Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebrating 10 Years of Knitting

Last month marked 10 years since I first learned how to knit. In that time, I've written 9 patterns, made over 10 adult sweaters, and knit countless socks, hats, and shawls. It's amazing to see how far I've come since making my very first project: a garter stitch scarf in Lamb's Pride Bulky yarn.

Honestly, I think the best thing about reaching this milestone is that knitting is so automatic to me now. I can knit while holding a conversation, while watching TV, and even while reading a book. That last skill has been especially convenient this week, as I've had a huge pile of reading for my coursework. I think that starting a sock was the only thing that saved me from giving up on my textbooks and wandering off into the depths of the internet.

So after 5 days of reading, I am well on my way to having a finished sock. I'm not sure if that's a testament to the speed at which I knit or the sheer volume of reading I've been assigned this week. One thing is for sure, I'm much happier reading this (often dry) material with sock yarn in hand.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Pen is Mightier

There is a new craze sweeping the Briney Deep household to go along with our recent woodworking exploits: turning wooden pens. The lathe came home to us about a year ago but it became the tool-of-choice a few weeks ago when my husband discovered pen kits. Admittedly, my husband and his brother are leading the charge on wooden pens, but I've also turned out few pens of my own:

The leftmost pen was my first attempt and I was so happy that it came out looking like a pen and I didn't loose any fingers in the process (seriously). We've been playing with different woods and I just love the orange glow of this paduak. Needless to say, I've been using this pen extensively since it came off of the lathe; it's really wonderful to write with.

Besides wood, we've also been playing with acrylics, such as the fake turquoise below. This pen was the combined effort of myself, my husband, and my brother-in-law and the residual tool marks indicate that it took us all a while to get used to the new material. Though we had some challenges with this pen, I really love writing with it and it's a good reference for how much we'll improve as we work with this material more.

Perhaps the best part of our new hobby is how much we're sharing it with others. We're not only sharing the pens but also sharing the experience of turning. My sister-in-law, her husband, and a friend of ours have all visited recently and they weren't here even 5 minutes before my husband shepherded them into "the man cave" to turn a pen for themselves. I feel like our new household motto should be "Come visit and turn a pen!"

Turning these pens has made me a bit more comfortable using the lathe so perhaps it's time for a supervised attempt at a nostepin or a darning egg. I would be a poor excuse for a knitter if I could use a lathe but never turned anything fiber-related. Yes, I think I will try and convince my husband to help me make a darning egg. I'll keep you posted on any results.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Feet

One of my absolute favorite knitted items is my pair of felted ballet slippers, which are based off this Fiber Trends pattern. The depth of my love for these slippers is evident by the fact that I'm on my second pair because I constantly wear them around the house. Sadly, this pair is nearing the end of its life and is starting to develop holes on the undersides. While I expect to make another pair very soon, I'm trying out a different slipper pattern in the meantime:

These are the Not-so-tiny Slippers from the recently released Whimsical Little Knits 3 (discussed in my previous blog post). The pattern is extremely similar to Tiny Shoes (blogged here) from WLK1 but has added short rows to account for the larger length-to-width ratio of adult feet. Like the baby version, the adult pattern rides the line between simple and complicated, while still being a quick knit--my favorite kind of pattern.

In terms of wear, I honestly think I prefer a more structured, felted slipper. While I have larger feet (US 10) and knit the largest size, I'm concerned that these slippers will stretch over time and eventually won't stay on my feet. Still, they're a pretty adorable alternative to wearing holey slippers so I will be keeping them around.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Pattern Parade

Some exciting pattern collections have found their way into my home in the last month and they're definitely worth posting about on the blog. The first group includes both Whimsical Little Knits 3 (WLK3) and Saturday Treat, which should satisfy all of my readers who I've infected with Ysolda fever.

The two books focus on accessories such as scarves, hats, and mittens, though WLK3 has 9 patterns to Saturday Treat's 6. Each collection has a pattern that I can't wait to knit (Not-so-tiny slippers and Sherbet Lemon, respectively), though I personally prefer more of the Saturday Treat patterns. The two collections are currently available as book/ebook sets and not as individual patterns, so it may be worth waiting to buy if you only want a pattern or two from each collection.

My other new patterns come from indie sewing designer Colette patterns. Their patterns have a slightly vintage feel to them and, based on the photos from the Colette Flickr group, are very flattering to many types of figures. I've also read a bunch of reviews saying that their pattern instructions are very clear. Between these sewing patterns and my new Ysolda books, I am looking forward to a lot of happy crafting!