Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bad Blogger

Bad, bad blogger I have been.

I couldn't bear the silence in my little corner of the internet for another second. In part because I need to take control as I feel myself spinning into the, "zomgoodness I need to knit all of the things. I need to start this. I need to finish this. I need to sew buttons on this, this, and thing."

I'm here to take back control.

As autumn winds sweep through the streets of Philly, suddenly it is knitting season. The store has been busy all week (which is WONDERFUL) and I have been a frantic blur of pushing yarn into the hands of customers (ask knitting friends and coworkers alike: I am a big, bad bully pusher), seaming things, training a new employee and teaching my first set of classes. Yep, that's right. I taught a knitting class! I was terrified and felt like such a failure that first night, but I am so glad I stuck with it. Seeing everyone with their finished (or almost finished) hats at the end of week 6 was so satisfying. And I'm set to teach a cast-ons/mistake fixing workshop this Sunday. It's been crazy!

Summer is (seemingly) on its last leg and I couldn't be more excited. Fall has always been my favorite and it's hard for me to not feel inspired and animated. This could be my last autumn on the East Coast and I am determined to see as and do as much as I possibly can. I'll be attending Rhinebeck this year, which has been this Midwesterner's dream for years, and hoping to go back to Massachusetts to see the leaves change. Factor in a trip home in mid-October and the next month is shaping up to be crazy in the best way possible. And all the pumpkin baking...let's not even go there.

In terms of knitting, I haven't been finishing ANYTHING. This summer I knit three sweaters, two of which still need buttons, have FOUR(!) more sweaters that pretty much just need sleeves, a design journal with pages of things waiting to be knit up, and more neck things in my queue than I could ever need. Can you see my need for control? It doesn't help that I spend 4-5 days a week working at a wonderful shop full of beautiful yarns. But after last week's bonanza $2 Manos del Uruguay yarn sale (yep. $2), I decided I should probably figure out what to do with some of the yarn I have amassed over the course of this year.

Shapely Boyfriend by Stephanie Japel
My most recent cast on. When $2 Manos arrived at the store, you had better believe that I was diving through those boxes before my boss was even out the door. I managed to score 7 skeins of Wool Clasica in a beautiful purple quite similar to 71 Wisteria. The color is slightly lighter than the one pictured below, which is why it was on sale in the first place.

Shapely Boyfriend has been in my queue for awhile now and since I already have a sweater in O-Wool Classic on the needles (and needing sleeves...), I decided that my bargain Wool Clasica would be perfect for that. I've only used Clasica once before, but let me tell you something: EVERYONE should possess a sweater in Wool Clasica. So soft and woolly, it's one of those things you just can't wait to finish. I'm actually wishing for it to be colder just so that I can wear this sweater when it's done. In the meantime, I will have to crank the AC and use my WIP as a blanket.

BFF COWL by Ysolda and Tiny Owl Knits
This next project is silly. And I love it. I have plans to knit this with one of my besties from college. We met in Illinois and fate has carried us to opposite coasts, with Lizzie in San Francisco and myself in Philadelphia. She works in a yarn shop too and while it's fun to ask my visiting Californian customers to pass on my love to her (true story! One of them actually did :D), this is the perfect little thing for two dorky knitters to do together. And while we probably won't get to have cute photoshoots together, for awhile, at least, we can have fun together while we work on them. I know Lizzie is planning on using Malabrigo Twist in Applewood for her yarn choice, but mine hasn't quite popped out at me yet. I'm thinking some Manos Maxima from my stash might be perfect, but which one?

I'm sure I can figure out some way to photoshop some dorky cowl picture of us. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Maxfield Cardigan by Amy Christoffers
My love for anything Amy Christoffers continues. I started a Pomme de Pin awhile back, but the pattern kind of made me angry due to shifting stitches and other stupid things. So it has become another sweater in need of sleeves and a collar. I think the other part of it is that I feel out of love with the color halfway through and that has deterred me from sucking it up and finishing it. For this one, you are going to need to use your imagination a little bit.

Imagine this a little lighter/more like an "electric" navy

and this a smidddddge more lilac
Bam! Well, that's the tentative plan. I do love the look of the multi-color contrast, but how much will I really wear it if it's like that? Unless Lorna's Laces wants to pack up some Pocket Square and Cookie's Deep Dark Secret and send it my way. Pretty please? This yarn is Silk Blend by Manos and it feels sooo nice. Have I mentioned lately that I have "seen the light" and will praise Manos del Uruguay until the cows come home? Because I will. The only yarn I haven't used by them at this point is Lace and that is on the agenda for someday.

