Saturday, April 12, 2014

So Much News!

It's been forever since I've blogged!  I'd apologize, but no one really cares about that, right?  Let's just jump right in...

Something I haven't been doing in the last month or so is sewing.  I've made a little progress on my current quilt (saving the details for the big reveal--such a cliffhanger!), mostly because, while I have a ton of motivation to sew, I just don't have the time.  I mean, who does?  I remember when I used to, and I really miss those days.  I sew little bits here and there, but I can't even tell you the number of projects I have on my to-do list that will never get done.

One of the reasons I don't have time to sew is because we bought a house!  Well, we signed a contract.  We still have to get through the appraisal and the inspections, but I'm really optimistic and so happy.  It's the house of our dreams and we love it so much.  I've been pinning like a mad woman--I have so many ideas for decorating and painting.  I've never cared about interior decorating before but now I'm obsessed.  It's all I think about!

Just a selection of my "New House" Pinterest board

We won't close until this summer, but we're so excited.  I'm also hopeful that, while it's only six miles from our current house, the internet will be much better.  It died twice just while writing this blog post.

Something else I've been doing is dyeing yarn!  My mom and I have been going crazy with our yarn--we started with Kool-Aid and food dye and then we went head-on into acid dyes.  It's so fun!  While we both have a lot of hobbies, none of them are unabashedly creative--everything involves a pattern and accuracy.  Not so with dyeing!  You just mix the colors and splatter them on.  I love seeing how everything interacts!

In true Emily fashion, I went all in and bought sixty (yes--6-0) blank skeins.  Not that I needed 60, or even 30, more skeins of yarn.  My mom and I have had so much fun doing this that we decided to open up shop!  You can find us on Etsy and on Instagram--and if you follow us on Instagram, you'll get discount codes!  I'd look out for those if I were you.  I'm adding 10 more skeins to the shop this weekend!

So in addition to the house, and the sewing, and the dyeing, I'm also working full-time (same job), discipling a one-year-old Schnauzer (yeah, I can't believe it's been almost a year either) and trying to keep up with life!  I'll try not to let so much time go in between updates.  I don't like being away!

What have you been up to in the last month?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

WIP Weekend

I wish I had a completed project to show you guys this weekend!  I'm in the middle of three very different, all fun projects I'm working on right now, and while they're all great, not a single one is complete.

First, I've been working on my Grace cardigan since the snow came a couple weeks ago.  I know, I never blogged about it, but we got about nine inches of snow the week of Valentine's Day and I had a lot of time to putt around the house!

The pattern is by Jane Richmond and the yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts in Grape Bubblegum, a OOAK color from her Boxing Day Etsy update.  I know you're not supposed to do variegated yarns with lace but the lace isn't super intricate and the colors go so well together!  I don't think it loses anything.  I really like how this is turning out and I love the feel of the fabric--fingering on size 4 needles makes a great drape!

Also in the realm of knitting, I'm on my second pair of socks for Nick!  I know, second--I didn't blog the first ones (I'm getting to be really awful at this, sorry!) but you can see my Ravelry notes here.  The pattern is the basic gusset heel socks from Wendy Johnson's Socks From the Toe Up (best sock book ever!) and the yarn is Miss Babs Cosmic sock in Coffee Break.  Nick loves coffee and he loves hand-knit socks, so really it was like worlds colliding.  I tend to fly through these while watching Six Feet Under every night with him (I'm re-watching, he's watching for the first time).  I'm trying to make as many pairs for him right off the bat so I can focus on socks for me after and not feel bad!

Finally, I was asked to make a quilt for a friend.  She fell in love with Sarah Jane's Wee Wander collection and asked me to make the quilt Sarah Jane featured on her blog.  She also asked for some open-wide pouches, which are just the most fun things ever.  I've been piecing everything together for it, but here's a little sneak:

Isn't rental carpeting the best?
I'd like to finish it this weekend, but after spending like two hours at Ikea earlier today, things are looking iffy.  Fingers crossed!

What are you working on?  Also, what do you think of the recent rash of bloggers calling it quits in favor of other social media?  I like this space and feel that I need to visit more.  What do you think?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Finished: Owls Sweater

A second sweater!

I feel like an old pro at this sweater knitting thing now!  And before you correct me, no, I haven't made a cardigan or altered a pattern or done anything really awesome, so you can save yourself the trouble.  I know I'm nowhere near even intermediate-level knitting!

