Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Taiyo, I'm Your's

Hi Knitters,
I am so excited about this new scarf design. Have you knitted with Noro's Taiyo? I may have been living under a rock to have missed this yarn but I was not familiar with it. I grabbed a couple of balls at Loop Yarn Shop in Milwaukee. It is the best colorway I have ever seen, that's what drew me in. It is color #1 and it has black, tan, chocolate, rosy pink and dusty pink and a bit of olive and gray. It is gorgeous, beyond. The yarn is 40% cotton, 30% silk, 15% wool, and 15% nylon. Taiyo is squishy and soft, not at all scratchy. This is my new favorite yarn, love it!

I made this reversible scarf for myself but it turned out so great that I am going to write up the pattern to share with you. I should have it available in a couple of days. If you are interested and you want to get ready, it uses 2 balls of Taiyo and a size 9 needle. I will give a lot more detail and better photos when all is set. It has so much texture and interest that I hope I can capture it all with the camera.

Okay, I'll be back soon. I have another podcast brewing in my head, too.
Take care, Knitters.
best, susie

Saturday, December 27, 2008

See What You Think

Hi Knitters,
Isn't she pretty? I can't believe it's been 21 years since my niece was born. That was an exciting time. My mom babysat her for awhile and I was still living at home at that time. I remember never wanting to leave when she was over, we couldn't get enough of her. 

Well, I think she likes both of the hats. I showed her the magazine cover and she seemed to like the style of the hat.
Here she is in the black version. I failed to mention in the emailed version (I added it later to the blog) of my last post that I only used one strand of the Manos to work this cabled tam. I wish you could see this hat better, the black makes it get lost in the photo. It is really pretty up close.
The other niece had to give it a try.
Of course the nephew had to add his two cents. That is so funny, just look at him. What a mushroom.
After the birthday party the kids all went sledding. There's a Utopia hat, a Surefire hat and a Stripey Stocking hat in the mix. I love to see a big group of kids all wearing hats I knitted for them.
The Surefire hat is such a winner (on the left). My sons both wear their hats every single day and the hats just get better with the wear and tear. It is the perfect teenage boy hat, I swear.
My cute niece loves her Stripey Stocking hat straight out of Itty-Bitty Hats. She is almost 15 and the largest size in the book fits her just fine. You cast on 72 stitches to start, size 9 needles and Manos wool. You could even start with 80 stitches to get a 20-inch hat for an adult size head. I lined it with fleece and she says it is her favorite hat because it is the warmest.
This is another niece of mine. She and The Collector are only 2 months apart in age which is fun. It was a white out, quite foggy and misty. The sledding was extra fast.
The rosy-cheeked Collector has been having a wonderful holiday with her cousins.
My sister found these snowball-makers. They are really fun. You just put them right in the snow bank and close up the scooper and out pops the most perfectly round snowball I have ever seen.
I finished these socks this morning. These have been in the making for a looong time. It feels good to get things done. These are a Christmas gift, it's okay that they are a few days late. I will give them anyway.
I know someone will email me and ask so here is the information:
Opal #1702
Simple ribbed sock, k3, p1 pattern with a heel flap, top down
Cast on 64 stitches, size 2 dpns

The hat giving was fun and I think they were a hit. I'd like to make another one of the second version for myself. I'll have to dig around and see what I've got for yarn. One thing I continue to realize is that I am still completely obsessed with knitting hats. I simply love to knit hats and I can never have enough to choose from. It is the perfect project in my eyes.
Have a good weekend, Knitters. Hopefully you will all sneak a chance to relax and knit for a bit.
best, susie

Friday, December 26, 2008

This One is Even Better!

Hi Knitters,
The dark glasses are only to cover the dark circles under my eyes and to go incognito in my living room. Black is always difficult to photograph but you can get the idea. Okay, this is exciting. Let me tell you what I did starting on Christmas Eve. I took the Chunky Cabled Tam pattern from here and I re-worked it into this fantastic cabled tam and it was simple. Plus this was actually a joyful knit, not a painful one and super fast. Mainly because I only used one strand of the Manos wool instead of doubling the yarn throughout. That is much easier on your hands.
I took a size 9, 16 inch circular and cast on 80 stitches. At 4 stitches per inch, this will give me a 20 inch hat. Perfect. Then I worked the same rib for the brim as in the original pattern. Then for the increase rounds I worked onto a size 9, 24 inch. For the first increase round I worked (k1, kfb) across the round, increasing 40 stitches. The second round I increased another 24 stitches to come up with the same number as the pattern calls for.
Then I worked the repeat from the original pattern 4 times, then rounds 1-5 once. It's a simple and fast and a fun knit, so much better. I love this hat! You have to try this rework.
I did the exact same decrease sequence as in the original pattern. Worked like a charm. Now I think this is the perfect tam. I used one full skein of Manos wool, plus a little from a second skein, half the amount from the original hat at three skeins. With a quick steam the hat relaxed into a soft, pliable fabric, not heavy at all. My niece has sensitive skin so I did a quick lining with some beautiful gray fleece so there is no itch factor. It is gorgeous all-around.

