Saturday, August 4, 2012

Blooms, Tunes, and Brews

Live Music + Beer + Knitting = :)

On Thursday, I took the night off from Knit & Knot and Paul and I headed out to a certain flower farm in Donahue, Iowa. Miss Effie hosted a fabulous evening of local beer and great live music at the farm. The Bent River Pale Ale went down easy (note the empty Mason jar in the photo above!), and Jenn Swift and Andrew Vickers played fantastic music. I also realized the new camping chairs we bought this summer are perfect for knitting in public. My skein fit nicely in one of the cup holders. (The Mason jar fit perfectly in the other. Coincidence? I think not.)

My friend and fellow convent crafter, Susan, was there with her husband, Pat. She was knitting a garter stitch scarf comprised of triangles of leftover sock yarn. Very cool! Maybe it was this pattern? I didn't get a picture of Susan and Pat (or the scarf), but I did manage to snap one of Paul.

Lovin' it.

Contrary to what this photo may show, I believe he had a good time...

We couldn't leave Miss Effie's empty-handed, of course. Check out the goodies we got to bring home with us :)

Beautiful flowers from a beautiful farm!

Pretty eggs from pretty chickens!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Introducing... Lamb!!!

Happy Spring! As the weather has been getting warmer, I've been inspired to start knitting smaller, quick projects. One of the first projects I completed as a part of this inspiration was Lamb, by the great Susan B. Anderson.

This pattern can be found in the book Itty, Bitty Knits and for free(!) online on the Woman's Day website. The pattern is written wonderfully, but of course, there were a few things I changed, since I just can't help myself.

  • I knit the body of the lamb in garter stitch, because the yarn I used (Dale of Norway - Monjita) looked more "sheep-like" in garter.
  • I cast-on 7 stitches for each leg and knit them in the round, instead of doing I-cord. The straws that you insert into each leg to make the lamb stand, didn't fit in my I-cord. The yarn I used for the face and legs was Dale of Norway - Heilo.
  • For the smaller appendages, I divided the stitches between two double-pointed needles and knit with a third. I find for small items, with few stitches, this is less tedious for me than dividing the stitches among three or four double points.
  • Just as a tip, I leave all the yarn ends un-trimmed, until I attached all of the pieces. This way you can adjust the pieces with just a stitch or two without having to attach another length of yarn. (I wish I had done that on my first toy, a Christmas elf. His legs stick out at rather unnatural, if not impossible, positions at all times!)
After attaching all of the pieces I embroidered the face and the toes with DMC cotton embroidery floss. This was a joy to make. In fact, I have plans for a couple more! You can easily knit two full-size and one half-size Lamb out of one skein of Monjita. I'll leave you with a few more pictures of the Lamb, who has been re-christened, Shipley:

And of course... THE END!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moonlighting... at Knit & Knot!

Last week, something very exciting happened. Bettendorf became home to the Quad Cities' newest yarn shop, Knit & Knot! Meet Joy Povich, the owner of Knit & Knot:

The above picture shows her placing the very first skein of yarn on the shelves built by her husband. As  you can see, they placed a lot more yarn after that! (And this isn't the half of it!)

In the three years that I've lived here, I have to say that the knitting and crocheting community seems to have grown in leaps and bounds! This newest development is very exciting to me personally, because I will be working and teaching at this shop!

Location: 3359 Devils Glen Road, Bettendorf, IA
Hours of Operation: Tuesday-Friday 10am -8 pm, Saturday 10am - 5pm
My Hours: Thursday 5pm - 8pm, every other Saturday

So come visit tomorrow, to check out the new shop and stay to hang out and knit with me!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Pathways for a Non-Sock Knitter

Yesterday afternoon, I finished my second pair of socks ever, and the first pair that I will wear. And I will wear these often! I am a sock knitting convert!

 At first, I though my aversion to sock knitting stemmed from the small gauge. But that doesn't make sense... I knit 5 pairs of fingerless mitts on size 2's with fingering weight alpaca. And I'm knitting a sweater of sock yarn on 1's. Then, awhile ago, while sorting laundry, it came to me. I only wear ankle socks or knee socks. Absolutely nothing in-between. So why did I knit the first pair to be mid-calf length? (I'd say the fact that I took a year-long break between the first and second sock might have been a hint that I wouldn't like them, but then that would mean that there are about 10 projects upstairs that I won't like once I finally finish them. And I know that's not true. It can't be.)

So on the way to Madison last week, I cast on for a pair of socks from a really neat skein of yarn I'd had in the stash for awhile. It was a skein of Ancient Threads Sock Yarn that I bought at the Elegant Ewe in Menominee, MI. Ancient Threads Farm Yarn is naturally dyed with botanical and insect based dyes. I used the yarn on the left in the top photo. I am still thinking about a project for the other skein.

After a few false starts (including tearing out an also completed sock to about 2 inches after the cast-on, I waited until we returned home, and dug out my borrowed (thanks, Mom!) copy of "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" by Cat Bordhi. This book is pure genious, and allows you to knit socks custom fit for your feet. I finished both socks in about 6 days, and also worked on other projects. That busted the myth in my head that socks took a long time to knit. So I now present you with proof that I did, in fact, knit and wear a pair of socks!
I knit these toe-up, starting with Judy Becker's Magic Cast-On, which my just be the most useful bit of information I gleaned from "New Pathways". That is saying something, as the book is chock-full of useful techniques and tips. I use this cast-on exclusively whenever a pattern calls for a provisional cast-on. It really is magic. I then used the Riverbed Master Pattern from the book, knit to the end of the heel, worked in the round for a few rows, throwing in a couple of short rows along the back, and topped them off with an I-Cord bind off. Check out my Ancient Threads Anklets Ravelry project page for all the details!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A very lucky knitter...

Man, did I luck out this Christmas. My friends and family treated me to some fantastic knitterly gifts. (And I didn't even have to forward the Yarn Harlot's gift ideas!) Here is the haul:

In case you can't read all of the titles, pictured are:
Knitter's Almanac, The Commemorative Edition by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmermann
The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning
A Vogue Knitting Subscription!!!
Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague
Knitting Around DVD with Elizabeth Zimmerman and Meg Swanson

I have had the Elizabeth Zimmermann and Alden Amos books on my list for a long time. I'm trying to add mostly tried and true knitting titles to my library. I really like reference style books to help me in my knitting, while still giving me the freedom to change things as I please. I just cannot follow a pattern to the letter, and EZ's creativity and writing style inspire me! I spend a lot of time at the Schoolhouse Press website. I can't get enough of their yarns and patterns!

That being said, sometimes the new intrigues me as well, and I have looked up Ysolda Teague's new book several times. It was a wonderful surprise!

I got another sweet surprise in the mail a few weeks before Christmas:

My Aunt Sue send me this adorable ornament. It is handmade and the yarn is handspun. It was a perfect addition to our first Christmas tree.

So thank you Mom, Colleen, Abby and Aunt Sue. Your gifts will be treasured!