Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Yarn Swap 2: What I Made

A few months ago, my college best friend O sent a skein of yarn as part of our second yarn swap. The idea was to knit something for her from her yarn while she did the same for me. I mailed off her finished item a couple of weeks ago and, now that she's received it, I can finally show it off on the blog!

The yarn for this swap, a custom cotton blend from Yarnia, was a bit challenging for me to deal with. This was partly because the yarn was slightly thicker than the DK listed on the label and partly because cotton behaves very differently than wool, which is my standard fiber. Cotton isn't as sleek or elastic as wool, so I don't really like knitting with it. For this yarn, I think I sampled 2 or 3 different patterns before settling on Almond Comfit (surprise, surprise, another Ysolda design).

Even settling on a pattern was difficult because my friend lives in a warm-weather climate. I'm actually thankful I live in Wisconsin because knitting is invaluable for at least half of the year. What do people knit who don't live in cold areas? I made a guess for this swap and settled on something fashionable that doesn't have to be warm. I hope there are opportunities for her to wear it.

Now that her item has been sent off, I can't wait to see what she makes for me! My item from the first swap was lovely and I know the second one will be just as amazing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Big Project

My life is a little unsettled at the moment. The recent move to Milwaukee has a lot to do with that, mostly because there are now 3 people (and all of their stuff) living in a not-large-enough apartment. This means that most of my possessions are currently still packed up. There is hope that things will get better soon, but in the meantime I at least have access to the 2 Rubbermaid tubs containing my yarn and needles.

Since I can really only knit and have some free time before classes start again, I cast on a rather large knitting project: a Telemark Ski Sweater. I've had my eye on this fair-isle pattern for a long time and thankfully bought the pattern and the KnitPicks Telemark yarn before the KnitPicks discontinued both (though further reading of the Ravelry project notes had me scrambling recently to buy more balls of my main color from a fellow Ravelry user). I'm making progress, but wow is this sweater growing slowly.

Perhaps it's good that all of my crafting stuff is still packed up if this sweater is going to be such a big project. I had big sewing plans but those can all wait until I have space to set up my sewing machine. And anyway, I will at least have to do a little sewing on this sweater when I steek the collar and armholes. Thankfully, that potentially traumatic experience is far away and I still have lots of progress to make. Lots of slow progress.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Cherished Posession

While not every project that I knit turns out like expected, there are certain projects that end up as favorites. These projects have a certain something in their color, their design, and the feel of the yarn that makes me return to them again and again. Sometimes these projects start out as favorites and sometimes they grow into that role but, either way, loosing one of these precious items can be downright depressing.

I experienced such sadness recently when I lost one mitt from my pair of Veylas. These were my absolute favorite pair of fingerless mitts (and I have lots of pairs) because of their Ysolda design and go-with-everything grey color. They became a favorite without me realizing it and, after loosing them, I knew that I needed to knit a new pair as similar as possible to the first.

Unfortunately, the colorway of the original yarn, KnitPicks Shimmer in Cumulus, was discontinued. I think the replacement yarn, Classic Elite MountainTop Vail, is a pretty good match (a new mitt is on the left, above, and the old mitt is on the right), even though the new mitts lack some of the color subtlety. Still, the light grey color promises to compliment most of my clothing.

The one thing I learned when making this pattern the first times is that while the Veyla pattern is truly beautiful, the key to making it shine is good blocking. I admit to obsessively blocking my Veylas again this time. It took a lot of pins but I think the cuff pattern looks all the better for it.

And to compliment the beautifully blocked cuffs, I got lucky and was able to find 8 more coordinating buttons from my late Great Aunt's button collection . The buttons were one of my favorite details on my first pair and I'm happy that my new pair will also have this special touch.

The new pair is not quite the same as the first, but I know that they will be just as loved. I guess I'm pretty lucky that this story has a happy ending. It required a bit of work on my part, but it's worth it to have a cherished piece of knitwear back in my possession.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Christmas Crafting Revealed

Now that all of the Christmas presents have been sent and received, I can finally reveal what I was working on in that blurry photo from November: earrings! I got on a wire-wrapping kick and made 6 pairs of earrings.

The earrings were made from turquoise beads, Dumortierite drops, and some gorgeous Swarovski Briolette pendants. I absolutely love these Swarovski pendants--they're the perfect shape and they catch the light brilliantly.

In addition to the pile of earrings, I sewed up a silk bow tie for husband. It was the perfect sized project for how busy I was this fall--plus, husband looks great in bow ties. I made this one using this tutorial and one of husband's old bow ties as a template. So now I have a bow tie pattern that I can make adjustments to for later use!

So that was my Christmas crafting. Not bad for being so busy, but I hope to craft a little more for next Christmas.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


I finished my Sherilyn shawl over Christmas vacation and have worn it several times since. Between the lovely Ysolda pattern and beautiful color and subtlety of the handdyed yarn, this may be my favorite thing I knit in 2012!

The great thing about finishing this shawl during vacation is that I was able to block it at my parents' house. (Due to my recent move, there isn't any floor space for me to block anything at home right now.) This meant that my mother got to help me pin everything out. She's a fiber artist herself, a weaver, but had never blocked lace before. I think she enjoyed the process once she got used to really pulling the lace open while pinning it.

There is something magical about blocking lace. You get some sense of the pattern while you're knitting it, but the lace doesn't truly shine until it's stretched during blocking. My favorite part of the whole process is removing the pins once the shawl has dried--the fabric stays in the exact shape it dries in. Truly magical stuff.

So now I have a big cozy shawl to keep me warm the rest of the winter. There is nothing like beautiful knitwear to keep the chill out.