Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post-Christmas post

How was everyone's holiday? We had a really nice one, spending time with Ron's family both Christmas eve and Christmas day. We managed to keep the gift exchange to a minimum which was great and just spent a lot of our time together visiting and eating...a lot...like everyone else. Next year we'll head to PA to spend the holiday with my parents which is what we did last year. It's kind of nice to alternate the holidays like that and that keeps all the parents happy!

We ended up getting both sets of parents a silly little gift that ended up being a big hit. It was a scalp massager that we got at Bed Bath & Beyond for a whopping $4. It looks pretty much like a whisk with the bottom end cut off leaving a bunch of wire hanging down from the handle. The ends of these wires are coated with rubber.

You then hold it by the handle and press it down onto the scalp. It opens up as you press down and you use it to 'tingle' your scalp. It's actually a pretty fun little gadget and for what ended up being a last minute addition to their packages it was the one that got the most attention. If you're interested in checking them out they do sell them on Amazon as well. Just click here... (and no, I am in no way affiliated with Amazon, nor do I get a kickback...in case you were wondering!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010


The other day Ron and I headed out to the grocery store and on the way there I mentioned that I had just been emailed a 50% off coupon for Borders. Borders is right next door and I hadn't been to browse the knitting books in a while. And a 50% off coupon is pretty rare, so I thought I might as well at least take a look. Well, it definitely paid off as I found the new toy book "Knitwit" by Katie Boyette (FYI: the following images are not mine. They are all the property of Katie Boyette and have been used by me to show what can be found in the book).

Katie's designs are great. They run the gamut from traditional creatures such as a bird (albeit a make-believe one)...

...a lobster, an elephant, owls...

....and a ninja...

 ...to totally original creatures like a vampiric panda...

...a cyclops dressed in a bunny suit... 

 ...and numerous monsters including a rather forlorn-looking yeti...

As you can see she makes a lot of the creature's faces using felt that is cut out and then stitched on giving them a lot of expression. I can't wait to get started on one of these guys, but can't decide which one to pick. Stay tuned to find out which one it'll be!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New music...

I've gotten interested in a new, up-and-coming artist. Her name is Aly Spaltro but she goes by the band name of Lady Lamb The Beekeeper. She used to live in the next town over from mine but has just moved to NYC to pursue her music full time. I knew her, kind of, because she worked at the independent DVD store in town, but sadly I didn't even know of her music until after her move.

In a time of such artificial and label-dictated music, she is refreshingly herself, real and sincere in what she does. If you HAD to give her music a label I would lean towards folky-rock with some similarity to Cat Power, more by chance than design.

If you would like to check her out, you can find her on Youtube, her website, and for a limited time you can buy her first two albums here. They are titled "The Tingly Circus" and "Someday We Will Levitate." She has decided to post these for only two weeks, so get 'em while you can!

Here are a couple of videos you can check out...enjoy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Well, there's been a slight delay on the aforementioned project so that I could make a house-warming present for a friend. The present just so happens to be a monster by the ever-talented and lovely Rebecca Danger. I've added a picture below so you could see what I've been working on...I've been busy, really I have!

Maddox was very fun to knit and I'm sure he'll be welcomed in his new home.

Tomorrow finds Ron and me helping a different friend move, so probably not much knitting on the horizon until next week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mystery project

Today I started work on a new project. Like the Mini Banana, it's a two-piece pattern. As of this evening I have one of those two parts done and I couldn't be happier with how it came out. Now I'll need to do a little brainstorming on how to make the second part and make sure it fits with the first. Sound mysterious? Well hopefully it won't take too long to complete and the mystery will be over soon.

In other news, Ron and I took a trip to some of the local flea markets late this morning. We both enjoy poking around and seeing what we might be able to find. Though today's trip didn't unearth any treasures, we still had a good day browsing and had some great pizza for lunch. Fun!

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This is just bananas...

Well, I had so much fun with the Mini Eggplant that I decided to attempt designing something else. But I was fairly stumped and unsure what to make next. And then it came to me and what I ended up with was this Mini Banana. I'm really happy with how it turned out and hope you give it a try. Just follow the link below for the pattern. By the way, if you do make one and you are on Ravelry, please post a pic of your project...I'd love to see it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mini Eggplant

Well, after a long period of inactivity in the blogging world, I'm back. Guess I can't stay away!

I've recently developed a sudden interest in developing my own patterns and would like to share them with other interest knitters. In fact, I have one to share with you today for a mini eggplant!

I hope that you give it a try. If you do, please let me know how you make out. Is the pattern easy to follow? Are the instructions clear? Are there any mistakes that I missed in typing it up? Please let me know your thoughts and comments, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vespergyle Mittens

I've been working on a pair of Vespergyle mittens. The pattern is by Elinor Brown and they have a two-color stranded "argyle" pattern. This is probably only the second pair of mittens I have made and maybe the second or third colorwork project I've done.

At this point I have one mitten finished and the other one started, maybe 25% done. I’ve learned over the course of the first mitten that something very simple can make a dramatic difference in the look of your finished fabric. Let me explain how this relates to these mittens…

I haven’t done too much two-color knitting yet, but when I do I hold one strand in each hand. While knitting this mitten, I didn’t pay much attention to what yarn I was holding in what hand and didn't imagine it mattered. The pattern started out great, showing the “X” in each diamond of the argyle pattern very well. However somewhere along the way, things started going wrong.

If you take a look at the pictures of the whole glove, you can see there are some dark colored diamonds where the “X” is almost non-existent, having sunk into the fabric (see the orange circled area for a good example of this). I couldn’t figure out why this was happening and decided to do a little research. And at my local bookstore, I found the answer.

I picked up Margaret Radcliffe’s “The Essential Guide To Color Knitting Techniques.” On pages 152-153 she discusses positioning the yarns. She shows how something as seemingly trivial as which yarn is held in which hand can change the outcome of your finished work.

By reading this and with a little experimenting, I learned that I need to hold in my left hand the “foreground” yarn, or, in this case, the one which will be forming the “X”s in each diamond. That allows the “X” to show up boldly and not to disappear into the design (See how even the pattern looks on the upper third of the glove). I’m not totally sure I understand the technical side of it of why this works, but I’ll type in the paragraph that really helped me.

“The stitches made with the lower strand (held on the left) are just a bit taller than the stitches made with the higher strand (held on the right). When the foreground pattern is worked with the lower yarn, these stitches are more prominent and stitches neighboring each other diagonally actually touch so the pattern looks continuous. If the foreground color is worked with the higher yarn, then it is less prominent and diagonal stitches appear to be slightly separated. Be careful not to change the yarn position in the course of your project, because the change can be very noticeable.” Also see the accompanying photo below.

This was great info, however I realized that with this pattern of alternating foregrounds (“the X”s that I need to stand out) I DID have to change the hand I was holding the yarn in. So each time I finished working on the “X” of one color, I would need to switch the yarns to opposite hands so that the new, opposite color “X” would stand out prominently. This was one of those great knitting “A-Ha!” lessons that will stick with me and surely come in handy as I continue my color work.

What I’m doing to make the “X”s work for me, may not work for everyone working this pattern. There are most certainly some other small factors coming in to play too. But I did want to pass this information on and make others aware that some fine tuning to your technique can clearly make or break how things will look when it comes to two-color knitting.

What this all means, though, is that I may decide to rip out the first mitten back to the top of the thumb gore so I can ‘fix’ the sunken “X”s. I don’t think I’ll be happy with them otherwise. It’s a bit of extra work, but something I’ll certainly appreciate once all is said and done.

That being said, onward ho!