Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Beginning Knitter Techniques

As knitters we all have preferences in needles, yarn, cast ons and bind offs.  So I thought that I would share what I think are good tips for someone who is new to knitting. These tips are based on my experiences knitting.  You get to benefit from my mistakes!

1. Your first project should be something small. Most beginner knitting classes I have seen are for a scarf. A scarf?! A project that is 5-6' long! Most of these projects are all garter stitch too! So all you learn with that is a cast on, knit stitch, a bind off, and that knitting is incredibly boring. Don't get me wrong, there are great scarf patterns out there, and I am even going to be knitting a 12' garter stitch scarf for a Christmas present.  I just think that when you are learning something new that it should be something you can finish relatively quickly so you get to experience success early in your learning! So I recommend a washcloth.  Not only is it  small project, it is a functional item you can use all year long! A washcloth can use knit and purl stitches. Increases and decreases. You can even do lace work in a washcloth. 
Another good option for a beginner project is a hat.  You learn how to use circular needles (which you can use even when knitting flat), you learn how to knit in the round, knit, purl, decrease.  You can learn how to cable right away, do lace.  The sky is the limit!

2. I prefer smooth metal needles to wooden ones, but as a beginner wooden needles can be your best friends.  Wooden needles are more "grippy" and make it harder for the yarn to just go sliding off the needles.  It is that reason that I use metal more than wooden now, I feel like wooden needles slow me down.  I also am a tight knitter so I tend to bend wooden needles.  When working on my first hat I changed to smooth metal dpns (double pointed needles) near the crown.  I was almost done with this cabled awesome hat! The next thing I knew one of the needles was in my lap, and the stitches were starting to drop! It was a knitting EMERGENCY.  Luckily I was able to catch as many of those stitches as I could and a woman at the local knitting shop was able to get everything back on the needles.  This traumatized me from metal needles, and dpns in general.  I eventually got over those fears though :-)
Like Jen mentioned, wood/bamboo needles are perfect for a new knitter.  I still use wood needles once in awhile, if I find myself working on a tricky pattern.  

3. When you move on to projects beyond washcloths use yarn that you wouldn't mind wearing.  You do not have to spend a fortune on yarn (I have spent over $30 on a skein of indie dyed sock yarn to make a pair of socks), but you should stay away from anything that is so inexpensive that it hurts your hands to knit with it.  There are many companies that make great inexpensive acrylic yarn like Lion Brand Vanna's Choice, and Knit Pick's Brava. Once you want to make something that you want to be able to shape and stretch you need to use something that contains and natural fiber. Acrylic doesn't block like other fibers. 
I would like to add that even while learning, you don't need to knit with something that feels awful in your hands.  There are plenty of budget friendly, lower end yarns that are great for learning and that won't make you feel like you are knitting with steel wool.  Use what you love and makes you happy.   

4. The best tip I can offer is to join Ravelry.  It is a fantastic community of knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and other fiber artists. You can get access to thousands of patterns many of them are free. You can keep track of your yarn stash, your projects, your needles and more. You can find local knitting groups and groups of people who have similar interests like the HPKCHC (Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup).  We even have a group there where we can share our projects with each other and host giveaways :-) Find us there too, Jess is SameOldKnit and I am jpester.  
Another great source if you get stuck with your knitting is knittinghelp.com  They have a large variety of video tutorials that can help you with pretty much any knitting technique.  I can't even count how many times I went there to learn how to do a specific cast-on or bind-off.  

These are just a few tips that I have for beginner knitters.  We are hoping to start making tutorials to post on this blog soon.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Stash Enhancement Sunday 4/27

I am so excited about the first item that we have to share this week.  Jess and I are planning a trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool and wanted to be able to get the word out about the blog.  So we designed business cards to hand out with stitch markers on them!  Jess and I took some photos of my sock yarn blanket to use for the cards and this is how they look!

Each card we hand out will feature one of these (this isn't all of them, I already started attaching the stitch markers to the cards last night).

The stitch markers were easy to make, and I can see how addictive it can be.
The next stash enhancement shows just how little will power that I have. I am going to be at a fiber festival for an entire weekend and still managed to order over a pound of fiber!
A few fellow Puffs were chatting about some new fibers that they wanted to try and they said that they were ordering from Paradise Fibers. I have never ordered from them so I checked out the site.  Not only were they having lots of sales you could add a 20% coupon to your purchase. I am a sucker for a good deal so I ordered a pound (yes a whole pound!) of Merino, and another braid of Malabrigo Nube. It was so yummy to spin up the first time that I knew I wanted to spin more of it.

