nor the Lambswool/Cashmere blend stopped up on the needle shaft.
The tips are nice and sharp but not so much so that I feared stabbing myself, however, I am partial to sharp tips.
Now for the big question. Did the square needles make any difference? Were they easier on my hands than traditional round needles? Were my stitches more uniform?
At first, I did not notice any difference in the square-type needles being any easier on my hands than the round needles. I felt I was just knitting away happily. Then I put down a project knitted on square needles and picked up a project on round needles (Signature DPNs). The first round went by alright but by the second round I had noticed several things.
First, my hands were gripping the round needles far tighter than they had gripped the square needles; Something I've done for a very long time and just accepted as my personal knitting style.
Second, since gripping the round needles so tightly, my hands grew fatigued faster.
Third, as one with both Chronic Lyme Disease and Fibromyalgia, I found great pain creeping into my hands, something I had ignored all my knitting life but realized that while knitting with the square needles, I did not feel this usual pain.
It seems fairly obvious to me that the square needles are indeed easier on the hands than the round needles... but why?
I practiced knitting with both the round and square needles to discover an interesting (to me) tid bit. The square needles, having flat sides, are stable in the hand, requiring very little applied pressure to knit. The round needles, I found, are not stable and roll down the thumb, which must be why I hold them so tightly, creating fatigue and pain in my fingers, hands and wrists. It is quite possible that these nuances apply only to my hand and style of knitting but I do urge you to find out for yourself.
Finally, I can not say that my stitches were more uniform, as I am a firm tensioned knitter. I think someone who is a loose to moderate tensioned knitter would be better suited to give an opinion on this point.
|Posted on October 4, 2011 at 1:55 PM||comments (1)|
Since I missed Monday's post and tomorrow is Wednesday, I thought I'd make a combination post, hope you don't mind!
To start, if you haven't yet heard, the Quasi-Mystery Tam KAL has begun. All details can be found in the dyod*Studio Ravelry group. If you do not belong to Ravelry and would still like to knit along, please send me a PM.
As always, life is busy here, I've been knitting when I can. I aim to knit at least 6 pair of (adult) socks between now and next fall, so I am taking the Sock Knitter's Anonymous Sockdown Challenge 'serious' for once. I finished my September's challenge and have cast on for October's challenge. I plan to knit my Kananaskis pattern for my DH and am using Trekking XXL.
September Sockdown Complete
I've also been working on a scarf for the KnitPicks website and there is still so much writing to do for designs worked a year or more ago - In fact, the Quasi-Mystery Tam is one of those designs!
Between knitting and domestic duties, I've found time to make some delicious chocolates. I had ordered some silicone candy molds from Amazon in several shapes, these were the favorites:
Making the chocolates was a lot of fun and, while they are not perfect, the kids loved them and they tasted great!
I haven't done any sort of sewing since I finished the summer skirt. As for spinning, I've filled a bobbin about one half full of the Targhee and still have quite a lot of spinning ahead of me. I have discovered a few new-to-me books and items, however. I will not review all of them today but this one especially captured my attention:
Wendy Knits Lace by Wendy D. Johnson
2011 Potter Craft
Since Wendy is most known for her well-loved toe-up sock designs and books, I was very curious to discover where this particular book would take us. It seemed perfectly plausible that the book would be all about knitting shawls with sock weight yarn. And yet, it isn't.
What it is full of are a very well balanced selection of knitting patterns, all containing lace. Shawls, yes, but also gloves, a pullover, cardigan, cowls, mitts, mittens, hats, a camisole and of course, socks, 21 patterns in all.
True Love Stole
For those intimidated by lace, this book would be a great introduction. Start with simple lace trimmed gloves, work your way towards a lace tam and then tackle a lace shawl. Patternwise, there truly is something for every knitter. My favorite? I am rather in love with the Seashell Cami:
|Posted on September 16, 2011 at 4:45 PM||comments (1)|
Once again, I had hoped to get more spinning wheel info out but I'd really like to take some better shots and so, will need to
bribe employ the help of an older child. So, no spinning wheel stuff this week, sorry. Instead I have a review of sorts for you.
So in the knitting world, there are knitting needles and there are Knitting Needles. Whether straights, double points or circulars, most, if not all, knitting needles are perfectly adequate in getting the job done. Personal preferences may dictate whether a bamboo, wooden, metal or plastic needle is selected. After which, the final choice to be made all comes down to the point. Sharp or blunt? Some needle brands do not offer this final choice as an option, but one does. Signature Needle Arts makes Knitting Needles.
I will be the first to admit, initially, I couldn't imagine what the hype was about. I mean, really, how exceptional could a humble knitting needle be? While debating whether or not to place a purchase, I had recalled my utter disappointment in Addi Turbo needles.
This was another needle I had heard so very much about, 'Addi Turbos are wonderful for knitting lace and socks and any knitter who enjoyed knitting lace or socks simply must invest in a set.' Further commentary boasted that Addi Turbos were quick, sharp and had flexible cables. I was sold. At least, until I purchased that first pair.
I did not find the tips of Addi Turbos to be any sharper than a Susan Bates or Boye needle. As for being quick (slick), I admit the first few uses did seem slick but suddenly not. In fact they felt a little gritty and had a horrible scent. I was grateful to have only purchased a single pair and no more. I will say however, the standard Addi circulars are nice to knit but have blunt tips.
Back to the Signature needles. The price tag did not exactly make the decision to test drive these needles very easy. Still, to use the excuse of a birthday gift did help soften the blow. While going through the website to place my order, I was impressed at the options available. While color choice is predisposed to size, length, needle tip style and, in the case of straights, cap, can all be selected by the purchaser. I never thought shopping for knitting needles would be so fun!