I will give them both to her and see what happens. The second version is more wearable in my opinion and it just feels better on your head. If you are at all interested in this style of hat but you don't want the fashion statement of the first hat, give this enjoyable version a swing.

Okay, dear knitters, I am hosting my niece's birthday party today because all of the left-overs are at my house as we hosted Christmas for my sweet family as well. It will be a second holiday celebration. Hope you are all feeling good today, the day after. I feel a big sigh of relief today, everyone's happy. 
best, susie

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eleventh Hour

Hi Knitters,
The Collector was on another marathon crafting session yesterday morning. She made two fantastic dioramas that I will share later. One is a winter scene and one is a garden. The garden is a gift for one of her cousins. Anyway, she requested some felted balls to use in her art project. I pulled out my big bag of felted goodies and then I started thinking about snowmen. I dug around and pulled out the white ones and stacked them up.
I got some white thread and a sewing needle, stitched two balls together, these are the two centimeter size. I have some felted rings that have sequins on them and I plopped the snowmen on top of them. They look like little sleds. I quickly stitched the ring to the snowman. I cut out little carrot noses out of some orange wool felt. Stitch, stitch. I ran a thread right through the top and made a loop for hanging. Last, I grabbed a black Sharpie and drew eyes, a charcoal mouth and a couple of buttons. The snowman is about 1.5 inches tall. It's tiny.

In a few short minutes I made three super cute snowman ornaments. These were fun and fast and you could do it, too. The felted goodies are all from here
Oh yeah, and that scarf? It's called the eleventh hour scarf. The pattern is here and it took less than an hour to make.  I love it.

I was surprised at the overwhelmingly positive votes for the chunky cabled tam. I was definitely encouraged and I am going to give the tam to my niece. That was fun and I loved reading all of the comments. You are a fun group of readers, thank you. I also received a lot of emails and some ravelry comments as well. There were some nays but the yays outnumbered by far.

I'll let you know how it goes and I will try to get a picture of my niece with the hat on at some point.

Happy holidays, Knitters. I appreciate you and your insight.
best, susie

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yay or Nay?

Hi Knitters,
What do you think? My kids think no. I think maybe?
I knitted this with my 21 year-old niece in mind. Her birthday is the day after Christmas and I am always caught short for her gift. I am not sure if she will enjoy and wear this tam or not. It is pretty huge and fairly heavy. It is knitted with 2 strands of Manos (you need 3 skeins) held together on size 11 needles. Let me tell you, it was a bear to knit, really rough. You start with a size 7 sixteen inch circular and you cast on a small amount of stitches, then after the rib you almost triple the number of stitches in a couple of rounds. The first few inches were downright painful. If I had to do it again I would not start in the round but I would knit back and forth for a long while, then switch to working in the round and then seam up the first section at the end. It was very awkward knitting the whole way. I love the design though and the chunky cables are always a winner in my book.
There it is right on the cover of the newest Knit.1 magazine. My niece is a beautiful blonde just like the model. My kids think, "it looks kind of crazy" and "it looks like a chef hat," said by two of them at separate times. The Collector will not respond at all. She just peeked at me over the back of the couch. I know it is a trendy style hat and they are not used to it. It's more of a statement hat. I am just not sure if I should gift it or not....
I am sure of this, when your seventeen-year-old son asks for a knitted pair of mittens, you jump to it. I whipped these up for him to wear to swim team in the early mornings, they leave at about 5:40am every school day. The mittens are in his school colors, which he selected, and I measured his hands along the way to make up the pattern. They are custom made just for him and he loves them. He wore them inside all of last night and then I went to greet him this morning and he was wearing his mittens again. Score.