I am hoping that I have enough yarn with that pound of merino to make a garment. I am not really good at making my yarn any weight that I want when I spin it so hopefully with some practice I will get better at that. 

Those are all the enhancements we have to share this week, next weekend is Maryland Sheep and Wool so we should have plenty of goods to share then.  If you see us at Maryland Sheep and Wool be sure to get a card and a stitch marker!

Friday, April 25, 2014

FO Friday 4/25

So Jess has been hard at work on her WIPs but doesn't have any FOs to share this week so I am writing this post solo.  I have been working on more preemie hats for the local NICU. I have ten finished so far.  Here are the three latest ones. They are all knit in DK using Plymouth Dreambaby DK, and Sirdar Snuggly Crofter

I have been working on Pufflecards during break month in the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup.  I have been sorted into Hufflepuff the last two terms.  Break month is the month between terms but the hard working Puffs don't just relax we keep working heh  To play I must complete a variety of tasks from finishing WIPs to getting my yarn ready for my OWL with each task earning a card.  One of the prompts talked about getting past a project that has been holding me back. You either frog it (reclaim the yarn from the project), embellish it or overdye it.  I have a baby blanket that I started last year for a friend and realized that I would not finish it before the baby was born.  I decided I was going to frog it and use the yarn for something else.  When I pulled it out I realized that I was over halfway done! So instead of ripping it out, I decided to work on it until it was done.  
Lion Brand Pound of Love in pale yellow and antique white
It measures about 34" square which should be good for a car seat.  I am mailing it to a friend who is expecting her first baby this year.  It feels good to have this project done and I even earned a Pufflecard for it!  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WIP Wednesday 4/23

Can you believe that Maryland Sheep & Wool is in a little over a week?!  I am so excited to get away for the weekend, spend quality time with my bestie, meet some internet friends and just relax, shop and admire all of the handknits.  If you see us at MDSW, please stop and say hello!  

This week, I have been focusing on knitting the socks I am test knitting for knitlovesteph.  Last week I posted a picture of the yarn I wound that I planned on using.  Sadly, the yarn just wasn't made for this pattern.  There are too many colors and the texture got lost.  I tried a darker, rusty yarn that I had in my stash, but that also wasn't right for the pattern.  I finally decided on using a skein of yarn that a friend of mine custom dyed for me.  My favorite drink is a margarita on the rocks, so she dyed me margarita colored sock yarn a few years ago.  This yarn is PERFECT for this pattern.  You can see the pattern easily, the stitches pop and it's super pretty.  The pattern itself is potato chip knitting.  It's crazy easy to memorize, which makes it perfect for tv knitting.  (I just got sucked into Game of Thrones and am frantically trying to catch up before I see any major spoilers)  

Transient Socks by knitlovesteph-knit in custom dyed yarn by trikel
Last week, I finished my Tea Time cross stitch and felt motivated to pick up my Halloween Sampler.  I still have a long way to go until it's finished but I am determined to get it done so I can display it this year for Halloween.  
The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery Halloween Sampler
That's all I have this week.  I made a list of things I need to knit this year, so there will be a lot more to post in the next few months ;)

I have been working on my socks from last week and have finished one whole sock!
Knitmore Girls Vanilla Sock, Opal Van Gogh - Sunflowers
I should be farther, but I have been working on more preemie hats for our charity drive.  I also picked up a WIP that I started in May of 2013.  I am happy to say that I finished it as well.  So I should have lots to share Friday.  

I am also looking forward to Maryland Sheep and Wool! I have been busy planning my shopping out and looking forward to the yummy curly potato things!  They have nacho cheese and sour cream and are so good!  I am also looking forward to being surrounded by people who love all things fiber!  Please say hi if you see us!

Friday, April 18, 2014

FO Friday 4/18

This week I have a few FOs to share and only one of them is knit! The first one is another preemie hat to donate to the NICU at St. Luke's.  
Preemie hats for Charity -  by Carissa Browning 
I used Sirdar Snuggly Crofter to make this hat.  I love that it looks like I did some colorwork because of the Fair Isle effect of the yarn.  
Since I finished my April square already for the month, I decided to finish the border on my Once Upon a Time sampler.  Now I am ready to go each month as I get the new pattern. I left off the year for now. 
 The last FO I have to share is a sewing project.  I followed this tutorial to make pillow cases for my couch.  I wanted to be able to take the cases off to wash them or change them for the seasons.  The tutorial was so easy to follow and I know I will be making more of them in the future. 
Just wanted to add, the pattern for that shawl that I test knit just went live.  