This is the Owls sweater by Kate Davies and it is a really fun sweater.  I'm sure you've seen it a million times, because I think everyone has made it.  It uses bulky yarn and cabling, two new facets of knitting I encountered.  From this, I've learned that I dislike bulky yarn but enjoy cables.  Who knew!

I knit a straight 38 (Ravelry notes here) and used Dream in Color Groovy in Gold Experience from Eat Sleep Knit.  I wasn't too sure about the color at first--it's a bit '70s I think--but it grew on me as I kept knitting.  Of course, now that it's mid-February, I realize that it's a much better fall sweater.  I'll probably end up packing it away until October for that reason!

I decided on shorter sleeves, because I always roll them up anyway.  I can't stand long sleeves--too constricting!  I also didn't alternate skeins, and found that I didn't have a problem with the colors because of it.  I was worried it would be striped but thankfully the knitting gods were looking out for me.

The only downside of this sweater is that I blocked it way too rigorously.  If you look at the modeled pictures above, you can see there's a lot of fabric on my sides.  When I tried it on before blocking, it was tight--much tighter than I like my clothes and sweaters.  Now there's a lot of room!  I might try blocking it again, but I don't want to exhaust the fiber, if that is a thing.  Has anyone re-blocked to achieve a different size?

I finished this last week, and also finished my Rae shawl, which I haven't photographed yet.  Until spring, my photography time is pretty limited to weekends between errands, so I find myself constantly trying to catch up.  It's really annoying.  Come on, warm weather!

I swatched for a Grace cardigan this week and also am making progress on Nick's socks!  I started the gusset on the socks last night, and Nick only asks me a million times a day if they're ready yet.  Good lord, boy, I don't even have one done!  

My sewing machine is still at the shop getting cleaned--it's been two weeks and I'm super antsy to get it back.  I started cutting out a Catnap quilt this morning just so I'll be ready when it gets here!

What have you made lately?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stash Flash

I dropped my Bernina off to be professionally cleaned this morning.  I bought it about 13 months ago and haven't had it serviced or cleaned yet, despite all the projects I've completed in that time.  I had a few things I absolutely had to finish--a baby quilt, a t-shirt quilt, Christmas gifts--but told myself it was now or never, especially because a length of thread was lodged inside of it from Eleanor eating Aurifil off the spool.  It was time.  So I took it in this morning, they gave me a receipt and told me they'd call when it's done, probably in two weeks.

Sigh.  Two weeks.

That means, despite the half-yard bundles of both Catnap and Sweet as Honey I just purchased, no sewing for me until mid-February.  Which is really sort of a bummer, because I'm ready to start on another selfish project, given all the gifts and commissions I've made lately.  But I guess that just means I have more room for knitting, right?

I've been working on an Owls sweater too, and just started the first sleeve, but I didn't want to blog about that just yet.  I'll wait until it's finished (though you can see my Ravelry notes here).  I thought, instead of my typical Completed Project posts, I would share my knitting stash with you!

I started knitting in September, and true to my retail therapy tendencies, have had no problem buying supplies to keep me going!  So many hand-dyes, so little time, is how I see it.

Miss Babs, from left: Perfectly Wreckless, Berlin, Fall in the Park, Vineyard, Deep Sea Jellyfish, and Funny Papers

I love Miss Babs yarn.  Have you tried it?  Her Babettes and hand-dyed yarns just suck me in.  I'm powerless.  I just think of all the amazing socks I could make and then turn over my credit card, no questions asked.

From left: Cakewalk, Podcast Junkie

I managed to score two skeins of Cakewalk Footsie through a Ravelry destash earlier this month.  Part of me wants to knit them up immediately; the other part wants to put them under glass until Cakewalk starts being sold again.

From left: three skeins of Grape Bubblegum, Tartan, Canyon

I got these Tanis Fiber Arts One-of-a-Kind skeins through Tanis's Etsy Boxing Day sale.  I was in the middle of Mary Jo's (a fabric emporium near Charlotte), cruising Etsy on my phone.  The colors are amazing and the yarn is so soft.  My only complaint is that mail takes forever when it has to get from Canada to Charlotte!  I have some Tanis Aran-weight yarn I bought from Eat Sleep Knit on Black Friday that is hanging around my stash.  I love this yarn!

Colinette Jitterbug in Dark Umber

Fleece Artist 2/6 Merino in Brew

Malvin, Locuro Fluro
Manos del Uruguay Alegria gets me every time.  I bought this during the ESK Black Friday sale too, because I just couldn't resist the crazy colors.  It's also really soft.  And the label is adorable.  What more do you want?

