by Kerrie James


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Wordless Wednesday

Posted on November 16, 2011 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Minecrafter's Socks I

Minecrafter's Socks II

Minecrafter's Socks III

Quasi Mystery Tam II

Mystery Shawl by Pat Shaw

Hex by Cookie A


300 gr Wollmeise Lace

Still Crafting a Life

Posted on November 15, 2011 at 1:35 AM Comments 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:


Sew the Perfect Gift: 25 Handmade Projects from Top Designers

 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)!


Craft Activism: People, Ideas, and Projects from the New Community of Handmade and How You Can Join In

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.  


Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters

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.


The Knitter's Book of Socks

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.





Pick Four: Easy Fabric Choices for Great Quilts

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!  


Quilting Those Flirty 30's

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!


Another Bite of Schnibbles

A great collection of traditional quilts made of 10" blocks, with clear instructions for piecing and layout.  


Urban Country Quilts: 15 Projects for the Home

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.


Slash Your Stash: Scrap Quilts from McCall's Quilting

Fun, traditional and seasonal quilting projects all created with your scrap stash! 






Review for You

Posted on October 17, 2011 at 1:35 PM Comments 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:

Kollage Square

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.

KnitPro Cubics

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 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

ISBN: 978-0-307-58667-4

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

Vintage Kneesocks

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:

Seashell Cami

Focus Friday

Posted on September 30, 2011 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

This week the focus has been not only on some deadlines, both knitwise and pattern writting, but also on the giveaway, attempted crochet-along (CAL) and upcoming Quasi-Mystery Tam knit-along (KAL).  I've also been reviewing several books and products but won't get to those until next week.

The giveaway winners were announced on Wednesday; I've been gathering prizes suitable while I wait for mailing addresses. 

As for the CAL, I would really like to get this off the ground again and will.  I do have many, many deadlines knit-wise and so, I am planning to (re)start this CAL just after the holidays.  I do apologize once again to the few who have shown interest in the CAL.  Please hang in there! 

And finally, the Quasi-Mystery Tam KAL will officially begin tomorrow.  The pattern will be free for the months of October and November, after which the name will change, the file re-formatted and then up for sale.  Anyone who actively participates in the KAL will receive the finished file in December; for this reason, email addresses may be asked and will be kept in confidence.

Wow, I know I've been swamped but after writting this brief update, it seems like nothing!  Dontcha hate that?

Wordless Wednesday

Posted on September 21, 2011 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Abalone in KnitPicks Gloss.

Abalone in KnitPicks Andean Treasure.

DD and Quasi-Mystery knit.

Make It Monday

Posted on September 20, 2011 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (70)

A little late on this post but still, I've made it!


First, I'd like to make an announcement.  Next week is my birthday and to celebrate, I am hosting a giveaway.  Answer the Knitter's Meme (below) in the comments below to be entered for a chance to win one of three 'surprises'.  Contest will close 00:01 CET 27 Sept 2011, at which time I will conduct a random drawing.  



Hand cream?

Round or flat?



Coffee or tea?

ML, 2 circ or DPNs?

Tight or loose?

Semi or variegated?

Top down or bottom up?  

Pick or throw?

Paper or PDF?

Sharp or blunt?  

Ball or cake?

Back to Make It Monday:

Over this past week I managed to wrap up a few loose ends.  I still have many more projects to finish of course, but I'm happy with the current accomplishments (no photos today):


- Both Abalones finished!  Some initial photos were taken but I need to get out sometime this week to get some better, more professional (ha!) shots.

- I actually finished the summer skirt, it is fully lined and looks great but ... I relied too much on my dress form and so, fit is not quite what it should be.  I will have to remove the yoke and adjust the waist just a bit by way of deeper darts along the back.

- This past week I also managed to make a few loaves of bread, both white and sourdoguh, but never thought to take photos.  I plan to do some more baking and breadmaking this week so I will try to take photos then

- If you haven't heard, The cowl pattern, Weinstock was released this past week.  My samples are worked in Malabrigo Rios but this pattern will lend itself well to any hand-dyed or variegated yarn.

- I did get out and take some photos this past week.  I wanted to get some shots of my darling daughter but I had to make it playful so as to get her cooperation.  I told her I had to shoot some knits (In fact, I did but not the knits we took along) and she went into creative director/model mode.  She is awesome and every day I am in awe of the wonderful young woman she has become.  x






Focus Friday

Posted on September 16, 2011 at 4:45 PM Comments 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!


Wordless Wednesday

Posted on September 14, 2011 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (1)

Lego Mini Figure Crayons, made at home.

One of Seven WIP baskets.

Abalone #5 knitted in KnitPicks Gloss.


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