Here is a link to the pattern :-)


I only have one FO I can share this week, but it's a huge one.  (okay, maybe not HUGE, but it's a big deal to me)  I finished my Tea Time cross stitch by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  I started the Halloween Sampler when it was released but it isn't even 1/3 of the way complete.  I started Gingerbread Lane when that came out...another one that is only 1/3 complete.  I bought this pattern 2 weeks ago and am so thrilled that I finished it!  Now I need to try to find the perfect frame for it so I can proudly display it in my living room.  
Tea Time by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WIPs Wednesday 4/16 and a Winner!

So this week I have not touched my shawl.  I am on the foot of my sock. I really like how they are pooling. They definitely remind me Van Gogh's Sunflowers.
Mostly I have been obsessed with my sock yarn blanket.  I started the month with 67 squares on the blanket. I have been knitting on it like crazy.  I have knit 29 squares so far! Most months I have knit 7-10 squares, but in half a month I have done triple that! I love how it is coming along and find it hard to stop when I finish each square. 
It doesn't look like much, but it already keeps me warm while I am working on it. 

Jen motivated me to work on my sock yarn blanket this week.  I don't have nearly as many squares as her, but I'm enjoying working on it when I can.  I moved a bunch of my mini skeins into a cute bucket that I keep in the living room so it will help inspire me.  Most of my mini skeins came from leftovers from old projects, Jen's projects and swaps.  I started a journal where I keep track of who sent what yarn, include any cards they sent and things like that.  When I'm done it will be neat to look back and see where certain squares came from.

I've also been busy stitching on my Tea Time cross-stitch but left it at work, so I can't share any photos :(

I am about to cast on a pair of socks that I am test knitting for knitlovesteph. I'm going to be using Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock-Fit for a Queen Angel Fish.  The pattern looks relatively easy, yet I still get to learn a new technique.  I'm pretty excited about it and can't wait to share photos as I get started on it.

Three Irish Girls-Adorn Sock-A Fit for a Queen Angel Fish
  Now we have a winner to announce. We had 15 entries in 16 comments (one was deleted) and the Random Number Generator came up with number 
So our winner is mostlymunchies with this comment:
I'm horrible at remembering to check blogs - I love the Instagram posts to remind me
I will get into contact with you on Ravelry to get your mailing info!
Stay tuned for our next giveaway!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Giveaway Reminder!

Hey just wanted to post a reminder that today is the last day you can enter to win this
All you have to do is become a subscriber and leave a comment on this post. I will draw a random number after midnight EST tonight!
Come back tomorrow for our WIPs Wednesday post and the winner!

Friday, April 11, 2014

FO Friday 4/11

So this week has not been a very productive one in terms of knitting. I think settling back into the routine takes a few days at least.  I do have a few FOs to share though.  My first one is a test knit that I finished knitting before we left.  I am using my handspun to knit a shawlette. This is so exciting to me. I used my very first handspun to make a toy. 
Iris the Gourmet Monster by Rebecca Danger in  Gale's Art Polwarth - "Sour Grapes" 
I have made two pair of fingerless mitts with handspun, but this is the first shawlette!
Easy Handspun Mitts by Vera Brosgol in Mountain Colors Targhee Top "Cedar"
Cabled Mitts by Cheryl Beckerich in Abstract Fiber Merino "Silver"
This is a test knit for a friend of mine Simone of OwlCat Designs. She is super talented and I have wanted to test knit for her for awhile, but I always seem to miss when she was looking for testers.  I have also bought the yarn to make her Fox Crossing Mittens, but have not been brave enough to try colorwork.  I will post a link to the pattern when it goes live, but here is my Meadow Brook Shawlette 
Knit in my handspun from fiber by Sheepish Creations - BFL "Mayflowers"
I spun the fiber up during Tour de Fleece 2013 using my Bosworth spindle. I blame Tour de Fleece for why I had a wheel just a few months after learning to spin at all hehe The shawlette is a pennant shape and could be made in many sizes. I just knit until I ran out of handspun, but I could see this shawl done much longer.  It is a fun knit too, you roll a die to decide which lace pattern that you knit each time you finish a repeat.  I love that I could make several of these and they would all turn out a little differently.  