Vanilla Bean
It's safe to say Madelinetosh is my favorite yarn brand.  I have all different weights and all different colors and I love each and every one.  This is tosh sock in Vanilla Bean, but I also have sock in Whiskey Barrel and Charcoal (socks for Nick someday).  I have tosh DK, tosh merino light, tosh Vintage, tosh everything!  I can't quit it.

This skein just arrived as I was typing this post!  I found Spun Right Round yarn through the Pretty Little Fiber Company.  This fun skein might be Valentine's Day socks?  Or maybe something else?  I'm not sure just yet but it's awfully pretty!

This is by all means not my entire stash, which is both sad (for my bank account) and awesome (because there's no such thing as too much yarn or fabric).  Thanks for indulging me and reading this.  I want to see your stash now!  Because I obviously need to find more yarn to buy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Finished: My First Sweater!

I finished my first sweater just before midnight last Friday night.  To say it was a huge accomplishment (to me) is an understatement!

This is the Basic Pullover pattern from Knitbot Yoked, by Hannah Fetig.  Hannah is famous for her simple, well-written patterns, and this sweater is no different.  It consists of basic increases--kfb, which is easy peasy once you actually do it--lots and lots of stockinette, and 1x1 ribbin for the neck, hip and sleeve bottoms.

I knit this with madelinetosh tosh DK in Robin's Egg, purchased at Eat Sleep Knit.  I mostly knit with tosh anyway (of many weights) but this was a fantastic yarn for this sweater.  The variegated yarn kept the stitches interesting and the weight is perfect.  I tried it on for fit when it was done and it was so warm!  I could've really used it for the polar vortex but sometimes timing is off.  Oh well.

Oooh, lots of blues!
The only complaint I have about this yarn is that is grows like crazy when blocked.  My swatch didn't grow, I'm guessing because it's so much smaller, but holy crap, it was going to be huge if I let it air dry.  I blocked it Friday night and Saturday morning I got up to throw it in the dryer with a damp towel.  That shrunk it back down to the correct measurements, which still have about 2" positive ease.  I'd rather err on the small side with knits because I know they'll stretch, but I think it worked perfectly.

I also learned for next time to not weave in my ends until after I'm done blocking.  Some of my joins and woven ends popped out after blocking, which is just a pain.  As a result, I've already had to darn an elbow (where I joined a skein) and I may need to knit a cute patch for it at some point.  I'll see how it goes.

I alternated skeins for this project, which I think worked out well.  You read horror stories on Ravelry about sweaters ending up different colors and dye lots being inconsistent.  I didn't want to spend almost a month knitting this only to find it was unwearable.  It was worth the extra effort of keeping track of two balls of yarn.  You can find my Ravelry notes here.

Swatch board!
I started knitting this December 12--that's when I cast on my gauge swatch.  I finished January 10.  When talking to Nick, that seemed like such a long time, especially when I could go to Target or J. Crew or whatever and buy a less expensive sweater in under five minutes.  The logical, rational side of me can see that knitting sweaters isn't saving me time or money, and I'm sure a lot of people would wonder why I'm choosing to make my own considering those reasons.  I get that.  But there was something about the process of creating it, much like sewing my own clothes or quilts or even roasting my own damn chicken instead of buying a rotisserie: I can take solace in the production, in the materials, in the end product.  I can walk away proud and with a new skill.  I'm not someone who cuts corners--in fact, I tend to make extra work for myself to ensure I'm doing something correctly or well--and I think this is in line with that.  I spent 30 days on this sweater and now I'll have it forever, even if it won't always fit or be in style.  It's entirely mine.

Most knitters would agree that 30 days on a sweater is average, if not somewhat fast, considering I work full-time.  I could've probably finished it sooner, sure, or I could've taken much longer and really savored every stitch.  But I don't find peace in the process.  I'm a production knitter and sewist.  I enjoy knitting and sewing, but what I'm after is that piece of clothing or that new quilt, and that's what makes me happy.  Seeing that sweater on Poppy makes me ecstatic.  I made that!  I chose the yarn, I bought the needles, I made 1 + 1 = 2.

I definitely see myself knitting more sweaters in the near future, even though spring in the South will arrive sooner than later.  They're a long-term project with a high return on investment, and plus, they're fun to make.  If you haven't made a sweater but you're interested in knitting them, give it a go.  Start with a baby sweater if you want, just to get a feel.  It's such a success that you can't help but make more--the achievement is an addiction.

Have you been knitting more?  Are sweaters your thing?  I want to hear more about you!