Avery by Melissa LaBarre
While I've been eyeing many of the Quince & Co. patterns for awhile now, Avery is the one that jumps and begs to be made sooner rather than later. Melissa LaBarre is another designer whose work I admire immensely, though I've never actually made any of her designs. I need a big squishy cowl to wrap around my neck this season and I can't wait to start this one.

Kelly green Rittenhouse, you guessed it, another Manos del Uruguay yarn. This time it's Rittenhouse, a yarn that was recently discontinued (may she RIP). I have never seen yarn hoarding like I did with this one. Between the staff and loyal customers, I can bet we each have at least 20 skeins sitting in our stashes.

Aethercopter by Jocelyn Tunney
Last, but certainly not least, there is Aethercopter. I have been wanting to knit this for YEARS, but it's proving tricky to find the most perfect yarn. I absolutely love Balance, the yarn called for, but I can't choose a color. And trying to find something with that same look is difficult.

O-Wool Balance in Smokey Quartz

Fibre Co Savannah in Woodsmoke


Fibre Co Savannah in Woodsmoke
Hmm. Decisions, decisions. Or I might just cast on for it in my one true love: TWEED.

One thing is certain: this is going to be a wonderful and woolly winter. And this post was, apparently, brought to you by Manos del Uruguay ;P Whoops.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer in the city

Summer has fallen upon Philly with a vengeance this week and it makes me glad to be sitting inside right now.  I've labeled these past two weeks as "get it DONE" weeks and have managed to make some progress not just on knitting projects, but I've also managed to get motivated with a few life goals.

Part of my absence is due to the fact that we went to Hawaii (Kauai, to be exact) for almost two weeks. It was truly an amazing experience and I managed to cross off a few things on my life list.

...including jumping out of an airplane (by choice). Skydiving was probably the most exhilarating and terrifying things I will ever do. The whole experience was so completely indescribable and it all happened so fast. I've been wanting to skydive since I was 16 or so, but I'm so glad I waited, as Kauai was the perfect place. The folks at Skydive Kauai were very professional and you can tell they take things very seriously. Don't be fooled by their rinky dink plane :)

I've also resumed getting my fitness on. We spent a lot of time being active in Kauai and it kind of kickstarted me towards getting back into running. Over the past three weeks I have managed to workout 5-6 days each week and I feel great. I haven't really noticed any changes, but I feel better about myself. Staying hydrated is one of the goals I need to work on, but that varies from day to day. I'm also considering signing up for the Philadelphia Half-Marathon in November, but that might be a bit too overambitious.


But enough about that. Let's get to the knitting. I've become overwhelmed lately by the amount of yarn I have/the amount of yarn I've been buying, so I'm on a one woman sweater mission. I would like to not have to buy any sweaters this fall/winter and I have been trying *so* hard to not get sucked in by accessories. How many cowls/shawls/hats does one lady need?!

Last week I finished my Delancey cardigan (by Alexis Winslow) and spent Monday night weaving in all 52 ends. 52(!) ends. Since starting, I have inspired two coworkers to knit this sweater and I can't wait for us to all look fabulous in them together. It really is the perfect sweater. Once this bad boy finishes drying (2 days and counting) I will be sure to post better pictures. I have good feelings about this just may be the first sweater I have knit for myself AND liked.

This sweet little garter yoke baby cardigan has been waiting to be finished for months now. I started when there was still a nip in the air (gosh, when did I start this?) and now it's the longest day of the year. It should be no surprise to anyone that it sat knit and blocked for a month or two, just waiting for those buttons to be sewn on. And how I love these buttons:

Unfortunately, I think the intended baby is now too big :( SO. Somebody needs to have a baby now.