I finished another preemie hat for our collection for the NICU at St. Luke's.
Dancing Dog Dyeworks Twist Sock - "C is for Cookie"
I also finished my April square for my Once Upon a Time sampler.
I knit this one up in just two days! I also made some progress on the border which I need to finish up soon.  

Jess has been stitching and spinning so she doesn't have any FOs to share this week.  What is the most interesting project that you have finished lately?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WIPs Wednesday 4/9

Wow, it's WIP Wednesday already?!  The only project I'm knitting this week is something I can't share yet.  I'm test knitting for NoKnitSherlock's latest pattern to be released fairly soon.  All I can say is, IT'S ADORABLE!  (aren't all of her designs?)  

I've been working on some home improvement projects this weekend but did manage to spin for a tiny bit.  I haven't weighed how much fiber is left but I am estimating that I'm a little over halfway done.  Every time I pick up my spinning I have this insane craving for Peeps.  

Knitting Knorth Polwarth
The other project I've been working on is my Tea Time cross-stitch by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  I'm a novice stitcher so my speed isn't quite there, but I got the tea cup finished and am loving how delicate it looks.  

Tea Time-The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

This week I have a few WIPs to talk about.  I finished the stitching I started on the weekend, so I will show that on Friday.  Right now I only have two knitting projects on my needles. The first is a pair of socks that will be a Christmas gift (hooray for early knitting!).  
Knitmore Girls Vanilla Sock - Zwerger Garn Opal Vincent van Gogh - Sunflowers
This is the second time I have knit with Opal yarn so I knew how it would feel, but had no idea how it would pool.  So far it looks like it will sort of stripe like my Harry Potter Tonks socks
I cast on the sock before we got on the plane to New Orleans, but the flight was so short that I didn't get very far. I also did not knit as much as I thought that I would when we were in the Big Easy either.
The second WIP I have I cast on specifically for our trip to NOLA. 
Traveling Woman Shawl - The Cyborg's Craft Room - "Show us your Knits"
When Maegan posted this colorway in The Cyborg's Craft Room shop, I knew that I had to have it!  I love the play on words, and the colors fit Mardi Gras and New Orleans perfectly. This is the third time that I have knit the Traveling Woman shawl.  It is a great pattern that starts off with a big stockinette section and lace at the end. I may make it bigger than the last one that I made since I have so much yardage in this skein of yarn. This picture of my shawl is with Merlot, a monster that has done a lot of traveling with me.  She has been to London, Paris, Florida, baseball games, and even the Statue of Liberty.  I dyed the yarn that she is knit with, and she is one of my first monsters.  This picture is in Jackson square in the French Quarter. This is a great little park that is lovely place to hang out in with a cafe au lait and a beignet.

What WIPs do you have on your needles/spindle/wheel/hook?

Don't forget to become a subscriber to the blog and enter our giveaway. You have less than a week before we will do the drawing!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Stash Enhancement Sunday 4/6

Remember when I said I was going to try to behave until Maryland Sheep & Wool?  Yeah...about that.  Monday, I decided I wanted to knit a laceweight sweater. (since I totally won't go crazy knitting a plain, stockinette sweater out of laceweight, right?!)  I placed my first Eat Sleep Knit order and bought 5 skeins of Malabrigo Lace to make Adrift.  I plan on doing the 3/4 length sleeves version and might add an inch or two to the body. Since I want this to be my OWL assignment in the Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup I can't cast on until May 1st.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to consume lots of adult beverages in order to salvage any amount of sanity I have left while knitting this...

Malabrigo Lace-Indigo
The next stash addition came from Jen.  She just got back from New Orleans and brought me some wonderful gifts! For local treats,  she brought me back a box of pralines, which I have never had before.  They are FANTASTIC!  She also brought me back some Hurricane mix (most likely to be made while making my Adrift cardigan)  Along with the yummy treats, she also gave me this sweet little cross stitch kit that is Cafe du Monde themed with coffee & beignets and a gorgeous skein of Malabrigo Rios in a colorway that reminded her of New Orleans.

Pralines & Hurricanes.  Check out the bag from the quarter stitch, with teeny paper hearts in the bag!