Give me your vote on the tam if you get a chance. Even if it turns out to be a "no-go" I still like trying out patterns and knitting new things. That's what it's all about.
best, susie

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Fairy Wishes

Hi Knitters,
We are socked in once again with a winter storm that added about a foot of snow overnight. No school, no work and lots of shoveling for today. The Collector has been at work planning and collecting for her winter fairy house. Today is the day for the new home to come to life.
She pulled a sled out of a small snow mound on the side of our house and it left the perfect hole. You can't see the depth of the hole but it goes in about a foot or two from the entrance. I had a few little ornaments at the bottom of some boxes in the basement and couple of old bows left from wreathes I had saved. She was thrilled with these items. She gathered the pine branches at the tree farm a couple of weeks ago. 
She is proudest of the archway entrance and how she lined the arch with the branches. At her beckoning, I bundled up, threw on my old boots and trudged through the snow to see her newest creation. Hidden in the back of the house she made a little bed or more like a nest of pine needles for the fairy to sleep on.  

It is a magical time of year so hopefully this little girl's wishes for a fairy will come true. 
Just to give you a visual of the amounts of snow we are already dealing with, check out our mailbox. That mountain of snow to the right is at the end of our driveway. This morning I saw two people cross-country skiing down our street, probably to get to work. We are on course for having the snowiest December in Wisconsin's weather history. It is something. When you live in Madison, the weather is always doing something interesting and we like to talk about it, a lot. 

Stay toasty and fire up those teapots and your needles, Knitters, winter is here to stay.
best, susie

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Better Model, Same Hat

Hi Knitters,
The Collector helped me out with some quick modeling this morning before school. Here is the information for the hat and yarn I used.
Isn't it the coolest ever? I wore it all day yesterday, it snowed all day, too, and I got several compliments from various checkers. One woman at Pottery Barn would not let up on the questions. I basically had to spill the entire story to her. It was sweet. She kept calling the hat "gold," which kind of bothered me because it is clearly pumpkin. And when I wear it, it is a pumpkin shake. Actually, it made me feel better in the mall (where I am a fish out of water) to wear a handknit hat. Why? Don't know.
I told my daughter that you are supposed to wear it slouchy and maybe a little to the side. I told her she was a hipster. She laughed at that. I may have to fight her for it.

Hey, I did an interview and there is a fun review if you are at all inclined. There are some interesting interviews of other knitter's on Hannah's blog as well. More on Hannah later, she is extra-sweet and talented.

I am off and running, been up since 3am working on that manuscript and now I have to go out to FedEx to send off my completed project and pattern to a yarn company and then off for some Christmas shopping. I'm trying, I'm trying....

best, susie

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Best New Hat

Hi Knitters,
Words can't describe the fun I had early this morning with a ball of yarn and some needles. Yesterday I finished a baby set I am working on for a yarn company and it was a big weight off my shoulders. Now I still have to write up the pattern but still. I was looking around on ravelry and I ran across this pattern, Felicity. I love the shape of this hat. It is slightly fitted, then it moves into a slouchy style hat on the top. Voluminous hats are in style but to be honest, I don't love the hats that are too huge. This one is just right. 

I spied the pumpkin handspun Dianne sent me (don't forget about her new etsy shop).  I have had that yarn sitting by my side for the last two months just waiting to be wound and knitted up into something perfect. I wound the yarn by hand last night, what a treat, and then I started the Felicity pattern. Right away I knew I would run into a few issues but I gave it a go anyway. First of all, using a worsted weight yarn on a size 5 needle, you cast on 70 stitches. That will give you about a 16-inch hat. That is tiny. My head measures almost 22-inches. That might be a brain squeezer. Secondly, it starts with a purl row, then moves into stockinette. It was a roller and I didn't want a roller. Thirdly, I have no remembrance of the yardage in the skein Dianne sent me so it was a guess. I am pretty good at eyeballing amounts but this was a new pattern. This morning I ripped out the hat I started last night and started again.

This time I cast on 90 stitches on a size 7. I put in a k2, p1 rib to start off. Then I carried on sort of looking at the pattern but sort of not.
My hat became more something that was inspired by Felicity. I changed just about everything about it but it still kind of looks like the pattern. I am going to try another one with different yarn and try to stick to the pattern better. I really like this pattern and the final look. It is easy, easy and fast. One of the main things is that my version is not quite so long lengthwise, I kept looking at my dwindling ball of yarn and so I kept eliminating rounds. Mine still has a little slouch to it and I truly love the final product. It was a smart move because I only have a tiny bit of yarn left over. I gave the hat a good steam when I was done and it made the yarn even better.
The yarn is so beautiful. I can't describe how good it felt to work with such a treasure. There is a squish and a loftiness that you don't find in manufactured yarn. The color is one of my favorites. I thought about Dianne the entire time I knitted. I told The Collector over breakfast about how my friend lives on a farm in Kentucky and raises the sheep that are then sheered and how she spins their wool and dyes it. She just kept looking at me and the yarn and then she simply said, "That must be hard." I agree.