For my first order I selected the most useful 2.50 mm DPN set with Stiletto tips. I was very impressed to see not two but three needle tip choices: Blunt, Middi and Stiletto. Once the order arrived, packaged in a sturdy plastic tube and in an organza pouch, I immediately cast on for a pair of socks. The sharp points made knitting delightful (for me) and I found the needle shaft to be comfortable. An additional incentive I had not previously considered, the bright color of the needle shaft proved helpful in identifying stitches.
Flash forward to this past Mother's Day when I purchased a circular needle. I already knew what to expect in the shaft and tip but the cable truly intrigued me, in addition to the join. These two issues are important when selecting a circular needle. No one wants a terrible join to slow down progress and a flexible cable is a true must, especially for those who enjoy Magic Loop. I have to let you know, the circulars are absolutely the best I've used to date. The cable is soft and flexible, almost perfectly so. And the best feature, as far as I'm concerned, is that the join is not only nice but also enables the cable to rotate freely! Can you imagine that? How often have you been frustrated by a kinked cable?
Over the past four years I have gifted myself one pair/set of needles for each birthday and this year, a circular needle for Mother's Day. It must be fairly obvious how delighted I am with my Knitting Needles and I look forward to purchasing my sixth pair in ten days Do yourself a favor, make a Signature Needle Arts wishlist and send it to your loved ones!
|Posted on September 5, 2011 at 3:30 PM||comments (4)|
With the start of school this past week, life has certainly been busy. Still, I managed to squeeze in some time to spruce up my spinning wheels and even do a little crafting.
September also begins the Sock Knitter's Annonymous calendar, for which I am knitting Sacre du Printemps by Caoua Coffee. The challenge for this month is to knit in the color chartreuse. Being I did not have sock weight yarn in said color I had decided to dye some myself, using some natural Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash as a base. I absolutely love the results.
I knitted as far as the heel (my swatch for a toe up sock) and realized that my gauge is far greater than for what the pattern calls, 9 sts/in vs. 7 sts/in. Since this yarn does not contain nylon, I am not willing to adjust the gauge and so, I am left to decide whether or not to adjust the stitch pattern to suit my needs (and yarn) or to simply use a sport weight yarn. I am giving it a few days to both stash dive for sport weight and create a new chart.
I have also been knitting two samples of my Abalone shawl pattern for the KnitPicks website. One sample uses Gloss fingering weight, which I have used several times since it was released. The second sample uses the delicious Andean Treasure, a sport/DK weight yarn. I am hoping to have both samples done by next week with photos following soon after. Wish me luck!
On the sewing front, I seem to have been mending a lot of clothing lately. This next week I will be tailoring clothes to better fit my daughter and middle son. I also hope to sew some more quilt blocks and finish the summer skirt, of course summer is now over. This was realized by my daughter who exclaimed, "It's baking time!" So yesterday we baked a chocolate layer cake.
Book Review: Quilting
As the title states, this book is all about creating quilts using 2 1/2" strips from Jelly Rolls, Bali Pops and also true scraps. Kim notes that anything 2 1/2" square or larger will work, offering great advice and clearly illustrated diagrams beginning on page 7. I personally found Kim's advice for sorting and storing the 2 1/2" (page 9) strips quite helpful. Basic quilt making instructions begin on page 11 and continue to page 17. From page 18 onward are instructions for 18 beautiful quilts:
One thing I'd like to note is that despite the lightness of this book, the instructions are very clear and include wonderful diagrams for each quilt, to include cutting and piecing information. Another point I appreciate is that each and every quilt is of substantial size. Initially I had expected to see many baby/crib sized quilts and was very happy to learn otherwise. Within the pattern title is a descriptive box where Kim also comments on the fabrics used within the sample pictured. For example, Kim notes that the quilt featured on the cover (Picnic) used contemporary prints while another quilt (Over and Under) utilized bright large scale prints as a dramatic contrast to the white background.
Of the many quilting books available, I think you will find this one a steal as each design is wonderful and workable.
Rating: ✽ ✽ ✽ ✽
|Posted on September 3, 2011 at 8:05 AM||comments (3)|
Focus: Spinning Wheel Maintenance
For me, it's that time of year. At the first evidence of Fall, I begin to think 'Spin!' and shortly thereafter, 'Spinning wheel maintenance.' And so, assembling my heard and sprucing them up becomes top on my list of things to do. Since we expect to move within the next 9-10 months, I took this opportunity to also properly store away my larger wheels (Louet Julia, Schacht Ladybug and an antique wheel) while keeping my Ashford Joy traveling wheel handy for use.
This week I'll show you how I do basic maintenance, using my Joy to clean up a bit. Basic maintenance requires minimal dis-assembly of your wheel, only removing commonly removed parts such as the flyer and bobbin. Next week I will do a more thorough maintenance using my antique wheel and possibly the Julia and Ladybug.
One of the first steps in preparing for any project is to assemble your materials, most items can be found in your home. The materials list below is inclusive of all types of wheels, select the items relevant to your wheel. (ex. Only machines with leather parts would require mink oil, etc)
Quite likely, instructions for spinning wheel maintenance were included with your wheel at purchase. If you've lost the instructions or if you are not the original owner, you may find information on the company websites. Or, since you are here, you can follow my instructions below:
Your wheel should be fairly spiffy right about now!
Coming Monday: Make It Monday & a Quilting book review!