Another sweater that is "on the verge" of being abandoned is my Pomme de Pin cardigan. Can we just take a moment to discuss how awesome Amy Christoffers is? I think I have 4-5 of her patterns queued right now and this is the first I've actually sat down to knit. This sweater definitely had a rocky start and I have fudged too many times to count, but it just might be the squishiest thing I've ever knit. I'm using RYC Cashsoft DK (same as the baby sweater) and I'm loving it. As much as I love the scratchiness of "real" wool, a girl needs a little squish every now and then. I have a few rows of the fronts left and then it's on to the sleeves/border. Here's hoping it's done before fall ;)

And the final sweater on my needles is this RIDICULOUS Featherweight Cardigan. I snagged a bag of deep discount Koigu from Rosie's and cast on as soon as I realized I would have enough. I'll be elongating this one by a few inches, hoping it can reach full length cardigan status. Hannah Fettig is another favorite of mine and this is another first for me. The featherweight has been in my queue since I joined Ravelry, so it was only a matter of time. For being a sock weight cardigan, this sure has gone by fast.

The frantic need to knit MOAR has been heightened because one of my favorite new yarns is being discontinued and I have to fight the urge to stockpile it all away.

Manos del Uruguay Rittenhouse...may she rest in peace. I may or may not have picked out 4 sweaters that I "need" to make using Rittenhouse, but I will save that for next time. No good will come from that.

Happy knitting!

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's been awhile (+1 tattoo)

I never know how to begin these blog posts after I have been hopelessly absent for weeks, or, in this case, months. I've turned 24, visited a new city/state, traveled home, gotten a tattoo (!!!), run many miles, knit (and haven't finished) many things, and *finally* booked a proper vacation.
My first tattoo. Yep. It hurt.

I guess I should explain the story behind this quotation. I kind of explained it in a previous post, but I didn't really explain the connection to me. The quote is by Virginia Woolf, a fascinating lady and phenomenal author. I love that crazy bitch. Getting a tattoo was a long time coming for me and I have wanted to get one since I was 16. I've had some cool ideas along the way (and some not so cool ones as well), but this is the first tattoo idea that I've been really committed to, because knitting is something I will never regret. My interest may taper off at some point, but it is never anything I will look back on in shame or regret. The quote itself is there to represent the happiness, calming and satisfaction I get from knitting. If I'm angry, I usually either run or knit. If I'm sad or if Matt and I are having one of those crazy "end of the world as we know it" kind of fights, I need to knit. When I've done something wrong and am waiting to be forgiven, I knit.

Knitting has morphed into more of a lifestyle than a hobby over the past few years. I've met most of my new friends through working at knitting shops (first Wool and Co. and now Rosie's Yarn Cellar). I want to focus more on designing this year, so I find myself giving myself deadlines and "working" when I should be relaxing. I'm happy working this retail job.

Anywho, that's the tattoo story. I've been trying to lead a better and more fulfilling life, because, let's face it, you only get one. I'm the worst procrastinator in the world and if I don't just get something done I probably never will. And with my tattoo, which I just got yesterday, I began what will be known as "the most exciting month of my life (thus far)."

What is happening during this month?

*Artsy weekend date next weekend
*Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival
*Another trip home (maybe)
*Trip to Hawaii, including...
*SKYDIVING in Hawaii
*Seeing the Grand Canyon of the Pacific
*Hell, first time seeing the Pacific Ocean
*Signing up for a longer distance race (leaning towards a half marathon)

Now is the time to feel more alive. PS, it is Crochet and Knit Blog Week this week, so expect to see me a few more times this week (including later today).

Happy knitting!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The only prescription is MOAR CAST ONS.

I really did love being in school and the whole academic environment. These days, when I find myself falling into the unavoidable winter slump and feeling like I'm not doing enough and that I need to be living (?) more, I find myself missing learning. I realize this sounds pretty lame, because life as a whole should be a learning process, but it's just not the same (for me) anymore.

This is part of the reason I love working at a knitting store. I'm pretty much expected to be a knitting "guru" and should be able to answer most questions about most different kinds of knitting, whether I have done it before or not. I still haven't gotten past the cuff of a sock, but I've turned a heel. I have never done set-in sleeves...but I have. I was borderline scared of mattress stitch, but when a customer asked me to seam for her, I just did it. And it was great practice.

I am blessed in the fact that I am so passionate about a hobby that always teaches me. In the past two weeks I have "taught myself" how to seam, duplicate stitch, work set-in sleeves, etc. All for work. All for this part-time job that some of my careered friends look down upon. Forget about the haters; do what you love and what fulfills you.

Anyway, there's my rant. Now I just need to overcome the crippling fear of steaks (oh god, why?) and all will be good. I've been in a weird place lately and since casting on for new projects makes me happy, I have cast on for too many new things and stripes seem to be the theme of the week my life

My dormant Cladonia. Which I have touched maybe three times since I moved here.

