Thursday, July 31, 2014

Adventures in Steeking

After months of stranded knitting, one minor pattern misalignment mishap, and tackling stranding on the wrong side, I finally reached the point where I could go no further with this sweater without tackling the steek!

Since the sewing machine I got for Christmas last year is still in the box, unopened, a crochet steek was clearly the choice.

I am no great crochet wizard, but a crocheted steek really requires no previous crochet experience, just a hook and some yarn. Push the hook under 1 leg of each stitch you want to join, wrap the yarn and pull it through--it's not much harder than that.

The lines of crochet stitches ensure that your yarn won't unravel when you cut through the middle stitch. I did a swatch in the round for this sweater, and intended to practice steeking on it, but  . . . I couldn't find it. So, I just went right ahead with the sweater--if I ever do find the swatch, I can use it for a tutorial!

Snip snip! You can see the lines of crochet holding the knit stitches tightly--no unraveling here. The only places I had some trouble with unraveling were the top and bottom of the steek--not being an expert, I don't know the best way to handle this issue, I just used the ends of the crochet yarn to catch a few floats and stitches and tie them all together. The two loose edges from the steek fold back behind the collar, so you'll never see the mess.

And voila! A big gaping hole in my sweater. It just needs a collar.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mom's Day Out

Looking very pregnant celebrating CP's birthday last weekend!

Everything checked out at last week's doctor's appointment, so for now, baby #2 can continue to bake until his due date, and on Saturday, I got to keep my plans for a last day out before he arrives.

I got my hair colored (I had nearly 3 inches of regrowth, because I was trying to wait until as close to my due date as I could--who knows when I'll next get a chance!), had lunch at a tapas restaurant with my sister, and visited a new-to-me local yarn store in Frederick, MD--The Knot House.

Like just about everything in downtown Frederick, it's tucked into a an old townhouse and is completely charming. The selection is relatively small, but a nice mix of staples and local and/or indie yarns. And a bit of fiber too. I was excited to see Neighborhood Fiber Co., Dragonfly Fibers, The Fibre Co., and Shalimar Yarns, among others.

So, what did I buy? I opted for a few special items from small dyers, and I'm really excited about them!

Fiber! Yes, I have to start building up my stash. This soft, fuzzy delight is from Gourmet Stash, and it's a blend of alpaca, merino and silk. I have a feeling that with alpaca and silk, this will be slippery to spin--I'll have to work my way up to it.

Rainbow yarn does not usually call to me, but something about this one did. I tried to walk away, but I just couldn't. This is Western Sky Knits Twinkle Sock in the colorway Choco Rainbow. I'd never heard of this dyer before, but looking at the website, I have a feeling I'm going to be a repeat customer.

And this is one I've been interested in for a while, and finally found in-person. Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool, colorway Fallen Leaves. It's a mill spun yarn with a handspun look, and I've loved it since I first saw it on Alana Dakos' blog. At $29 for 200 yards of sportweight it is not cheap, but I'm eager to find a special project for it.

So, in all, a nice pre-baby treat for myself.

And speaking of treats, don't forget that all of my self-published patterns are BOGO until the end of the month--just use the code JULY14 in my Ravelry shop!

Aaaaaand, speaking of self-publishing (I am the master of the segue way), did you know that I run pattern tests through the MediaPeruana Designs Ravelry group? It's true--yarn companies, magazines, etc., do their own testing, but for self-published patterns, I run my own tests. If you're interested in testing patterns before they're published, check out the Testing thread. You can sign up to be contacted directly regarding testing opportunities, or just check in occasionally to see if anything's available!

I actually have a lot to say this week, so stay tuned--I steeked my first thing, I've nearly got 2 more pullovers done, and I want to show off a few baby knits!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spinning: First Yarn


You might remember that about a million years ago, or roughly October 15, 2012, I got a spinning wheel. A lovely Schacht Ladybug that CP picked out for me after doing some stealthy research on Ravelry.

Of course, I had no clue how to use it, so it basically just took up space in my studio. Occasionally I would wander by and pat it lovingly: "Someday. Someday I'll have time to learn to use you."

Then I had a baby. Which meant I didn't even have time to pat the wheel lovingly.

When I found out we were having another baby, though, I decided it was now or never. With two little ones running around, I'd never make time--or have the energy--to learn.

So I bought a book and got started.

Slowly slowly slowly I spun up some singles from a braid of merino wool I bought from Forbidden Woolery probably around the time I got the wheel.

When I wanted more advice and guidance than the book could provide, I took a class, and watched some YouTube videos.

And finally, I had 2 bobbins with singles.

(Guess which one was my first bobbin??)

I left the bobbins sitting for a few weeks (months?) while I got ready for a second baby. 

Then, I decided it was time to take the plunge and ply. 

I checked the book, I watched more videos, I learned how to put my lazy kate together, and I got started.

A 2-ply seemed the easiest way to start (not to mention I only have 3 bobbins). And it didn't look too shabby.

Then one of the bobbins ran out while the other still had plenty of singles left (because, while it's not a guarantee, weighing your fiber first and dividing it into equal portions is a good idea), so I willy nily wound some of the singles from one bobbin to the other to finish up. 

The part where I joined the singles is probably not very pretty.

But then it was done!

I determinedly wrapped it around the niddy noddy, tied it off, washed it and hung it to dry.

And here it is.

Some spots are clearly more even than others. If it were a commercial yarn, the weight would vary between sport and worsted.

I'm told consistency will come with time.

But I think it's pretty.

It's about 150 yards, give or take, and needs a really great project.

And while I look for ideas, I've already started spinning more singles, this time from a lovely braid of blue-faced leicester--that I weighed and divided first.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pattern Preview: Pumpkin Butter

I have to tell you all, July is not going well for me.

It has just been one thing after another: first CP got sick. Then he gave his cold to JJ. Then my dad was in the hospital. And JJ's cold got worse and worse and he slept less and less, and I got more and more exhausted. I had a big translation contract that I almost didn't meet the deadline for, and everything else got pushed aside. I'm also still growing that baby, who is now due in less than 4 weeks, and I've fallen way, way behind on the pre-baby to do list. As well as every other to do list.

And now I'm writing this blog post instead of making dinner because the pasta pot is dirty and I don't feel like washing it, and why isn't cereal an acceptable dinner?

(Just kidding. We're out of cereal.)

One thing I did manage to finish--only 10 days late--was the exclusive pattern for crafters who donated to my CCFA Fundraiser!

These stranded socks--which I've dubbed Pumpkin Butter--are just perfect for fall. When the weather starts to get chilly, the extra warmth created by the floats is a wonderful addition.

The pattern calls for two skeins of Cascade Heritage, a sturdy fingering weight yarn that's reasonably priced and comes in a squillion colors. (With many thanks to Cascade Yarns for supporting this design!)

I bet you'd just never guess the two shades I used--Pumpkin and Butter.

The pattern is written for knitting the socks toe-up on 2 circular needles, and includes just one size--women's medium / 8" foot circumference--due to the large pattern repeat. However, as suggested in the pattern, you can fairly easily produce a larger size by working at a different gauge.

This pattern is currently exclusive to CCFA donors, in recognition of their generous contributions. But you can queue it up on Ravelry here, and it will be available for purchase starting September 15.

In the meantime, throughout the month of July, I'll be offering a special discount on all of my other self-published patterns in honor of the U.S. and Peruvian Independence Days. Use the code JULY14 in my Ravelry shop to get a FREE pattern of your choice when you purchase any pattern. BOGO ends July 31.