Thank you, Dianne, for the wonderful gift. I will treasure my best new hat.

I have a few other quickies to share. Chris shot me an email yesterday morning to share some fun news. Elefante has made it to the big-time. Look at all of those great free patterns. I love that. Elefante is right up there with Eunny Jang, Veronik Avery, Grumperina, Jared Flood (brooklyn tweed) and others. That is excellent and fun. Whip-Up is such a great site, love it to death. Thank you for the honor.

Another excellent thing is that I mentioned a couple of posts ago that my daughter's coat had a broken zipper. Some of the teeth were missing and it wouldn't zip past that point. A kindly reader wrote a comment about a tailor shop right by my house that fixes zippers. I took two coats in and got them back in a couple of days with brand-new zippers for $20 a pop. I thought that was about the best thing ever. I zipped my daughter up this morning and it felt like a new coat. Yay, 2o bucks is a lot cheaper than a real new coat.

Gotta run. Have a good day, Knitters.
best, susie 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This and That

Hi Knitters,
See that mitten? That is size woman's small that doesn't come close to fitting my woman's small hand. (Note to self: don't photograph your wrist ever again.) The Collector couldn't even fit her little hand in this mitten.
Here is size woman's large with some modifications to make it even larger. It fits fine now. The pattern is the Plum Blossom Mittens that I have linked and talked about before. Here's the thing, I started doing the fair isle flower pattern (you can see it in the corner of the sheet) in another mitten I started but I had some concerns. The concerns were that first, it would be way too small (I was right), second, there were long skips in the fair isle and it was a major pain to carry and twist along the contrast color in the round on 4 double pointed needles. I just wasn't having any fun with it. That's when I stop. I need to have fun while I knit or forget it.

I was going to duplicate stitch on the bloom and I even started on one of the mittens. It did not go well and it didn't look particularly good, so I pulled it out. I have an idea that I think will carry on with the theme of putting the palms together and getting that one image. I will share it as soon as I am done.

I still recommend the basic mitten pattern just be mindful of the size. I had to make the largest size and I had to make it a lot longer on the cuff and the palm before decreasing for the top. You can try it on as you go and then you can't miss with the length. 

It is a simple and easy pattern and I learned a thing or two. It has the coolest thumb ever. You knit an I-cord on 10 stitches and then to close up the ladder you chain up the bars with a crochet hook creating stitches. You pull the end at the top of the thumb through the last crocheted stitch. I thought this was genius and I loved it and I love that I learned a new trick. The other cool thing is that the thumb gusset was done in the simplest way at the end of the round. These mittens are so easy to make and it is a good pattern.

One other thing is that the yarn, Valley Yarn's Berkshire Bulky, is fantastic. It is soft and beautiful and it only cost $4.99 for 108 yards. That is a steal. I will use it again and again. I will definitely be making some stripey pairs for gifts, they are so fast.
Now for some odds and ends. These are the cutest little hair clips I bought at Anthology. I have to get down there again soon. These are The Collector's clips. The popsicle clips are like a ceramic type piece and the owl clips are fabric covered buttons. You can find them here online. I never tire of owls for some reason. I thought you might enjoy these bits of fun. They are the perfect stocking stuffers.
I pulled out my Yuletide Gnome for the season. Can't beat that beard. Hey, I found the pattern for you here. Before this pattern was more difficult to get your hands on but Alan has made it available as a single sheet now. Smart move.

When I see that I am getting a lot of hits from Japan I know Sunny has been up to something. Sure enough, check this out.

I just received a copy of Knit Two from Kate Jacob's publicist at Putnam publishing. I will try to read it soon and let you know what I think. It may not be for awhile but I thought you might want to get your own copy if you are a fan of her first novel. It was released on November 25th. I am interested in reading Knit Two and I am crossing my fingers for a happier ending this time. I still liked the first book but I just wish it wasn't so sad.

One last thing, the new winter Knitty is out. It looks like there are some fun patterns with some big-name designers included like Norah Gaughan, Nicky Epstein, Stefanie Japel and more. Wow, what a line up.

Carry on, Knitters.
best, susie

Monday, December 08, 2008

Oklahoma Hook

Hi Knitters,
My sister told me that the winter storm we are currently having is due to an Oklahoma Hook weather pattern. I don't know what that is but it sure is messing things up around here. We are set to get about 10 inches of snow by tomorrow and then continuing on tomorrow. The Madison Knitters Guild is not happening tonight. Cancelled. That is sad. I prepared hard over the last few days to be the guest speaker at the meeting, packed up loads of stuff to share, plus I had a bunch of fun giveaways planned for the meeting. It would have been so fun. Bummer. 