I started a Delancey cardigan after lusting after one for a long, long time. Doing this as a KAL with The Sweatshop of Love group on Ravelry. I LOVE THIS COLOR COMBINATION. Even better? I scored the last of the Cascade 220 at Rosies...making my sweater super cheap. I will probably spend more money on the buttons because ohmygod I love buttons.

Fletcher Mittens by Amy Swenson, who just happens to be from my hometown. Which I need to just suck up and finish. The thumb that is finished looks like it has a toe attached to it, so I have one thumb to knit, one thumb to fix and two cuffs to pick up and knit. Why don't I just do it? Same reason I don't knit the lace section of my Cladonia: it's not neeeeew.

Another recent cast in yesterday. This is my first time using O-Wool Balance and I love the colors. Aiming for some gradually changing stripes. I guess I had Valentines day on the brain when I selected these. Did I mention how that corally color is driving me CRAZY these days? This is going to be another cowl because I'm trying to figure out just how many neck things one person needs. 

Another shawl. This one is in Fibre Company's Terra in "Belladonna," which I love love love. It reminds me of the "Stephen Loves Tosh" coloway from the Stephen West shawl club...except I like this one better. And it's less ~exclusive~.

And that's that. I still have a few more that didn't get to be photographed (like my mohair/silk concoction from last week), but that's probably enough for now. Started planning crazy KALs with Andrea from work, but we are going to be strong and finish things before we even dare. Did I mention we are going to turn Rosie's into a hobbit hole/fairy wonderland? didn't hear it from me. 

Happy knitting!

P.S. I miss my kitty babies. Buy me a kitten...

P.P.S. I still haven't started Matt's Valentine. Oh god why?

Friday, February 3, 2012

This week's palette & knitting tattoos

I call this "the heap of knitting hope" or something along those lines. This week has been slo-ow in terms of knitting related nonsense and tomfoolery and pretty ridiculous in terms of all other things. There have been a lot of work hours and quarreling and running (oh my!) and lazy sloth-like behaviors. I find that when I run more and more, I get so tired and don't even want to knit. Say what? Yeah, I said it. But, yes. That is my heap of hope. This week I find myself drawn more and more to grays and blues above all others. I'll sum it up to the weather and the hopes that I will (someday) soon see some body of water. I'm looking at you, Pacific Ocean.

Spring Beret in Debbie Bliss Amalfi

Things have been pretty slow at the shop since I got back from Christmas break, and earlier in the week I went through and made a list of our underperforming yarns. Once that was done, I set about the task of selecting a pattern per yarn and making little "sample to-knit" lists. For Debbie Bliss' Amalfi, a blend of cotton, viscose, linen and silk, I decided on revisiting an old favorite of mine: The Spring Beret by Natalie Larson. I haven't knit with many cottons before and though I have made this beret twice before, I have never used a higher-end cotton. These knits were back in the day, when I bought all of my yarns at Jo-Ann and didn't even know what linen was. 

Now, the pattern calls for a worsted weight, so I've had to make a few modifications to this pattern. I decided to knit the slouchier pattern, as I have done in the past, but I'm knitting the whole thing on size 6 needles. It's ending up kind of awkward slouch, but I'm confident that after a good blocking all will be well and the pattern will really stand out nicely. As for the yarn, well, I'm not so sure how I feel just yet...

Wee Heap of Koigu

This wee heap was meant to be a Father and Son tie for Matt, but now I'm rethinking it. While my boyfriend has some Joseph Gordon-Levitt characteristics, I'm just not too sure how well he can rock the skinny, tragically-hip tie. Matt is a skinny lad and skinny ties...well, they look a little awkward on him. Plus when I think about skinny ties, it leads to thoughts of sweater vests and how good they look together. Since I already owe Matt a sweater to go with his Ranger sleeves, I am not in the market to be knitting him sweater vests. After talking with Andrea at work today, I decided I might try and finagle a chevron tie out of these three colors. I wanted to use the gray as the main color and alternate stripes, but we only have one ball of gray in stock at the shop, meaning it's "make it work" time. I do love this color combination. 