Malabrigo Rios in Arco Iris and Cafe du Monde cross stitch kit
Thank you so much, Jen! <3

The final addition came from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  They recently released a Tea Time cross stitch pattern that I fell in love with.  (I fall in love with all of their patterns) I was going to wait to buy it since I never finished my Gingerbread Lane or Halloween Sampler, but watching Jen stitch yesterday enabled me to just go for it.  I bought the pattern and we went to Michael's so I could get the DMC floss.  I already started it last night and hope to have a good amount of it done to share on Wednesday.  

So I have a few things to add to my stash.  Only one skein of yarn so not too bad since Maryland Sheep and Wool is less than a month away. This skein of yarn is totally worth it too, it is a skein of The Cyborg's Craft Room Assockilate - Lagoon. It is self-striping, and looks just like summer to me.  This yarn will make a bright, happy skein of socks.

The Cyborg's Craft Room - Assockilate - Lagoon
Jess had a present for me too when I came home from New Orleans. This adorable needle minder which I have already used on my April square for the Once Upon a Time sampler.  
Oh, Needle Mind
Jess knows how much I love matryoshkas so she picked this one out special for me.  I love it. It is so light and small, but the magnet is so strong that it works perfectly. I love seeing it on my project while I work.  Since I started using needle minders I have not lost a needle while I work either.  
While in New Orleans I visited a knitting shop called The Quarter Stitch. It is a cute shop in the French quarter.  They have so many lovely yarns from such great brands as Malabrigo, Colinette, and Koigu.  I loved that the shop had cross stitch patterns as well. The shop started as a stitching shop and added knitting supplies later.  I love that two of my hobbies can coexist happily together in this wonderful shop. When you buy something, they wrap it up for you like a present, no matter what it is.  I bought items for Jess, so they wrapped hers up separate so I could gift it to her just like that.
I did not purchase any yarn for myself, but instead bought a New Orleans theme sampler. I thought that would make a great souvenir from our trip.  

This pattern features all the great things from New Orleans, the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson square in the French Quarter, the mule drawn buggies, Cafe du Monde, and the food! I love buying local items when we travel and this pattern was designed in Louisiana. Just a few small stash enhancements for me this week.

Just a reminder that you can enhance your stash by winning our giveaway!  We have a great skein of Dancing Dog Dyeworks Tweedy DK in the Kiwi colorway to give to a loyal reader.  

All you have to do is become a subscriber to the blog and leave a comment on the giveaway post. We will randomly select a name on April 16! Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 4, 2014

FO Friday & a Giveaway!

It's been a busy week over here.  I've been knitting frantically trying to get my WIPs off of the needles so I can have something to share and mainly so I can just relax and spin this week.

Last weekend, I finally finished my Malabrigo Hitchhiker.  This is the second hitchhiker I knit this year, so I was ready for it to be off of the needles.  I love the pattern, I love garter stitch, but after so long I'm ready for something different ;)  

Hitchhiker-Malabrigo Sock in Abril
The other project I finished this week was my SpinningFates socks.  I love the yarn, it was super soft yet durable and the colors are so vivid!  I have another skein of this yarn in similar colors (pink and green, but much more soft and muted) that will eventually be made into socks for my mom.  

SpinningFates Megara in Peonies
So I just spent the last week in New Orleans so I did not get much done in terms of knitting. I did a ton of walking, and eating though.  I probably gained 10 pounds from all the yummy food!  I have one FO to share. I finished my Once Upon a Time March square before we left so I can start my April square now.

Jen and I want to thank and reward our readers so we decided to have a giveaway!  If you subscribe/follow the blog and leave a comment on this post, we will randomly select a winner on April 16th.  You must be a follower/subscriber of the blog in order to qualify!  Winner will receive a skein of Dancing Dog Dyeworks Tweedy DK in the colorway, Kiwi

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WIPs Wednesday

Jen is still on vacation but will be back on Friday.  This week, I've been focusing on finishing up my SpinningFates socks.  I went on a bus trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania yesterday and managed to knit half of the sock.  I would love to have it done for FO Friday.  

SpinningFates Megara in Peonies
I haven't had much spinning time this week, but my Knitting Knorth Polwarth is looking so pretty!  Once I get my socks finished I can devote more time to spinning.  My goal is to have all of my deadline crafting done and WIPs off of the needles before the Spring term of the HPKCHC (Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup for any muggle readers) begins.  

Knitting Knorth Polwarth
What's on your needles?