The guild meetings are planned about a year in advance so maybe I'll get to see the Madison knitters next year. There isn't anything you can do about the weather, that's one thing I know for sure. I am glad everyone will be home safe and sound tonight. The Madison Guild has Stephanie Pearl-McPhee coming to town for the Madison Knit In next March. That sounds fun.

We went to a Christmas tree farm yesterday to pick out our tree. Last year there was a blizzard while we were picking out our tree, this year it was windy and cold. The Collector picked up spare branches that were on the ground. She is determined to make some winter fairy houses in the yard. We are going to get going on that later this week. We looked up some neat versions of winter fairy houses in a couple of her books. I'll keep you posted.
My husband is 6' 5" so he is always the tester for how tall the tree is before he cuts it down. It's all very scientific. 
This tree passed the test. It is a beauty. My husband is a trooper. He gets right down there on the ground in the snow and saws away. It was really cold out, too. I have a lot of pictures just like this one. Every year I take a shot of him on the ground cutting down the tree. I don't know why.
Aren't those hats the best? I love it when the kids all wear their knitted hats. It makes me all warm inside. If you get a tree do you cut your trees down or do you buy them already cut? Either way it sure is fun to have a beautiful pine tree all decorated in your house. The house just smells so good. 

When we have our tree up I always turn on the lights right away when I get up really early in the morning. Then when the kids get up they see the tree all lit up first thing when they come down the stairs for breakfast. I like that for some reason.

Hope you are all nestled in and warm tonight. I will be.
best, susie
Did you see this fantastic project? I am definitely doing this one with the kids.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Little Knitted Things

Hi Knitters,
I've squeezed in a few little Christmas-y knitting items here and there. Those minutes I sit and wait for kids in my car really add up.
This is a sachet Christmas tree. It is about 4-5 inches tall. I filled it partially with lavender so it smells really good. Here is the pattern and the yarn is here. This was fast, fun and easy peasy.
I made up my own snowman. He is about 4 inches tall. Love him to death and I plan on making more in different sizes. Here is the pattern for the sno-buddy family. My pattern is in my head. I added arms with a couple of brown I-cords stuffed with pipe cleaners. They look like sticks and they bend. Perfect.
Here is a quick Santa Baby Ornament that I made while waiting for my daughter after school today. I strung it with white thread so it is ready to hang. Cute, cute at about 2 inches tall.
Can you spot the last tiny thing I made?
I made up a quick Pear Apple Cozy out the most beautiful yarn ever. It is a dk weight yarn and the name of it is Ginny. It is a gorgeous treat, all fresh and beautiful and fruity. I can't tell you how yummy the colors are in Ginny, rose, gold, peach, lime, light pink. 

To give you a hint at how I made my snowman, I used my cozy pattern and then instead of the ribbing for the head I decreased a little for the neck, then I increased a little for the head and then I closed it up on top. 

As for the cozies, I keep making them and giving them away and then I never have any around for myself. I really want to use my cozy to hold yarn cakes while I knit. I am determined to knit a bunch to keep around here for good.

Okay, I have some fantastic links for you. Take a peek.

I am ordering these straight away to add to my handknits. I love this simple idea so much.
I have the original one from Garnet Hill that my sister gave me, but now you can knit your own.
This is cool jewelry that I would love to own. 
These would be a dream come true to have at your fingertips while knitting.

Last but not least, my friend Dianne has opened her shop and it is incredible. Eat that yarn up quick! I can't wait to knit with my yarn from Dianne and then I can get some more. 

Oh, and one more, I had several people send me this link. I think it is funny that it reminded them of me in some way. Too fun.

Okay, that should keep you busy for awhile. I am the guest speaker at the Monday, Dec. 8th Madison Knitters Guild meeting. This should be fun but I need to get organized this weekend so I know what I am saying when I get there. Yeah, that would be good, right? 

It has been a crazy week with deadlines and now I just need to catch my breath for a moment.

From the knitter of little things, take care.
best, susie

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Blue Christmas

Hi Knitters,
We are getting snow around here, at least several inches today. The Collector was running over to our neighbor's house to help her friend shovel the driveway. I was watching her run around the corner from the front step and suddenly she dropped straight down in the front yard for a quick snow angel. I happened to have my camera handy so I snapped a shot. It was dusk and I couldn't believe the blue wash of the setting sun.
She's wearing my coat because the zipper in her coat broke. Darn zippers.
I'll be back soon with some fun links to share.
best, susie