Heritage Silk and Angel 

The gray in this photo is Cascade Heritage Silk (charcoal) and I had originally bought it to use for Matt's hipster tie, but then I kind of fell in love with it after seeing this scarf, which is just garter stitch on larger needles, but is so simple and beautiful. I've been in love with this plum Debbie Bliss Angel (color 17) since I started working at Rosie's and decided that it was time to take the plunge. I plan on knitting both yarns together (maybe on size 6-7 needles) and just doing an oversize garter stitch cowl. This is my first time using mohair, and, though I am a bit apprehensive, I'm hoping the color combination will cancel out any qualms I may have.

Since I keep jumping ship with many of the WIPs I have going, I have so many FOs looming on the horizon, but I just need to get things reigned in a bit before I finally have anything to share. I'm working on a wonderfully luscious everyday shawl in Terra by Fibre Company (yum), so I'm hoping to have that finished by weekend's end. It's perfect for lazy evenings and weekends when all I want to do is stare at Ryan Gosling's face and overdose on girly movies.

This whole "hey girl" meme makes me way too happy

Oh, and I decided on my first tattoo. At long last. Now I just need to find the right venue and get it done. My goal is to have it by my birthday, so hopefully I can stick to my guns and not wuss out this time. Of course it is knitting-related. And literary...kind of.

"Knitting is the Saving of Life"

I've never been a fan of color tattoos (why? I'm not sure), so I'm undecided as to whether mine will be colored in or just shaded. The quote is from Virginia Woolf, a lovely writer and self-declared "Mad Woman," a lady I happened to fall in love with during my final year of college. Colors could be lovely and if I do decide to use them, I would opt for various shades of colors of life. You know, greens, blues and yellows. However, I do love the black to soft gray that I was able to create with my pen shading. Because I have no markers here. Either way, I am really excited about this idea and it is the first tattoo idea of mine that I have felt truly passionate about getting. I'm planning on right forearm, just below my elbow, because when I first learned to knit I was a thrower. Now I pick, which is supposed to be better, but still manages to sound a little grosser.

Happy knitting!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Endeavors and Frustrations

Awhile back I decided to try my hand at drop spinning. I was deeply inspired by CatReading's handspun that I always see posted on Ravelry, so I decided that I too wanted to give it a whirl (hehe, punny). I ordered some Frabjous Fiber and a Schacht Hi-Lo spindle from WEBS (which still hasn't arrived even though it is in stock...GRRR, WEBS). In the meantime, my boss generously donated a no-name spindle to me.

And...I suck.

The hardest part for me, I would have to say, is the drafting. I tried learning from a youtube video, but I kept pulling my fiber too hard and breaking it off. Nicole showed me how to park and draft this afternoon, but I still struggle with the drafting. I definitely did a bit better towards the end and I guess this is one of those things where practice makes perfect.

Defeat also slammed me today with some designing woes. Remember those wonderful colors I posted yesterday? While the idea makes so much sense in my head, I just cannot get my vision to appear. On the one hand, it makes me appreciate just how much more I still have to learn and accomplish as a knitter. In the meantime, I decided to cast on for a simple shawl in Fibre Company's (I got the fevah!) Terra in Belladonna, one of the new colors for Spring. Holy moley it is gorgeous. And I'll be sure to share the pattern when I'm done...I know this one will be easier. At least I think it will be. 

Also, my boyfriend is still at work and I miss him.

Happy knitting! And spinning.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Palette Wednesday (and Whimsical Little Knits)

I would like to start out in this post by declaring my LOVE for my Yarn Shop coworkers (past and present :P), because I am now the proud owner of a signed copy of Ysolda Teague's Whimsical Little Knits 3!

Yep. There it is. With my little "sign off" and everything.
I've also decided to start posting weekly color palettes, just to kind of keep me inspired. While they will most likely always be yarn, I'd like to try and break away and just post colors I'm loving. Today I decided that I must own some Fibre Company Organik, so I picked out four colors and sat down to sketch out a cowl infinity scarf. And now I'm just hoping that it pans out like I planned because if it will be awesome.

Coral Reef, Oahu, Crater Lake, and Arctic Tundra

So, yay for the first Color Palette post! Why am I stopping in and jumping out so quickly? Because I am going to see Jeff Mangum tonight! Of Neutral Milk Hotel. I had kind of written off ever seeing him play because he's turned kind of reclusive since the early-mid 90s...but it's happening! And I am so excited that I will probably be shaking and crying tonight. Check out one of my favorite songs ever here. I hope he wears his ugly sweater.